(or, a Queer Temper of the Times: Insecure Insurrection, May 2018)
- ‘Old school’ is an appellation meant to conjure trust and tradition. A tendency towards the tried and true of days gone by. But just like the sentiment of the Philip Larkin poem ‘This be the Verse’, from which the immortal opening line of They fuck you up, your mum and dad’ would ring tritely rueful for legions of baby boomers, who fulfilled their fate to rebel against the mores of yore only to bequeath yet another generation of misbegotten ingrates, old-style hats and coats cannot disguise the fool.
- Chips Debris does not suffer fools, despite having what many think a foolish name, unhip to the pro forma labels of status and anxiety compensation. On trend.
(How could anyone call their kid Stanza? As an entity they would only be a fraction of the whole; unless, it was a haiku. And how could a parent call a child Haiku if there wasn’t Japanese DNA in the bloodline? A travesty!)
1 May, 2018 - I don’t blame my parents.
I feel like a chip off the old block after all the times I’ve been reminded. The only difference is I did not follow in the footsteps of dad to become a champion at the woodchop, made famous on the agricultural show circuit and national TV.
- ‘Christopher’ lends itself to a more twee time and place, harking back to niceties more in keeping with a sense of fellowship and following thy leader.
Chips considers himself a little more hard-edged; sharp in a more sartorial sense. Gone is the sponsorship adorned ‘Tough Toil’ clobber more suited to nation building and synonymous with a work ethic.
- His father retained the moniker as official senior curator of public family records and did not consider junior out of step in wanting a little personal distance from the history of Christian homage. Christopher Snr was ordinary ‘Woody’ at the pub.
As debonair as it sounded, ‘Debris’ was as down to earth as one could imagine for a surname suggestive of the offcuts left strewn about the surrounding ground after a log had been dispatched. By the same token, he is still quite partial to a chocolate éclair.
Still, you can’t argue with the family tree.
5 May, 2018 - I am my own man. Out to carve my own niche.
- Having said that, his wardrobe consists mostly of retro second-hand items from opportunity or thrift shops, namely those devoted to charities looking after those less fortunate in society. He draws the line at jocks and socks, but had once come by a couple of pairs of green, army issue Y-fronts from St Vincent de Paul that would have passed muster as mutations on the theme of concentration camp style, Changi-resilient adaptation in the face of crotch rot adversity. Think of it as a reversal on the design for those infant jumpsuits with a trapdoor in the rear. Easy access and quick release. Ideal for mandatory zeal. The opposite of kept in the dark in detention. Free!
7 May, 2018 - So, why do I feel the need to impress? Why single myself out for attention, even though I think I could appear inconspicuous in the shadows of familiar folklore? That’s just it – the need to create a new folklore. A folklore worthy of another age.
Andy Thomas may well have been Australia’s first recognised NASA astronaut to reach space, but I was once determined to become Australia’s first astronaut to launch as part of this country’s new space program.
“Danger, Chips Debris.”
- Lost to an over active imagination.
11 May, 2018 - Why has the idea of a wishing tree gone out of fashion? Once planted, the idea could grow. Then they’d call me a ‘tree hugger’ or greenie, for Pete’s sake.
- Chips is partial to both the parson’s nose and poultry wishbone.
His aunt had always played the game with him of them each taking the wishbone in a pinkie and tugging to see who could snap the bigger shard. The winner got the parson’s nose.
12 May, 2018 - Well, that was idle nonsense. A daydream to fill the wee hours wasted in lieu of a lucrative alternative to existence. ‘Ennui’ is a word I’ve heard before in song, just like Old Man Emu (was it Leonard Cohen’s song book of the time aunty Noelene had?), and it sounded suitably ‘Francophilic’ (as she liked to say, thinking it sounded also vaguely suggestive of ‘hanky-panky’) to the cause of attributing one’s cultural affinities beyond the physical confines of a nation born of convict labour and genocide to embrace the motto of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.
You could forget the Statue of Liberty and the claim to offer sanctuary to huddled masses; any new colossus would need to be emblematic of the Aussie will to have a go.
(As paper weights went, it is a toss-up between Liberty, the Eiffel Tower and Apollo 11.)
Not to mention honour the extinction of a beloved marsupial. Moreover, a promise to offer respite to weary travellers determined to see the great south land close up.
The BIG Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat would have been a tourist Mecca, complete with café, gallery and merchandise shop. All in aid of raising awareness of the fragile ecosystem. Plus, a ride from tail to mouth, at which point the eager kids could exit down a giant tongue slide. Maybe should have proposed an Echidna, but the WWF might have begged to differ.
- As fragile as Chips is perceived by those all too willing to mock an entrepreneur, it seems like he had a vision for an undeniable investment opportunity.
Unfortunately, the creditors didn’t agree. Big things are out and less is apparently more; downsizing and mindfulness are in.Which reminds him, of the moment when…
A song, a smell, the simple pleasure of remembering to forget to remember, or forgetting to remember to forget.
Chips is prone to berating himself for being behind the times and slow off the mark.
Woody wouldn’t recognise himself.
17 May, 2018 - I have to do better. At least I am trying to be realistic.
How can I aspire to anything more that could prove my mettle?
When I was a kid, grandma gave me a rubber mallet which I used to try and chop down her prized liquidambar tree. No prizes there. She had been hoping that I would come to grips with a future in the judicial system and enter the legal profession as had grandpa, who was a judge.
Tiny houses are in.
So once apparently were Trojan horses.
A bet each way?
How do I impose rudiments? And not contest the face value of acceptance?Maybe I’m improbably an imposter, convinced by the accusations of others that I am who they thought me to be; who they want me to be. A clown or counsellor?
News maker or news shaker?
There are too many questions.
It’s time to fetishize the alphabet in an attempt to find a circuit breaker to masculinity’s current vogue on song, and mend the injustice doled out to stifle the vulnerable. 1, 2, 3, 4…
- LGBTQIA to the rescue! FAB.
(Overheard standing in line waiting to enter the TV studio for a live broadcast.)
“That’s not an axe. This is an axe.”
“You have a voice for radio.”
“I thought I had a face for bravado.”
“You’ll pardon me if you subscribe to be collateral damage.”
- Chips is nothing if not loquacious. And loquacious fits the bill.
- Insinuations are registered for patent pending.Is there room in this world for another serial nuisance? Seriously.It is time to up the ante.
19 May, 2018 - I have just tried to read ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ as a wager to complete a hard ask, and have made the monumental edifice of a decision to deflect from the banality of concerns not directly related to my own existence, and commit myself to a role previously otherwise cast for actors of limited range. This has to be done to minimise any distraction from the point in question. Or the issue at stake. Family connections are never enough. Too bloody long, anyway. Just like ‘Journey to the West’. I did like Monkey, though.
- Flambé! Enough of idolatrous idle chit chat. Pay attention!
- There is only one thing for it. He would have to get into the audience on Quandary A-Z. The Twittersphere can only deliver so much.
Besides, his stint as a stand-up comedian did not go quite the way he had anticipated. Observational social commentary was not his forte. He was more a Situationist. It was either that or become an arsonist. This had been a longstanding gag in his routine, but inevitably led to enquiries being made as to his whereabouts at a given time and the issue of warrants to search for accelerants.
- He really should have followed through with the plan to qualify as a barista, what with coffee being all the rage. And the interpretations of his milk froth patterns would have kept them guessing.
The law had crossed his mind as a result of his run-ins with those whose duty it is to ‘uphold the right’ and near misses as a contestant in court proceedings.
The idea of donning a silk wig appealed, but those ‘types’ he knew from acquaintance with certain land holding figures - and grandfathers - (from whom his family rented their farm), the fathers of local school boys, put him off the scent due to their capacity for capillary outbursts as a giveaway outside the pubs and clubs of the city. Anyway, Chips prefers the bleeding obviousness of his own pale imitation for his own counsel.
- Veterinary Science had seemed plausible. Being of the land, he had an affinity for all manner of fauna and loved to fawn over himself dressed in a homemade animal disguise that he would wear to bush raves. Doof Doof. Go re-configure.
20 May, 2018 - What I need is a reliable formula, as distinct from an alibi. I will subvert the agenda.
Conservation, the threat to the logging industry, gender equality, offshore processing and detention of refugees, outmoded forms of entertainment, the ‘imponderable bloom’, they are all fit to be scrutinised in a public forum. Not to mention fake news. The next #movement.
I remember a boy called Matthew who I went to school with. He was different too. His brain was getting too big for his skull and he needed procedures to release the build-up of pressure. This was not immediately noticeable because he wore his hair long in an age when boys could compete with girls for equally keen attention. A kind of fringe benefit. Ha-ha! :)
What you did notice was the purple blotch upon his face. The birthmark covered the entire left side of his face from temple to jaw. An imponderable bloom if ever there was one…
- Affect heuristic; after-effect heuristic; tautological pause for nought.
An analgesic. Something like a hangover cure.
21 May, 2018 – I have decided to lookto what I do, and how and why, not just what I do it with. I feel I could affect real change. I have original ideas or at least can use an idea to bring about something new; another idea even, as a connection between one state of denial and another of acceptance.
As sense of whole self. Not merely as a splintered offcut.
- So it was that he obtained tickets to be in the audience of the nation’s flagship source of debate. Quandary A-Z was certainly set for an opinion ticker like no other.
But would it pass the water cooler or pub test?
The bafflement was on.
The guests were to be the usual cross-section of representatives from politics, business, religious and secular beliefs, arts and entertainment franchisees and the occasional delegate from the world of sport. Who could ask for a more rounded consideration of opinions and polemics?Chips Debris, that’s who.
25 May, 2018 – I have no further need of any second-hand alienation.
I want to be the alienator. The Annihilator.
- The moderator of the evenings stoush, Kim Dovetail, is at his naturally neutral best and endeavours to give every guest (and audience member) a fair hearing, provided their input is relevant (and a means of enquiry rather than statement).
There is no room for any hint of the tall poppy syndrome. Anyone who is foolhardy enough to stick their neck out above the proverbial parapet will be quickly cut down to size.
(Not that the woodchop lacked for champions; but they were of the people, excelling in a simple sport the likes of which would not be expected to win a standing on an international stage – unless its construction made use of the very wood cut in the comp to beat any upstart challenger.)
- At least that stalwart of intelligent comedic criticism past, Bob Quark, is on the show. He of the rubber chicken on the end of a stick and megaphone-led tours through the city on modes of public transport to invade the inner sanctums of private establishments, or just run-of-the mill business premises unsuspecting of televised invasion.
27 May, 2018 – I really feel a common bond with comedian Bob Quark and am always overcome with a singular sense of his self as a strike force to show that this situation called ‘existence’ calls for a response that shows that people no longer need to pretend that they’re offended. Or confused!
It seems like a time in the prevailing culture when an authentic reaction, however steeped in perceived indignation at the behest of social media, has to be released in order to cultivate an undisguised, and not so easily digestible, raw emotion. The zeitgeist as offal? Or an affordable spirit to define?
- He has to counteract the spectacle. (Funnily enough, one reason why he had been so dismal as a woodchop prospect was that he had poor eyesight and had to wear specs of the coke bottle variety in order to see the end of his nose. Woody preferred to say they were beer goggles in reverse to increase his chances of picking up an axe handle instead of a reprehensible reptile: “There’s plenty enough snakes in the grass to go the rounds in this country without adding to the specie’s victory as another victim”– strong words for a simple home-schooled bloke from the bush.)
- The concept, as he is wont to grasp it like a none too cautious snake handler, is that certain moments of life need to be deliberately constructed (or reconstructed or even deconstructed, as the case may be) for the purpose of reawakening and pursuing authentic desires, experiencing the feeling of strife and adventure, and the liberation of everyday life. Of release.
29 May, 2018 - When the pipedream of becoming an astronaut failed to materialise, I contemplated a childhood dream (well, adolescent, really) of becoming a published writer of Science Fantasy. Not that the genre was widely known or acclaimed in Tasmania, but any such hindrance had never held back a determined Taswegian before.
After all, Neville Flannery had made it all the way to Hollywood, via New Guinea. So, I would seem to have omens on my side.
And then he heard it.
Already seated, beneath the studio lights, he squirmed at the thought of having to go to the toilet, and began to perspire bead by bead in time to the beat.
Steady and in a pattern with breaks like waves.
He was all ears. Simultaneous. Euphonious.
(Then again, maybe he should have studied dentistry or optometry. For, when all is said and done, seeing is believing and a smile costs nothing. So homespun.)
It felt just like a rave. He closed his eyes and began to visualise.
Strobes and lines, waves, decal signatures. Imprints of pressed floral designs.
Like blotters of inner-sight.
He began to trance.
“Just don’t move, but don’t resist. Don’t give in to the temptation to interrupt and step off too soon”, he told himself in a voice remarkably like his own. Except it sounded like a trumpet with one of those plungers over the bell to deaden the tone.
He pictured Miles Davis in the guise of a hunchbacked bell-ringer. As if one adversity wasn’t enough.
“Get over yourself”, he admonished himself for his poorly formed embouchure.
“Another way to kiss the stars without any teeth, like a game gummy beauty from the deep.”
He wondered what he meant.
He was drifting. Had to refocus…
It was like being a backpacker who had come back late to the dorm and had to sneak in to climb ever so quietly up the ladder to the top bunk.
Now, where did that come from?
Being hemmed in by the audience elicited a strong feeling of being on a bender in Sydney. Yet, there was no correlation between the city and the seating configuration as far as he could see.
Rather, a certain claustrophobia had expanded on itself to consume the confines of agoraphobic dimensions; to blur the lines between a myth of self and an undeniable reality. A mirror image repressed for emotional continuity’s sake.
A precious fragment. In clarity.
Asleep on the grassy slopes of Bennelong Point, denuded but for the sails unfurling the continental passage to a future transported from affray and forgiving a past.
Sounds of German tourists’ oral doggerel. Dogged if nothing else.
Sound of a ferry horn.
Like a cluster headache. Implacable.
Mise en scene.
Involuntary memory reigns supreme.
Like a meme sent to terrorize suspect connivers, guilty until otherwise proven capable.
- Chips can’t quite place himself. He knows he is in the television studios, but this cannot diminish the suspicion that he is in the midst of some distortion of his own self’s being presently regarded. A kind of rip in the fabric of space. His headspace.
He opened his eyes.
He hadn’t even formulated a question when he stared up into the television monitor showing the audience what the viewers would be seeing at home.
He recalled his father. Straight down the barrel.
He stared straight into his own eyes.
“And our next question comes from Chips Debris, from Tasmania.”
Kim Dovetail threw to the frozen features of a figure that resembled petrified plasticine.
Chips seemed like putty in the hands of the experienced host, who was modelling him on audience expectations to be served up in mediation of his argument to steal the limelight from any prior knowledge of himself.
“You have a question for the panel?”
Chips took his spectacles off and rubbed his eyes with thumb and forefinger, replaced the glasses and continued to stare at the monitor.
The audience concentrated their attention on the striking individual in his early 30s, who still looked like a young man of 19.
Even up to this point Chips hadn’t decided on which question he would ask, and left himself the option to improvise.
As the program demanded that questions be lodged in advance to vet the content, he had framed and nominated a timely topical test piece related to the right to die.
Whose life was it anyway?
He cleared his throat.
The representative of the clergy on the panel had been prepped and prepared himself for the question.
As did the advocate for euthanasia.
- This was an issue close to his heart. He had aided his mother in her quest to die peacefully at the moment of her choosing after a protracted illness that had severely reduced her quality of life. With the prospect of a terminal outcome, it had seemed like the only merciful course of action to render such assistance.
- He had been able to source the drug from a friend in nursing school who had contacts in Asia where it was still readily and legally available. The trick had been to get it back into Australia without arousing the curiosity of border protection authorities, whose custom was to play by the book.
- The question had sounded legit, even if the act itself was in defiance of the law and those moralists who saw it as a crime, or worse.
What felt like an eternity passed within linguistic reason of the laws of physics, before Chips decided against the question regarding the tax concessions for necessities versus the added impost for luxury items.
Tampons were not exactly a salubrious talking point.
Retaining the ‘hip and shoulder’ in the new women’s football league as a fair offensive seemed a trite alternative.
Men’s health! That was it. A dead certainty.
This called for all his Situationist street cred.
Words could not do justice to the issue.
Rather, an action was fundamental.
Like the contortionist who is able to manipulate his entire frame (and head) through that of a tennis racquet.
Then it became apparent that it was not his true self that was looking back at him from the monitor.
The face was that of a classic ventriloquist’s doll, except, like Quark’s prop, it was attached to a head buoyed by a broom handle.
The audience was getting restless as the pregnant pause persisted until Kim began to rephrase his prompt.
“Please take a moment to feel comfortable, but we have only limited opportunity for everyone to have their say. So, if you could please…”
Chips failed to hear the end of the pronouncement.
He was transfixed by what he saw on the monitor.
It was the same imponderable bloom billowing like an ink stain across the face of the doll, as had disfigured his school friend.
The doll’s mouth began to open and close but no sound was produced.The audience began to groan under the weight of expectation.
Kim’s own mouth was agape as he tried to comprehend what he saw unfolding live on national television.
He tried to motion to the floor manager, but he could only shrug his shoulders.
The camera remained in close-up of Chip’s face as the doll stared out at the nation.
Chips produced from his trendy SkimpSaver shoulder bag (emblazoned with an indecipherable protest symbol) a Styrofoam container and placed it in his lap, all without removing his gaze from the monitor.
He took the lid off the container and produced an éclair which he held aloft for all to see.
His actions were intuitive.
The first éclair found its way to a mouth that was calmly receptive to such an overt suggestion.
Forgetting all about his embouchure, his mouth formed a knowing ‘Oh’ into which he slid the creamy sweet treat.
The audience gasped, sucking a good deal of the oxygen out of the studio, and held its breath.
Chips performed messy rapid-fire fellatio with one éclair after another until his container was empty.
Each pastry was consumed virtually whole without mastication, seeming to melt in his mouth and disappear.
Bob Quark began to howl and bay for more, while the other panel members could only wonder what was left in the green room or canteen, should the audience follow his lead and become all-consuming of being off-message and stampede the place in search of more delectable entreaties to the bolshie, fit to burst.
Kim regained the use of his arms and voice and signalled for the camera to follow his cue.
“We’ll be right back after this advertisement free promotional break. The perfect opportunity to go and put the kettle on and serve a second helping of dessert…”
The Public Broadcasting Corporation regrets any offence arising from the previous segment. This was a not-for-profit PowerPoint display intended for citizens ravenous for inconsequential data that could only be applied to individuals (living or dead) once the terms of agreement have been clear-felled upon the horizon of the ensuing national conversation about to be unpacked and have a pin put in it…