Unworthy thoughts


Today I had THE most unworthy thoughts about my ex. The new man in her life is going to jump out of an airplane and she’s going to be watching - well I hope he lands at her feet in one piece (and alive) because that was NOT what I thought a few hours ago. I dislike that I am riddled with envy and jealousy and the weakest purile resentments BUT I LIKE that I confront these feelings, taste their bit

terness and sorrow, and am prepared to take possession of them and recast them so that they lose their grip upon my imagination. To be ‘in love’ is (for me) as much a via dolorosa as an ode to joy - I suffer and through my suffering (I hope and believe) I Iearn in part what it MEANS to be a human being. This ‘road of discovery’ that is a life, how complicated it all is !!! LOL Not sure, to be completely honest, that I particularly enjoy it !!!! What to do ? As my old mum used to say: In the absence of orders to the contrary - continue !!!!! ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪
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The light from long-dead stars


I live in a cabin in the hills in that stretch of country that constitutes the hinterland of Byron Bay. The cabin is based upon a Tahitian design and has a large glass window beside which I have positioned my bed. I can lay in bed and look directly out the window at the dizzy panoply of a trillion stars in a sky that is as sparkling as that found at night in the dessert far from human habitation. This is because there is very little background luminosity where I live – essentially my place is surrounded by forests and fields. At night the country here is as black as a black witch’s soul except for the light from the heavens – the light of long dead stars which has taken (sometimes) billions of years to reach us here on planet earth. This morning I was awake at four thirty and instead of getting up immediately I luxuriated in my bed and  spent a happy half hour as I wondered about things like the nature of existence and looked at a sky full of incandescent diamonds. And I observed in front of my eyes the whole perfect umbilical connection between man and the stars, the development of our species back through space and time, to some far off distant originating comet that had visited our galaxy, been captured by the sun’s gravitational pull and had eventually became the earth.  The beautiful earth our receptive host upon which our species after millions of years has evolved. Here before me, as plain as the nose on my face lay the answer to the perennial question why are we here? The night sky benevolently beamed the answer ! We are here because several billion years ago a star died for us. With that strangely gratifying thought I dragged myself from my bed into the cold cabin and hurriedly got dressed and did what the English do – I made a cup of tea before settling down to write.

 © sam cutler 2012


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the balance restored


It’s midnight on Tuesday evening in Sydney. I am sitting along in front of the embers of a dying fire in perfect peace and quiet after a lovely evening with friends. All of the emotional turmoil of the last months seems as nothing as I stare contentedly into the depths of the glowing coals - how fraught and ‘busy’ the ‘inner workings’ of the mind can become; how distanced from coherence; how fluently the ancient language of sorrow can speak in seductive tongues ! How foolish we can be when we too often listen only to ourselves. These last few hours I came back to the world unsure of where I had been. I felt that I had returned from those sad journeys that needed to be revisited for the last time - the profile of the journey’s mountains to be remembered, the consequences of the cumbersome clouds drenching the spirit to be carefully noted. As the fire died and I saw each and every sorrow die, finally I was calm; with the work completed the balance restored;and finally, once again, I could feel content before I went to sleep to dream. 

♡ ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

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time for a re-think


The Australian swimming team has not done very well at the Olympics - to use a strange phrase “they tanked”. Meaning the pressure of expectations (their own and others) got to them and they weren’t in the right ‘frame of mind’ to swim competitively. Have a look at their coaches and the sports psychologists around them, LISTEN to the ‘sage words of wisdom’ that sprouted from the collective advisors

 to the team. Not worth a tinker’s cuss !! Hyper-competitive bullshit of the crudest variety spoken by people who haven’t got a CLUE. All of them UP TIGHT bogans (that’s what we call rednecks) who can ONLY think competitively and are unable to handle losing in any way shape or form. Then look at the man who has won MORE swimming golds than ANY man EVER. He was recently busted with a bong !!! YES !!! He smokes grass. The Australian swimmers need to re-focus their efforts - go to Nimbin (home of Australia’s best grass) and hang out before the Rio contest. Get in touch with themselves, learn to RELAX, and take it as it comes. THEN perhaps they’ll see what winning’s all about - it’s a STATE OF MIND. The kids in London don’t have a clue, their coaches don’t have a clue - they think it’s ONLY about winning !!!! Poor deluded souls I feel sorry for them - it’s about COMPETING with the right ‘mind set’ kiddies - time to GROW UP !!! Then, maybe, you’ll start winning ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪
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Taken for a ride


TAKEN FOR A RIDE - TRUE CONFESSIONS of a ‘COPTERPHOBE

I got in a helicopter two days before Altamont loaded with the Dead’s PA speakers, outside their rehearsal space in Novato, right by the heliport. It went 20 feet into the air and came crashing back to earth with a spectacular thump. It was overloaded and I almost had a heart attack and narrowly missed being crushed by the speakers which slid

forward when the copter took off. I swore I would NEVER get on another one. Time passed (as it does LOL) and Watkins Glen was happening. Would I like to ride in a helicopter and see the massive traffic jams on the interstate highway? NO was my initial reaction BUT I told myself NOT to give in to silly phobias and to get into the bloody thing. We swooped over miles of parked cars on the interstate and it was all I could do NOT to vomit. In the backstage area, after we had landed I was as sick as the proverbial dog and swore that I would NEVER get in a helicopter again. (NEVER say never !!) The years rolled by and my helicopter phobias increased as various people I knew died in crashes. NEVER never never I told myself get in a helicopter. Then my Aussie friend Paul offered me a ride and before I knew what I was doing I had said yes !! I shocked myself !! So the die was cast and my friend’s daughter Caitlin said she wanted to come too. Went to the Gold Coast heliport, got on a thing that looked about as substantial as a mosquito and took the ride. Did I “like it” ? No !!! LOL BUT it was interesting to confront all those ‘years of fears’ and to see them for the irrational paradigm that they are. I mean I have lost dearly loved friends to cars, but I drive. Several friends died walking, but I walk. So I went for a ride in a helicopter and put it all in perspective. Another fear defeated (kinda LOL) and an amazing experience seeing the East Coast of Australia from the air - there were whirlpools in the ocean which I had never seen before. I felt like I was watching the Pacific have sex with Australia !!! LOL Was I glad to get my feet back on the ground ? DEFINITELY !!! I was also glad to have ‘tamed’ one more little ‘kink in my psyche’ that I no longer need to feed. I am OVER that phobia (thanks Paul) now there’s only a couple of million others to go !!! LOL love and smiles on the surface of the earth to all of us who are ‘grounded’ ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪
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Remembering Jerry Garcia



In remembering this very complex man I would (of course) like to do justice to (firstly) his musical memory. For me no other guitar player has EVER come close to Jerry. It wasn’t a matter of his technique (there were more technically gifted players) but rather what (through his music) he managed to ‘do with my head’ when he played. Garcia was a master alchemist of ‘musical moo

d’ and could and did take me on inner journeys that were beyond my ability to describe. His was music for ‘stoned people’ and in those days we were all ‘off our tits’ letting him lead us through gardens of earthly and heavenly musical delights. I ALWAYS felt ‘safe’ with Garcia in the sense that I felt I could ‘surrender’ to his music and after a long and discursive musical ‘journey’ he would both whip me round the universe at great speed and generally ‘blow me away’ before gently depositing me back at the beginning of the musical journey. He was for me the master of improvisation and a man of exquisite musical taste. On a personal level as a Tour Manager, there was never a man easier to work for, though he could be absolutely scathing should something happen of which he disapproved. His ‘core criteria’ for our gigs (and I did over three hundred with him) was “is this going to be FUN?” - if the fun came FIRST then the rest, he believed, would naturally follow. He was RIGHT!! He had to make some hard calls in his personal life and I am convinced that his life as a musician became almost too much to bear but who am I to judge the man ? To this day I listen to him play every day - his music says it all. He was a wonderful and VERY human man. RIP Jerry and THANK YOU - one love ♥
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on the beach


This morning I got in the bus and had to drive in the dark to my favourite beach at New Brighton - the next beach north from Byron Bay.In the pitch dark just before dawn I made my way to the beach and sat beside the Pacific Ocean and thought about a million things, not least the span of my own life across the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. I was born (1943) in the midst of the titanic struggle between competing totalitarian systems (Germany, the Soviet Union, Japan) and the ‘liberal democracies’ - a war which engulfed the world and was a battle for supremacy ultimately based upon the productive power of the economies of the combatants - World War Two, which has been called the ‘war of the factories’. In the end the productive might of the United States and the allies overpowered that of Germany and Japan and a ‘new world’ was born from the ashes. The liberal democracies saw Communism as the new threat to their economic hegemony and the cold war began. Slowly after several decades both the capitalist democracies AND the communist totalitarian models began to adapt to changing circumstances, and sitting beside the Pacific I began to think of how they had evolved. The two major powers strike me as having many characteristics of the Fascist state model, where the political elites serve the same interests as the major players in their economies - there is a ‘convergence of perspective’ where those who are elected have prioritised the interests of their economies OVER those of their populations. Banks and major corporations and the excessively wealthy have gained disproportionate power in the ‘Pacific economies’ to such an extent that the ‘voice’
of the popular elected ‘will’ has been reduced to irrelevance. The military industrial complex (which Eisenhower warned about) is now in the ascendency in both the United States and China. The political elites of both countries now exercise a control over their populations which is unprecedented in its scope and reach and power. The nuclear-industrial complex in Japan not only controls the levers of political power in that country, but is busy polluting the very ocean beside which I am sitting as I write this post. I have the sense that the next few years are going to be critical politically and economically AND socially and that a massive ‘drama’ is beginning over the Pacific region. Slowly but surely the interests of the ‘common people’ (of the masses) of the world are being suborned and diluted in the face of a new ‘state struggle’ which is emerging. An evolving form of neo-Fascism is in place with draconian laws in support that will be used to quell dissent and to protect the interests of capital, be it in China, America or Japan. The sun rises in front of me and once again the choices for the human race become crystal clear. Either we find a way to live with one another or we shall perish together under the burden of our competitive and ultimately destructive economic choices. The control which the contemporary state possesses is analogous to that exercised by the Fascists states of WW2, and in some respects it exceeds those powers. What is the artist to do ? In China they are being arrested and imprisoned for speaking out ? In Japan they are leading the way against the nuclear-industrial elites. And in America, Britain, France, Germany where are the warnings from artists about the emergence of the ‘new world order’ which is slowly but surely reducing the human race to little but ‘units of consumption’ whose views are irrelevant to those in power ? Where are the artists who can SEE the re-emergence of the fascist model ? The battle under way between Romney and Obama neatly encapsulates this struggle for the future. Will the interests of the ‘common people’ prevail or will the interests of the military industrial complex, the banks and capital ? Sitting on a beach listening to the diurnal roar of the ocean I cannot divorce myself from the way the world is heading any more than I can hope to exist without food or shelter. From whence will come the equivalent of Orwell’s prescient ‘1984’? The work of the imagination which will show people what is happening to their world ? Each and every artist has a simple choice. To address these issues or to ignore them. One things remains abundantly clear to me - we cannot simply ‘wish them away’.

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the olympics


 A few hours before the opening of the London Olympic games of 2012 I wish to remember the Olympic games of 1936 in Berlin. It was at these games in Berlin that the ‘tradition’ of the Olympic torch was first invented by the Nazi Regime. The torch was carried from Mount Olympus in Greece to the games and the Olympic flame was lit for the duration of the games – this Nazi invented piece of Olympic ‘theatre’ remains a part of the Olympics to this day. It was at the Berlin games that the Nazi regime wished to demonstrate to the world not only its legitimacy but also the superiority of its Aryan athletes over those of other nations. One man, Jesse Owens, ruined their plans. Owens, an African American, won four gold medals. Initially he won the hundred meters, then he went on to win the two hundred meters. Hitler was outraged and refused to present Owen with his medals. Owen then went on the compete in the broad jump against all comers. A German athlete and Owens were the last two men competing and the lead changed hands several times as first one and then the other increased the distance that they jumped. Finally Owens triumphed in a leap which broke the Olympic record and remained that record for decades. In an extraordinary act of both courage and athletic comradeship the German loser ran around the stadium after the completion of the event arm in arm with Owens whilst the largely German crowd chanted Owens name much to the annoyance of the Nazi leadership. One of the final events was the four by one hundred meter relay. In the American relay team there were two Jewish runners. The Nazis objected to their participation and in a craven act of obsequious betrayal of the Jewish athletes American officials substituted Owens and another African American runner to take their places. Owens protested to no avail to the American officials but was forced to run. The team won the gold medal and thus Owens personal tally was four gold medals. A deeply unhappy Owens was then forced to make track appearances at a series of meets throughout Europe by the American team, and finally he left in disgust and returned home a hero. On the night of a ticker-tape parade in his honor in New York City, Owens and his wife could find no hotel willing to allow them to rent a room. When they finally managed to get a room it was on the specific understanding that he and his wife would only use the service entrance of the hotel. Because he had refused to participate in the track appearances following the Olympics, for which he was not being paid, The American Athletic Union stripped him of his amateur status in retaliation. Unable to earn money or appear in sanctioned races Owens was forced in a final indignity to race in America against horses. He won those races too. He never competed in an amateur sanctioned event again and several years later under pressure from the American tax authorities was declared bankrupt. At the original Olympic games in ancient Greece warring states put aside their differences so that athletes might compete in a peaceful environment. The modern Olympics have become tarnished with multi national business and politics intervening. Jewish athletes were murdered at the Munich games. Nations boycotted the Moscow Olympics. Huge corporations sponsor the games and monopolize the television coverage so that their products might gain maximum exposure. In an ironic absurdity the ‘official food supplier’ to the London games is McDonalds a company that serves up food that no self-respecting athlete would consume. And yet, for all their faults, the Olympics still holds a special place in people’s hearts all over the world. Over 200 nations athletes will be competing in London, NOT 200 nations !!! My single hope is that people might yet understand that individual athletes are competing in a spirit of friendship and camaraderie and that national medal tallies are contrary to the spirit in which the games should take place. The opening ceremony is in a few hours time. If it features either Paul McCartney or Elton John I’ll be tempted to throw up, but none the less along with a billion other people who it is estimated will be watching on television I’ll do my best to enjoy the show. One thing’s for sure, I’ll be remembering Jesse Owens, a true Olympic hero. Here’s another things that’s almost certain - it being England it will rain.

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another day in Paradise


This morning I did something I usually NEVER do - I turned the radio on and listened to the news. Various items about the world economy and then a piece about how applications for gun permits had shot up in Colorado following the slaughter of the innocents at the Batman movie. May I say this. America seems to be gripped by an endless cycle of gun-related violence and with each demented episode of death and destruction the only response seems to be even MORE weaponry being acquired by the general population. The rest of the world watches this madness with sad incomprehension. What kind of society allows the demented and deranged access to high powered semi-automatic assault weapons? If EVER there was a time for American introspection and re-assessment it is NOW but unfortunately we are in the midst of an American presidential election and the candidates seem powerless to act. What a terribly sad situation - my heart goes out to ALL the innocent people who have been slaughtered by gunfire. WHEN will the world LEARN that violence ONLY results in MORE violence in a seemingly endless cycle. And THEN (thinking this) I remembered why normally I don’t turn on the radio in the morning - because the news is SO depressing. I wonder (sometimes) where one can find the energy to continue living in what can appear to be a sewer-filled cess-pit of hatred and cruelty, and I am reminded as I set out for a short morning walk of the words of Stendhal: “every day the reasonable man starts out on the search for happiness”. I dedicate my morning walk to those who will never have the luxury of ‘the search for happiness’ because their lives were cut short by an armed madman and my heart goes out to those who loved them. On my morning walk I need have NO fear of being shot by a ‘random nutter’ because in Australia the gun has been taken OUT of society. Here we generally live in peace with one-another. I wish that Americans could see and understand what this means - NO generalised fear or paranoia and an all-pervasive sense of communal well-being. Wake up America - you should TRY IT - one love ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

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the perils of Paradise


The bus is empty with everything stashed in my cabins and put away “ship-shape and Bristol fashion” and she drives like a young colt now a couple of hundred books have been removed, along with clothes and tools and camping gear and Gawd knows what else.

Even living in a bus the urge to accumulate weaves its insidious black magic. I was astounded to discover that I had eleven pairs of trousers, forty-one T-shirts, nine towels, eight pairs of shoes, knives and forks sufficient for a banquet, two compasses, three large torches, and eighteen shirts! Add to that a black suit, a dinner suit, four jackets, a down jacket, a cashmere overcoat, umpteen socks scarves and pairs of gloves, and seven hats and you get the picture. Every item of clothing is black and I have enough clothes until the day I die. I can be the best dressed man at my own funeral !

           With an empty bus, frisky and ready to tear up the road like a sports car, I headed for Byron Bay, ten minutes away down highways which have seen better days. The road upon which my place is located is an amalgam of repairs that have inexorably joined together so that the whole surface is corrugated with more lumps and bumps than the face of a fighting Saturday night drunk. It’s more a narrow rutted path than a road and in a bus one drives in such places without  due care and attention at one’s peril.

              Proceeding cautiously I was amazed at the manic velocity of the people who passed me on the road. The local plumber in his truck rattling all his pipes and fittings in the back as he fish tailed it past me in a cloud of dust and gravel; a postman on the smallest motor-cycle in the world; a grim looking woman with two kids who were (I assume) late for school as she drove like a formula one maniac and hurtled round a blind bend without a care in the world.

             I let them pass me by as I am now letting the world pass me by, for I have no desire to overtake anything or anyone. I’m still working out whether I’m overtaking or catching up with myself ! As an editor once told me, and it’s now a sign that you see on the highways in Australia: “don’t die for a deadline”. Well I have no dead lines, only “live lines” and in the year ahead thousands of them will be cajoled into some kind of coherent order! That’s the speed I’ll be traveling.

             In Byron I sent some post-cards and got on the internet and was astounded to discover that I had well wishes from some two hundred people on Face book. I like Face book. It keeps me in touch with people all over the world. As I sat in the café clicking ‘like’ for the umpteenth time my friend from London whom I have known since India days, called me from his holiday home in Norway and we spoke face to face on Skype. It was wonderful to see his smiling face and to know that life was treating him kind.

             At the moment there is no internet where I live and that’s cool - an hour a day in a café is enough for me. The rest of my time I have books to read and my writings to attend to – more than enough to keep me occupied. Here where I live, solitude my sacred friend, accompanies me as I hunt contentedly in the forests of language and do my work. The austerities of the soul are blessed with breath taking views of the surrounding countryside and assuaged by the melody of the rains. I am freed from the simple prejudice of my eyes and ears and can feel afresh all that surrounds me. As Burroughs would mordantly observe of life on this planet, “the only applause is from hysterical Geiger counters”.

 

© Sam Cutler 2012

 

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