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THE LONELY GRAVE OF GRAM PARSONS

17 Dec

Parsonsalbum

In September of 1973 a trust-fund rich kid checked into the Joshua Tree Inn at San Bardino County, California among the spooky Death Valley desert with its iconic jagged rocks host to a thousand classic Westerns. He would never leave.

Oh he was troubled this golden boy from Tennessee. His mother Avis’d been a manipulative drunk, heiress to a fortune based on oranges and lemons. His father, ol’ Coondog Connor, came from an even wilder branch of the Southern tree. A charming sort, Coondog, with music in his soul but it was never a happy home. He worked for his wife’s family the Snively Clan at some desk and finally blew his brains out when he couldn’t take it anymore. So here’s the kid and his young sister trapped in the weary gilded cage of loveless wealth. But the kid liked Elvis. Worshiped Elvis. He’d snuck backstage and got his autograph and he was gonna do the same thing sometime. So his mother sends him to military school. I guess she thought he was trouble. Why who knows. Everyone who ever knew him commented on his impeccable manners – a true Southern Gentleman.

About five minutes after they planted Coondog, Avis married a slick salesman with a greasy smile and a reptile’s heart. He spent her money, cheated on her all over town, didn’t bother to cover it up. Soon enough the bitter old gal drank herself to death and the kid and the sister had no-one except each other. It was pretty obvious that Robert Parsons was a snake but he’d made the right moves, adopted the kids and now there was no getting rid of him. Later the kid got married and he had Parsons preside over the ceremony. After all he hadn’t come to expect much by way of love and his step-dad was all he had left.

And money. Money helps. He made it to Harvard where his interests in music deepened and hearkened back into country and bluegrass. He formed bands, convinced stardom was his destiny. Another bit of unloved flotsam from Flyover, USA looking for what his parents never gave him in the adoration of a million anonymous fans. He had money, he had talent too but the money queered it. He couldn’t deliver on time, couldn’t summon the goods at will.

His inheritance was a fortune in gold and a powerful thirst for oblivion. He was a boozer just like his parents and their’s before them. And this was the ’60s, so naturally he tripped the light fantastic as well. His first real band, the International Submarine Legend, featured in the Roger Corman LSD fantasia The Trip. With a name like that how could they not appear. The kid had half-arrived, already a semi-legend. He’d found himself out in California where he played the Whiskey-a-Go-Go and sampled the pot and acid West Coast flavors of Hashbury and the Freak Kingdom. After the ISB fell apart he patched up the freshly busted Byrds and had them go to Nashville to record The Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Almost no-one bought the album, it was the lowest selling Byrds disc yet. But somehow it changed the direction of rock music away from the Blues and toward bluegrass. People who met him often say they didn’t like country music beforehand, that they didn’t get it. He helped ’em get it. Even those who’ve subsequently written him off as a rich-kid fuck-up give him that.

Sometime around then he fell into the Mephistophelian circle around the Rolling Stones. Became tight with Keith. They played, they partied. And he took Keith and his lady Anita Pallenberg to his favourite place Joshua Tree, California to climb the mountains, drop acid, take in the sunset and wait for the UFOs that were known to appear around there.

GramarsonsKeith

This was the Stones’ great era: Beggar’s Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers: their high point. The country inflections and the ascendance of that style of music in their albums has been attributed to Richards’ friendship with this young southern gentleman. The gentleman’s demise has frequently been attributed to the Stones. After this hat trick listed above the Stones repaired to a mansion overlooking the sea where they would record the record that for some was their greatest and for others the start of their long slide down – Exile On Main Street.

The place was awash with sycophants and crocodiles. Everyone except maybe Charlie Watts was high and all the time. Richards was the conductor and impresario of this Fellini-esque circus. Some guy delivered a large bag of pink heroin on a weekly basis. Wires snaked thru the house from the portable studio into the basement where the various players would spend their nights pushing out this tribute to American music thru the Eurotrash haze. Richards spent the afternoons with the kid, writing country songs and snorting coke and then he’d leave him there and apply what he’d learned somehow in the basement. And the kid? He was trouble.

Trouble? This was a place where knives got thrown around on a regular basis; garbage, bottles and burnt spoons everywhere. Everyone was throttling it. But still someone in the Stones kicked the kid and his too-young, constantly whining wife out. He was trouble! Strange considering the lizards and moochers that stayed. But I guess they were concerned about him attracting inviting inconvenient intervention by the authorities by dropping dead.. He was dropping off all the time, out of it. So they gave him the boot and when he flew back to England and asked for the key to Richards’ London flat. The guy who held it said he’d lost it. Someone had phoned from the mansion in France and ordered him to lie.

Parsonschopper

Still the kid picks up, licks his wounds, takes the cure and back to California. He got on with it, recording his solo stuff, hanging out with Emmylou Harris. But the damage was apparent. This fresh looking boy was now a seedy, fat, ruined drunk. He’d go back to Joshua Tree to clear the webs from his soul but what good did it do? Every bar in town knew his face. So here he was, September ’73, checking in one last time. On phenobarbital to treat the after-affects of a motorbike accident three years before. It didn’t stop him drinking.

Different accounts argue the point but the story says that a young girl whose boyfriend or something pinched morphine supplies from the local Marines base came over late the next night and shot the kid up – twice. His request. He was already loaded on the barbituates and the booze and he wanted more. The girl gave him his second helping and ran. She saw the blue in his face and knew what it meant. The kid’s friends in typical style tried all the home cures before it snapped that they need medical assistance. Sometime about midnight coming into September 19th an ambulance picked up a near-corpse. He didn’t make it to the hospital.

Outside New Orleans there’s a simple grave you can visit. For years there was a simple wooden marker with the name next to the word ‘singer’. No-one gave a shit. The Snivelys didn’t bother with the funeral. But later on the kid sister came around and fixed it up a little with a decent headstone that now reads: Gram Parsons: God’s Own Singer.

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THE LONG COME DOWN

10 Dec

A little before 4am in the morning in the high summer of ’75 or thereabouts a lawyer got a call from an agent. Their client was in jail. It remains a mystery what the lawyer did exactly next, maybe went back to sleep. The agent did. 5.30am or thereabouts the agent gets another call, “Get me outta here. They’re treating me like a nigger!”

The client, a successful, instrumentalist, composer/arranger, had returned home with his lady and couldn’t get the door open. Known to be temperamental, he starts kicking the door in! Upstairs, someone calls the cops on assumption of burglary. No-one was going out to investigate, in New York 1971-1980 everyone was packing heat.

Packin’ heat! Packing heat? what a ’70s thing to say. These days it’s “strapped”. Efficient downsizing.

So the cops arrive and there’s an unlicensed .22 in the lady’s purse snuggled cozy with a voluptuous bag of coke. The idiot’d panicked, thrown it in the corner of the landing when the cops pulled up. It doesn’t fool the cops of course, in fact it makes ’em more suspicious, but it does give them a right to search they would not’ve had if she’d actually hung on to it. Or acknowledged ownership. The cops asked her, she “that ain’t mine.” Yeah right.

Busted! Weapons and possession.

What a palava, they hall ’em off. Weird outcome considering that the client, the famous and rich trompeteer, owned the bloody building!

Well it’s the next day and he still isn’t out. The lawyer gets stonewalled by the cops, see. They’ve been copping heaps, discourtesy of the African-American citizenry who thought they were gonna get some of the American Dream broken off for ’em finally – and it didn’t happen! So lots of dead cops and even more pissed-off ones still living. The guy’s guilty dead to rights, we got ’em. Who gives a fuck if he’s the great whoever. We won’t budge.

Well of course they budged and for how much who knows. Maybe it would’ve done the guy some good, jail. Lots of people think it. He’d been on top for years, strength to strength. But by the mid-70s his amazing trip across the sky was falling back to ground. His stuff was navel-gazing, drug-drenched self-indulgence based on ill-thought Black politics notions and muddled ethno-fascinations.

This was the New York of Serpico and Taxi Driver, of Shaft. A place where the hippie thing turned mean early and hung around like hash paste meshed into deep rug-pile with lashings of various party substances, food flakes and human secretions; wine, beer, whiskey, ash. This city was going broke, suffering the long goodbye of high inflation and rules-and-regulations about everything. Then it did go broke; the lights went out, garbage piled high on the streets.

Miles

And for Miles Davis by then the only major Jazz star left? The only one outside Los Vegas crooners who made a lot of money? He was lost in the same haze evoked by Exile On Main Street. and Pink Floyd albums post-Syd. But his superb way with brass tubing for making delicious sounds, his depth in music, were so well ingrained he could coast on ’em thru the disco fog, just having fun. He talked tough in interviews but got active mostly in discos. Waiting for the Revolution but until then “niggas will party and bullshit and party and bull-

Sometime in the 1980s he came back in outfits that make James Brown almost mute. He did Pop Music. Praised Lionel Ritchie and canned Wynton Marsalis. He played some music Prince sent him. Prince didn’t want it released. Shame. Shame about Hendrix and all that. Shame Bill Laswell didn’t get hold of it all. But mostly a shame that artists get so slovenly, still! and always in the same way for the same unreasons.

Miles2

OPIUM FOR THE MIND

6 Dec

Gin Lane
“Gin Lane”, 1751
William Hogarth (1697-1764)

As I understand it, and I don’t much, the standard effect upon indigenous peoples of economic usurpation by modern states is nihilism and substance addiction. Marx argues that culture is built on economic foundations. And the style of these foundations will determine the culture of the people who work at them. This includes religion which Marx described infamously as opium.

Opium for the mind? Well many adherents to religious faith speak of its comforts. Scanning the rags a while back I remember Kylie Kwong saying that being Buddhist had helped her cope with the death of her father. Faith is a comfort but you cannot get there by knowing that it is a comfort and deciding henceforth that it’s a good idea to believe. You can act as if you believe, you can want to believe. But it will persist as an elusive orgasm. Prayer may help. Meditation may serve also, somewhat differently. But should you seek faith it will very possibly elude you. You must feel it.

The faith of Aboriginal people was wholly integrated into the wild landscape. Until Europeans arrived there was very little cultivated land in Australia. Survival was a harsh business, the place didn’t allow you much breathing space. To understand their faith one must understand the Dreaming. Perhaps best described to denizens of the modern world as the Collective Unconscious. Behind all these words lies the notion that when we sleep, when we dream we are all somehow connected. That to dream is to visit places all creatures who dream visit as well. That everything is connected. How to maintain this simple and beautiful style of faith when the hegemon of the world comes calling with agricultural farming, botanical science, firearms, architecture and iron tools? Imagine please the effect on the psyche of Victorian England if, say, the Klingons came down for a visit and decided to stay?

Faith can be shattered by circumstance. It’s a well worn story, the lifelong pious man who lost faith when his teenage daughter dies in a car crash. This failure of faith can destructive enough on an individual but what if your entire people sustain a mindfuck on a much larger scale? Surely if there is a cancer making you stumble from the path this is it. Or, more accurately, a sandstorm forever burying the path forever?

Many will do the knee jerk ‘like I give a shit thing’ and turn off, but every Saturday night there are people living like there’s no tomorrow. Well-adjusted people (or at least law abiding enough to avoid the penal system) who’re adept at the use of modern cosmetics and have the discipline and brains it takes to earn not much in a service industry or better. People without criminal records, bad credit histories, backgrounds of mental ill-health – normal people. Everywhere people, normal and otherwise, live to get high. Some choose esoteric highs like adrenaline. Some take ‘delight in the carriage gently rolling’ but that’s it. Some take refuge in organized religion and a precious few live quite naturally according to the dictates of generations of tradition. But even here there’s erosion. Nowadays, the Amish send their children out to live among ‘the English’ for a while and they can choose to stay.

But how many among us here would choose the Amish way of life: to live as 17th century Dutch villagers did, free of the interferences of entrenched, hereditary hierarchies but always and forever according to the dictates of old men? We live and work and love among, around the steel and glass towers that’ve surpassed the pyramids with a new democratic magnificence. (How often do we stand still to appreciate the beauty of a skyscraper?) And many of us are only able to push daily thru a cacophony of harsh noise, artificial and otherwise because dreaming of their holidays in a land where humans live as we all did before the rise of the skyscrapers: we crave community and fearing cancer huddle in cities, crowding in on “one another like a flock of sheep that spies a hungry wolf.”

We can’t go back. Modern life has changed our bodies. We just can’t hack the life of a peasant let alone that of a tribal traveller on the Earth. We don’t know the Earth well enough. We have forgotten that Earth and will never remember. This is our Earth now. We are no longer in the condition to face Nature daily stark naked. And we wouldn’t want to. Not really. But we’ve lost something. I think the crack appeared immediately. We began to insist on the primacy of science and the stories and rituals that had helped us cope with a certain way of life became pale shadows, photocopies of photocopies. From the beginning of the modern age artists became almost immediately disobedient and hostile to logic. There were eras – the realism of the 1870s, the Pop Art of the 1960s – when artists loved science certainly but only to misunderstand it, to bury it under layers of pure shit. Artists went whacko c.1800 and’ve remained so ever since. There’s a reason for that.

We have benefited grandly from this adjustment but we have suffered too. And this suffering resembles the misery of the poor little rich boys and girls. Free of the outrageous whims of the economy manifest as scarce jobs or failed crops yet the unhappiness is genuine, compounded and complicated both by society’s dismissal of it and its submergence under all the oblivion money can buy.

Take Christmas: the year’s most significant holiday season. It’s importance is now primarily economic: it drives the retail cycle. After that it’s social. Christmas is the time when most of the family get a few days break from the rat race that plays havoc with schedules. Family? or friends – do they still call it an orphan’s Christmas? But by midday the streets are full of people. Having spent a month scrambling like seagulls all over the malls they’re here a couple hours after the presents under the tree have exploded in a tempest of paper, ribbon and stuff. And they’re shopping!!! Midnight these same streets will be full of drunken people, ba-boom-boom crack, ba boom-boom crack! It’s party time! The honeys and the homies are cruising for action.

That’s the way it is. That’s what we’re doing. Hardly the solemn, sombre contemplation of the birth of He who would die for our sins. What small percentage of households mention Jesus once on Christmas morning? Why should they? If Jesus holds no meaning what virtue is there in pretending that he does? Perhaps we no longer remember Jesus in our hearts because the culture he (arguably) helped kick off has rendered the nightmare of his Passion and all such distant. The crucifixion stands not for our bodily torments anymore, it stands for the brutal and remote past. For how far we’ve come. But having gone forward and higher we’ve tripped too, we’ve stumbled.

The rituals and artefacts of a culture are those things that keep us in check, keep us grounded in a life that means something. They inspire us to the virtues expected by civilization. Christmas used to be a feast. Peasants need a good reason to party because they couldn’t really afford to. That is why, in places where these type cultures are still intact, backpackers are so often surprised by the generosity born from such poverty. They slaughtered a pig for me! Ah but they slaughtered the pig also for themselves, their rare chance to gorge on pork. You merely provide the occasion.

Because of this guests are always served first. It’s a refinement born of repressing that very urge to gorge. A way of keeping your venal gluttony in check and thus converting it to something beautiful. Deep down the whole point is that this is a chance to have fun for those who don’t get much. But to do this without suffering deprivation later it must be strictly occasional. Some sort of reason is required and the reason must have nothing to do with its underlying raw animal motivations. The reason must be something to do with that part of us that is not of the material world. If everyone acknowledges that it’s just a pig-fest why bother with the guest? Why? Because the guest is the Reason and raising children who will put a stranger first without question makes this actually so.

The culture and the economy come together, harmonious. If such harmonious civilizations be happy marriages, ours is two lives spent in different wings of the mansion. The bar and the medicine cabinet well-stocked and always handy.

SMASHED CATHEDRAL

1 Dec

Woodstock
I guess I’m overdoing the rock schtik but I’ve been reading from its annals this week. Rock criticism, the quality stuff like Lester Bangs. It’s not really some fan-based obsession more like an inquiry into the subterrenean history of the Right Now. The how did we get the way we are, how did I get this way. And which way from here?

Where the musicians go people follow and while that all goes on the men with their hands on the guns and the oil manoeuvre us easily as we try finding salvation in chemical oblivion Friday, Saturday nights to the android beats of techno and hip-hop – the heirs apparent to the Dionysian circus that shook the modern world somewhere and everywhere between 1963 and the election of Ronald Reagan. Afterwards bands continued to write and record and play. And well too, but by then it was an industry proper with standards and codes. What happened before was an organic thing that altered what had begun as a product in the furniture business beyond all recognition. Did we do music a disservice when we made it so all-important?

I don’t know. This is one of those bits I write where I’ve got no real idea what sentence follows, it’s that tedious consciousness stream again. Is it even worth reading? You tell me.

Reagan was elected when I was a virgin lad so this phase of history was over ‘before my time’ as it were. Nothing like it would follow, I knew enough about historical wave patterns by the time his presidency ended to understand that. But something similar occurred, the psychedelic wave that began c.1989 in the Summer of Love Ver. 2.0 and’d petered out well and truly before 9/11 woke the world up from its Millennial haze. The ’90s was an echo of the ’60s almost a contrived ‘let’s do it again’ for the people who missed out.

When Live Aid was on, Joan Baez told us that this was our Woodstock, us ‘children of the ’80s’. We watched it live on television most of us. Every tinpot bloated face on the globe appeared locally on telethon panels taking pledges for the starving children of Ethiopia who were routinely intercut with the rock god pantheon onstage in Philadelphia and London reminding us what this was all for. I can’t remember what I pledged or ended up donating if indeed I actually got ’round to it. I remember getting no sleep for 27 straight hours, VCR on stand-by to record such as Bowie (excellent) and Bob Dylan with the Stones’ guitarists (abysmal). It took me decades to find out that all the money that was collected bought food that went straight to the guys with guns who caused the famine in the first place. They just rocked right up and pinched it. We meant well. Oh well…

On the surface near the mikes lurked a double joy at such an impressive list of bands in such a good cause. Beneath the ultra-conservative ’50s style wardrobes and Risky Business hardline naked greed there was, I think, a hard kernel of white energy that longed for whatever ideals the 1960s represented to us. Live Aid revealed that momentarily before knee-jerk irony returned. But underneath all this, like the drone of a detuned bass guitar, was something altogether more desperate and unnameable. Even now there’s no word for it but everyone felt it then. And then along came the ’90s recycling the ’60s only stupider.

Back in the ’60s they had an excuse, they were the first. The first modern generation to give themselves over to the search for pleasure in the extreme corners of human sensation. Not the whole generation of course, just a significant chunk. They didn’t know what they did. But we had them and so there was no excuse for all those E’d out, pop-eyed Syd Barrett clones with their catastrophic endgames. Their self-destruction was a Romantic symbol: ours was a frivolous nonsensical waste.

I worked in the rave scene during that brief blessed moment when a new cultural form appeals widely enough to make it exciting and important but before the great unwashed come and destroy it with the same old primate venality. I helped design and display the visuals, to me an opportunity to make experimental cinema that actually paid! Working at these things gave you a healthy distance from the drugs that were by then taken over by the standard crime organizations. So did reading about Syd Barrett. You saw how silly it was. Whatever illumination that obtained from these little white pills and pieces of cardboard was followed by the inevitable gross over-indulgence and hollow eye’d indifference to fate. And whatever had been opened up closed down hurtling you blind towards the ‘grim meathook realities’ of which Hunter Thompson wrote so eloquently.

The place I worked was called The Site. Every week-end it got just a little more crowded. The chill-out room should’ve been renamed the Turkish Bathhouse Hash Crush. Up ’til that moment the vibrations of the scene had reminded me of ’60s love-is-all-you-need myths enough to have me half believing that all of it had just been the prequel to the Real Thing now. Perfect strangers were sincerely lovely to each other, it was for a while a warm little womb far removed from all the wolves and vultures. But that feeling had been leaking like helium from a balloon and this one night it could only be found skulking in the corners wearing grim there-goes-the-neighborhood scowls. I was walking back to the control desk with a coffee when some dude passed wearing all that raver gear. He said to his mate: If I don’t get drugs soon I’m bashing some cunt!

And I thought: that’s it, there it goes. That tipping point when Haight-Ashbury stops being a gentle place and starts being sordid. I quit next morning. It was over. It lasted a little over a year.

Rave

SUNDAY IMAGES

9 Oct

computergeeks50s

beatniks

IMPROVISATION IN D MINOR

8 Sep

Music by Dionysus.

Take a wander thru a bookstore, go to the classics section. See a library bigger than that of your ‘average’ learned nobleman c. 1190. Noblewoman even. Contrary to popular belief there were well-read women in the 12th century. Classics sections typically feature titles that would appear in Latin in a 12th century private library. Reading wasn’t much done in Europe, those days. But there were readers then as now. And they did read Aristotle as you can too at much less cost in multinational bookstores that can finally afford to be a library.

If nothing else consider Aristotle’s Politics. Spells out the basic problems of different political systems especially liberal democracies, in plain Greek English. It’s not all there is, but it’s all you really need to know about the philosophical aspect of politics. Or so I suppose.

Economics? Different matter entirely. Remember, Aristotle was a rube by our standards. He knew very little. Economics is the most scientific of the three branches of practical philosophy. And, unlike ethics and politics, economics has evolved alongside science and technology. It has progressed.

Ethics and politics don’t seem to evolve, not as quickly, anyway. We look back across the vast millenia and the same complaints, the same events, the same basic views on the same matters. Aristotle well knew the folly of political revolution, that the violent struggle for social justice inevitably results in the iron fist of the big man etc. By 1930 we’d forgotten it. Again. He also knew that the danger to a democracy came from the very rich and the very poor. Here in the early 21st century we see the same problem. This time on a global scale. Politics goes around in circles but economics rises in a forward motion. Or does it? New insights into human nature have emerged since Smith published his most popular book but will we see, in respectable studies of the Global Financial Crisis, a repeat of the same arguments that still rage viz the Great Depression?

More music by Dionysus.

I have two books in front of me by dead people. Messrs Chandler and Emerson. No reason, they just came to mind. They would, they’re class. I flip the first volume open, Chandler’s Little Sister:

“Anybody can smoke reefers,” I said. “If you’re dull and lonely and depressed and out of a job, they might be very attractive. But when you smoke them you get warped ideas and calloused emotions. And marijuana affects different people different ways. Some it makes very tough and some it just makes never no-mind. Suppose Quest tried to put the bite on somebody and threatened to go to the police. Quite possibly all three murders are connected with the reefer gang.”

If you’re looking for the bard of the American prose-poetics now dominating the Anglosphere, Chandler’s it. People might remind me that Raymond Chandler wrote pulp fiction and Hollywood screenplays. That, despite the cultural legitimacy of these forms now, there were limitations on him stopping him going places Fitzgerald and Hemingway did. Maybe they’ll scoff that I’m behind the times. That cultural studies has been going since the 80s and to get with the postmodern, post-Truth world. Someone might be clever and point out that Chandler went to school in England. (That figures, so what?) But, to the real readers reading this: I’m not talking about what you think but the way you feel.

Dionysus plays with Apollo’s instruments.

Chandler’s speeches are where you find his claims to the Canon. The above is a random selection, not his finest writing. He was, as he said, only interested in the music of words. His famously complex narratives were the result of boredom with storycraft. He took from his pulp magazine work, mashing short stories together to make a novel, so he could concentrate on his personal project – lifting the American wisecrack to High Art.

I’m not bagging Hemingway, much, and Fitzgerald’s, well, Fitzgerald. But the clipped poetry of American prose, the melody and beat of American speech, was captured, evoked and cultivated best by Chandler. He is the poet of the era. I stand on it. And if I come across as a wanker that because I am. I’m improvising and this stream-of-consciousness schtick is pure self-pleasuring.

Now, some random Emerson:

I now require this of all pictures, that they domesticate me, not that they dazzle me. Pictures must not be too picturesque. Nothing astonishes men so much as common-sense and plain dealing. All great actions have been simple, and all great pictures are.

The Transfiguration, by Raphael, is an eminent example of this peculiar merit. A calm, benignant beauty shines over all this picture, and goes directly to the heart. It seem to almost call you by name.

As I grab it I realize I’ve actually never read Emerson’s essay on art! I’ve read but a few of Emerson’s essays and verses. (All are poetry). I’ve read everything Chandler published and what he left unfinished (damn booze!). An old friend and a new love. Grab a quote; it scans, it makes sense, it plays. There’s something… rare about it.

How many books are there in that classics section that might be that way? Not so many? Things are lost in translation across languages and time. Livy was at one time all the rage in Rome, he’s maybe a bit stale to text-message kids. Does Shakespeare still call to us truly? Would he? in an era that has seen the language we speak long dead and gone?

The classics section is a small part of the shop. Most people don’t go near it. I’ve seen private bookshelves great and small stuffed with titles that have nothing to do with literature, classic, modern or contemporary. The Celestine Prophecy, Adobe Photoshop manuals, On Killing by David Grossman, Linda Goodman, Jamie Oliver, Donald Trump, Dilbert. I’ve seen private bookshelves containing nothing but classic fiction. Warholian sculptures – rows of torn Penguin logos in flaking paint and rotten wood, .

Most don’t read classics but many more do now than ever before and across the boundaries of civilizations. Lao Tze and Cicero mix together quite naturally in a 21st century Australian home do they not? The Talmud, the Gospels and the Qu’ran side by side, why not? What new permutations of the same old dramas will obtain consequence of this fresh recipe? We are a young culture. Like a 21 year-old, most of Australia’s triumphs and tragedies lie before us. What will be made of this fusion going on east of India and west of Hawaii? This new mixture at the start of this age of planetary culture?

How the Hell should I know? I’ve busted the word limit. So over to Apollo.

And out.