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 stephen clark
 
January 1, 2004

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sing sing front
 
 
On the the fourth day of Christmas, my band and I went to a recording studio to start work on our new album. My band is called The Boris Pink and we play lots of rock music. The studio we went to is called "Sing Sing" it's an appropriate name, because people go there to sing, and other things. A lot of famous people have recorded albums there. On the walls of the studio there are plaques showing awards that they've won for past accomplishments in sound-recording, like gold records and stuff. I explored the place while the technicians set up microphones with the drums.
 
 
 
a microphone
 
 
I've been to a couple of recording studios before it's normally a bit boring because you have to wait and wait for ages while the equipment is set up, and then when the recording actually begins the musicians play the same bit of music over and over, trying to get it just right, and usually the sound engineer spends half an hour trying to get rid of some strange "buzz" being caused by a speck of dust inside a microphone or something.
    But Sing Sing wasn't boring at all. They have lots of stuff to do while we're waiting like, they have a separate room with a big-screen TV and a DVD player and a games console. They have another room with a pool table and ping-pong table. They even have a kitchen, a bathroom with shower, and a little courtyard with plants it was all provided just for us, so that we could be happy musicians in our surroundings.  
 
 
men behind the desk
 
 
Unlike the other members of the band, I didn't actually record anything that day. I usually play keyboard, but they said they'll record the keyboard parts later as an overdub. So I was able to take advantage of the facilities more than anyone else. I thought to myself, "This studio is like, the best place on earth. I wish I could live here all the time."
    Of course, this kind of luxury doesn't come cheap. Sing Sing is the kind of studio where people pay twelve hundred dollars for one day of recording, and that's not including the sound engineer's fee. But Boris Pink got some sort of special deal, so the price was greatly reduced. We spent about fifteen hours there that day.
 
 

Flash animation roll your mouse over things and click on things.
 
 
 
As for the control-room in the recording studio, it had the biggest and most complicated mixing desk I've ever seen, plus lots of other audio equipment. I spent a lot of time observing our sound engineer, watching him push various buttons, trying to work out how he was doing the skillful stuff that he was doing. All those little orange lights which went up and down with the sound-levels they were mesmerizing. Of course, I had to make sure I stayed out of the way. Boris said maybe I could record some parts on the grand piano later. But in the end, there wasn't time. Maybe we will go back to the recording studio in a few weeks, or whatever none of our songs was finished at the end of the session. But I don't know exactly where the money's going to come from.
 
 
stephen at sing sing
 
 
 
On the fifth day of Christmas I received a letter from the estate agents, the ones who manage my apartment. They said I have to vacate the premises in sixty days. It turns out that the new owner wants to live here. I'm a bit disappointed the agents did say they were going to find a buyer who was just going to buy the place as an investment, not to live here, but I guess they lied. Oh well, this is the end of an era after seven years, I'll have to move into a new place. Rent prices have risen so I won't be able to find a flat at the same price I'll have to pay more per week. That means I will have less disposable income. I won't be able to spend as much on extra luxury items like computer hardware and music equipment. But that's okay there's nothing in particular that I'm saving up for at the moment.
 
 
i will have to leave my home
roll your mouse over this image
 
 

My main concern is whether I can find a flat in a convenient location, close to transport, and whether the new agents will accept my application. Estate agents don't usually like to deal with poor people. Seven years ago when I applied for this flat, it was my sister who signed the lease. But that was before she got married and had children. The estate agents would think it was odd for a person like that to be applying for a one-bedroom flat.
    I called my sister about it. She said, "You should get a reference from your estate agent. You've been staying there for seven years, kept the place clean, always paid the rent on time they will give you a very good reference. Are you going to look for a flat in the same area?"
 
 
 
mel
 
 
 
I said, "Well, next year I will be studying in Fairfield. So it would be nice to find a flat in that area, instead."
    "I will help you find a flat," she said. "I will take you around to various flats to inspect them, and make sure you get the one that suits you best."
    So we arranged to meet next Monday to check out one-bedroom apartments. Unfortunately there's no way I can get a reference from the old estate agent before Monday, so my application might be delayed a day or two. You know how it is around new year shops and businesses are closed for a few days. My sister takes care of me it wasn't long before she was finding apartment possibilities in the real estate listings and pointing them out. Pretty soon I'll be moving my furniture and stuff out of this flat and she will help me there, as well.
 
 
dont worry stephen
 
 
 
The night before New Year's Eve I didn't get much sleep. I was thinking about the Iraeli/Palistinian conflict in the Middle East and trying to get my head around it. "What can be done?" I wondered. "Does it really matter who's right and wrong any more? The main thing is to stop the fighting. But how, how, how?"
    I only slept for about three hours. So the next day I was a bit tired. And I didn't have time to sleep during the day 'cause I was too busy making late Christmas cards and stuff. So by the time the evening came, I was prone to fall asleep wherever I lay my head. I told myself, "Stay awake! You don't want to sleep through that moment when the year changes over, at midnight furthermore, you should be in a mood to party and celebrate, like you do every year at this time."
 
 
last sunset of 2003
 
 
 
I wasn't invited to any parties but there are always hundreds of people down at the beach who watch the fireworks, and often they get drunk and dance around as well. It's something of a tradition that I go down there and join them. At around ten-thirty pm I was struck by a thought:
    "I need to re-capture that sense of perfection and spiritual harmony that I felt on January 9th. During the first half of that day, I felt like my life was being guided by a higher power and nothing could possibly go wrong. Was it just chance, a run of good luck that made me feel that way? Or was it something in my own attitude? My friend Cat said that one makes one's own good fortune. Maybe if I could adopt the same attitude again, my life will once again seem perfect. On January 9th, I was in that mood because I was feeling physically weak, as if I couldn't walk fast or for long distances without stopping for a rest. And today, I'm feeling tired that's almost the same thing."
    I started walking down to the beach. As an experiment, instead of shaking off the tiredness to feel invigorated, I walked slowly and imagined myself to be as fragile as a hundred-year-old man.

 
 
 
new years steve
 
 
 
When I reached the shopping-district I stopped for a rest. Already I was seeing interesting things party people walking back and forth, some of them waving at me as I sat there, as if they knew me. I continued on to the beach and I felt like I had reached some sort of heavenly resting place after a long and arduous journey I sat on the sand with my back against the blue-stone wall and watched the revellers. Later, after overcoming a great inner-conflict, I transferred myself to a better location just as relaxed, with a better view of the party scene. Then, just a few minutes before midnight, I lay down on the sand. I felt as if everyone's choices and actions were designed to fit perfectly with my own. "Just be weak," I thought, "and be guided by the strength of a higher power."
    A nice girl came over to me and said, "Are you okay?"
    I put my head up and said yes. She seemed a little unconvinced she thought maybe I had passed out and been abandoned by my friends. I said, "No I'm okay I'm looking forward to the fireworks."
    The girl, Heidi, asked some questions and found out that I'm a musician and an artist and stuff. Then she invited me over to join her group of friends.
 
 
the kindness of strangers
 
 
 
I'm not very friendly and I don't mingle well with groups of people. But as long as I remembered to stay as physically relaxed as possible, they gave me respect and tried to make me feel like I was one of them. At one point Heidi put her hands on my face and said she thought I was lovely. And I said, "You're very nice too."
    At midnight, the fireworks went off. Our group of people was taken by surprise at how close they were there were sparks hitting the sand around us and we couldn't look up without getting sprinkled with ash in our faces. But that's what made it all the more exciting. They stood up and cheered and applauded and me, I just lay on the sand and let it all happen around me, sometimes looking up at the sky with my hand over my eyes, other times, looking around at the revellers as the fireworks bathed them in light. The atmosphere was one of happiness and excitement even after the fireworks finished, there were people dancing silly-style and saying "Happy new year!" to anyone who would listen. I left about twelve-thirty, still walking slow with the air of someone who's passing through a magical wonderland with unearthly delights at every turn. And that was the end of the year.
 
 
 
but the new year is just a well dressed baby
 
 
 
I woke up bright and early the next day and went to my parents' house. They had just got back from their long holiday in Europe. They showed me hundreds of holiday photos and gave me some Christmas presents. In the afternoon, it was time to go home and Mum offered to give me a lift to the railway station. On the way there, in the car, she said "You will be studying music full time next year, won't you?"
    I said, "Yes."
    "In that case, it will be very time consuming. You probably won't have time to do all the other things you like to do, will you?"
    "No. But I'll manage somehow. I always do."
 
 
 
mums chips and dip
 
 
 
Mum asked me, "Do you think you'll be able to do all the stuff you want to do on your computer?"
    "Well I won't do the web-site anymore."
    "Won't you?" she asked with an air of surprise.
    "No. I mean I'll leave it online, but I won't add to it anymore."
    "Well that's a shame. We always like to read it, to keep up with what you've been doing lately."
    "Well I guess I can find other ways to keep you informed."
    Mum dropped me off at Diamond Creek station. We said goodbye to eachother she drove away, and then the train came and I got on it.  
 
 
mum likes my new hair
 
 
 
Television:
Television is such a waste of time you stare at the screen, letting the programs numb your mind and distract you from the important things in life. The advertisements make you dissatisfied with what you've got. Ditto for the "infotainment" stuff. The news and current affairs paint an unbalanced picture of the world to brainwash you into thinking the way the authorities want you to think. Well here is my New Years Resolution throughout the year, I will watch less and less television. So, by the end of the 2004, I will be watching no television at all.
 
Music:
The trouble with sequencing electronic music is, the drums don't sound right. I like to write the sort of music that could be played by a band but I don't have a band to play my music, and I know how hard it is to get a group of musicians together because I've seen people with better people-skills than me try it and fail. So I'm stuck with electronic drums. It could sound okay if I sampled real drums and arranged them in the music just so. This is what I was thinking about when I was in the recording studio this week that I should ask the sound-engineer to do a mix of our tracks with just the live-drums that he'd recorded and burn it to a CD for me so that I could play around with it. But how do you ask a sound engineer for something like that? Do I have to pay him extra? He was working overtime for us already at no extra charge. Maybe I'll find a way later, when he's up to the mixing stage of the process.
 
Reading:
I've been reading a book called "Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates" by Erving Goffman (1961). I wanted to finish it by the end of the journal so tonight I stayed up until about 5am trying to read the last part. I got up to page 315 of the 336-page book before I gave up and went to sleep. I like the way it's written so intelligently and precisely, with a complicated logical train of thought. He talks about how mental patients often bend the rules of the hospital to make their stay there more pleasant, and the staff turn a blind eye when it suits them. Later he talks about how psychiatrists are trained to delude themselves about the usefulness of what they're doing, and he mentions that "a mental hospital is ill-equipped to be a place where the classic repair cycle occurs." It's an interesting book the reason I took so long over it is because I kept putting the book down to reminisce over memories of relevant situations.
 
Karaoke:
Lately I haven't been going to my favourite karaoke night much, usually because the Pink Floyd tribute band practised on Wednesdays and I had to play with them. Now that the band has partially split up, there's nothing to stop me from going to karaoke on Wednesdays. But I probably won't, anyway it was fun for a while but I'm over it.
 
 
 
 
stephen goodbye
 
 
 
 
Extras!
As part of the journal this year, I've been including a lot of pictures of my paintings as they progress. Click here to see all the painting images together on one page, in sequence.
For a few months I did a thing where I include historical photos of myself, one for each year I've been alive. Click here to see a page with all of those pictures together (and thus see me grow up before your eyes).
Sometimes when I'm doing flash animations, I have to work through several bad ideas before I come up with a good idea. Click here to see a page full of flash animations that weren't quite good enough for the journal.
Finally, click here to see six photos of a ginkgo tree in St Kilda Botanical gardens, taken at different times of the year as it changed with the season.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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