Queer Anarchists’ convention – Day 8

Nunnery, 3pm:
Lots of stuff had been sorted and was in piles everywhere waiting for people to come and claim what’s theirs.
Beach Workshop – “I love the beach, but not the sun and the sand.”
“You need a rocky beach on a cloudy day.”
Took A and T and Nt to Bondi. The beach was packed with families and Nt swam in his white undies that showed everything as soon as he got wet. Everyone could still clearly read the world “SLUT” that had been cut into his back at the Lost Panties S&M party held two months ago.

Walking back to the car, along the main street, a little old lady was standing next to us at the crossing as Nt said loudly: “The Sex Party was great. I’d wanted to get ‘FAGGOT’ carved in my chest but didn’t get round to it.” (the lady jumped further away!).

Got back to the Nunnery and cleared out more rubbish. Threw out a toy that, as it bounced, said: “I love you! I love you!” Crtf and I nearly cried and took the toy along to the Erko pub that evening, where we were brusquely told that ideas of romantic love were completely silly.

Erko Pub socialising: N said he’d got a phone message saying: “I know who your dark-skinned, well-groomed leader is. He’s trying to close down my deep house dance party at Marrickville Bowlo Club.”
-“He’s got his wires crossed – I’m not interested in deep house music,” N said.

Several people wanted to go skinny dipping at Bronte pool. “I got scabies from sharing towels,” F said. “I had huge scabs and scars on my back from communal living.” “There’s sea lice in Bronte pool,” E said. “And sharks.” [Asked S a few days later how it went: “Yeah, we all stripped off and swam in the pool while a sleazy bloke watched us.”]

Gave Crtf and Nr and V and lifts home.
Nr has been barefoot for five years.
“Don’t your feet get dirty?”
“As dirty as shoes.”

Chatted to L at the Black Rose stall, who was featured in the SMH “Protesters refuse to rule out violence” APEC story and she’s p*ssed off with the writer cos “the headline was a beat up”. She felt the writer had seemed friendly and reasonable and apart from the headline and intro the article had turned out OK. The Tele had given them at least two front pages. She said APEC week had been terrible for everyone and her photo was on the hit list.

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Random comments

XMAS PICNIC: Sat down (two hours late) in the middle of Vic Park with a huge tofu salad, but no buns/cutlery/plates! Bottles of drink but no cups! Rang around and got someone to bring them.

“You smell nice.”
“I washed my face and changed my socks. Didn’t shower, though.”

“I’ll take my wheelie bin to the CAAH same-sex marriage rally. It has a huge stereo and you can carry a 3ft pirate radio antenna off it. But I’ll need help, I’m not carrying the 3ft antenna by myself.”

“In some non-western societies, the elders initiate the children into sexual activity – it’s accepted.”

“I like watching Sydney schoolboys loosening their ties on the bus.”
“Yeah, let’s go cruising for schoolboys!”

“I have a public announcement – three people living in the same house have got crabs since the Sex Party. So check yourself and take care of yourself.”
“I don’t have them.”
“Shall I include that in the minutes?”
“Yeah!”
“How long is the life cycle for crabs?”
“A few weeks – dunno.”

“My mum got a $400 fine for smoking at Strathfield railway station. Even the cops were surprised at the fine. They had a prosecution statement! The magistrate threw the case out.”

N banging frantically on a toilet door: “Quick! Open up! We need some toilet paper – it’s an EMERGENCY!!!”
“What?”
“I spilled Coca Cola all over the amps.”
“They’re still working – it can’t be THAT bad!”

“I don’t want to be consumed for someone’s PhD or film project.”

Nathanwi: “Consume me! Consume me!!!”

“I was OK with being the drug runner at QR. But now people I don’t even know keep ringing me all the time for pills. What should I tell them?”

“Everyone thinks I’m a total dork. I’m teased cos I like cooking. And cos of my art – doodles, really – and cos I like the Wombles.”

“O said he’d give me a blowjob tonite.”

“Don’t worship DJs – anyone can be a fucking DJ.”

The Great Debate: F was given five minutes to convince us to go to the Newtown Hotel instead of the Impy. Why? “Cos it’s the only pub that has Shout to the Top by Style Council on the jukebox.” She lost, and it turned out the Impy had it on the jukebox too.

“I use Gaydar but get too many replies that just say: ‘I want to be your girlfriend’. They could at least invite me out first!”
– “Yeah – I had a girl on Gaydar who emailed me saying: ‘I think you’re cute – I’ve downloaded your pic and carry it in my wallet’.”
– “Freaky!”

QR Bar volunteers: “We only sell cola by the cup.”
“But I want it in a can!”
“We could wash out a tin and pour it into that.”

“Let’s get a contingent for the Down-to-Earth confest. Be close to nature. There’ll be no toilets – pee where you are and poo into a hole in the ground.”

“I’m doing a thesis on Christianity and gayness. It’s about eunuchs. Jesus advocates same sex relationships as the highest form of loving.”

“Did you know [the Virgin] Mary was raped? And she was terrified by the angel.”

“I got a book from the Scientologists that says you can make a drunk person sober by pointing to objects and making them name them. By directing their attention. They even claimed it worked for drug users!”
– “If a drunk person was driving and you had 10 Scientologists in the car, pointing things out, they’d probably make it home OK. Like – ‘there’s the steering wheel’, ‘there’s another car!’, ‘there’s a lamppost’ …”

“I don’t want to live on this planet anymore. I want to go somewhere where everyone’s nice.”

Film festival meeting

SCENE: N, K and T are feasting on vegan soup when C arrives. There’s an amazing fluoro artwork on the wall by a bloke who decorated the Kit Kat Club in Berlin. N’s three flatmates are sitting nearby in the living room.

“Let’s not do two days. I don’t have the energy.
“I’d never thought it was two days – only a night.”
“Three of us work full-time.” I can’t get any extra time off work.”
“That clashes with Biversity.”
“Is that any good?”
“Yeah, really friendly.”
“We could put some sofas around and they can recover.”
“Dunno if I can make it then – some of us might go to Queeruption in Berlin.”
“That’s two weeks after the State of Emergency gig.”

“Which day is easter egg day? I’ve got a two-year-old.”
“On Sunday!”
“I didn’t know that.”
“No, that he had a two-year-old.”

[Pointing to a can of Coke]: “That’s the product of the evil corporate machine!”
“I’m tired.”
“Can I have one?”
“Yeah, but it’s at room temperature. I’ll get some ice.”
“Dunno if I’m going to Berlin – it depends on my mental health.”
“There’s nothing a couple of Coca Colas and a stint in a mental hospital can’t fix.”

“Can we get films reflecting different sexualities and agendas? We need a political film, an activist film and a fluffy film.”
“There’s a good film about intersex people who are campaigning for unisex toilets.”
“But it’s quite expensive.”
“It’s free if you’re a worthy group.”
“We’ve got more chance of getting the film free if we have proof of campaigning for unisex toilets.”
“I hate unisex toilets.”

“We could send them pix of us out the front of the unisex toilets at Home and the Civic.”

“I hate Home – you can’t get near a mirror cos all the guys are reapplying their foundation.”

“Did you see The L-Word last nite? It’s rubbish. Nobody’s like that.
“They had a bunch of lesbians talking about bush confidence!
“It’d be good to do a sendup skit with some butch dykes saying: `I’m really worried about bush confidence’ in a totally non-worried way. You wouldn’t even have to change the script.”
“I like Sex and the City. Especially when I’m stoned.”

“Performance – open mike – that’s easy to organise. Publicity, legal info. Food. Art. Discussion ideas. OK – we’ll take two tasks each and report back.”

“We need more members. Can we get those girls who came last week – I’d like to suck them in.” “Not suck them in! Attract them!”
“Help, I’m stuck to my chair! I can’t move! Queeruption has captured me!”

“Are you going to recycle those Coke cans?”

“Yeah, put them there and the recycling fairy will take them away.”

“We’ll send out a wish list. People will plug in when they see it.”
“I’ll check out the buildings. Maybe that cake shop.
“What if the cops catch us painting the walls?”
“If the paint’s fresh and they find the materials we’ve had it.

“Wait, I’ll see you to the front door.”
“Why? Are you going to kiss us goodnite?”
“No, he’s going to fuck us goodnite.”
“Well make it quick. I’ve gotta go.”
“We’re all going in the same direction? We could have brought one car instead of three!”

Opposition Leader John Howard

These two stories I wrote on the same day.

A bit difficult to read, so some excerpts:

Car dealers back Libs’ FBT stance

Federal Opposition leader John Howard addressed more than 400 people who attended the fringe benefits tax protest rally at Denlo Motors, Parramatta, last week.

Plainclothes security guards mingled with the crowd before Mr Howard, who attended the rally 30 minutes late and arrived with a police escort.

Mr Howard said Treasurer Paul Keating had said the Hawke Government brought in the FBT to eliminate rorts and stop the “haemorraghing of revenue”.

“FBT was introduced clumsily and has done enormous damage to the industry, sending it into a deep recession.”

He emphasised the Liberal Party’s proposed abolition of the fringe benefits tax to a cheering audience and attacked Labor Party criticisms of his proposed reduction of $1.5 billion in payments to the States.

CAR DEALERS FACING CRISIS

Parramatta car dealers are facing their worst crisis in 28 years, local dealers claimed at the fringe benefits tax protest rally in Parramatta last week.

Federal Opposition leader John Howard addressed the rally at Denlo Motors.

Mr Howard said, “FBT was introduced clumsily and has done enormous damage to the industry, sending it into a deep recession. The consequences and loss of sales and profitability has been immense.”

Parramatta dealer John Trivett, of Trivett Classic, said, “This is the worst crisis since the Menzies era of the 1960s when people stopped buying cars because of credit restrictions.”

He said Parramatta was the busiest and largest car sales strip in Australia.

He said the smaller dealers on Parramatta Rd were most threatened by the FBT (which was introduced in July 1986) and increased sales tax, but the larger dealers, which were mostly based in Church St, would continue to operate.

“The small dealers are hurt because they don’t have a lot of financial clout. The effect of these taxes will change the face of Parramatta Rd.”

Local dealers claimed they would go out of business if the fringe benefits and current sales taxes continued.

At the rally, a message was read out from Paul Betar, formerly of Betar and Coorey, Parramatta Rd, which closed on May 26 last year, leaving 14 staff unemployed.

Mr Betar had attended the rally last year, and his message said: “The FBT put the boot in when we were down. The bid spending, big taxing Government has destroyed the will to have a go.”

My stories on John Howard - Parramatta Advertiser
My stories on John Howard - Parramatta Advertiser

Christopher Skase interview

Interview I wrote about Christopher Skase.
Interview I wrote about Christopher Skase.

After the interview, I joined him for lunch with 60 business people. I was seated at his table, opposite Pixie – who was wearing a diamond-encrusted ring in the shape of the letter “P”. Skase was wearing a tie that featured criss-crossed tennis racquets.

I wrote the story, below, from the same event, as SEQ was a big regional topic.  I was always reluctant to show these pieces as a sub-editor had automatically added a “u” to Qintex.  Most embarrassing – the sub-editing was done in the evenings, as it as a daily newspaper, and noone checked with me. Argh!

By 1989 Skase’s TV and tourist industry companies had collapsed, $1billion in debt. He started moving money offshore in July 1989, planning his escape.

Interview I wrote for The Maryborough Chronicle
Interview I wrote for The Maryborough Chronicle

NSW Fire Brigades Commissioner

(written for a Fairfax fire safety feature – 2009)

NSW Fire Brigades Commissioner Greg Mullins has learnt to dread winter since he began fighting fires 37 years ago. “Many more people lose their lives in house fires in winter – more than in bushfires,” Mr Mullins says.

“What we consistently find is that members of the public have no idea how quickly fires happen – if fire doesn’t overwhelm you, the smoke will.”

During the three months of winter last year, there was a total of 1542 reported house fires in NSW, 10 deaths and 217 injuries. “That’s about 15 fires a day,” Mr Mullins says. “People need to be very vigilant during winter, particularly in the kitchen when they’re cooking more – 44 per cent of fires start there.”

He said basic precautions include having enough smoke alarms, devising an evacuation plan, meeting outside and ringing 000.

Electrical appliances, open fires, lint filters in clothes driers, using more than one double adapter and knocking over or covering heaters are other dangers.

Mr Mullins says he follows the safety suggestions – as do most fireys – because of the awful fatalities he’s encountered.

“It’s so frustrating to see someone who hasn’t made it out and they’re not even burnt – they were overcome by smoke – when a $10 smoke alarm could have saved them.

“There’s a human side to all fireys. We’re all normal men and women. I can rattle off details of every fatality I’ve seen. Afterwards I go home and hug my kids.”

There are other simple mistakes that cost lives. “Nine people out of 100 remove the batteries from their smoke alarms because they’re tired of false alarms or wanted to use the batteries for another appliance and forgot to replace them.” He shakes his head.

He says anyone who sleeps with the door closed should have a smoke alarm in the bedroom, because “if smoke doesn’t reach an alarm it won’t set the alarm off”. “There have been fatalities after people kicked a blanket onto a heater during the night.”

He advises if you have a fire in a mattress or sofa, call the fire station because these items often smoulder and flare up again hours later. “It’s a free call. Fireys are waiting to help and protect people. There’s no point in thinking you’ve put out a fire and then wake up at 3am and find you’re not going to make it.”

He encourages every household to overcome complacency and follow the precautions. “It’s better to be safe than sorry. I make my family do a fire drill and I vacuum the smoke alarm vents once a month. I tell them off if someone has let lint build up in the drier. My family tease me and say: “Give it a rest!”, but they know it’s important.”

Mr Mullins even had a fire in his own home at 3am during a storm when rain got into an electrical junction box under the house and set fire to timber under the floor.

“The smoke alarms went off. The rain mostly contained the fire. I put it out,” Mr Mullins says. ““People think it won’t happen to them. Complacency is the biggest enemy. Don’t think you’re safe – it can happen to anyone.”

He says it’s best to have a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher handy which can be used on electrical fires as well and you won’t get electrocuted. “You don’t have time during a fire to select which extinguisher to use.”

He says sometimes people are reluctant to dial 000 and fireys are abused by a crowd for taking too long to get there. “I ask, ‘Who phoned?’ They all think someone else did. It’s better for us to get more calls, so ring. We can build a better picture of what’s happening while we’re on our way.”

If you’re concerned about living in a high-rise city apartment block or security building which has only one exit, Mr Mullins says well equipped modern fire trucks mean firefighters can “get in anywhere”. “We can put up a ladder or use this,” Mr Mullins says grinning, lifting his boot. “It’s called a master key.”