Moving on

End of May I leave for my final appointment as Board member of the Association for Progressive Communications . That’s pretty much 25 years of voluntary work with this unique and tireless organisation. I think I’ve been on the Board for three terms now, the last two as Secretary.

At recent meetings I’ve marvelled at the eagerness and dynamism of our new team members, a new generation of internet savvy rights activists, researchers, writers and poets.

My first official overseas APC appointment was at the first United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio, 1992. I saw there how well we could live together in spite of the machine guns over-looking our meeting spaces and the homeless spirited away.

When ever I hear of a new permaculture initiative, another clean energy solution, great ways of feeding and nourishing people with minimum resources I feel we have so much more to live for… and this evening hearing the outstanding BLOW perform at The Horn in Collingwood I want to know that we as a species will live long and fruitful lives in the harvest of our creations…

Trailer – The Light Show

The Light Show is a documentary about legendary projection artist Hugh McSpedden with an original soundtrack by Sun-Bus-5 performed at the 2012 Melbourne Fringe.

In 1968 Australian projection artist Hugh McSpedden began shooting 8mm film. By the 1970s his films magnified into large scale projections using as many as 45 or more projectors. In 1983, grafting modified projectors and lenses together, he created what is considered the first large scale projection onto a public building in Australia, Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building. The Light Show was an avant garde mix of interview and performance focusing on Hugh’s life in light that took place over four nights at the 2012 Melbourne Fringe festival. The Light Show documentary is a glimpse into Hugh’s work with extracts from the 2012 performance event highlighting his fluid and multiple projector array.

Limited release CD/DVD and digital album from:

Reflecting on Sydney’s outer west

As had boats brought my parents to Australia so too had they carried hundreds of Hazara men, women and children who sought asylum here. I had the good fortune to work with some of them, to produce a mixed media installation which has brought me back to my outer western Sydney homeland.

In 1976 Liverpool was home to both the aspirant Liverpool Green Valley Community Radio station and one of three video access centres in Sydney’s outer western suburbs. I had my curiosity piqued by both. Fortunately for me both were in the same building; above a milk-bar directly opposite Liverpool railway station.

I spent countless after school hours, weekends and school holidays there. I learnt how to edit video, to script a scene and frame a shot and when I mastered the radio broadcast console I grew confident with my own voice eventually hosting my own midnight to dawn program during test broadcasts. It seemed totally natural to work in both video and sound, from lugging porta-paks to spinning turntables, toggling between Umatic tape decks and threading Revox reel-to-reel recorders. What could be more normal to a 16 year old than holding a video camera in one hand and a microphone in the other?

It was the beginning of an independent media movement in Australia. Community media sought to use the airwaves to reach neighbourhoods with their own voices, their own stories, own languages and news that was locally and culturally relevant to them. Our audiences came from everywhere. And they still do, though there’s a whole lot more of everywhere than I knew then and the borders on the maps that intrigued me so as a child would inevitably change.

The outer west of my youth was largely populated by east and southern Europeans. It also included Lebanese and Turks, Syrians and a minority of families from English and Irish descent whose men and boys, not all but many, terrorised us foreigners. The Liverpool I remember was a frightening place. As was Cabramatta, Fairfield, Guildford, Merrylands, Granville and Auburn. I knew one indigenous family from infants and primary school. But that’s about it. It would be some years, into my early 20s before I would meet aborigines again.

Leap 37 years to 2013 and I find a very different Liverpool. In fact the outer west as I knew it is barely recognisable. Freeways, giant franchises, industrial sites and vast housing developments have consumed so many of the market gardens that had fed Sydney since the late 1940s. Where once people walked or rode bicycles to grocery stores cars now mule in tandem from street to street, penetrating deeper into suburbs flanked by bulky structures offering furniture, building supplies and flame grilled chicken. A seemingly endless fug of cars and trucks – tributaries of mobile commuters flowing from slip road to bypass – compete for space with Sydney’s expansive public transport system.

The Europeans have by and large moved on, replaced by middle eastern, north African, south and east Asian migrants and asylum seekers. It should not be forgotten why we came here regardless where we are now dispersed. We had all fled, sought sanctuary and the promise of a better, safer and prosperous life in this country. Ironic isn’t it? We come to a nation founded by gaolers and thugs with genocidal tendencies, and a fear of new arrivals, particularly those that chose the sea as the means by which to reach Australia, as if the boats that brought convicts to these shores still come.

When my parents arrived in 1950, on a two year working visa, my father was stateless, formally known as a ‘displaced person’ and my mother renounced her Austrian citizenship so as to enjoy the same benefits afforded her husband. They were cruelly treated by their hosts. Their boat docked in Pyrmont. The land of gold and honey my father had promised his wife saw them herded onto transports that took them to Villawood Hostel, now known more commonly, and aptly, as a detention centre. The men were separated from their women and children and offered to contractors who chose whom they wanted for what ever work was required. My father ended up cooking on a farm in Orange. My mother, along with every other woman off their ship, was strip naked and hosed down for lice. In front of their male guardians. She and her son were taken to another location until such time as she could be reunited with her husband. The gaolers had not yet been bred out from the land. It may take a while yet before they are.

The turn of the new century has seen these unsympathetic thugs harden their immigration policies. Asylum seekers are now the new “other”, the feared stranger, so desperate that they would cross vast and perilous oceans finding the heavy hand of a dispassionate government seeking to reap political fortune by turning their backs on the international conventions they had agreed to, conventions that ought ensure save passage for all whom flee violence and persecution. This is not a new Australia. For better or worse, we are still a product of our penal settlement origins.

The Joy of Chewing!

Last night I had a few friends round for dinner. Whipped up a pilaf with mostly vegetables from the garden, capsicum the only ingredient I’d had to purchase for the meal. The base of the meal comprised of quinoa cooked up in vegetable stock with roasted capsicum, zucchini, squash, silver-beet, garlic, mixed herbs and basil, served with dry roasted seeds. Lyn added a home made salad and dressing and Kate broiled pieces of tuna with grapes. A fine looking meal. As usual, I loaded up a fork and tucked in.

Moments into the meal Lyn asked had I heard about the 32 chew method? I’d replied, no, but I recall being advised to chew my food thoroughly when practising Taoism. He went on to explain that by chewing we produce saliva that combines with our food. The more we chew the more saliva we create, the more the saliva easier it is for all that food to be digested. Apparently saliva triggers mechanisms within our gut that helps to process all that food we consume, whereas the chunks we swallow either take more time to digest or partly morph into the stuff of cramps, bloating, constipation and possibly worse!

Almost instinctively I started chewing, moving mouthfuls from side to side in my mouth, chewing and chewing until everything became near-like fluid.

Ok. Swallow!

Now, by the time I was ready for a second helping I reduced the amount of food on my fork. The first batch was quite an effort. I was chewing far more than 32 times, but that was ok, I was kind of getting into it.

By the third go I looked at my plate and thought, jeez, I’ve gotta get through all of that? In fact, what looked like a normal portion of food was now huge and way too much for me to even contemplate eating. Thinking I’d have to chew, chew and chew my way through what remained seemed daunting. I took a third serve and chewed it down to fluid, swallowed, or rather drank it down, by which time I reckon I’d had enough and just slowed my in-take. I couldn’t finish all I’d had on my plate! I was full and by now thinking about what had just transpired.

Bounce ahead a day and I’ve been chewing everything 32 times or more, mostly more, all day. Here’s what I’ve noticed so far:

  1. I think about food often! I was shocked. Me? Filling my spare thinking time with food? I wasn’t aware how often I’d thought about food. Apparently a LOT! Now when I do, I think of having to chew it, how long it would take to masticate it to mush and so on. That’s enough to stop my thoughts from straying!
  2. Breakfast was entirely fluid. The thought of chewing in the morning didn’t seem appealing.
  3. Lunch was less than half the size of what I’d usually prepare. I chewed it to mush and was quickly full.
  4. I’m drinking water a whole lot more. In fact, I’m actually thinking about fluids a whole lot more.
  5. Thinking about the prep of food, more so than before, because the portions I’m wanting are a lot less than I’m used to and how much I’d enjoy chewing is now an issue.
  6. My jaw is feeling it!

All this within a day! I’d decided to try it out for a week. I won’t be counting 32 times everytime I chew, but I will chew until food feels like it’s well ground down. I’m astonished at how quickly my attitude to food has changed in less than 24 hours. I do eat well, but perhaps too much, and certainly I gulp more than I chew.

Whether this improves my health, I’m not sure, but one thing’s clear to me already, I’m eating less and I don’t feel bad about it. In fact, I don’t feel the drowsiness generally accompanied by what I’d thought was a full meal.

Where Did You Sleep Last Night?

One of the great songs… Recorded, I guess, according to some, in 1944, but how old it may be, who knows? Leadbelly is said to have written it. I love the inflections in his voice… no one sings “shiver” quite like Leadbelly.

This recording, originally in mono, has been processed onto a novel stereo version. Personally, I’d prefer the original recording, warts ‘n’ all.

producer . composer . artist