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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Tristan Egarr's LiveJournal:

[ << Previous 20 ]
Sunday, January 4th, 2009
3:40 pm
Actually this is a sunrise beach

His febrile hands not fresh enough to cup water for drinking, he whacks them against tree trunks & verbally abuses his stupid self. Peter’s mind is in a fug, & though he smiles when he thinks on how dumb feeling bad is when there’s no reason to feel anything, he keeps on, downcast, appalled. Sometimes composes brief ditties to amuse himself, and thwacks his hands again. He grinds his teeth, especially when the cold wind whistles through the holes in his canines, & hurts. Sets his jaw locked & continues to smoke, though he knows smoking will only grow his holes and not get him high.

‘We are all of us alone with our memories, my mind, unless, unless – I suppose we tell others. Yes, unless that, & then our memories become their remembering our words, and they remember the lies we tell instead of the actual actualities. Ah me man, shut the Fuck Up stoopid Peter.’

‘I hate lots of things,’ he thinks, ‘but most of all hate myself for hating myself because it’s why I hate my stupid self’ he thinks and Whacks his fingers harder against the trunk so that now they’re numb, & it reminds him a little of being high, & he sneers. He looks out at the abysmally beautiful sunset beach, and a stilt on the water, kicking itself in the head the way a dog will scratch its nose with hind legs, & he remembers Bill.

Bill, his old cattle-dog who lived with younger him on the quarter-acre, & barked “too much” (said some) because he really wanted to be out rounding up stock, until the neighbour’s brat shot him for waking baby, & he’d smashed their fucking windows with his bloodied fist, fuck them. Because he used to go swimming with Bill, who’d try to save him from drowning by jumping on his back – the dog thought that a grand idea, & he’d thought it kinda cute, & had never loved anything so much in his life.

Weell, he liked the stilt. And like the stilt, he liked to eat shellfish. And he didn’t like much, because fuck people. And there’s too much sand on my hands to use them to sup water, & anyway. But I guess the sunsets are okay.
Monday, August 25th, 2008
11:45 pm
Hold your head, get it wrong, hide your weight inside that dress
You lift the knife, butter bread, but don’t eat before you talk
Give up your state and speak to me, preach some peace
I want to see that light not die,
Inside your eyes: is shelter worlds enough around
For me and my own cry.

But don’t play dumb, and don’t beat down
Upon yourself, for you and your own universe
Should not be still.

Sometimes when your bones creak
I think of insect tunnels boring through
And cracking to a thousand chalky shards
Through your solvent skin;
Would urge you eat but I’m not god
And you will make the fate you choose.

I won’t entice you to my corner
For sooner in my arms than out you’d fall
And I’d have known,
But just once think
That I have looked upon your eyes and smiled.
Saturday, December 8th, 2007
2:25 pm
The seed of various men
The sky outside is beautiful & I

no more snow

put your eyes on end
put your head down then


& touch
don’t touch
don’t touch the people
don’t cluck their foibles & nest
you always fuck it up
mother stress
the tumour makes yer head ache

Thud touch fingers through the walls
pall the outside world

& yet I can’t find what it is –

there’s some thing wrong, something wrong,
but I can’t find what it is

claw through all the cupboards
but I can’t find what it is

we’ve been throwing back receptacles,
up-ending all the shelves
& yet we can’t find what it is.

We take to sustain ourselves
flood flushed with guilt ask
“how much can I take?”
& count our answers out.

We fall through our fingers everyday
I am not perfect & I’m going to die.

all are after their curl
Friday, December 7th, 2007
10:57 am
Til Death Do Us Part XXXVII
R.I.P Astrolocracies

In the first century AD, the Roman Emperor Tiberius Claudius Nero often consulted astrologers in order to run his empire at its optimum standard. Because Tiberius was somewhat untrusting, he would have a burly servant carry his soothsayers along a rocky path to his citadel; if he believed their divinations to be utter rubbish, he would instruct his servant to throw the soothsayer down into the ocean below. Nevertheless, the historian Tacitus reckoned that none of this did Tiberius any good, since he basically sat in his castle and neglected his empire. And we all know how well the psychic hotlines worked for VUWSA this year...

Another big leader who believes in the importance of consulting the stars when making political decisions is General Thandar Shwe, dictator of Myanmar since 1992. Although he failed to complete high-school, after rising through the psychological warfare division of the Burmese army in the 1950s he came to play a part in the brutal military coup of 1988, before taking total control in 1992. He enjoys reading Time magazine, playing golf and dressing up in traditional Burmese garb; and he never makes a move without consulting his star-chart people.

In November 2005, the stars told Shwe that he ought to move his capital 200 miles into the bush, away from the commercial centre Rangoon, to Naypyidaw on 6 November 2005 at the astrologically auspicious time of 6:37 a.m. Soon afterwards, 11 military battalions and 11 government ministries were moved, but due to a lack of schools, shops and other amenities, the bureaucrats are now isolated from their families. Meanwhile democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and anyone else who oppose Shwe have to either sit still inside their homes and speak not – or be eliminated.

Rome under Tiberius and Burma under Shwe are both astrolocracies: dictatorships run according to the prophecies of the stars. Tiberius is forever remembered as a villain for wallowing in palatial orgies through the countryside while his right-hand man Sejanus tyrannised Rome in a reign of spies and paranoia. Yet no-one really bothered to remove the Emperor from power, so he was able to die regal and elderly. Fortunately, the Burmese people have not been so willing to acquiesce to Than Shwe.

Earlier this year, a video of Than Shwe's daughter's wedding was leaked onto the internet, showing the bulky tyrant perspiring under the weight of diamond-encrusted necklaces and swathed in silk gowns, while plump members of his junta reclined on gold-trimmed chairs before a five-tiered wedding cake. Then the junta raised the price of fuel, vital for cooking and transport, by 500%. Obviously unwilling to starve in order to provide the trifles of luxury, the Buddhist monks of Burma began marching through the streets of Rangoon, bellowing against Shwe and trailing swathes of saffron robe. By September 24, the marches had grown into over 30,000-strong demonstrations. Two days later, Troops barricaded the protest centre Shwedagon Pagoda and started laying into the monks with batons and tear gas. The following day army raids on monasteries commenced. This stopped the monks from marching, but increased outrage among the general populace who continued to protest.

The UN has sent a special envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, to look into the matter. He will most certainly condemn Shwe, but with the militaries of the world’s most powerful democratic nations tied up fighting a moronic war in Iraq, the UN will no doubt do little more than tut tut.

Now, we could all blame this on the stars and their undue influence on Shwe. But the fact is people are cruel enough when left to their own devices for us to have any need of invoking foreign agents. I’ve been writing this column of obituaries for a year and a half now, and after 37 installments I’ve come to think that most early deaths could be avoided if people just stopped being so stupid: most people are not intentionally cruel, they act cruelly because they are too lazy or ignorant to do otherwise.

Unfortunately, death and ignorance are both inevitable.

We spend four-score years at the most upon this earth, and are restricted to our five senses. Not only can we not experience everything that ever has been or ever will be – we cannot even experience everything that happens in a single village over a single day (of course, if we could we would be arrested for perving). We don’t know much in the great scheme of things, really, so we’re bound to be stupid, and we’re gonna believe in the power of the stars or the beneficent hand of the free market, or whatever. So yeah, it would be nice if we could declare death to astrolocracies and end the terrible reign of the celestial military over Burma. But it won’t make everything okay.

Neil Gaiman’s demon Crowley gave up torturing humans around the time of the Spanish Inquisition, when he realised that no matter what inventive horrors the demons thought up to inflict upon people, the humans would always surpass them… yay?

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* * * * * * * * * * *

And now for something completely different...

NEW YORK - Victoria Beckham has never been "that good at anything", she says.

"It became very obvious from the start that I was never going to be the best singer or the best dancer or the best actress," the 33-year-old Spice Girl and wife of soccer superstar David Beckham tells Elle magazine's US edition for its January issue. "You know, I've never been that good at anything, to be completely honest."

On the contrary, she is a natural when it comes to keeping herself in the media spotlight, from her cutting-edge haircut to her high-profile marriage.

"I'm so camp! I'm such a gay man trying to get out," she says. "I don't give a s**t what anybody thinks."
Sunday, November 25th, 2007
5:50 pm
Til Death Do Us Part XXXVI
(note - this is the second-to-last edition of Til Death Do Us Part. I wrote it back in September, but forgot to get a digital copy of the cartoon I drew for it - and without which it doesn't work - so couldn't post it until now. The last edition will follow shortly).

RIP Presents: The Great Salient Scooter Revolution.

Being a proposal to drastically reduce the road toll, cut carbon
emissions and oil consumption, and turn the youth of today
from nasty boyracer-fellows into all-round trendy Italian types.

Deary me, young drivers have been getting some seriously bad press of late: fatal police chases through the streets of Auckland, disastrous runnings-over at a Christchurch party; why, just last month [August] one night in New Plymouth, boyracers were blamed for another fatal running-over and a stabbing. The death of Paralympics champion Graham Condon after being hit by a 15-year-old driver – and the death of three dear 15-year-old girls when their car hit a pole on a straight Canterbury road – has led the vanilla king, Peter Dunne, to demand the learner driving age be raised by one year. Unfortunately, this solves nothing – besides the fact that learner’s license kids are not allowed to drive cars anyway, insurance companies will tell you that young’uns all the way up to 25 are poor drivers. Meanwhile, the government has just released its carbon emissions trading scheme and wants us to fight climate change; and the Listener recently ran a cover-article arguing that cars will soon become insupportable due to the peak oil problem.

All these issues may seem rather diverse, but imagine a proposal that would solve all of them – remove all the problems associated with reckless youth behind the wheel, and cut oil consumption? Well, here it is: the great Salient scooter proposal:

Raise the minimum age at which people can sit their restricted license to 25, while keeping the learner’s license age at 15, so that everyone between 15 and 25 will be forced to drive the one vehicle permitted under the learner’s license: the mighty 50cc scooter.

The youth of today will then be driving souped-up, modified but nevertheless 50cc scooters. Like the mods Ray Columbus sang about way back in the fifties! This way, any drunk teenagers who crash their vehicles may maim themselves, but are unlikely to hurt innocent bystanders. And if all this animosity towards young drivers turns out to be fuddy-duddy scaremongering, and our proposal does not actually reduce the road toll – well, at least we will have proven this to be the case. Yet, one suspects that it will be marvellous indeed.

Instead of ploughing into people at rowdy parties, we can watch as our youth take to loitering about juke-boxes, chasing pigeons and humming the latest bebop hits as they face off against the dastardly, leather-jacket-clad Rockers who drive the almighty Sinclair C5…. for some reason.

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Monday, November 19th, 2007
1:39 am
mother is being dead fishes
James had a cavity in the side of his neck where the pimple, with a hair growing out of it, had expanded until he’d scratched at it & it had bled. He touched it but it was dry so he drank his milo & sneezed.

He wanted to stay at home & help his mother cook but his father needed help chopping wood. Se he spent the afternoon pricking splinters out of his fingers & complaining that he was cold.

On weekends his father would take him fishing, & he enjoyed holding the nylon string & reacting when it twitched. It made him think of the guitar strings his mother would pluck. But the water in the estuary made him feel very small, as even though there was so much it all drained out to sea & back again each day. It brought the moon in tow. James thought that it should lose its timing, even just sometimes, like how he sometimes lost count when he was trying to learn piano. Yet it always went out & came back in & it frightened him.

He could not tell his father, so he hit the fish over their heads & gutted them with his knife, but it only made the sea a little smaller. He knew that even if he took all of the fish from the water it would still go out & come back in & he was still small & still lost his timing on occasion & sneezed.

When his mother finally died they sprinkled her ashes over the mudflats so that the tide would taker her away. But even as James tried not to touch his scab he knew it would bring her back again, & that the fish he caught from now on would have eaten his mother & he hated them. He could hear the estuary laughing because his father didn’t even realise, just kept casting his line into the water.

James looked at his father, old & alone & quiet, & saw that he too was smaller than the water. He poured his father a cup of milo from the thermos, thinking that the water would still be here long after it had forgotten them. So he caught its children & killed them & wished they would turn back into his mother & not be dead fish, but they were.
Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007
10:39 pm
Til Death Do Us Part XXXV
Before I post this column, it is worth explaining something about its background.
When I was just a young lad...Collapse )

R.I.P Rugby
Week in and week out this column has been bringing you tales of death, mainly because I like to think about how things end. Yet, at times of such great national importance as these times right now, it is important that we put away our morbid sensibilities, and give thanks to something which actually stops people from dying: rugby.

Okay, so that's an overstatement...Collapse )
Tuesday, September 25th, 2007
8:33 pm
Til Death Do Us Part XXXIV
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R.I.P Little Pieces of Flesh

"Suicide is Painless" goes the theme-song to M*A*S*H, although in fact many forms of suicide are rather painful indeed. Pain, however, can be beautiful.

A couple of weeks ago, a number of callers to Newstalk ZB voiced their concern about Emos. As far as I can tell, Emos are a sort of small, adorable flightless mammal, prone to moodiness brought about by their lives' general comfort and stability, which means that no-one can understand their pain. While the parents who called Newstalk were largely supportive of their children's emo-fashion and scene-music (invariably noting that they went through similar phases during youth), they voiced some concern that the Emos' impressionable widdle hearts would take to cutting themselves, feigning depression and perhaps even getting into suicide because it's, well... cool.

Now, while some suicides may have valid reasons for their departure, it is never pleasant to bury Your Special Baby whom you've nurtured. Depression may be romantic, inspirational and character-building on one level, but on another it's just plain suck. Feeling not merely alone but unable to reach out, having Something to Say but being incapable of making yourself understood. Watching the years roll out in front of you, empty, occupied with internet porn, cigarettes and stealing the neighbours' mail - it sucks. So of course we want to help our buddies overcome such despair.

Having got all of that out of the way, we come to scarification. Many teens mutilate their skin out of frustrated self-hate. However, if you want to help self-harmers who don't really want to hurt themselves but are crying out for help, you're gonna have to accept one potentially unpalatable fact: many perfectly sane and intelligent people like pain because it is fun. It is not only possible but unspeakably enjoyable to cut, burn, scour and rend your skin without a single ounce of self-hate. This is because scarification releases that focusing, pure adrenaline rush that comes from experiencing pain in a totally controlled, open and unworried state.

But what is pain? The term "pain" represents a field of sense perception, ranging from dull (bruise pain) to sharp (burn pain), from excruciating to slightly annoying to lovely. In most cases, pain is our body's way of alerting our mind to tissue damage: the energy produced in tissue-damage is converted into a code of electrical impulse within receptive nerve-endings. This coded pattern is then sent up the spinal cord to the brain, where it is converted into conscious pain.

However, doctors Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall (the foremost pain experts of the last century) point out that tissue damage can occur without pain, and pain can occur without damage. They cite the case of Miss C, a Canadian girl in the mid-20th century who was congenitally insensitive to pain and died at the age of 29 from multiple mouth infections, after chewing her gums, cheeks and tongue into tatters without feeling a thing. On the other hand we have phantom limb pain: people who feel pain in a part of their body which does not actually exist.

So while pain is generally initiated by tissue damage, what we actually feel is determined by our psychology. Melzack and Wall cite the case of US soldiers who broke limbs in the battle of Monte Cassino: whereas most civilians immediately feel extreme pain after breaking a limb, the majority of these soldiers felt nothing for some time. One factor which influences the perception of pain is control: burn patients who participate in the removal of their damaged skin feel less pain than those who lie still, since they feel they are in control of their pain.

This is exactly what happens in the case of scarification: by meditating upon the pain, by blocking out anxiety, it is possible to enjoy pain. It may be that this is accomplished by a release of adrenaline (c.f. the Monte Cassino example). What makes pain a negative experience is not the pain itself, but the the mix of pain and anxiety. Remove the anxiety and pain becomes a high.

If scarification flies in the face of pain vs pleasure rationality, this is because rationality is both unrealistic and undesirable. According to psychologist Dorothy Hayden, masochistic sexual behaviour is most common among high-stress, successful people who are sick of being "on top". And while this may sound kinda kooky and deranged, look at the relatively "normal" behaviour of athletes pushing their bodies past the pain barrier, or women who subject themselves to painful cosmetic operations. No Pain, No Gain ain't exactly the hardest slogan to understand - or, as the military school of life would have it, "What does not kill me only makes me stronger". And hey, scars are beautiful.
Saturday, September 15th, 2007
9:50 am
Til Death Do Us Part XXXIII
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R.I.P Baiji

Poor baiji, the white-fin Yangtze river dolphin. Latin name lipotes vexillifer, locally known as "goddess of the Yangtze" and "panda in water", now known as Extinct. She was unknown one day and gone the next.

According to the local legends of China's Yangtze river basin, the blind and effectively deaf baiji dolphins who inhabit the river are the reincarnation of a princess who, refusing to marry a man she did not love, was drowned by her kinsmen by bringing shame upon their house. As Douglas Adams and Mark Cawardine wrote in Last Chance to See, if they are all the same princess "she must have led a life of exquisite sinfulness... her reincarnations are constantly being mangled in ships' propellers, snared in fishermen's nets full of hooks, blinded, poisoned and deafened."

The baiji lived in the Yangtze river for twenty million years, and was so evolutionarily distinct that she counted as an entire mammalian family, all by herself. Growing up to eight feet in length and paler than other dolphins, with a distinctive long snout, she was not officially discovered until a Yankee killed one and dragged it back to the Smithsonian in 1914; Chinese biologist Professor Zhou found another one in the fifties, but no-one really cared until some peasants found another baiji in 1984 and told the Tongling Municipal Government. In 1986 she was listed as endangered, with just 400 left in existence.

See No Pollution: the Yangtze river basin, 6,300 km long, is home to one tenth of the entire global human population. Owing to the poor state of China's roads (at least until the last decade), the Yangtze has long been China's main highway. It is a shitty, filthy brown mess, and so was not much good for baiji's eyes. Therefore, baiji was blind. Whereas other dolphins have eyes on the sides of their heads for seeing fishies with, the baiji's eyes evolved to sit on the top of her head; their only use was for telling where light came from, which let her known which way was up and which down.

Hear No Pollution: All dolphins locate via echolocation, bouncing sound off of their surroundings in order to find their way. While most dolphins are so good at echolocation that they can find a small ring on the sea bed, echolocation was even more important for the baiji as she could not see through her murky surroundings. However, because the Yangtze is crammed full of churning and spluttering boat engines all going about their business, the only sound the baiji could ever hear was a pure, sustained blast of white noise. Unable to see or hear, the baiji floundered like a floundery helpless thing. Baiji expert Professor Zhou told Adams and Cawardine that when a dolphin hears a boat she will attempt to dive down and surface behind it. When every boat is followed by another, this tends to results in a meeting with nasty mister propeller and, subsequently, dead baiji.

Speak nevermore, because of pollution. Well, that and the propellers. Baiji were never successfully bred in captivity; the only captive baiji, Qi Qi, died in 2002, and no wild specimens have been seen since. In late 2006, Dr Samuel Turvey from the Zoological Society of London and August Pfluger from Switzerland's baiji.org led an expedition to find any remaining baiji and move them to Tian'ezhou reserve, a 21km lake kept safe to the dolphin. Despite thoroughly searching 1,669 kms of the river with hydrophones in an attempt to hear the baiji's distinctive whistling communication, the expedition found only boats - 19,830 of them, one for every 800m of river. The Yangtze is so polluted that the UN has declared it a dead zone, with not enough oxygen to support fish life.

So this year, in the journal Biology Letters, the baiji was declared extinct. While it is very likely that, had there been any baiji remaining in the Yangtze, Turvey and Pfluger would have missed them. They searched via sound, yet the number of boats chugging engines through the water will make the baiji unfindable - and thus there is still a good chance that some baiji remain. However, this same fact of unfindability also means that, even if there are some baiji left, we cannot locate them to save them; and if they have not succumbed yet to the fate of propellors, fishing and pollution, they cannot last much longer. So they are either all gone or as good as gone.

Half of all recorded dead baiji in the last two decades have been killed by the local fishermen's lines, which are normally one kilometre in length and dotted with hundreds of large bare hooks. Despite the creation of reserves, and the sale of a myriad baiji merchandise (baiji beer, baiji phosphorous fertiliser, etcetera), all attempts to save her failed. She was the first large vertebrate species to become extinct in fifty years, and only the fourth entire mammalian family to become extinct in the last five centuries. She was also the first species of cetacean (porpoise, whale and dolphin) to have been driven to extinction by human activity alone. Now, the Chinese government did attempt to save her by setting up reserves, but as her habitat was left to fester it was all pointless, and now she is gone for good. Fuck people are shit.

* * * * * * * * *

Til Death Do Us Part XXXII

R.I.P Undie 500

ENSOC rule 1: “All cars MUST be road legal (WOF + Rego) ON THE DAY. You won't be allowed in if not.”

For the last two years, the Undie 500, when thousands of stumbling, side-walk urinating Canterbury engineers descend upon Dunedin in cheap cars fitted with nifty costumes, has devolved into rioting. Despite the best efforts of ENSOC (engineering society of Canterbury) organisers, police and Otago Uni, this year’s scenes of rioting eclipsed those which have gone before. Now, Ensoc’s website lists a set of charming little rules supposed to temper this sort of behaviour. But smashing things is fun. Being a fucking moron and attacking firemen is a dumb and spiteful activity – which is the very reason it seems such fun after a couple dozen Tuis. And so, after a glorious 19-year history, the Undie 500 is no more. Dunedin’s mayor Peter Chin, along with the Presidents of both Canterbury and Otago’s students associations, have declared the event extinct.

ENSOC rule 2:...Collapse )
Sunday, September 2nd, 2007
6:18 pm
Til Death Do Us Part - 3rd Quarter 2007
Til Death Do Us Part XXVII
R.I.P Kurt Joseph Waldheim, 1918 – 2007.
Last month, Kurt Waldheim, former United Nations Secretary General (1972-81) and president of Austria (1986-92), passed away of congestive heart failure. It was fitting that he should slip from this world so quietly, at the venerable age of 88, after a decade of quiet retirement. It was fitting, for Waldheim was a man who carefully bottled up his demons and, even when they leaked out for all the world to gawk at, refused to confront their scary fangs or the corpses they left in their wake.

Til Death Do Us Part XXVIII
R.I.P Mayhem: Dead 1969 - 1991; Euronymous 1968 - 1993.
On a windswept fiord, where the ravens swoop and dive, a pasty man in black leather pants raises his hands in a devil-fingered salute. It is time to “fuck shit up”, as it were, black metal style.

Til Death Do Us Part XXIX
R.I.P. Homo Sapiens.
Farewell to the Hairless Ape
The End. Charles Taze Russell and his Jehovah’s Witnesses believed it would come in the year 1914, but although the World went to war, the ground did not dry up and the seas did not boil. A number of acquaintances of mine, who spend much of their time searching for certain species of wild fungi, cite 2012 as the point at which mankind will slip into a state of chaos, because the Mayan calendar says so.

All forms of life become extinct or evolve. The total human population is currently going through the sort of population spike which, when studied in colonies of bacteria, always leads to a depletion of resources and subsequent total extinction (the J-Curve). Without spouting out paranoid fables or going in for the all-too-predictable ringing of the doomsday bell, we may well ask if the end is coming soon. But why?

And how? And will mankind’s greed lead to his extinction, or will a collapse of civilisation as we know it simply bring about a simpler tribal way of life, albeit carried out on abandoned freeways and in absurd gladiatorial pits featuring Tina Turner? Salient feature writer Tristan Egarr ponders such questions.

Til Death Do Us Part XXX
R.I.P. The Feminazi.
She who never was yet is nevertheless feared shall now be proclaimed - deceased.

It is time to sound the death-knell to a phantom image of matriarchy, created by those men who are too lazy to compete in a world in which a woman, who is more capable or qualified than them, is allowed to compete for “their” jobs. And, well, because: a woman who doesn’t laugh at a sexist joke is going to INVADE POLAND!

Til Death Do Us Part XXXI
R.I.P. Ritalin 1998 - 2007.
“The night’s gone wrong Now the whiskey’s all gone
And it’s looking like the acid might have won.”

After nine years’ havoc-wreaking, Dunedin’s lords of thrash-punk are calling it a day. Ritalin have been New Zealand’s most shambolic, uncontrollable and, above all else, committed band over the last decade.
Wednesday, June 6th, 2007
8:52 pm
Here are my last two columns, didn't post them on time but then they're kinda mediocre.
I promise to post more rambly ramblies soon.

Til Death Do Us Part XXV
R.I.P Crown Shakur, March – April 2004

Crown Shakur died on April 25, 2004 in Atlanta, Georgia, at six weeks of age, so malnourished that doctors could count all the bones in his body without removing his skin. On the May 2 this year his parents, Lamont Thomas (31) and Jade Sanders (27), were convicted of malice murder, felony murder, involuntary manslaughter and cruelty to children. Shakur died because he was raised on a diet of soy milk and apple juice. His parents’ defence? Why, they were only trying to adhere to a vegan lifestyle.

One could argue that the life sentence handed out to this relatively poor black couple was a result of the jury’s intolerance. As Thomas argued...Collapse )

Til Death Do Us Part XXVI
R.I.P (and Good Bloody Riddance) Jerry Falwell 1933-2007

Matthew 6:24: “Ye cannot serve both God and Mammon.

”Rev. Jerry Falwell: “Oh yeah? Just watch me.”

Jerry Falwell was born to an alcoholic businessman in Virginia, and born again in Christ while at University. Upon returning to his home town, he set up a church in a Donald Duck factory - featuring Christian karate, Jesus jewellery and the Old Time Gospel Hour televangelical show, syndicated to 681 stations. With an income of some $45 million per year, he founded Liberty University in 1971. In 1979 he set up Moral Majority Incorporated, to bring his message into politics and take down feminism. One branch of his movement campaigned to outlaw obscene, anatomically-correct gingerbread men.

Republican Strategist Ralph Reed told Fox News that Falwell’s efforts to bring evangelicals into the political fold “elevated the civility” of the USA’s national “discourse”.

According to Christopher Hitchens, he “woke up every morning, pinching his chubby little flanks and thinking, ‘I’ve got away with it again!’” I find the latter more convincing.

For, despite his rhetoric, Falwell misappropriated millions in funds raised for famine relief in Sudan. He became involved in a bitter round of backstabbing with fellow televangelists Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart - both of whom Falwell had raised to prominence, only to help bring them down in a haze of sex-scandals.

Falwell is best remembered for his bigotry. He once said that gay folks will just as soon kill you as look at you. Which is weird. If most gay men saw, say, Orlando Bloom, they’d rather look at him than kill him. Somehow I just don’t think he understands queer folk. Apparently, we also caused 9/11. And, of course, he said that the purple Teletubby (Tinky Winky) was a bad role-model for children because he was gay. Now, I would have thought a purple blob with a television for a stomach who lives underground with giant rabbits and makes gurgling noises is kind of an irrelevant role model, whatever its sexuality. But maybe I just don’t understand evangelists.

I now give the floor up to Christopher Hitchens, who summed up the life of this little toad on CNN:
“People like that should be out in the street, shouting and hollering with a cardboard sign, and selling pencils from a cup. The whole consideration of this horrible little person is offensive to very, very many of us who have some regard for truth, and for morality, and who think that ethics do not require that lies be told to children by evil old men.”
Sunday, May 13th, 2007
9:57 pm
Til Death Do Us Part XXIV
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R.I.P Elagabulas, First Empress of Rome, 204-222 AD.
Elagabalus, otherwise known as Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, was crowned Rome’s twenty-fifth imperial overlord at the tender age of fourteen. A troop of moody soldiers, camped out and upset at the death of their beloved emperor Caracalla, stumbled upon the young princeling while he was ensconced in fine robes and jewel-studded shoes, celebrating sacred rites of the Most Pointy Black Stone of the Sun God Elah-Gabal, from whom the young ruler took his name.

A spry and feisty child with a taste for bejeweled gowns, his coronation was arranged by Elagabalus’ scheming grandmamma Julia Maesa. It was to culminate in his marriage to the Carthaginian sun-goddess Tanit. When this fell through (due in no small part to the difficulties inherent in coupling with a divine statue), he was wed sacrilegiously to a Vestal Virgin, Aquilia Severa, forcing her to break a divine life of chastity for the sake of a barren marriage.

Barren, for none of these entanglements with holy women, cooked up to endear him to the great frat-boy network that was the Roman army, really appealed to the lad. By promoting his God of the Unconquered Sun over the family gods of Rome, Elagabalus flirted dangerously with moral outrage. Living in a constant state of paranoia that granny would lop him off and replace him with cousin Alex did not help him cope with the fickle power-games of Rome.

But what really ground the gears of the imperium was that Elagabalus decided he would rather be empress than emperor. With toes treading in powders of silver and gold, and fair locks of hair ensconced in a tiara, he traipsed about his many palaces in feminine negligee. He would throw whores from their brothels so that he might have first pick of Rome’s stable hands, whom he would take to bed as his emperors-for-the-night. His fave squeeze was the charioteer and former slave Hierocles. The 'empress' demanded that Hierocles beat him when he was a very naughty girl – which was often, as he sent agents all through Rome to find men with large shafts for his pleasure.

But Elagabalus was not happy. He so wanted to be empress that he squandered a fortune searching for a way to surgically implant a vulva upon his royal flesh. Technology was not up to the job, and Rome tired of his tendency to promote his hick boyfriend to offices of great power. Thus, after he failed to do away with cousin Alex, his military guard turned upon him. His bloodied body, besides that of his dear mum, was found mashed in the Tiber one spring morn in 222. Poor, lost and sparkly boy.
Saturday, May 12th, 2007
5:59 pm
Sunday, May 6th, 2007
10:53 pm
Til Death Do Us Part XXIII
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R.I.P The Oppressed Banana Tree
The rich can, alas, get away with murder. And when their victim is a helpless banana tree, rooted in too-solid soil that shackles him to his mistress and executioner, the rich may play with his life and emotions like a toy to their kittenish claws. For Aishwarya Rai has married a banana tree, and this tree is DOOMED.

Aishwarya Rai, she of the eyebrows arched all the way to the heavens, who wafts through Bollywood with an preening air of vacant dismissal. Rai, the modern, feistily bookfiendish Lizzy Becket of Bride and Prejudice who somehow manages to fall for the insipid farce of a Darcy that is Martin Henderson. She wanted to marry the legendary Amitabh Bachchan’s young son Abhishek – but, alas, her Mars and Saturn are in the seventh house. She is therefore a manglik dosh.

According to the Hindustan Times, certain strains of Hindu teaching reveal that the manglik dosh are astrologically cursed to suffer trouble in their marriages – infidelity, a never-ending spat with the mother-in-law, sickness and hot-headedness, divorce or even the premature death of their husband are the fated lot of the manglik dosh. The solution? To first marry a tree or urn, then pre-empt the curse by becoming a widow, and finally marrying their true love once the curse has dissipated. And this is where the banana tree comes in: in order to ensure that their daughter-in-law is not a she-devil, using her curse to claw through their son’s tender body and stacks of gold, the Bachchan family have been attending cleansing ceremonies with Aishwarya, including one in Bangalore during which she was betrothed to a banana tree with absolutely no consideration for the tree’s feelings on the matter.

And so the sinister toll of the black widow calls to the tree… ominously, she has already felt the curse lift and gone on to marry Abhishek, while the fate of the poor banana tree has been withheld. Which goes to show that even when the rich are getting away with murder in order to escape the supposedly god-given fates which poor banana trees are obliged to accept, the mainstream press (being as awfully unhip as it is) does not even challenge their sinister silences.

Now, I hear what you are thinking, dear reader. Since, as we all know, astrology was banged together by a bunch of early Hellenic and Brahmanic mystics according to a geocentric view of the solar system, in which the planets revolved around the earth through various “houses” of stars, how could a modern, enlightened women such as Rai use it to justify such callous acts against a banana tree? And I am afraid I do not know.

Perhaps it is because India, with its dozen-odd television channels devoted to astrology, takes the whole thing kinda seriously – not as seriously as Myanmar, which moved its capital city into the jungle a couple of years ago because of what the stars said, but still… Anyhu, since Bachchan’s family is universally loved, whereas Rai is often scorned by the Bollywood press for being a 33-year-old spinster with (gasp!) former involvement with men, she is just trying to stop the public from telling her fiancé that their marriage is a curse.

Well, many have balked at her cruelty – Lawyer Shruti Singh has filed a suit against the couple’s families, saying such ceremonies are in violation of the Indian Constitution and offensive to women because they derive from the caste system. But even those who oppose the marriage on legal principles have ignored the fact that a tree is one of mother earth’s creatures, just as deserving of life, liberty, and the right to vote as any man or woman, and just as deserving of a legal minimum wage for its hard work growing bananas. I do not want to have the sad duty of writing an obituary for this tree once its inevitable felling is announced; rather, I shall endeavour to save it, yea.

I hereby call upon all those who accept the sentience of the Tree and the universal power of the Union of United Socialist Flora to take a stand against the oppressive space lords of Bollywood. Do not let them corrupt you with their damn catchy dance numbers, rather, fear! Demand that the archaic practice of marrying and murdering inanimate shit is consigned to deep the red massacre that is the people’s flag! And if they refuse, we shall defeat them with the powerful sobbing of our lentil tears. Then we shall go knit some group organic pottery until we feel better. For a banana tree may not be allowed to suffer, no matter how gorgeously Aish wafts. Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case.
Saturday, May 5th, 2007
9:54 am
Til Death Do Us Part XXII
R.I.P Eric, Dylan, Kimveer and Sun
(n.b. this is much like one of my last-year's columns, but well, I have a new readership this year)

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The Trenchcoat Mafia
“YOU KNOW WHAT I LOVE!? Natural SELECTION!!! God damn it’s the best thing that ever happened to the Earth. Getting rid of all the stupid and weak organisms.” Words left by Eric Harris on his website eight years ago, just days before he and Dylan Klebold went on a shooting spree at Columbine High School, systematically picking off 11 humans with their guns. And to prove he was a nice guy, Eric added “YOU KNOW WHAT I HATE!? RACISM!... don't let me catch you making fun of someone just because they are a different color because I will come in and break your fucking legs with a plastic spoon, I don’t care how long it takes. And that’s both legs mind you.”

At the time, the killings were blamed upon goth culture, especially Marliyn Manson – even though Eric and Dylan hated Manson, since they thought he was a fag (they were Rammstein fans). Last year, Kimveer Gill went on a similar killing spree at Dawson English Language College in Montreal, though he only killed one. He too was clad in black; and he too left us a message (on VampireFreaks.com): “Metal and goth kick ass. Life is a video game, you've got to die sometime.”

But blaming these deaths on heavy metal or video games is pretty inane. In 1989, 25-year-old child abuse survivor Marc Lépine gunned down 14 female engineering students at Montreal École Polytechnique, while bellowing out his war-cry: “I HATE FEMINISTS!” Somehow I don’t think vampires were to blame for this crime. School shootings are not the exclusive domain of troubled black-clad youths.

The ? Mark Killer
But once again a dark and disturbed young man has gunned down humans at his school: this April, Cho Seung-Hui beat Eric and Dylan’s toll, notching up an impressive 32 at Virginia Tech University before turning the gun on himself. Poses he left in a video message to NBC have been compared to the film Oldboy, in which the anti-hero Dae-Su, unjustly imprisoned for fifteen years, goes on a rampage. But he also cited Christ as an influence: “You thought it was one pathetic boy's life you were extinguishing. Thanks to you, I die like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and defenceless people.” Quite how gunning people down is similar to be nailed to a plank Cho does not really explore, except to add that “Jesus loves crucifying me.”

Between wearing dark glasses inside and signing his name as a ? mark, Cho follows the Columbine mode perfectly. He too rails against the rich and stupid with their Mercedes, their “golden necklaces” and their “trust funds”, who have “blood on their hands” for his actions. But at least Eric Harris was more honest, admitting that he loathed the weak and vulnerable, whereas Cho actually thought he was doing something to help them.

Somebody’s Fault
Of course, all this has to be somebody’s fault. Could be the mental health system for not detecting Cho’s mania; could be the Powers that Be for refusing to tighten gun control; could be the University authorities for treating the initial killings with such nonchalance that they kept school going as if everything was normal, allowing Cho to continue after a wee lunch break. Or it could, predictably, be the fault of violent music, movies and computer games. And so the blame game begins. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. Back in ’99 I was something of a baby bat (tweeny “goth” kid). Before the Trenchcoat Mafia massacre, we were often treated like “those little poofs with the black nail polish”. Afterwards, we became “those little poofs who might fucking kill me.” These killings gave us some handy mana; it’s just a shame the price was paid in blood.

Ultimately, one is tempted to simply conclude by following Eric Harris in asking, “Why must so many people be so stupid?” Sometimes people kill, and it’s pretty vapid to insist that there has to be a solution. But I think a better conclusion is provided by that old pantyhose jingle: “Feeling fine / dancing the columbine / looking good / and I knew that I would.” And to remind these boys that mass murder is just lame. Stop blaming the world for picking on you and takes some responsibility for yourselves, you twats.
Saturday, April 28th, 2007
1:38 pm
Til Death Do Us Part XXI
With apologies to Bill Hicks
(I wrote this a month ago, unfortunately I am lazy because I am.)

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R.I.P Your Childhood Dreams
‘Bout a Man Who Was
Awfully Tortured.
(Involves Candy)

Easter! Commemorating Our Lord Jesus Christ being brutally tortured – then turned into a zombie – but by using rituals from pagan northern spring rites – despite the fact that it is more autumnal here in godzone. And how, may I ask, do we make this zombierific spring-fall celebration? Why, by LYING to our Children that a Bunny gives them Chocolate, of course.

God I love how logical humans are. Look at the way they trace those lines of reasoning, the ones that deduct right over their heads like so many concorde jets. Instead of making up our own stories for our progeny, we tack onto what the Warehouse, Cadbury and our peers sell us. How does it help to tell your kid that a bunny hides shit you bought, even as you can watch little Sebastian grow aware that an animal with no opposable thumbs is not going to be buying him his favourite drugs (sugar and cocoa) from the shops, sneaking it behind obstacles, and repeat ad infinitum for the myriad other bemused kiddy-winkles?

It would probably be more appropriate to stare at paintings of Jesus’ naked torso, torn abs gleaming with sticky red life-fluid but with that ultimately pious look in his eye, like he wants to be everything. And while we are doing so, oughtn’t we rather whip ourselves with three cords, each with a sharp pin tied to their end – the delicious flagellum? I know I would. Maybe with some Cradle. Some red wine.
I will, of course, keep the chocolate.

(‘cos Jesus looks sexy without his shirt)…
and it’s what he would have wanted.
Wednesday, April 25th, 2007
4:33 pm
Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence.

From these contraries spring what the religious call Good & Evil. Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy.

Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell.

. - William Blake

and on to soggy climes
of bloody dice and tousled hair,
fate waits within the wings
of the predatory wasp's pernicious stare.

As cold boys toss and wide awake
they contemplate the corners of their beds,
rock 'n roll posters glare down at them
for they do not know what to do with the air.
. - Tristan
Sunday, April 22nd, 2007
11:38 pm
Til Death Do Us Part XX
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R.I.P Lord Francis Bacon, the Viscount Saint Alban, 1561-1626
Francis Bacon was a man of many meats. No, not the painter Francis Bacon - though he did paint some rather sexy carcass portraits. I mean the late-Renaissance philosopher and discraced judge, Lord Francis Bacon. For, though this hard-headed empiricist may not have invented bacon (as Wikipedia so scurrilously claims), the man doth share his name with the meat; and since the meat be most scrumptious, the man fucking ruleth. Yet meat it was that brought about his death.

Francis Bacon was the child of a Lord Keeper of the Great Seal and Ann Cooke Bacon. Which was, of course, rather handy – since, when her son wished to tell her to prepare his favourite snack, all he had to do was call out her name. But, I digress. Young Francis received instruction at Trinity College, Cambridge. Here, he became a disciple of Aristotle’s method of observation, at a time when Platonic speculation was all the rage. Francis endeared himself to both Queen Liz and her successor, naughty James; yet his friend John Aubrey called him a pederast, and a fellow MP would accuse him of “the most horrible and secret sinne of sodomie”, based upon his penchant for young welshmen. Although he became a successful judge, this career was to end in disgrace in 1621, when he was convicted on twenty-three counts of accepting bribes. He admitted taking the money, though he claimed it never swayed his judgement – he simply convicted the crims after fattening his pockets with their cash.

But the Viscount Saint Alban was most famous for his philosophy. Stating that “Knowledge is power”, Bacon sought to take a hammer to the idols of ignorance; to construct ideas based upon experience, rather than judging one’s experience according to preconceived notions. He designed the magical land of Bensalem along empirical lines, a land where all and sundry would be taught to know and thus conquer nature. Men would sail the oceans to collect and draw the entirety of existence; they would then hold divers meetings in which axioms were formed and the minds of men made strong. This world-view also led Lord Bacon to one rather intriguing bout of culinary experimentation which, alas, also brought about his death.

In the early spring of 1626, the Viscount made a journey through London snow. Wherupon an idea struck him – might it not be possible to preserve meat in the snowy cold? Plucking up handfuls of snow, Bacon marched into the house of a poor woman, from whom he received an item of poultry with which to conduct his researches. While we latter-day folk know this invention as the refrigerator, Bacon’s endeavours failed miserably. Firstly, he contracted pneumonia from all that trudging about in the name of science; then, in an attempt to cure his illness, he consumed the item of snow-stuffed poultry and collapsed (after three days in damp linen) of suffocation. Bacon - a man of science who died of science, and a man of meat who died of meat. Snow happens.
Monday, April 16th, 2007
12:16 am
Til Death Do Us Part XIX
"I think our planet's immune system is trying to get rid of us - and should."
- Kurt Vonnegut

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Obituary: NCG 2440
On the 6th of February, the Hubble telescope photographed the planetary nebula NGC 2440. This great ball of colour is the bloated cadaver of a star long ago deceased. When alive, NGC 2440 (which is some 4,000 light years from you and me) had been about the size of our own sun, and her biography tells us much about the fate of our own solar system.

NCG 2440 was born many billions of years ago; her maternal womb was a molecular cloud, an abnormally dense space several light years across. For some reason, this womb was penetrated by something – the father could have been an explosion, a spiral arm of mature stars, a tidal wave of gas – bringing about an orgasm of gravitational collapse, the result of which was a baby star foetus. Over ten billion years this foetus, a burning hot ball of hydrogen floating in the nether, fused its hydrogen into helium.

For NCG 2440, fusing hydrogen into helium was like breathing. Fusion produced an outward-thrusting counter-balance, preventing her from collapsing under the inward compression of her own gravity; by continually fusing, she kept her body in a state of equilibrium. But as she moved into adulthood, her store of helium built up, her hydrogen whittled away to nothing. This made her gravity to contract and brought about hotter and hotter flushes in her complexion.

Our sun, who still has some 5 billion years of happy fusing to look forward to, bobs about with a core temperature of around 15 million degrees. But when NCG 2440 ran out of hydrogen, she stopped fusing, sat on her gaseous laurels and hit a fever of 100 million degrees. Suddenly her helium became confused, fused into carbon and oxygen and exploded into a red giant the size of Mars’ orbit. In this gigantic, bloated corpse of a star, great spouts of gas and space dust erupted from her collapsing body much like spores from the pustules of a rotting human. But according to scientists who know these things, NCG 2440 did not cease in one great movement; she died in fits and starts, episodic tearings of her flesh over many millions of years.

The tiny white dot in the centre of her nebulous remains, the tiny white dwarf skeleton of the former star, burns at 200,000 degrees. She is surrounded by blue clouds of hydrogen, red clouds of nitrogen and oxygen. Before our star collapses back into such a repose, she too will explode in a great fit of rage, consuming all her young – the earth included – like the vengeful bitch-goddess that she is. Our oceans will boil and our soil will fry. So remember when bowing to the sun for your morning prayers, that our great sky-mother does not respect her children; and that she will set a mortal end to the life-span of man (if we do not suicide ourselves first). But gosh, isn’t NCG 2440 a pretty corpse?
Sunday, March 25th, 2007
9:00 pm
Til Death Do Us Part XVIII
Obituary: R.I.P Jean Baudrillard.
French philosopher. Born 1929, died March 6, 2007.

“Dying is pointless. You have to know how to disappear.”

The body of Jean Baudrillard died the other day, and now it rots away. But if this philosopher taught us anything, it is that the World is not made up primarily of fleshy things which produce ideas. For the more we make copies of things – written records, photographs, computer simulations – the more our world is a frantic recreation of itself: it is the ideas which make the fleshy things. And since Baudrillard’s books will continue to be photocopied in ‘varsity libraries for yonks, there is a Baudrillard with us yet.

Twenty years ago postmodernism was Hip; students would name-drop Baudrillard to score some intellectual poon. But, whenever something has been cool for a while, it subsequently becomes the In Thing To Do to mock it. So if you want to get laid you’re better off making fun of how Baudrillard “doesn’t make sense”. Which is rubbish, and just goes to show how lame Uni’ students are.

Baudrillard’s “hyperreality”, the idea that representations can take over reality, is not new. In the sixteenth century Montaigne said “I have no more made my book than my book hath made me” – so Po’ Mo’ dates back to the Renaissance, at least. What Baudrillard did was use hyperreality to describe modern technology. Case in point: I have a friend who refuses to go to parties because he prefers his World Of Warcraft friends, with whom he can shoot monsters with fireballs from his hands, instead of standing about uncomfortably, drinking pretentious drinks and trying to act cool.

Baudrilllard also described the current world order as hyperreal, most notoriously in The Gulf War Did Not Take Place, where he argued that a wholly one-sided massacre packaged for CNN, in which the enemy was nevertheless not conquered, does not count as a war: “America, Saddam Hussein and the Gulf powers are fighting over the corpse of war.” If anything, the 2003 attack on Iraq confirms his thesis that war has become a video game. Rolling Stone correspondent Evan Wright, embedded in a group of marines who led the charge through the desert, recorded the response of one young gunner after a firefight: “I was just thinking one thing when we drove into that ambush… Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. I felt like I was living it when I seen the flames coming out of the windows, the blown-up car in the street, guys crawling around shooting at us. It was fucking cool.”

Yet the men, women and children this marine killed were real. Their tears and suffering are real. And yes, Baudrillard really died. His lungs stopped heaving, his heart gave up pumping blood to his flesh and his brain decayed. There is still a harsh world of cruelty under the hyperreal, and so Baudrillard is dead. That is all.
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