AND THE MAN NEXT TO YOU
An ongoing project to provide short, tragic backstories for everyone who dies in the 1992 Steven Seagal movie Under Siege.
He used to dream of his death. Not nightmares, exactly. He figured it was his brain getting him used to the idea, and he didn’t wake up white-faced or screaming. He was still coming to terms with the fact he might actually die in bed, or in the street, or climbing a flight of stairs too many. At least it meant his wife could now say goodbye to him without sounding like she’d just swallowed something hot and scalded her tongue. He hated that sound. Today, as the music stops and the men clap and holler and he sees the band’s singer inexplicably has a gun, his final thought is this: but I was just starting to have a good time.
SECRET HISTORIES OF MELBOURNE
These three supposedly ‘found’ texts were the inspiration for the exhibition Melbourne, and Other Myths, 2008.
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1. A PERFECT EMPTY STREET
Photocopies of this incomplete article were to be recycled in a Carlton academic publishing house. While it appears to be collected in the Winter 2002 issue of The Journal of City Design, it does not appear in the final printing.
From above, Melbourne looks like a cancer, small enough to fit cupped in your hands. It’s not something we were ever meant to see. A hundred years ago, anywhere in the world, the only way to see something from above was to conquer the nearest mountain. To own it, and look down on your neighbours. The race to own the tallest building in Melbourne continues even as I speak. Imagine a song. The song builds: the peaks and troughs of the music rise, building atop one another, more highs than lows, until reaching a climax and falling again. The city is a song like this but one that never falls.
Download PDF of A Perfect Empty Street (90kb).
2. BE FAMOUS AND DIE
The audiocassette was discovered at a Fitzroy garage sale. Be Famous and Die is handwritten on the label. This interview interrupts “Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell” by Iggy and The Stooges (1973).
A tip: alcohol thickens the walls of your hotel room. It’s the pointless intimacy of city life – you never even see your neighbours but you hear them shower and piss. A really cheap hotel, or a badly made block, is like living inside someone else’s migraine. Paper-thin skulls. The street noise outside turns shrill and panicked the longer you lie there. By 2am, I can snap myself awake with the slightest tremor or twitch. In the city, in the dark, I feel like I’m made up of my body’s cracks and whistles and the scrape of my own teeth.
Download PDF of Be Famous and Die (75kb).
3. NO MAGICIANS
Found at Flinders Street Station, Platform 4, on 23 November, 2005.
I came to Melbourne to see a magician when I was a kid. Eight or nine. I don’t remember the year. I didn’t last five minutes of my birthday surprise. The magician had a ball in one hand; then it was in his other hand. That was the magic – that something had happened between his fists. And I thought: what if that happened to the rest of the theatre? What if I was here, and then I was over there, all at once, and I was screaming, and everyone around me just applauded?
Download PDF of No Magicians (2.6mb).
ON THE BEACH
American and Japanese apocalypses crash together in Refractory: a Journal of Entertainment Media, 2008.
“It’s the perfect place for it.”
Ava Gardner on shooting a film about the end of the world in Melbourne, Australia.
You have no clue who Ava Gardner is, or Gregory Peck or Fred Astaire, and if this is Melbourne it’s a mystery to you, whoever you might be. All you know is that sand sits, inert, to your left and right, and that the sun is hanging low and under it all colours flinch backwards towards grey. Your feet are the bottom-edge of your frame and the thin strip of horizon marks the top. Outside of this, for all you know, there is nothing.
You’re waiting for news to wash up from what’s left of the world.
SEQUEL TO ‘SLEEP’ (1963)
The ghost of Andy Warhol and I watch Merce Cunningham dance clips together for Isnot Magazine‘s Melbourne International Arts Festival special: WHO IS MERCE CUNNINGHAM?, 2007.
I know he’s in my bedroom before I open my eyes. I don’t pretend to understand how it works. Maybe it was precocious girls at a slumber party, talking about art instead of talking about boys, daring each other to say his name into a mirror fifteen times in fifteen minutes and then squealing as one when he appeared…
Now Andy Warhol is watching me sleep.
EVERY DAY CREATE YOUR HISTORY
A chapter of my conspiracy-laden pop-novella, smackBANG, from Isnot Magazine, 2007.
I’ve been left to write.
This morning, I handmade a skullcap from aluminium foil. I’ve had it on all day, just in case inspiration hits my eggshelled head. In case Hollywood sends its script doctors round while I sleep. Don’t think it hasn’t happened to you. That movie you saw last summer: didn’t you think of something similar, long ago? Hollywood came and took that high-concept right out of your head.