Gitchi  
stephen clark
July 3rd, 2003
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stephen in mentone
 
 
 
Last Friday, my musician friends picked me up from Mentone Station so that they could take me to a band practice with the Pink Floyd tribute band. They said they are auditioning a new singer tonight, because our previous singer quit.
    I asked, "Do we have a drummer?"
    Ben the bass-player replied, "No." He went on to explain that the singer we're auditioning tonight is female. Now, as you're probably aware, Pink Floyd is an all-male band. So to have a female singer fronting a Pink Floyd tribute band would be a bit strange. Ben asked me what I thought.
    "Well," I said, "It's a bit strange but I guess I'll have to hear what her voice is like before I can give an opinion."
 
 
clouds and crane
 
 
 
So we went to the practice-room and set up the equipment. In the absence of a drummer, Ben said I should activate one of my pre-set keyboard drum beats while we play the songs. It sounded a bit lame, but it was the best we could do. By and by, the female singer arrived and she said hello.
    Our band is not very organised yet and we still only know about six songs that we can play together. You know how men and women have different vocal ranges, like women sing higher? Well, that was kind of an unavoidable problem tonight as the singer was singing stuff that's usually done by a man. But she managed fairly well. Her voice was kind of average but she didn't go out of tune, much. I sang backing vocals. In some parts, she told me to sing the lead vocal so that she could sing the harmony. It sounded good.
 
 
 
at melbourne central station
 
 
 
Somewhere in the middle of the practice we had a break, so that we could rest and some of the musicians could have a cigarette. We sat on the floor and talked. The singer asked us all what we do for a living. When she asked me, I said, "Oh, nothing – I don't make any money – I'm just an artist."
    And she said, "Oh, well you shouldn't say 'just' an artist – because being an artist is important."
    As she spoke further, we began to realise that this singer had all kinds of strong opinions about things – she talked about how she's against the war, and against the mandatory detention for refugees, and then she went on about how feminism is all very well in theory but she doesn't like having to fix her own car. We dicussed all these things and had a pleasant chat, although I didn't really say anything.
 
 
window into stephen's soul
 
 
 
She was just on the point of criticizing the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party when she said, "Oh, maybe we're offending Stephen."
    But I said, "No, I agree."
    And she said to the other guys, "He's all right – he's an artist."
    As the practice went on, it became clear (to at least one person in the room) that this singer was a really nice lady so if she joined our band she would make us happier by expressing her warm and vibrant personality to us whenever we associate with her. As for the fact that she was a female, well, it didn't seem to be a minus anymore, in fact I would prefer having a female singer because I just always favour female voices. I think probably my top fifty favourite singers are all female. So in the case of this new woman, I was looking forward to working with her.
 
 
jam tin rehearsal studio
 
 
 
But as soon as she left the room, and the three male musicians were left remaining, the bass-player gave a look to the guitarist as if to say, "No. We don't want her in the band."
    And later he put this into words: "That chick was no good."
    So I was thinking, "Darn it! I'll never see her again, now."
    And I was thinking, "Maybe in the future she'll want a keyboard player like me, if she finds another band to join. But she won't be able to contact me, because she doesn't have my phone number."
    And after it was too late, I was thinking, "I should have run after her, with a piece of paper with my phone number on it. It's too late now."
    Why didn't the other guys want her in the band? It couldn't have been her personality – they were getting on very well with her. It must have been because she was a female. But then why did they audition her in the first place?  
 
 
ceres sign
(artist unknown)
 

 
The next day, I went to this place called Ceres. It's like a big park in the middle of the inner suburbs, full of things like vegetable-gardens and chickens and goats and bread-making equipment. They also have a café and a pond. It's not just a park, it's an organisation run by people who want to raise the public's awareness of issues to do with the environment. So it's not run by a big corporation or anything – it's run by people who are rejecting convention. The whole place has an atmosphere of naturalness and peace. When people go there, they would think, "Nature is so pleasant – I want to live in harmony with it like these people."
 
 
pond with bridge
 
 

For lunch, I bought one of their natural sausage-rolls from the shop there. My friend Cat bought me an extra thing for dessert, it was like a ball of chocolate. Then we went to see the goats and the chickens, and Cat talked about how she plans to have some chickens of her own some day. She wants me to help her build the chicken-house.
    At Ceres they have this market where they sell things like plants that produce all kinds of nutritious fruit and vegetables – if you take them home and plant them in your own backyard you can save money by eating the food from the plants instead of buying food from the shop. It's cool because, half the time when you're eating food, you have no idea where it came from originally. City people like me don't often see an apple tree or an apricot tree, but at Ceres I did.
 
 
pink lady label
 
 
Some of my time was spent taking photos. For the rest of the time I tried to stick close to Cat, so that if she wanted to make a comment about something, she would have someone to make it to. And meanwhile, there were chickens running around near us.
    The sun was going down so it was time for us to go. The late afternoon light contributed to the beauty of our surroundings as we wandered down to Merri Creek to check it out. Under a bridge, we saw some graffiti that had been painted with stencils, and it looked more artistic and refined than most graffiti. Cat said, "There's a lot of this stuff around here, and it looks really good."
 
 
stencil graffiti
(artist unknown)
 

 
Soon afterwards, we walked back to Cat's house. That night, we watched a movie called "Frailty". It's a horror movie about this guy who kills people whom he thinks are demons – he receives orders, presumably from angels, to kill demons who look like humans. He also has these two sons who are just children, and he slaughters people in front of them and tries to get them involved in the killing. People who watch this film would be thinking "Oh, how terrible – this man is mentally ill. And how could he do that to his own children?" But towards the end of the film, there are a few twists, to make us think that maybe he is killing demons, and not humans as we previously thought. And there are other twists, like the person telling the story turns out to be someone else, someone we didn't expect.
 
 
 
frailty
 
 
After the movie was over, Cat said, "I may be just stupid, but – there was something I didn't understand – why did Adam say that Fenton had killed a bunch of people as well? Wasn't Fenton the one who was opposed to killing in the first place?"
    "Yes, he was, at first," replied Cat's housemate, Ian. "But after being brought up in such an atmosphere of violence and murder, and being locked in the cellar without food for so long, he was turned into a regular psychopath."
    Cat said, "Well that movie really made me think. And in that twist near the end, when he turned out to be not who we thought he was – it meant that my brain had to do an about-face and look at the whole situation from a new perspective."
    Cat and Ian went on to have a lengthy intelligent discussion about the film, saying what they liked and didn't like about it. There were many plot-points to discuss, things that were in the film that provoked thoughts on which to reflect.
 
 
at ceres
 
 
Then, we played some video games. One of the games was "Final Fantasy 10" – it's one of those games which has a plot like a movie and the game guides you through with computer-generated video sequences, and you have to fight monsters along the way. It was hard and I didn't get very far before dying. But the best thing about it was the beautiful visuals – it was like a feast for the eyes with its 3D graphics and art. After that Ian and I played the game "Smuggler's Run", and we stuck with that one a bit longer because we kept trying to win despite our mistakes. As we made progress through the game, Cat watched us and sometimes she searched in the employment section of the newspaper, and Ian made her laugh by imitating the voices of characters in the game. It was fun, but it became a little frustrating at the end because we were stuck on this difficult level that we couldn't get through, so eventually we gave up.
 
 
painting, first session
 
 
What else has been happening – nothing much. I started a new painting today. It's a big one. It doesn't look like much yet, but I have it all planned out. In the foreground: a green pool-table with a girl holding a cue, about to take a shot. Next to her, a tiger with its front paws on the table. In the background: a flower-garden in a park next to the sea. When it's finished, people will say, "Stephen, you are such a great artist, and years from now we will be referring to you as 'That guy who painted the awesome picture with the pool-table and all.'"  
 

Flash animation – roll your mouse over it.
 
 
 
Television:
There's a cartoon show called Daria which is very funny – it's on the ABC at half-past five on Thursday afternoons. With a time-slot like that, you'd expect it to be a children's show. But even though it's rated G, it's just as entertaining for adults, possibly even more so. The show is about this teenage girl called Daria who's really intelligent. She goes to high-school and she's not very popular there – we see how her intelligence sometimes alienates her from the rest of the students, but she's not too unhappy about it because she has at least one friend and she's very adept at making witty comments. We never see her getting really emotional, but she's a very complex and multi-layered character nevertheless. People who watch this show would be thinking, "It's no wonder Daria is so cynical and sarcastic, when the world around her can be so crazy and unfair at times." This series is being repeated.
 
 
Karaoke:
This Wednesday I went to the karaoke and sang the song "Somebody's Crying" by Chris Isaak. It was a good night, but frustrating on two counts – 1. At the start of the night I was trying to get my hands on a copy of the book with the list of songs – there were several of them floating about, but people were taking too long with them and I had to hover about waiting for one to become free. It took quite a while. 2. After singing "Somebody's Crying" I wanted to sing another song, so I wrote it down on the list with my name. But song after song went by, for more than an hour, and the MC didn't announce me so I didn't get to sing on stage again – I had to leave to catch the late tram. It didn't seem right. But on the plus side, the audience was good and they danced to many of the songs, including mine.
 
 
Historical photo of the week:
 
 
Stephen Clark Age 15
Stephen Clark, fifteen years old
 
 
 
Music:
I think it was over a year ago that my sister Carolyn took me for a ride in her car and she was playing this tape or CD by the band They Might Be Giants, it was called "Mink Car". It was very pleasant, and as it continued it proved to be very wacky and zany as well. Some of the songs impressed me with their clever lyrics, others made me want to move my neck from side to side with the catchy melodies. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, my friend Cat lent me this CD and I got to listen to it for the first time in the privacy of my own home. And I realised, that when I'd listened to it in the car, the songs had been in a different order – it had started in the middle, played to the end, and then started at the beginning again. I thought it sounded much better the way I'd heard it before – the order of songs had seemed perfect. So I made a copy of this CD, and in burning the CD-R I rearranged the order of songs to match what I remembered hearing in Carolyn's car. So when I listen to it in the future, it will seem perfectly structured.
 
 
 
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