Defending bikes

To celebrate the recent election victory of Greens candidate Jonathan Sri, the most Reverend Hellfire (“The Rev”) has, seemingly oddly, blogged an anti-bike sermon (here). The Rev is the convener of Kurilpa poets, a community DIY poetry reading. He argues that bike riders should “register their vehicle and apply for a driving license like everyone else.”

   We already get the “buy a car” idea with mention of the nondescript righteous, the haloed “everyone else.” We might also begin to discern a fiery brand not of clergy, but of radio announcers. In the meantime let us follow The Rev’s discussion of safety issues to wonder whether he really does licence the conclusion we need bike licences, not to mention number plates and the rest that comes with presumably expensive registration.

    Perhaps we can also clear up the mystery of how attacking cyclists can be associated with green politics. Already Sri is known to play the double game of trying to get cred from association with anarchists while also avoiding green initiatives that cannot be used to further parliamentary ambitions (here). At what cost does Sri’s recognition by the mainstream come?

A vice of the young

The Rev starts, as everything does, with youth. He writes:

“You have strong legs and plenty of time and energy. Later you get older and have busier schedules. You have kids… You get older still and a bit frailer and the idea of risking your brittle bones on a busy road is even less attractive. But arrogant young alternative bicycle enthusiasts never consider the needs or frailties of others.”

    Cars, it should firstly be noted, also often chew up time in a busy schedule. Bikes are way cheaper than cars, and for a start that means you have to work less. Sure, you can buy all the lycra, and a top of the range bike as costly as a car. Then there are other rorts – bikes with side pull brakes that shit themselves by beginning to lean usually within a year. The bracketing makes a long-term fix impossible, creating disposable bikes (notice many chuck-aways have side pull). Or you can buy the latest gimmick bike with the 3 inch wide wheels so you can pretend you are riding a motorbike. But you don’t have to fall for these clumsy attempts to make what is basically a cheap form of transport more capital-intensive. We can consider the costs of car driving as we go on, since these are indeed ongoing.

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Most side pull breaks are a disguised attempt by business to reduce the durability of a given cycle. The difficulty business faces is that bikes are not naturally capital intensive. But it is easier to avoid these kind of rorts with a bike than a car, since with a car more is “black-boxed.”

   Time saving in a car also depends where and when one is driving. In a city over shorter distances, especially in peak hour, bikes are quicker. Factor in the car driver finding and maybe paying for a park. And making up for lost fitness (on an exercise bike perhaps). Not to mention the expensive time-cancerous adminisphere surrounding car use – exactly what we want to avoid the Rev foisting on bikes. So back to the young and the dangerous.

   Kids do by far most often ride bikes. In one Australia-wide survey conducted between 2011-2013 inclusive 44.4% of children 2-9 had ridden a bike in the past week, the highest result of any age group. But it did not just go down from there. In the same survey where 10.6% of adults aged 18-29 had ridden during the week, 12% of those between 30-49 had ridden. It’s true only 6.2% of those over fiddy had ridden, but that conflates people only a few years older than me (am 49 writing this 2016) with those in their 80s, 90s and the hardy souls who are even older, but, as The Rev indicates, probably not astride pedal-powered Rocinantes. (1)

   Given today’s conditions cars are necessary for some people, whether these folk be infirm, parents of kids too big to carry but too small to ride, or for commuters with certain kinds of bodies. Cars also serve anyone moving heavy loads or travelling long distances.

   Bikes remain a great way to keep fit as sol continues to indefatigably pass over one’s head. The only way I can keep up with the younger more serious people at martial arts, my instructors think, is because I ride everywhere. It’s one of the best things for the arthritis in my knee I’ve had since 47. Exercise without weight bearing – physios and doctors have recommended I start riding. “Start?” I ask smugly, pointing outside to where my metal mount is hitched.

   Whoever is or is not on a bike, it’s chunks of steel and plastic usually in excess of 800kg, most often moving at speeds of around 50 or more kph, that will do the damage. See those SUVs and others bullying peds when the green man is flashing? Note how pretty much every driver puts the peddle to the metal when that red light first turns? People are pressured to get their money’s worth in a car, lost inertia costs more, and any damage done is much greater than for bikes.

  Rev paints riding as a generational issue, the young taking over the roads and behaving recklessly. But the reality of bike use is less generationally clear cut. He implies recklessness goes plaster cast in hand with youth. But even granting we all like to pretend we are Mad Max in our teens, cars are likely to do the damage, and we might ask what licensing or rego has done to ameliorate that consideration. Sure you can be fined, but that just makes those extra few seconds a prestige commodity sold by cops. The same way, in fact, private roads are marketed though usually by some different sales types. If it doesn’t work for the real killers, why is the added bureaucracy needed for bikes? If anything, education is in order, not more bureaucracy. By all means, though, let us further explore this safety issue.

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Death on two wheels?

To keep the safety issue in perspective, note that on the nation-wide abattoir that are our roads, car drivers are busy smashing themselves into sweet oblivion without any assistance from push bikes thanks very much. Usually at the rate of about 400 a year in Queensland alone. It’s the ultimate sex death kick, your gear stick and a starlet’s or handsome US president’s crotch, some x-ray pornography, the mangled model still wearing her cherry red lipstick on the bonnet of the latest plastic lemon. And I am glad to say pushies are not part of the “glamour” (in the old Irish sense of an evil spell).

   In 2010-2014 bikes were involved in 3.7% of Queensland traffic fatalities and 15.2% of hospitalisations. Police put riders as accounting only 4.4% of road injuries. Hospitals here think the police figure too low (2). At the risk of being a crap anarchist and siding with the cops, the girls/boys/intersex in blue might be including minor driver/passenger injuries like seat belt traumas or minor neck etc injuries, reported but not receiving attention from a GP or triage at a hospital. Nevertheless these kind of injuries are significant, and may require physiotherapy.

   Obviously bike riders are minority road users, so equally obviously they will likely account for smaller percentages. Still, let’s just note the fact that the large remainders left over from the pushie percentages (deduct the small pushie accident % from 100%) are almost all motor vehicle accidents.

   If we point to the minority statistical status of bikes to try and claim bikes are nevertheless as or more dangerous than motorised vehicles, we should also recall bikes force greater road courtesy. It is easier to be rude sealed up in a plastic bubble or steel chassis. In a car it’s harder to converse with anyone outside your vehicle, and many cars contain but one driver. Unless, that is, you drive and use your MOB at the same time, an activity we can also think more about.

Right now you might be starting to feel the need for more facts about accidents. The Rev would have felt this need too, but in the tradition of certain radio announcers, he ignored it, presumably to distract from the fact that cars are what should be feared. Instead The Rev blithely informs us that by themselves swerving insanely, bike riders cause cars to swerve into each other, and so are responsible for all sorts of road-wide turmoil. However we will now find that accident percentages at most insignificantly involve cars swerving to miss kamikaze pilots who have traded in fighter planes for two wheels of death.

The Rev’s declension

Greek Epicurean philosophers once used a swerve in the falling atoms that they thought made up the world to account for cosmic chaos (“declension”). A small swerve introduces other swerves and instead of a zen whole, we wind up with the recalcitrant universe. By contrast, the Rev’s bike swerve does not account for nearly so much, not even for the chaos on the roads.

   Having critised The Rev for lacking facts, in this section I am going to be a bit hypocritical and not link a whole bunch of pages, which to my credit I did check. However I also want to flag the idea that you are least like certain conservative commentators when you rely least on prejudices or unsubstantiated anecdotes, and instead check the facts yourself (3).

   Swerving bikes do not rate in any of the top causes of traffic accident on any web page on the matter from anywhere in the world, at least that I could find. Like I say, search yourself. Admittedly causes on some pages were place-specific: on one site eating while driving was a high-ranking issue. There was a photo of a bearded tank-topped rotund, hands off steering wheel, driving while consuming what looked like a massive chunk of steak smothered in some kind of sauce, jammed between large buns. The information on this particular site was, stereotypically enough, specific to Texas. But pushbikes are omnipresent, and if the swerve was a big deal like The Rev thinks, you’d think it would crop up somewhere.

   Further, negligent driving in the form of doing other stuff at the same time is place-specific to a car chassis since its nearly impossible on a bike, and much easier to pull over. So these days the real killer is a device with very little resemblance to a swerving pushie. Kidding you not, it is the mobile phone. Texting and other phone use while driving a car is repeatedly thought of as the biggest danger today. In fact I have known a bike to swerve, but because of avoiding a pedestrian fixated by a mini-screen. There were no further repercussions other than injury to the self-sacrificing cyclist. So maybe we should get licences and rego for our little brain-cancer-causing communicators before worrying about bikes.

   After MOBs, the sites usually go down through the usual suspects. There’s speeding, vehicle failure (your car is probably an over-priced lemon, and unlike a pushie it is hard, and getting harder, to self-maintain), tailgating, drunk driving, drug use. And so on with nary a swerving/swerve-causing bike rider in sight, not even a lycra-clad one, and not even in respect of the last two offences which you can actually realistically commit on a bike. The swerve appears in neither stats nor documentation. Google it if you want. Try pushbike, bicycle, bike, swerve, reckless etc. Knock yourself out because it is highly unlikely you will be knocked out due to being hit by, or due to someone else avoiding, a swerving bike.

The idea of the swerve is vaguely familiar though. Yes, I believe I have come across it in anecdotes on certain forms of radio broadcast involving a jockey and something like a the feeling you get from being hit by a stiff electric current. Nuff said about such disreputable sources for the mo.

Taking stock in the car yard – more cars more roads

So far we have found no grounds for the regulation and licensing of push bikes. Quite the reverse. Facts and common sense suggests cars cause the carnage. Why even the president can’t drive past a book depository in Dallas while eating a hamburger.

   Instead of being caught up in dystopian dreams of long black cars, which proved ever more nightmarish as finned rear ends turned into plastic bubbles and Toorak tractors, we could think about how to reduce the number of cars on the road and increase the number of pushies. As an anarchist I do not advocate legal, bureaucratic or moralistic methods for doing this. Instead, whether or not we need more safety education for cyclists, education about the benefits of biking is in order, especially given the rates of obesity, heart disease etc.

  On the other hand, if I had to pay rego, licensing fees, parking and parking fines on my bike, my creative inner city life would rapidly deteriorate, my time chewed up by more work and more complicated travel arrangements. The city would be dirtier and the global warming scenario would not be helped. Yes, there is a sense in which bike riders are saving the world. But let’s also put that small fact aside for the moment.simpleminds-itravel

   Regulation of bikes would be another way to screw the poor. It would be another pressure forcing people into capital intensive cars (add on fuel, maintenance, insurance, other fines etc, etc to the costs already mentioned). All despite the fact more congestion would be the inevitable result, especially in peak hours and in the inner city.

   The reason we nevertheless have more and more cars is that more cars means more profit. The bosses love one person per car, rubbing their hands over all those non-aliquout families trying to figure out how to take their 2.3 kids in their 2.5 cars. That is why T lanes and other attempts to encourage car pooling are so half-arsed and short-lived.

   More roads is the standard solution to congestion, alas tho – there goes the nieghbourhood. Admittedly more roads do alleviate congestion, BUT IN THE SHORT TERM only. Then the roads do as intended and encourage car ownership and additional use. The congestion returns, along with offers of privatised roads to avoid some of the gridlock. This is also eventually self-defeating though does open up “opportunities” in endless road building. It is extreme political dishonesty when the self-defeating aspect is “forgotten” and the bulldozers come charging out over cheaper housing and pubs, and that park people never really used cause they were in their cars.

Green politics?

Politicians deciding on roads, bike use and public transport serve profit. Evidence is legion. Take Mark Vaile. He walked right out of federal parliament into plush Big Energy positions, including with Whitehaven Coal, a reward for controversial Big Energy friendliness when in power. Not to mention a recognition of his ability to later involve other politicians in approving environmentally sus projects like Maules Creek. By adding weight to a Big Energy agenda, The Rev’s anti-bike blog is making the job of cynical exploiters like Vaile easier, and consequently the work of anarchists like me harder.participation-2013-perth

   Writing is one thing I do with time salvaged from car use, but I cannot help feeling disappointed that I had to bother in this case. Here’s when I say openly what has so far only been hinted: there is a shock jock feel to The Rev’s blog. What’s going on? Has The Rev morphed into another of John Laws knuckle-scraping descendants? Archetypal shock Jock John Laws at one stage was not only Australia’s highest-selling poet, he also owned 120 motorcars kept mainly in a huge rural shed. Surely not The Rev’s new hero.

   Its all seems a bit odd, especially since you’d imagine shock jocks the natural enemy of The community-poetry-minded Rev.

  What I think has happened is that the victory of Jonathan Sri in the recent council elections has opened up the idea that mainstream channels can succeed in making positive change. For this to work, we have to be more mainstream, just as Sri had to be respectable to get elected, and distanced himself from anarchists like me (see same Sri page already linked). So too The Rev is quick to reassure the reader that he is not a “tree-hugging, sandal wearing vegan left wing hippie type.”

The faith that the mainstream will deliver a better life is severely misplaced, though it is true that social power lies with the money and masses found in that mainstream. The missing variable is that the people in control of the mainstream are the bosses, and they are out to exploit for profit.

Conclusion

Mainstream institutions all facilitate profit-making, even government-furnished infrastructure like roads. Its true that by parading cars and talking down push bikes you appeal to a Top Gear-watching mainstream (4). The bad news is that it is a mainstream enthralled to exploitation. In the case of Vaile we have a classic example of the thrall, such as Sri is beholden too as well, whether or not he realises it yet.

   Bikes are a way to escape some of this exploitative mainstream. The other advantages accrued from riding (health, environment, social) indicate uninhibited and increased bike-use is something we must fight for against the powers that be. That includes opposing licensing and regulation. You’ve promoted DIY poetry and other efforts including marijuana law reform for many decades, now get back on side Rev!

    But after all this I cannot in good faith show my face at the Kurilpa readings hosted by the Rev. It would feel false to add my brand of experimental DIY poetics to what is moving in a conservative direction. Now even awesome performance poet and stalwart Kurilpa attendee Tony Kniepp is wanting to ape Sri’s success and found a parliamentary party! Right now we extra-parliamentary (and hence real) anarchists might be in the minority. But as the world hots up we must build a truly inclusive movement. To those I must now sadly leave behind I say: one more try people!

Notes

(1)https://www.bicyclenetwork.com.au/media/vanilla_content/files/cps%202013.pdf.

Compare as well http://www.cycle-helmets.com/cycling-1985-2013.html. Since the 2-9 stats includes toddlers (2-3 y.o.) then these stats might also reflect those crazy pink etc contraptions extreme youth (meaning the extremely young) get around on, bedecked with flowers or butterflies. But it should be noted these fat-plastic-wheeled specials are actually usually trikes. More to the point, I am not here defending anything but standard bike use. Variations or other forms could well have advantages as well, electric bikes or skateboards for instance. Or, indeed, these varieties could perhaps have (safety) disadvantages.

(2) http://www.carrsq.qut.edu.au/publications/corporate/bicycle_safety_fs.pdf

(3) In this section I do not link the sites I visited, instead I encourage the reader to do her own quick research. Would be interested in anything on the swerve that I missed geraldkeaney@hotmail.com

(4) before they were paid-off by car manufacturers and also started sprouting nutty bigoted etc ideology, Top Gear was, however, actually good irreverent TV.

Gerald Keaney

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The Slack Album

by Gerald Keaney. May 2016

Generally I listen to local stuff. Not because I want to complacently laud Brisounds like the dreaded local noise rock scene do. Rather because that is where stuff too good for the wider alt market tends to stay, Rozz Tox notwithstanding. Decentre forever. This philosophy has yet again proved itself with The Slacksmiths new Slack Album, though as well perhaps the grotesquely unlikely will happen and they will get wider airplay. The world would be a better place.cover

Beneath the decaying group Queenslander/Valley dive exterior, The Slacksmiths are a great blues rock combo. AC/DC against the mainstream. Least mainstream of all, the album is name your price (here). We need more of that.

Ben sings the classic savvy precocious teenage runaway. Yes I know he is in his twenties, but he dryly twists the under age iconoclastic icon. Reegan’s drumming is crisp. Minimalism notwithstanding he manages to be eccentric in the best sense. Pity he is no longer working in the local supermarket, sure I will see him at one of his amazing parties where even fridges dance on the stilts. Zoe is a surprisingly nuanced bassist, the surprise coming from the fact that she sacrifices no driving edge. Her backing vox complement Ben’s cynical refugee from distant degrees lassitude.

Opening track “Dees” riffs and ois around cop versus aforementioned savvy precocious under twenny. The second is not a love song. The third and fourth tracks own classic pop ideas, but do so with confidence, building the tension.

So to the last two tracks.

On the second last short “C-Bitz” we hear:

            might as well go to hell to find who fucked up so I can give them a slice of my mind

As promised The Slacksmiths go to just that afeared place on the final track, “The Craven.” It’s 21st century perdition where even music becomes bullshit due to there just being too much. Another reason I mainly stay local

            can we make it? Can we make some bullshit?

Returning to the first lines:

             Well its fine and dandy when you work at Tandy and you sell electric bullshit

“Over production” is the term Marx uses when things are made to be sold rather than be useful. Our minds are not in control – yet. For The Slacksmiths butterflies proceed to appear in mouths – surrealism is still at the service of the revolution.

Some of this last track is sung like the band was Blank Realm. The latter is far from my fave band, but Dan Spencer’s intonation is not the worse thing you could steal. Or is there some other mutual influence here?

To find out I would have to wade through a hell (of a lot) of bullshit. But then again I might discover some deep feeling, some acerbic observation. Some or, rather, given The Slack Album, some MORE of that stuff.

Gerald Keaney

Return to Gerald Keaney’s blog archive

Gerald Keaneys Backup Resource Page

This is actually a backup resource page. The main one is here

http://geraldkeaney.bravesites.com/

The main resource page is more user friendly and better laid out, but I’ve lost work when pages have gone down before, so now I back up. As i add to the main page, I will try to add here.  You might also notice a couple of links yet to be made functional.

There is no copyright on any of this work, and I hope it is shared around as much as possible.

Me 2010.

Misc

Professionally published work

World’s smallest ever artwork: go here

World’s largest ever artwork: go here

Detournments

Sound

Bandcamp: The Piltdown Frauds are here

Gerald Keaney and the Gerald Keaneys are here

Movies

The Black Knob – a 10 min DIY sci fi movie with Rose Cook, Ant Hayes and Ben Keaney is here. Based on the artwork by Dan Worth.

Blogs/review Archive

arranged alphabetically by subject/subject’s last name

Alchemist, Canberra metal band, playing their song Enhancing Enigma go here.

Hakim Bey go here

Enhancing Enigma, song by Canberra metal band Alchemist go here.

James Freud (bass player for Models and later author of two autobiographies) go here.

David Hallet (North Coast New South Wales performance poet) go here

Bonnie Hart (Brisbane performance artist) go here (more descriptive less theoretical)

Llewellyn Millhouse (Brisbane artist/writer on pornography) go here.

Nostalgia. Also remarks on Stooges‘ songs 19691970 and We Will FallGo here.

Occupy Movement of 2011. Go here.

Tom Penney (Melbourne queer hacktivist/artist) go here.

Marquis de Sade (spoof) go here

Darrow Schecter’s 2010 book go here

Sex Pistols movie Never Mind the Bollocks go here.

She Creature (feminist horror movie) go here.

Stooges‘ songs 19691970 and We Will Fall. Also remarks on nostalgia. Go here.

The Thaw (environmental catastrophe movie) go here

Bono Vox (on the eve of the 2009 U2 world tour) go here

McKenzie Wark go here

Experimental Poetry Archive

The Device (early 2000s) go here.

Graffiti Poem (1998) go here.

Harry Seidler and I (2013) go here.

To Hermione (2001-2002) go here.

The Homogenous Disk is Spinning (2007) go here.

Life Projects (2007, slight rewrite for clarity 2014) go here.  Thanks to Magda Keaney for archiving.

Melbourne Buses and Trams 1996 (1996) go here.

Ode to Oscar Wilde (circa 1998-1999)  go here.

Ordered Pairs (2006) go here.

An Ontological Declaration (sometime earlier to mid 2000s) go here. Written with Ben Keaney (BJK). Also Kate McNamara is an uncredited contributor.

Perfect Words (2003) go here.

RAM/Rebellion (2006-2007). A poem to be worn in the hair. For pictures demonstrating use of the poem, and for the text go here.

Ross Ashby’s Coupling (2006-2007, this revised version 2013) go here.

A Small Unhappy Gerald Keaney (circa 2003) go here.

Text Loops (1999) go here. Originally the main and eponymous piece in an early 2000s zine, and mentioned in the introduction to the zine archive.

Two People (early 2000s) go here.

Untitled Moving (sometime later 1997-early 1999) go here. Thanks to Magda Keaney for archiving.

Von Lessing (1998) go here. This was written before Granny died, but she was very sick. She never recovered.

Wanted (1999) go here.

Zine Archive

On this page (scroll down) I’m putting links to scans of the best zines I put out or was associated with since the early 1990s. As of December 2013 links are in the process of being added and alphabetically arranged. Also I am working on a separate section for zines I was associated with rather than being an author. Right at the bottom of this page I’ve given brief histories of the “beneath the underground” ventures that “published” the zines.

My zine making days are now pretty well done. After about the later naughties I tried my hand at more mainstream publishing, but I think by this stage my best work was well and truly behind me, as they say. Thus I turned to alcohol and despair, and died in the gutter soon afterwards. I, who once had the zine world at my feet was reduced to nothing, a pauper and unknown. Actually I was even a pauper and unknown when I was making the zines, but I became even poorer and less well known.

Anyway this archive covers about fifteen years of the glory days when I was at my heady zine-making peak. I may make some more zines: maybe including a late-life masterpeice. It will be called Report on Probability B in homage to a paraniod Brian Aldiss book. Watch out for it.

Other zines I made, and of which I am still fond, cannot be archived here. These include a wax paper zine which allowed the reader to see through to pages other than the one she was reading (Solami Verandango, Ern Malley Press 1996). Another, Black on White Rubber, is a homage to the New Romantics put out on latex-like flexible foam sheets. It always came open at the centrespread. Justine Lacey assisted me in producing it. Finally The Effacement Manuscripts (Ern Malley Press 2002) was a zine in which the physical zine held by the reader, or another in the limited print run, actually featured in the story itself. The zine described its own future trajectory as a physical object, so it does not seem right to scan it. The Effacement Manuscripts was dedicated to Canberra all-round performer David Branson, who was killed in a car accident just before it came out.

The City Project is too large for me to scan and put up. It came out of an idea I had in 1998. The first and best one was published in 1999 and we put out a second issue in 2003. The idea was that everyone wrote a part of a city and we put out a zine/magazine that was the city in its entirety. Ern Malley Press put it out with Abreaction (they either later or earlier changed their name to “Aberrant Genotype Press” (here) – personally I think keep names to a minimum). Here is the National Library of Australia record of the first issue. The launch of the second issue was great – it was held on a bitterly cold night in the grounds of the Staff Centre, ANU Campus, near the old lakeside house where I grew up. By some odd co-incidence the RAAF conducted a fuel burn overhead at the same time. Ant Hayes thanked “The Comrads of the Sky.”

The Homogenous Disk is Spinning was a “best of” bumper zine-book I had a lot of fun making and launching in 2008. It is also too daunting to scan it for this archive. Anyway bits of it are in various places on this site.

Text Loops (2001, Aslant a Brook, Brisbane) was put to music by some punk bands and circulated around the Queensland public service. Text Loops is one of my more successful zines, tho that’s not saying much. Instead of scanning it I’ve linked the main eponymous piece on the Experimental Poetry page (see above).

And I have not archived the vast quantity of atrocious shit I put out in the process of doing all this, since I want people to think of me as an OK guy. But I mention it anyway to flag the idea, argued for by myself and my sister Magda in “The DNA of DIY” (Photofile 81 (2008)) that DIY is an Hegelian learning curve involving healthy doses of error (tho I deliberately refrained from mentioning Hegel himself in the article. It is scanned for downloading [insert link here]).

Links to the zines and notes about these

Aussie Rhyming Slang (1997) (with Anthony Hayes) Ern Malley Press, Canberra.
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This mini-zine suggests new slangs, playing on the already existing surreality of slang. At some points around this time, conversation between those of us whose unfortunates whoseneurolinguistic immune systems had failed us would have been incomprehensible to an outsider. Maybe to an insider as well. It’s a kids thing, and i was young, only 32. At one point I recall sitting at the back of a Canberra bus conversing in surreal slang with my brother Ben, and getting some very odd looks indeed. Probably my six inch hairstyle of the time did n’t help.
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Civilising Global Capital (1998) Ern Malley Press, Canberra. A first rate zine.

In 1999 the hype about globalisation backfired badly on the ruling class.  No one in the anti-WTO movement wanted to be part of the “race to the bottom”. The year before we find Mark Latham’s “first rate book” Civilising Global Capital (1998). Of course now it’s rightly assigned to a circular file labelled “history.” It says little more that  that we should take wage and other cuts to compete internationally, and soften the blow by consuming better technology.  Latham proved predictive enough. That’s the problem tho. He just endorsed the economic line that was being enforced anyway. But at the time, the book was touted as a replacement for Marxism, and – I kid you not – Latham and his backers argued it to be superior to the Communist Manifesto as it is significantly longer. This is my shortened version. It was first handed out at a seminar/book launch Latham held at the ANU, and in which I suggested capitalism tended to produce junk technology – profitable practises like planned obsolescence and industrial secrecy being reasons why. But for Latham it’s only the point of purchase that is important, since it is here we offset the pay cuts. Too bad if the stuff we are buying on ( and in compensation for) our reduced wage is rubbish, and that the end result is mountains of landfill.

Latham could insist faster computers are compensation for wage cuts, but 1) Is this enough? 2) Why not have both, have the faster computers and the higher wages? The idea would be to reduce company profits both here and by being in solidarity with workers OS. Companies cannot then simply close or move off shore – all will find the same pushes for wages and conditions wherever they operate.  3) Latham’s claim capitalism should not be contested because it is an effective way to manage resources and get technical advance is implausible. More durable/recyclable/inter-changeable products are physically possible, just not permitted by “best” practise. So Latham just shrugged his shoulders in his expensive Keatingesque suit and stuck to the old saw (or sore) “there is no alternative.” His book took 400 hundred pages to make the same claim. Or so I’m told. Hey – did anyone actually read the whole thing???? Read my version instead – its at least fun.

An Extremely Erudite and Dense Work (2008, non-Euclidian Press).

The idea of this zine was say that you are sitting on a bus perusing a  Mills and Boons novel. You don’t wanna look like a “dumb cunt” (so to speak and pardon the French) so you put the zine An Extremely  Erudite and Dense Work over the top of your porn novel, sorry I  mean your romantic reading. And so on for when publicly imbibing books  about footy, growing mull, getting rich quick, astrology and anything  else that doesn’t exactly make you  look like a rocket surgeon. The zine is a kind of intellectual prosthesis.  Print and use today! Instructions included.

Front Jugged Issue 1 (late 1992 early 1993, Aktion Surreal Publications).

Front Jugged was made on the photocopiers and computers at the ANU Student’s Association. It was named after a poem by Ant Hayes. It ran to several issues. There is more information about the zine in section 4 of Critical History of Aktion Surreal. It is archived here because I contributed to all the issues and edited the first few.

Groovecats Floppy Disk Single (1997) (with Anthony Hayes).

This link takes you to the story of our floppy disk zine, put out on old 3.5″ B drive floppies. You can access all the content on it (2 songs and 2 pieces of writing).

The Insights of the Big Brain (2000) Aslant a Brook, Brisbane.

Around this time I was into Cartesian Skepticism. Later we even did a brain in the vat night at the ANU Uni Bar (maybe 2002). Sheep’s brains floating in a fishtank were wired up to Anthony Ives who played piano under their evil influence. Later writer Jonathan Lees smashed the tank, sending glass and encephalic matter across the floor. He could no longer bear to be controlled! Kate McNamara interestingly remarked that we tend to consider the disembodied subject to be male, and several of us, including a very drunk Anthony Hayes, tried to convince the audience they did not exist. Hayes and Brian Hinksman (or “Hinksperson” as the PC like to say) later did an absurdist performance in an inflatable kid’s bath. In short it was a great night out. This zine always reminds me of non-standard logician Gillian Russell who apparently read it to her friends when she got back to Princeton. Thanks for spreading the word Gill.

Lives of the Saints (mid to later 1992, Aktion Surreal Publications)

This zine is an odd mix of religion-lost-recently, surrealism, and punky sci fi. I’ve scanned it and put it up because of its oddness, and because it says something about Canberra in the bittersweet winter of that year. It’s also my first ever zine! A copy was donated to the National Library of Australia, I think by Sophie Bord of Aktion Surreal: check the record here.

Mentalism and Memory (selection)  (1997) Ern Malley Press, Canberra.

Big call: because it is so prophetic, of all the zines archived here, this is the piece I am most proud of having written in my zine career. In it band names and other similar monikers for cultural activities proliferate until they clog up language. This is exactly what has happened, and the process is both accelerated and revealed by the internet. Look almost any word or phrase up on wikipeida or whatever. You will also find mention of various musical and other acts, most of which you’ve never heard. Also go to myspace etc and type in any band name: most names, even quite obscure ones are shared by about 6 bands. There is a heavy metal “New Pornographers,” an indy “New Pornographers” etc.

The point is you read it first in Mentalism and Memory folks, in 1997, almost a decade before the problem made itself felt in earnest. In “Suede and the use of referents post 1992,” the best piece in the zine Mentalism and Memory, band names begin the process of destroying language. A dada hint that art causes verbal pollution. If creativity was more generalised and names less necessary to commercially “promote” it, then perhaps on the level of individuals instances creations would augment, and not also sabotage, language.

A Recorded Alphabet (2000) Aslant a Brook, Brisbane/Sydney.

Another homage, this time to graf art. I’m not a fan of hip hop BTW. Hip hop liberates the spoken word but usually for what? Pointless cross-referencing of TV shows,  gangster posturing, crap about expensive cars and girls with plastic tits. Then you have your political preachers and your other pointless pop culture references. I do like other elements of the associated subculture tho: the rap precursors (Afrika Bambaata, Kurtis Blow etc including as late as NWA and Public Enemy) and break-dancing. But most of all I like the pieces. Not sure if the Sydney graf art site referenced in A Recorded Alphabet is still online.

Results of the Transmission Vocalisation Test (1994) Phoenix Research Foundation, Parkes/Canberra.

The “Results” zine is a Monograph partly funded by a band I was in 1992-1995, The Piltdown Frauds.  Get the Frauds’ album here.

The Supersessionist International () done with Justine Lacey, Charlotte Regan, and  . The film review is mine.

One more Empty boast. A fanzine done for a band I was in with Hermione Cramp called “We Have No Angst.”

Good name huh? we played a couple of shows, our best ones was at a nightclub in the Valley converted from a disused church. They were the days.

Left Brain/Right Brain. (2007) Done with Fawnia Mountford.

Fawnia Mountford and I decided to make a surrealist zine in 2007, Left Brain/Right Brain. What the hell was I doing? I had renounced both zines and surrealism. Do our anti-hero’s habits die that hard? Here I can only speak for myself. I think the left brain/right brain stuff is overly simple. The idea is that the right brain is responsible for the preconscious, the left, for more precise logical thinking. In reality the brain is more complex than this, and different areas can give us the same mental function. Indeed, the zine includes a dig about how the idea is an anatomy lesson from the disreputable sources that also inform us about the goings on of movie and TV actors. So left and right brain is just an image for precise logical thinking and the preconscious respectively. For me, the zine then uses the image to move beyond surrealism. It advocates logical thought selectively handling what the preconscious provides as premises.

The zine has a Hegelian feel, using cut up techniques to “negate the difference” as it were between left and right. Along Hegelian lines, the surrealists should have been able to think of the different “halves” of the brain as complementary. For instance, now following Hegel’s historicism, the preconscious could provide premises for use by the logical mind. Tho we do not have to agree with Hegel that this eventually leads to God, to think in this way would be to consciously partake in a historical process hoping to push back the boundaries of rationality. (But, especially given the industrial-scale degradation arising out of the later 20th century this historical venture may not succeed…). “Sur-realism” was supposed to be a “higher” realism in just this sense. Unfortunately, as the Situationists argued, the actual Surrealists concentrated almost solely on the preconscious half of the equation.

As for Left Brain/Right Brain as a zine, it was never published. Archived here only, it meets whatever future it has. In 2011 the e-zine and blog is, as far as I am concerned, a more promising format. I can easily send a piece, illustrated in colour, to a friend I have in Berlin. As Canberra photographer Fiona Edge once said to me, the net has pretty much killed the paper zine. Left Brain/Right Brain almost had no future at all. It was with some of my DIY stuff destroyed in the Brisbane extreme weather events of early 2011. (The backlogged water did not actually enter the queenslander where I have lived late 2005 -early 2012, “The Batcave,” although that house is on the Brisbane river in Auchenflower. We did get a lot of through flow).

Not sure what Fawnia will think, or how she will react to this introduction. She was more attached to surrealism than me. We did do a graphic in which you find something of the same dialectic (here, second detournment down). She also made one of her famous swamp dolls in the likeness of me (known to my daughter as “Little Daddy”). OK that’s enough. This blurb is already like three times as long as the zine itself. Jesus H fucking Christ I crap on. Stop it! Stop it! arghhhhhhhhhhh

We Must Destroy the Ghost Machine (1997) Ern Malley Press, Canberra.

Don’t overestimate the originality of early band-orientated efforts like Sniffin’ Glue when thinking about the history of zines. Some of the first ever zines were made by derelicts. I don’t even mean squatters. I mean truly homeless people, bowed by the system to the point of being unable to cope. “At risk” is the ephemism, and their zines are desperate acts of defiance. We Must Destroy the Ghost Machine is in homage to these weird folk and their strange little books. It appeared for a time on the site of the band The Suspect Mushrooms who were a great act w/ a guest theremin player. Read We Must Destroy the Ghost Machine at peril to your own sanity

Guest zines and a zine review

OK now to be a little less self-indulgent and a little more other-indulgent:

Acme Zine (1996)

I was not in the mid 1990s Canberra performance group Acme, and nor did I help put this together. However I had such fun with them I here archive their zine. RIP David Watt.

Psychic Surgery (1999)

A zine by Charlotte Regan (her site is here).

Ermine (2005)

A zine by Rose Cook.

A zine review I did for Sub Rosa is here. It mainly covers Sydney zines circa 1999.

Zine publishing groups involved in the above

Aktion Surreal Publications: in Canberra of the time the group Aktion Surreal (1991-1994) was known for performances and lively nights, but it also had a prolific publishing arm.

Aslant a Brook: mainly Charlotte Regan and myself, some of it done from out of her flat in Mortdale, Sydney. We used to use photocopiers at the Hurstville dole office, pretending the zines were resumes.

Ern Malley Press: mainly Anthony Hayes and myself. Hayes put out some great zines such as the thermodynamically-titled Friction as a Social Process (1995. National Library of Australia record ishere). The basic idea of this name also lent to a couple of other ventures including Ern Malley Records, an unsuccessful vehicle for distro-ing CD I attempted in 2011. As far as I know the more prolific zine wing is now also in abeyance, tho that depends on what Ant is doing with it.

non-Euclidian Press: is my personal vehicle after both Ern Malley Press and Aslant a Brook.

Sub Rosa were a group of visual artists, performers and writers in Sydney 1999. Every week we met, played the jukebox and ineptly knocked pool balls against felt cushions in the once awesome Oxford Hotel on Kings street. This historic working class pub is now literally gentrified out of existence.

Amoung other things we were the bad guys in the often conservative spoken word scene of the time. At the time this more conservative inner-city scene was prominently represented by Tug Dumley and Bernito de  Fozzio. In my view, both became more daring as a result of their experiences with us.

As an alternative venue we were interested in a cool gay cafe in Enmore that promoted community TV, The Emu Cafe. This was not far from where the group had begun – at a poetry reading in some now-forgotten short-lived Enmore Road hole in the wall. We were also the punks in Urban Theatre Projects show Subtopia. Through co-founder Lincoln Miller we were advocates of speculative underground painting. The early group was kind of based around a set chalk piece Lincoln did of a utopian future gallery. He carried this work around inner Sydney.

We were eventually hijacked by the city council and destroyed when political differences came to the surface over an attempt to get us to support the 2000 Olympics. It was actually illegal to slag the Olympics off at the time,  but that wasn’t going to stop some of us.

So long as the group was in existence, it engaged in underground publishing.

Lives of the Saints

(1992) Aktion Surreal Publications, Canberra.  Scanned from a copy of the folded A4 (so A5 paged) zine. Click on pages to magnify and read.

Front cover


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Intro and page 1

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Pages 2-3

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Pages 4-5

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Pages 6-7

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Pages 8-9 (page 9 is the rear verso)

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rear (blank)

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