Pandemictivy 1: Think too much, go crazy, run on hill, feel slightly better. 

i was born a hypochondriac. came out wondering what weird illness this was, this strange sensation of having sensations. i've been expecting personal, societal and environmental calamities ever since. instead, i got three and a half decades of relatively hazardless creative, sensual and philosophical exploration. i was one of the historical anomalies: young and male and not shot in the back by a general or else drawn and quartered and eaten by wolves or even gangbanged by horny succubi and then left to protect the remaining erections from repetitive strain complications resolved by depenestration.

i was lucky.

what did you expect? what did you get?

what do you expect next? what will you actually get?

when will covid-19 end? where is the voice of reassurance? where is God now He'd finally be of use? (or She or Them or however "God" self-identifies)

a photo of the dying on respirators makes my chest tight. i long to escape this small parcel of space generously allotted to me by a family who took me in when i happened to be half-homeless and half homewardly aspirational when the pandemic plonked itself upon us and WHAM-BAM 

i escape in a borrowed car with the windows up and find a lonely trail on a mountain and run until i can breathe again and then sit, weeping, watching the city of adelaide, longing for a hometown i always longed to leave, because it's familiar, and nothing is familiar anymore, but this view, of a strange but beautiful city silently trembling before a haze where the ocean disintegrates into the sky, this view... this view... it is something solid. not familiar, perhaps, but solid. it is where civilisation meets the apple tree man and i can breathe again. i weep. my nose runs. then i run. a hiker with a dog tells me there's a brown snake further along the trail. we keep at least a metre and a half distance between us. i run towards the snake. it does its expected thing and fucks off into the scrub. but imagine that? i think. a brown snake with no fear. it wouldn't go anywhere, just calmly watch me approaching like some haggard pandemic for which it has the perfect vaccine.

will our loved ones die? will the "boomer remover" kill god? will i be one of the unlucky young ones? will the plane crash? will a martyr with a bomb-vest board this bus? will every kid wearing a trench-coat listening to marilyn manson come into my classroom and shoot me in the head? will i be sodomised and eviscerated by ivan milat while i try to get some shut-eye in the van? will future me find present me via time travel and commit murder-suicide and yet somehow spare himself?

this has been such a weird life. but how could it be any different? what could possibly constitute normal?

when i arrived nobody told me the return date. but anyway. maybe for now we won't have to pay taxes. 

 

 

 

 

 

Planet Canvas  

it was early december, 2019, and a toxic smoke haze rolled in over canberra. the beautiful and everpresent mountain ranges disappeared from view. the streets became eerily quiet silver vistas from which the blocked silhouettes of the occasional car ghosted past. i stared out the window of my apartment and could no longer see the gum trees in the neighbouring vacant block. the resident kangaroos had nowhere to hide, but were hidden well enough. as an asthmatic I can't do outdoor physical labour in toxic smoke without potentially fatal consequences, and even though i had hardly enough savings to cover rent, i had to cancel a large and physical outdoors job chopping and stacking wood that would have got me out of financial doldrums for a month or so. for the next fortnight i stayed locked up and sweltering as the unrelenting haze choked out most activity in the city. thankfully, i had some borrowed recording equipment and some instruments lying around. they didn't just save my sanity, they captured the emotional landscape of grief, hope and despair of living on a dying planet. all the hopes of humanity, of aspirational cultural longings, seemed metaphorically fixed, lifeless but expressive, in a screen of ash and embers. making music isn't just a selfish pastime that i've done my whole life just to make myself feel good. deep down i've really believed in the "human project", the archives of art and culture produced by visionaries and dreamers who perhaps felt too much to comfortably exist in their immediate surroundings, but have longed to contribute somehow. i wanted to contribute, somehow, but as the smoke kept killing the sunlight and the ability to do much at all, and all across australia millions of hectares of land burnt to a crisp, i felt a sickening despair at the realisation there may be no legacy to leave, no contribution to make, as there won't be anyone left to appreciate it, or be appreciated by it. each one of us has known from an early age that one day we are going to die. and yet we persist in the face of this certain doom. we make lives, we create things, we have good times and bad times and construct meaning for ourselves in the face of an all-consuming mystery. part of what keeps us doing these things (living) is a feeling of legacy. we leave things behind for others to carry on. memories. songs. stories. some even leave property portfolios. but what's the point of continuing if there's nobody left to carry our efforts... but then, why do anything? these questions haunt us all, in our solitary chambers, as a once-in-a-century pathogen roils across the globe. good luck with the answers. this music is merely an attempt...

image by Cicatrix

Tom is a master of the songwriting craft.”

Middle Tennessee Music