The kick inside

 

 

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Freddie Mercury 1974. (Picture: Queen Archive/Virgin)

 

 

This morning, as I settled down to my work, I took a moment to check out a few of my favourite blogs. I find it a good way to centre myself before getting on with my own flimsy attempts at being creative.

Over at Yeah, Another Blogger I came across this little gem from fellow ruminator, Neil. In case you’re too lazy to click on the link, it describes an almost encounter he had with the great John Lennon on the streets of New York in 1973. It’s well worth a read so why not pop over now and give it some love. I’ll wait.

See, told you it was worth it. Reading of Neils regret at not having had the presence of mind to approach his hero when the opportunity presented itself, got me thinking, “yes, but there’s the flipside to that situation as well”.

You see, I too once came unexpectedly across a personal hero and I did engage him. And the result was, well let’s just say, disappointing.

About two years after John Lennon was murdered (an event which had caused me a considerable amount of trauma), I relocated from Australia to Britain. I’ve written about the incident that followed my arrival before, in a piece about synchronicities. In that piece I wrote:

When I was nineteen, I decided to relocate from Australia to the UK. By this time my relationship with said girlfriend had pretty much petered out but we were still on reasonably friendly terms. On the day before I flew out, I went around to her place to say my goodbyes. The last thing she said as we parted was, “if you see any members of Queen over there, make sure you get their autographs.”

I probably smirked as I agreed to do so. I mean, what were the odds I’d bump into any mega famous rock stars in the circles I’d be moving in? Anyway, after a long flight that had me questioning the wisdom of my decision to emigrate, I duly arrived at Heathrow, passed through the wall of bastards (otherwise known as customs and immigration) and made my way to the baggage carousel. I’d been in the country maybe forty minutes at this point.

So there I am, bleary-eyed and travel grimed, swaying on my feet with exhaustion when I happen to look to my right at the guy standing beside me.

It probably took me a full twenty seconds to process the visual information my brain was receiving from my tired eyes urgently telling it that the ‘guy’ was, in fact, Freddie Mercury.

I. Shit. You. Not.

I was stunned into near immobility but, with my ex’s parting request still ringing in my ears, I realised I was just going to have to approach the clearly leery rock god in question.

I’m not proud of how the next thirty seconds went. I turned to face Mr. Mercury (who visibly flinched at what he obviously knew was coming) and spoke the immortal words, “if I had a pen (I didn’t by the way) would you give me an autograph?”

Now there are as yet undiscovered tribes in the deepest Amazon who knew what was coming next and I guess I did too. Barely meeting my gaze, Freddie uttered a one-word response and returned his attention to the circling baggage. The word was “no” in case you were having trouble discerning the inference.

I later read that it was Mercury’s policy never to give autographs. Ah well, I tried.

You may have noticed I kind of shoved the fandom element off onto my girlfriend there but, truth is, I was a huge fan of Mercury myself. I was actually carrying a tote bag that I’d meticulously drawn the inner sleeve pic of the Queen II album onto when I approached him. That probably made it look – to him – like I was a crazy fan (true) who’d known all along that he would be there (not true).

I get how that might freak a big star out so soon after what had happened to Lennon.

Anyway, the point of rehashing all this is that, though Neil may regret not talking to Lennon, I kind of regret that I did talk to Freddie. Even though I can fully appreciate famous people not wanting their space invaded in places like airports, I was nevertheless stung by that rejection. It didn’t change the way the young me felt about his music but it did change the way I saw Freddie.

In my eyes, he instantly became more cold and aloof than I’d previously thought him. I know it’s pretty ridiculous the way we as fans believe we somehow know these stars we’ve never met. How could we know the first thing about who they really are outside the arena of fame?

However, the personalities we imbue our heroes with are nonetheless important. As I think I’ve said before, Rock ‘n’ Roll is the modern mythology.

The archetypes that once inhabited the tales of ancient cultures live on in these larger than life Rock Gods we worship so devoutly. These giants stride the stages of our aspirations and give us something wonderful to love – or hate – which exists outside of the grey mundanity of modern life.

That had been the role that Mercury (even the name is mythological) had played in my teen life. In my suburban world of jean-clad yobs, Freddie – like Bowie – had blasted across my sky; some androgenous messenger from Olympus bringing the spark of redemption and hope to every willing, yearning heart.

If that last bit sounds somewhat over-egged, it’s also accurate. That’s  exactly how I’d felt growing up in my suburban wasteland. And it was the likes of Freddie, Bowie, and Kate Bush who kept the promise (and probably me) alive.

So, that rejection from one of my big heroes shattered more than just my preconceptions, it put quite a crack in my mythos as well. They do say you should never meet your heroes. Maybe, in this case at least, they’re right.

That said, I really envy Neil’s close encounter with one of the absolute gods of my world.

 

 

 

©2017

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War

 

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Fields of Mars

War is rape

And mother’s tears

Blackened skies

And the dissociative brain

War is a forest of crosses

Or stars

Or crescents

The mixing of mud and blood

It is fierce

Hotter than flames

Colder than winter

War is the rage of machines

Don’t look into its eye

Lest it notice you

For once it does

It will steal your children.

 

 

Words and image are my own.

 

©2017

Change in Mood

 

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Life reflects

 

The russet tones of a naked spinney

Skeleton trees under a daylight moon

Cold nips

At the tips

Of fingers and nose

Harbinger of something on its way

 

The finger bones of trees

Grasp at the clear, heavy air

While frost

Adorns

Their former gowns

Diamantes for the newly dead

 

This is my brave new world

Land of my endless yearning

Invoking

Passions

Extreme as its seasons

And as beautiful as a late Autumn morning.

 

 

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Words and images are my own.

 

©2017

 

 

Dominion

 

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Tales of Princes

 

He makes his throne of pillows

And sets himself atop

Master of the bed (and all beds)

Lording it over the room with

The best views in the house

One window overlooks

His dominions

The other affords sight-line

To the domain of his

Neighborhood rival

(That insolent cur)

From this vantage point

He may loudly voice his displeasure

Or sleep away the afternoon

Entirely at his discretion

You’d think him Emperor of China

Not second dog on the totem pole.

 

 

 

 

Words and image are my own.

 

 

©2017

 

 

Colour me in

 

If it’s seemed like I’ve been a little absent from the blog over the past week and a bit, there’s been a reason. I’ve been colouring my old ‘Lean Years’ cartoon strips to practice for a big project I’m about to launch off on.

I’ve had it in mind to do a graphic novel for a few years now but I had to learn a few digital colouring techniques before I was ready to start. These strips have been a very handy vehicle for said practice.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

Lean years 8 001 colour 2

I’ve tried to be a bit adventurous in my approach and, if you’re interested in seeing the rest of them with the added dimension of colour, I’ve replaced all the old BW posts with the new and (hopefully) improved versions.

https://runawayamericandreamsite.wordpress.com/category/the-lean-years/

You can let me know here if you like (or hate) what I’ve done with them.

 

 

©2017

 

 

94. Thank you

 

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This week I experienced my first ever Thanksgiving as we got together with my wife’s family over a meal to truly feel thankful for. It reminded me of the Christmases of my childhood when my mother and grandparents were all still with us. And that got me ruminating on all I now have again in my life.

It’s been a strange year with a great many highs and lows. I finally made it to the US after an interminable process that, in turns, made me feel like a criminal one moment and a stateless pariah the next. I have tried and failed to express the deep joy I felt upon finally arriving at her door. I guess some things can only be experienced, not told.

I got to see two Springsteen shows before I left Melbourne and then had the amazing experience of seeing him on his home turf of Asbury Park, New Jersey in the tiny Paramount Theatre. And I got to do it with the love of my life as a very special treat on my first birthday in America.

I also got married this year… twice. The first, smaller, wedding was the legit one but the second with all our friends and my wonderful son in attendance was easily the best day of my life.

On the red side of the leger, we have been dragged through bitter emotional and legal battles by my wife’s ex-husband who has the clinical narcissist’s instinct for perceiving when things are going well in our lives and then casually throwing a huge wrench into the cogs. He seems supremely unconcerned that the chaos he unleashes each time affects his own children far worse than it does anyone else.

We also managed to have not one but two car accidents in the space of ten days just recently, which resulted in our beloved car being totalled. Another wrench to deal with but at least no one was hurt.

Flipping back to the black side, though, Jersey girl has at last found a job where she feels both appreciated and where her many talents are allowed to shine. This has been a wish I’ve had for her for so long now and to see her happy and (most days) eager to go to work is a deep joy to me.

I have also been experiencing a creative spurt over the past few months which has kept me away from this blog more than I’d like but which is also giving me a fresh vim that I hope will carry me towards something wonderful. Early days yet but the ride has been very enjoyable so far.

So, ultimately, it’s been a turbulent year but one mostly made up of things to be grateful for. I’m grateful for my new home, my new wife, my lovely new daughters and my incredible son, the beauty all around me, the wonderful people I’ve met and continue to meet, and the continued opportunity to stay in a creative space.

Oh yes, and Mary’s Thanksgiving dinner.

For all of these things, I give thanks.