nomadology heading undergrowth-typeface (1K)

Return home

Stockbroker for the Evolution
So I'm an Art Dealer now...
I'm living in Manhattan selling 'original' prints of Alex Grey through a New York visionary art collector whose name is not Anna, but that's what I'll call her.

She wasn't in town when I arrived, but contacts me on my cell as soon as she gets back into the country. A few hours later we meet up in Central Park and spend the afternoon wandering the green heart of Manhattan beset on all sides by the towers of apartments and business.

Anna is only a prt-time art dealer she tells me, mostly she works as a trader on Wall Street for a select clientele. She looks the part in her power dressing corporate uniform threads - except, that is, for the long dreads that roll down her back and the designer embroidered plants on her suit (which she lets me know is hemp). Her skin is a dark brown, which she tells me is a mix of African and Irish bloodlines. Sass and soul. A funky woman indeed.

She apologises that she wasn't in town when I got here as arranged with Tao, but she'd been on a waiting list to go to the Galapogas Islands for two years, and couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit one of the only completely untouched wildlife reserves in the world. A place so unique in it's flora and fauna that Charles Darwin purportedly developed his theory of evolution while exploring it's landscape.

She smiles conspiratorially, it was also the best place possible to take some prospective clients to help convince them to invest in some major eco-tourism franchise which is in the works.
She winks at me as she says this; yep, she's a capitalist alright.

But Anna is not that simple, which is probably why Im here in Central Park with looking at a book of Alex Grey prints and discussing stock options...

I ask her about how she got involved in the stockmarket and she tells me she did it to get rich, plain and simple. But, she continues, with the express purpose that once rich she would have more ability to be able to change the world once she acquired money.
"That sounds like classic libertarian philsophy" I tell her. "The individual over the collective. Totally American."
She laughs, and tells me she's Canadian. But I'm right, it is an America that perfected capitalism. And capitalism is all based on the individual over the collective. But it gets more complicated, of course.
"Money is a liquid energy." she tells me matter of factly in her slight Canadian accent "It's the most malleable substance in the world because it can transform into almost anything. It is water. The art of economics is understanding the energy currents through the world, it's no coincidence we call it currency, is it? "

I tell her about my brother in Hong Kong and his currency speculation scam.
If I'd learnt anything from him, it was that this thing we call the global economy is a casino. Many people at the top have figured out how to skim the cream off the milk of the global economy. It's the classic scenario of how the rich get richer and poor get poorer, the kind of thing that got me outraged in the lead up to Seattle. It's funny though, after talking with Anna for one night I learnt more about economics than I did after years of anti-globalisation campaigning. Actually that's not quite true, I just learnt a whole side of it which I had never taken the time to learn properly - the inside.

"Do you realise how fundamentalist some people in this industry are?" she tells me suddenly, as if I've tapped a deep vein within her. They speak of free trade like it was the goddamn holy grail! Anyone who disagrees is a heretic, a luddite or just a communist. It's that simple to them. When they ran out of things to trade they started trading futures.. As in, they are selling the future from under us! So we decided to channel that kind of thinking into the Sustainable Futures Market."

But right now, we are still in the park.
Anna leans across to me and says "I like you Arrow, I wan't to let you in on something..."
She tells me the biggest secret that she knows.
It's called "Green Chips".

"Green chips are just as strong as Blue chips because they are based on the philosophies of sustainability - the new school of ecological economics. Paul Hawking's Next Industrial revolution is a growing reality. It just takes time to affect that kind of change in a society where everything needs to be redesigned."

Basically, as she describes it, she 'sells shares in the new paradigm'.

"The Dot Com Boom was a bubble based on the best dreams of the internet mixed and shaken with the best dreams of traders. It was a match made in heaven because it was all based on Virtual Reality, you see. The majority of international trading is based on a similar kind of virtual reality. It's illusion that is responsible for the global economic insanity- it wouldn't be possible any other way. My clients know this, and don't want any part in it. There's enough of them to make it happen too.. It's all about the critical mass. As soon as we make that shift over, we'll be ready for the shares to rise, but it wont be based on illusion, it will be based on sound economic, ecological, and moral theories. We can't go wrong."

It was a compelling argument.
I could see how she was able to convince investors.
In fact, I wanted to know more.

She told it to me straight:
"The wind turbine revolution is huge and it's only going to keep growing. Organics is the single largest growing industry in the world. The hydrogen economy? We call it the the hydrogen bomb, because when it drops on the economy it's going to be huge.. and you can bet your life the most conscious investors are all positioning themselves right now to reel in the profits when they do..
It's all changing Arrow, the trick is to ride the wave, y'know.
Paradigms shift one drop at a time. But that's how it's always been.

She hands me her business card.
It reads; 'Stockbroker for the Evolution."

As Anna puts it, the entire economy is currently dangling on the edge of a revolution in green technology, eco-technology, organic products, ethical consumerism, etc. She's been developing a strong clientele of wealthy US investors who see the writing on the wall, and post-New Orleans they don't think there is any point fucking about with the debate about climate change anymore. Everyone in the world knows this intuitively. The only people who are dragging their heels at it are those who have vested interest in the status quo of the current industrial/economic model.

"Unfortunately, that happens to be some of the most powerful people in the world..." she says. "Our job, is to woo them over, by common sense, and moral direction and economic incentives.."

A few days later at a dinner party in her apartment I meet a bunch of Anna's friends who are interested in the art I'm selling. They are an intriguing bunch of high rolling freaks dressed in total NY designer groove, sipping on organic wines and making jokes about the latest Wall Street or White House cock-up and all the sordid two degrees of separation inbetween. They were a mixed bag of organisers of numerous festivals around the East Coast, eco-resort owners with imaginative clientele, high profile artists and writers, and millionaires with a lot of time to explore their consciousness, i suppose. Intelligently, she doesn't drop any names, and neither will I. It's a hidden society for a reason. The point is, there I was with some serious movers and shakers who are all way past being switched on.
In fact, they are switching me on to a whole new dimension of the game.
I felt privileged to be in their company.

Later that night everyone's gone and we're sitting on the balcony of Anna's apartment, watching the slow crawl of dawn flirt with the night sky. From here we can see the two twin lights of Ground Zero, like electric ghosts beaming into the air. Flocks of birds circle them in huge numbers eating the insects they attract. It's quite a beautiful sight.
Anna tells me she was in town when the towers came down but ;ike most New Yorkers I've met, rather than make them more pro-war, September 11 actualy made them conscious of the need to make peace more than ever.

I ask her what it was like during the attacks. She takes a deep breath, as if to summon up the energy to tell the story again.
"All I can say is, it felt like the End of the World. The sky was black with clouds of dust. People were running and screaming. Drivers were leaving there car's behind because they couldn't move them fast enough. It was a total moment of Rapture."
I listen carefully, watching the birds in the twin beams of light, as if they were souls circling their grave now.
"The point is, I think the end of the world does not mean the end of everything. It's just the end of a certain paradigm. What it means is the beginning of a New World."

She's waving her hands around in front of her as she says this, like she's casting a spell. Down below us the lights of the car's are moving through the street like rivers of energy. The buildings are batteries, sparkling fallen stars, full to the brim with potential human energy. I realise she's a modern day energy worker. A healer of sorts, guiding the energy networks of the earth in various ways, as if all our powerlines and ethernet connections were meridians, just waiting for the right acupuncture points to be activated.
White magik and voodoo economics in the cooridoors of Wall Street.

That night we'd raised twenty thousand dollars from the sale of the prints. The next few weeks will be all about how to spend it, and Anna has instantly become my consultant of choice.

This is gonna get interesting.
New York, New York
In New York, I arrived broke as I had ever been in my life..
and New York is not a great place to be broke.
As it turns out, Tao's friend was away on a trip to the Galapogas islands for a week or something and so it is I'm left trying to find a safe place to lay my head in one of the most unforgiving cities in the world.
At first I revert to the safe but expensive backpackers hostels but my budget cannot afford even this. Quickly I fall in with some artist hobos living in a squat tenement tucked into the east side which they call 'the chateau'. I quickly find a kindred spirit in one of the hobos who calls himself Bodhi. He's a weathered delinquent with angel blue eyes and a propensity for beautiful and spontaneous poetry wherever he goes. He is clearly balancing precariously on the edge off genius and madness and he is obviously in a state of ecstatic gnosis as a result, but unfortunately this has not helped him carve a stable source of income in the material world. .
Then again, at this point, neither have I.

One night on the subway, surrounded by commuting businessmen, b-boys, faceless masses he declares to me New York to be a "desert filled with restless flowers."
"here in the overflowing waterfall of the end of time we can lose ourselves in the utter nothingness of the anonymous crowd.."
"The city is a machine which eats the birds and the bees!" he screams to the conmfused pedestrians of Time Square. "These billboards are omens from the corporate gods. They are telling you your mission is to create world peace!"
In his presence I feel like I am in the company of a latter day William Blake, high on the osmosis of crowd telepathy.

Bodhi takes me under his wing for a few nights and shows me the secret graffiti code language which gives you access to the cities invisible keys, squats here, codes which tells you to avoid the drugs and gangs, the police. Other graffiti tags let us know about where the best places are to glean food from thrown out dumpsters.
Huge amounts of food get thrown out in this city everyday, and the homeless have worked out ways to break the padlocks openn with industrial strength bolt cutters. I think this unofficial food distribution system must feed thousands every nighht.

As we get to know each other a bit better over the course of my week at The Chateau, Bodhi tells me how he came to be living like this. For some reason he starts his story with the moment he learnt to read auras from a magical book at the age of fifteen. Without a mentor, he says he never knew quite how to deal with this knowledge, and it made him slightly unstable.
Soon after he was medicated by his parents who were worried that he would never finish high school. He did, growing increasingly unstable as the cocktail of anti-depressants and his own visionary nature collided in battle for his soul. Eventually, he kicked the habit of civilisation and escaped the psychic prisons of suburbia, finding peace in the noise of the New York hubris. He's been in and out of mental asylums for a few years he tells me, and declares there are two differnet kinds of mentally ill people. Those which are cuckoo who don't know that they are insane and have completely lost themselves to whichever character ego they are able to latch onto, like a piece of wood at sea - and those who are tripping, who know they are tripping, but just can't turn off the trip. He tells me he was never cuckoo, he was always tripping, but wasn't the thing about cuckoos that they never knew they were cuckoo?
Anyway, somehow the proximity to other crazies made him gain enough insight into the nature of the schizopoetic brain structure to gain perspective on his own particular brand of consciousness.

One night while meditating in his room ("actually I was pretending to sleep, because the doctors don't trust patients who meditate as it illustrates a more advanced control of the mental faculties than they themselves inhabit.")
Anyway, he goes, whilst meditating he realised that the entire mental health system is a robotic sstrucutre devised by "anti-shamanic devils intent on supressing the naturally ecstatic inclinations of the collective soul".

"You see Arrow, society is a telepathic hypnosis machine" he told me. What we take for granted as normal is actually no more than the collective consensus of the group mind. Knowing this, how are we to decipher wether or not we are under the spell of some psychopathic tendency of self delusion such as the evidence of our own senses which are telling us that the world on a path to an environmental doomsday machine, or that everything is normal and we should just go about our day to day lives and act as if nothing is wrong in the face of, which is what the mainstream media seems to want us to believe.."
At the very least, he realised that sitting in these white boxes called hospitals was not going to help himself or the world, and so he got decided he needed to get the fuck out.

Very aware of the situation he had let himself fall into, Bodhi carefully hid his realisations from the 'white coats' and began a systematic deconstruction of the entire mental health system through an increasingly bizarre renunciation of every single inner truth he had ever uncovered in a bid to uncover their own freudian, cilivised pathologies. After a while he had figured out enough of the secret language codes inwhich they lived by to simply drop the right neurolinguistic keys into his interviews to convince them that he was no longer the possessor of visionary insight, but had reverted to a more mundane and monochrome shade of personality, which they somehow count as normal.

Two days later, Bodhi takes me to an art exhibition in a back alley of Soho, it's the best way to get free wine every night of the week... The art is a series of semi abstract, baconesque paintings of contemporary political personalities in intricately designed etchings of Kama Sutra poses with sadomasochistic imagery throughout.
One which caught my eyes in particular was a group orgy scene of Bush, Bin Laden, Cheney all fucking in a limousine with a whole bunch of oil executives beating off to the scene as if it were a theatre they were paying to see at peepshow.
It's titled, 'The Climate Change Coalition'
"Wow, it really turns me on.." a voice behind me utters.
I turn to see a startlingly beautiful middle aged woman with diamond earings and a backless dress standing next to me sipping provocatively at a martini. She introduces herself to me as Pearl, with the eyes of vixen she looks me over like predator. A woman who knows what she likes and gets what she wants.
'Really?" I concur, happy to play along.. "personally I prefer the tantric pictures of Bush fucking the world over there... it's so much more... sophisticated." My voice is heavy with sarcasm. I didn't really like the exhibition at all.
"To tell you the truth, I find all this politics so boring.." she tells me. "But Pierre is the best S&M artist in New York, so I wouldn't miss an opening for the world.'
"oh really?" said i.
" It's just so fucking fashionable now, what with all the war on terror.. and 911.. I'm just so tired of it all..'
'Well it's definately going for the shock value.." I say, focussing on the section where Bush is going down on a petrol pump held by Bin Laden. 'Perhaps people are becoming desensitised..."
'Of course, that's how S&M works you know.." she tells me drolly. "It's like a drug, you just keep needing more, to get the same.. high."
I'm intrigued by how much she's into S&M culture, and she tells me matter of factly she could take me to a number of clubs any night of the week. Something about her mischevious smile I find quite alluring, and so an hour later I find myself watching people get whipped in gimp uniforms in a dark club bathed in red lights and pumping to kitsch 1980's pop music. Cocaine lines choke the mirror table in front of us. A naked musclebound waiter in a mexican wrestlers uniform serves us champagne as Pearl plays with his erection.. I can't quite believe my eyes, at the whole scene. Utter decadence just blocks away from the utter poverty Iive been living in.
Pearl tells me her husband works for the banks, she says he's never at home, but when he is it doesn't help, he's impotent anyway.. With absolutely no guilt she tells she would leave him but she's grown 'accustomed to this lifestyle'..
She asks me if I would like to come back and see her Duchamp.
I smile, she's very cheeky. I like it.
An hour later we are back at her apartment, overlooking central park, drinking champagne on silken sheets.. as she seduces me, she turns over pictures by the bed of her husband shaking hands with Enron executives.
"He's harmless anyway..' she continues, explaining that even when he is in town they barely talk to each other, and then there's his impotence problem from working so hard. She suspects that he's probably getting involved in some beastly sex tourism while he's always away, and when he returns a normal sex life just doesn't cut it.
Pearl entertains herself with a series of flings with young men she finds around New York.. She is the utter embodiment of a New York dilettante. Rich, expensive tastes, ensonced in the art 'scene', she's recently been delving in the S&M scene as she gets more and more bored...

After two days as a sex prisoner in Pearls apartment I escaped and made my way back to The Chateua where Bodhi let me in with a sly smile, he saw the whole pick up... He sits me down and makes me green tea and I impart the story of my last 48 hours with him.
I find it bizzare that within twenty minutes I've travelled from the elite apartment to the abject poverty of the bohemian New York underbelly. And the weirdest part is, it barely seems to phase me.

That night on the roof of the chateau I take another bite of Alex Grey and look over the glittering caves of Gotham City.
I descend through a ladder to find Bodhi in his studio, painting large canvasses splashed with petroleum onto which he is intently flicking blood that he has imported from iraqi bloodbanks. He tells me these aren't artpieces, they will never sit in galleries to be paraded over by art dealers and wealthy collectors. They are religious artefacts downloaded from the future. As he speaks, like a man possessed, i notice his eyes welling up with liquid, as though the truth of what he is saying inspires the proximity of tears.
He tells me I should sit and meditate in front of them..
I do so, sitting close enough so that the canvas completely fills up my field of vision.
As if that wasn't enough, Bodhi runs to the stereo and places in the spinning disc of Slipknot, the hardcore metal band who have perfected the art of funneling aggresive male testosterone and canned DNA of rage into the musical form, which Bodhi whispers into my ear that this music is being subjected to incarcerated and sensorially deprivation to detainees at Guantanamo bay as form of sonic water torture.. Within minutes of this bizarre audio visual cocktail he has me in tears, bursting with empathy for the open wounds of the planet, forcing me to connect with this ongoing tragedy which I had all but forgotten in my endless movement and travelling. .. Im crying, because for all this fucking knowledge I still don't know what to actually do with it,
"What's the fucking point of torturing yourself with this knowledge when we are powerless to prevent it!!!" I scream, bursting with anger at my own impotence. Angry at Bodhi for pulling me into the dark world of activist angst which I had all but forgotten..
Bodhi stares at me in the face, crouches in front of me and says.
"Arrow, you asked for this. You have been asking mme for this since we met. You keep telling me you are lost and seeking direction. You want something to connect to, something to make sense of it all. Something to ground you. Well here you fucking are. Stare at this shit until it drives you insane and you want to tear down the facades of every person you meet and the walls within yourself crumble down and then keep staring at it all you see is blood and oil and you want to blow up cars and courts of law and the blood will flow through these streets like open veins and the anger will consume you and then keep staring at it until you realise that that will only cause more bloodshed and the oil will still be burning and you will be dead, or in prison and you will still know that nothing has changed, and keep staring at it, until you realise that the only way to come to peace with all of this is to act upon it with love. That is what is going on in this world.
We are going mad fighting over ancient sunlight that we know will scar the heavens and melt the ice, we're retracing on a path to the end of the world and medicating ourselves with media and drugs and toys and endless sex..
it's a destructive relationship which we keep returning to..
No one want to stare at it all.
Do you want to look away now?
Am i getting under your fucking skin?
Who will mourn the extinction of insects and birds in this city where the only nature you find are cockroaches crawling through the crumbling stones caves.
These are all cages I'm showing you.
Booby traps for your consciousness to get caught in.
We are dominated by cubes in a universe that is made of spheres.
The moon is the only reminder because the sun is too honest and it will blind us with illumination if we where to look, so we can only understand it's perfection by peeking at mirrors that lie to us and tell us what we want to hear.
Death and plastic surgery.
Skulls underneath the skin.
Ghosts everywhere.
and they want to know:
Do you love her??
What do you love??
What would you die for?
What are you doing with your life?
Why are we alive??
Across the Belly of the Beast
I land at LA International Airport penniless, broken hearted..
My friend Tao picks me up and drives me to his house deep in the hills of LA. He says I can stay with him for a while andget back on my feet, and in a week he'll have a great job for me, delivering a package across the continent to New York City.

Tao's house is a beautiful rustic cabin, which backs onto a little valley. A practising occult-shaman since the psychedelic resurgence in the 90's. Fifteen years ago he was a part ofthe larger scene hanging out with Terrence McKennna discussing the finer points of the psychedelic circus.
Since then Tao has developed a loyal and high profile clientele for his A-grade hallucinogenic chemistry. Basically, Tao sells acid to celebrities. He developed a reputation as a dealer of integrity, interspering shamanic practise in with his business to highlight the set and setting. He is a healer too, and regularly holds sweatlodges in the valley behind his property.

Everyone in LA has a few celebrity stories, this city is crawling with the eyes ofthe world. Tao is no exception. Supposedly Johnny Depp scores his acid off him, which I find hard to believe... Then one day I get home and Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers is hanging out in the living room. Tao and Flea have been tasting the psilocyb from the LA summer and their drawing with crayons on the floor with Tao's children.
Mostly the drawings were pretty crap.

At the end of the week, Tao gives me a book of art by visionary painter Alex Grey in which every page has been dipped in acid. It's a beautiful folio of metaphysical visuals, infused with the alchemy of mind altering molecules. My job is to distribute it across the continent - he knows Im good for it - we've done this a few times before, it's been a one of the ways I've been able to fund my internaitonal travel for the last few years... The thing is, LSD is scentless and incredibly compact so it has the ease of being distributed around the world for next to no expense, with no risk of ever being busted. Tao gives me the contact of a friend in New York who he tells me will help me get rid of the whole book in a month and make me about twenty thousand dollars American, half of which I will share with him.

A few days I get a lift to Nevada with one of Tao's friends who goes by the name of Michael Sparrow. He tells me Michael is Native American who works as a spirit healer in Nevada. As we drove Mike told me the reason he's travelling to Las Vegas is a part of book he's writing which he describes as a modern version of On The Road, but about America in the 21st Century from an indigenous perspective. This section of the novel would be his Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas style chapter. Michael tells me he wants to use it as a launch pad to discuss the phenomenon of Native Americans building Casinos on their reservations, something which he does not approve of. In Las Vegas he's also hoping to figure out just what it is that causes people to gamble. He tells me he sees the white man's ways as being inherently lost, and endless searching.
"but isn't that just the human condition?" I ask, a little cynical that the white man be the eternal scapegoat.
"White man came from across the sea, blinded, and shared this dis-ease of blindness with the rest of the world. Forcing their blindness on those who had sight. Killing the ancestors who would not give up their visions."
What about other cultures?" I ask him. "Like the japanese, or the chinese, or the middle eastern. Is it all just the white man or is there a larger human urge taking place here?"
He thought about this for a while, and then said,
"It's a good point Arrow, but all I know is the stories which have been passed by my elders to me. Stories of massacres and stories of the earth desecration. Stories of animals extinction and rivers being poisoned. All this pain was brought by Europeans in the space of aonly a few hundred years. They even made fucking cowboy and indians films to glorify it!! That was how blind they were - and some still are! Others came later, once it was already plundered, so I cannot speak of them, but the ones who killed us with no honour, who took our land by force, these were all white men. It is still white men who run this country, who control most of the world. Only, white people do not see themselves with such perspective becuase they have lost track of their own history. They are still blind, but they think they have more sight than anybody."

Michael asked me where my blood was from, for example. I told him I didn't really know. Beyond a few generations of my family it was all rather hazy. The truth was I had never really taken the time to find out, but it was definitely of some kind of European ancestry, probably English. I was embaressed by how little I knew of my own history. I asked him about his own culture.
"My people could see once, but now many of them have also become blind. The ancestors lie waiting for us to open our eyes again. I want to figure out a way to share ancient knowledge through the word, but in order to understand I need to go into the centre of the beast."
Soon enough the glow of The Beast he spoke of loomed at us from across the edge of the horizon. Here it was, smack bang in the middle of nowhere it rose up out of the ground like one big flashing amusement arcade. You could almost hear the shrill beeps of the poker machines even from out here... We drive through town, a surreal architectural collage of styles from all over the world, everything age of man, every civilisaiton reduced to a novelty to try and lure in the gamblers attention. The Pyramid, the cowboy archetype, the taj mahal, even a fake Venice complete with painted sky on the roof. This was Disney land for grown ups. A fantasy land built on the dreams of anyone striking it rich, from Hollywood to Las Vegas, the landscape of opportunity.
The greatest myth of the modern world.
The American Dream.

I had no money to burn there, and without money to burn there is no point going to Las Vegas. And today I don't feel like being an anthropologist, staring at all this greed fom the outside. Michael understands and offers todrop me off on the other side of the city, We share numbers and I wish him luck on his book.

Half an hour later I hitch a ride with a classic redneck truckdriver called Curtis,(Kerr-dis as he pronounces it with a thick southern drawl), who at first comes across as a classic wiry hillbilly. He's friendly enough, but it's obivous he has to really sturggle to smile and all he really wants is some company to fill the hours. I end up travelling with him for two days across the expanse of the country.

I soon learn Curtis is a Gulf War veteran who now drives trucks across America after leaving the army ten years ago. In a shitty diners in the bible belt he spoke bitterly to me of the American War machine, loud enough for other restaurant goers to hear him. He knows they hear, and he lets them know about the way the armed forces left depleted uranium strewn across Iraq. He's bitter, diagnosed with cancer and certain that it is caused by this most unholy of artillery. His face is gaunt, and weathered, eaten up by bitterness and a thousand days of lonely tormented ghosts I can't even begin to imagine.

Here in America you can feel the weight of the world powers at war. There is a sense of militancy which no other democracy in the world maintains. There is paranoia that the government is not serving them, from the left wing activists to the right wing militias. There is an almost desperate need for identity in all the flags everywhere, as if were a religion unto itself. You see the propoganda machine in action when they still serve you Freedom Fries at 'patriotic' diners in the middle of hicksville. Fear is everywhere, because everybody knows that America is responsible for something, and they are scared about that means. This thinking manifests in two different ideologies; the radical left wing who believe that America is responsible for the ills of the world (which is bullshit), and the radical right wing who believe that America is responsible because it is the only democratic freedom loving power in the world that can fix everything (which is equally bullshit).
Hey diddle diddle to the people in the middle..
The point is that the American sense of self importance, ie. it's national ego is so huge it is constantly on the verge of a mental breakdown - no wonder it is the most overmedicated for anti-depressents and drug taking in the world. Money is power and power is energy and too much energy in a system which cannot properly move that energy leads to an build up, which leads to cancer. This country is rife with cancer. At the heart of the self proclaimed heart of the empire the media tells you at every turn of well educated activists annd artists trying to spark minor revolutions. I've seen them try for years and I'm not convinced that they arem aking much progress, or if they are just holding back the tendency toward fascism which it has been known to mainfest with a smile. This terrible beauty that is the landscape. The suspicion even amongst the politically illiterate that they are the most powerufl nation in the world and they have somehow let themselves be led by fools.

Curtis is a classic case in point;
"Those motherfuckers just treat us all like fucking niggers, and they treat the blacks like white trash. Thats as much as they care about any of us." He tells me. The more we talk the more I realise he's stuck in some wierd kind of political ideology where he doens't trust activists and lefties and socialists, fags or liberals, but they are the biggest supporters of his cause. It must cause big internal political rifts within him. I suspect that he is the kind of outcast that is prone to get picked up by one of the right wing militias in the southern states.

One night we come to a billboard in the middle of the desert left over from the 2004 elections promoting George Bush and Curtis stops the car.
'Check this out, Aussie boy." he tells me, a wicked grin on his face...
I think he's going to do some kind of billboard alteration, but instead he pulls out a whiskey bottle and right in front of my eyes fashions a quick molotov cocktail out of it. Before I can say anything he's lit it up and thrown it against the billboard as we travel past at 100 miles an hour in his pickup.
"Woohooo!!" he yelps in excitement, slamming the wheel with his hands as we drive away..
I still can't believe what I've just seen, and in the back of my mind I'm worried he's going to become a uni-bomber one day with his anti-establishment and right wing views..

Later that night we are camping underneath the stars and and I decide to pass him a few tabs of the Alex Grey book. It's a risky thing sharing psychedleic with someone you suspect might be this mentally unstable, but after hanging out with Tao in Cali I began to understand how it could also be a great form of psychotherapy. As we sit aorund the fire, drinking some of his whiskey, the trip slowly comes on, and at first Curtis is all wild and hooting, but it is not long until his heart begins to get affected.. Curtis begins to cry. He tells me he doesn't want to die. How the Army has ignored hiim. How he's ashamed of what his country is doing, that he wanted to believe that it was all good but what he saw and how he's been treated has changed his world..

There were a million stars in the sky that night. I thought back to my time in Tokyo, in Hong Kong, in LA, all those monstrous light hoarding cities where the universe is gobbled up and no longer we lose our perspective... But here it is, the entire universe far all the world to see, giving us all the context we need should we ever lose touch with just how jewelled it is.. As I marvelled at it all, a shooting star passed overhead, and I told Curtis to look as he was scratching a gash into the ground with a stick as he spoke and was not paying attention..
He looked up, and I saw his face lighten. He began to laugh...
We both sat in silent awe for a a few minutes, lost in the immensity of this cosmos.
Suddenly I noticed a star in the sky which began to catch my attention. I don't truly know which one it was, my knowledge of astronomy being rather pitiful, but it seemed to glitter in a way that made it stand out from the rest of the sky. The more I focussed on it, the more the rest of the sky seemed to dissolve. I pointed it out ot Curtis I had the sensation that I was making contact with the light from a thousands year old energy body.. it was beaming directly into my iris. Strands of light on the edge of peripheral vision began to metamorphose into strange kinds of binary, mayanesque symbols.
I don't know quite what it means..
I ask Curtis if he could see the same thing.
I looked overto him and he was crying..
"It's so fucking beautiful.' is all he said, "I had no idea it was so fucking beautiful."

The next morning we woke, cuddled in each others arms..
Neither of us mentioned what happened last night.
We didn't really know what to say.

Later that day he let me off as he needed to turn south to get to New Orleans and I caught another hitch with a travelling cellphone salesman that took me all the way to New York.
'Another mega-city' I thought to myself as we cross the jersey turnpike.

Silently I whispered goodbye to the stars above..
I knew I would not be seeing them again for a while.
Broken Hearts and Lost Souls
I feel like writing 'how the months pass' and other obvious exclamations about how much time and land has passed since my last entry.
Life has a habit of taking over doesn't it! It seduces us with pleasure, dizzying us in the ups and downs of this rollercoaster hologram, then dropping us in the shit, just to remind us it can..
I have so much to tell you my random disembodied nomadic friends, but where to begin?
First of all, I am no longer in Japan (although this story is set there..).
I left that country - or should I say escaped it - months ago.
At first my time in Tokyo was all hyperkinetic neon attractors and manga romance comics. Within hours of my return, Page and I had confessed our undying love for each other and spent the next week barely surfacing from our boudoir..
We spent days making love and writing poetry in bed which we agreed were possibly the two most important things anyone could ever do with their lives..

We also began to stir some great shit with Hiro and the other band members of Akira's Semen who I wrote about last time. Hiro's brilliant mind for street theatre got us in all kinds of fun and games, burning monopoly money in the centre of the mall and staging fake arrests while protesting against whaling out the front of a Japanese restaurant..
It was all a lot of fun.

Before long though, cracks began to form in our relationship..
I realised this woman rocks my world to the point that I lose myself - so seductive is her flesh that when in her company I am in danger of forgetting myself entirely...
She is a practising tantrika, I began to learn amazing techniques to cultivate the kundalini which burns in me like a roman candle.
We make love and i forget my own biology, the sweat and breath and heartbeats coalesce and we feel as though one organism.
Every now and then i must catch her wide eyes to connect that this is still another person, it as though neither of us can believe that this is possible.

This was incredibly all-consuming, and I began to forget about the rest of the world, and next thing you know weeks had passed and I had spent all of my savings in the incredibly expensive world that is Tokyo lifestyle.

Another problem was that Page's 'english teaching' was in fact working in the hostess industry which I did not approve of. Actually the idea of horny japanese businessmen paying to dote over her at restaurants and nightclubs in the hope of finally seducing her drove me intensely insane with jealousy.
We began to argue.
She told me to trust her.
I told her she was a slut.
She told me to get the fuck out of her house.
The next day I would return and say sorry.
She would tell me she was looking forward to quitting her hostessing job.
We would make wild crazy beautiful love - in that way that make up sex is always so good - and then a few days later the same thing would happen.
We broke up and got back together twice a week for almost a month, as if we were on some kind of weird scratched record.
Something was not working between us obviously, but some incredible gravity keeps pulling us back together as well. I blamed the city and wanted us both to leave Japan, but neither of us really had enough money to do so.
It was driving us both crazy.
Eventually she told me she could not see me anymore.
I became distraught and sick with jealousy even more when I could not see her.
The whole neon machine of Tokyo began to fuck with my head. The media overload I had laughed at in the beginning of my trip here began to seriously affect me. Hiro's brother got me into his world and together we explored the realms of cyberspatial hallucination. I watched myself become a recluse, pouring myself into the digital world of the internet as a chance to escape the endless onslaught of the technopolis where everything costs money which I didn't have..
I begin to spiral down into a state of self-hate, conscious of my inability to deal with the pressures facing me. My bank account appeared in my dreams like a thermostat of my continuous series of personal failures.
I found solace in the faceless anonymity of the virtual reality worlds where there is no threat of being outed by people who can only interact with you via a pixelated projection of yourself.

I also began to spend hours poring over a manuscript about a psychic time traveller who explores a futuristic world where everything is upside down and inside out from the natural order of things but to everyone it jjust seems the way it has always been. Insanity prevails, gangs of Santa Claus maraud the streets mugging people at night. Politics has been reduced to a sport inwhich voters bet upon which side will take power. They vote according to whom they believe they can win the most money from in the sweepstakes. Education is delivered by television programming. Inside the churches the priest gives economic forecasts.
The time traveller tries to figure out how things have come to be this way, and he finds an answer in the techno-bazaar of the shopping mall where people buy 'novelty machines', a strange technosymbiotic contraption which you wear like a blue tooth phone on your ear which feeds you the worlds accumulated news and art and music in an endless stream of subliminal infotainment channels that operate just underneath your consciousness allowing you to still go about daily life, but constantly requiring half of your attention span. Slowly but surely the machine begins to dull the users sensual capacitors, requiring them to upgrade to the next generation of the technology.
Eventually the character, hooked on this techno-narcotic completely forgets that he actually comes from another time altogether and is lost in the novelty craze, never quite coming back down to reality. The story ends with a faux happy ending in which the time traveller finally settles into the bliss of no-time, in which all times have been compressed into one. Now is obsolete. There is only Always.

I showed Hiro my manuscript and he got very worried. He was already concerned that I was spending way to much time with his shut-in brother, and this confirmed his suspicions that I was in danger of losing my soul to the muse of alienation. He promptly organised me some time at a kind of monestary in the mountains of Fukuoka and pretty much ordered me to get the fuck out of his house until I got back my passion for life.
"I love you Arrow." he told me as he bustled me onto the train "But you are not Arrow. I do not know who you are. You are imposter. Go away and don't return until real Arrow has returned."

Thankyou Hiro, I think you saved my life.

After two weeks in the eco-retreat I began to come back into myself. I absorbed the zen philosophy I needed to regain my understanding of the present. I returned to Tokyo to find an email from Page saying she wanted to see me again. Where was I?
Again we resumed our love affair... but I had enough knowledge that I did not want to stay in Japan any longer, it was not feeding my soul. Page agreed and lent me the money I needed to get out. I booked a plane to Los Angeles where I knew I could find some work to pay her back and hopefully fly her over too.

As soon as I jumped on the plane, I began to wonder what had happened, as if I had been mired in fog, and the movement., this travelling were the best medicine I have yet discovered to dispel the stagnant energy building within me..
It is as though I were like a shark,which dies if it ever stops moving.

Will I ever be able to just rest and relax?
Akira's Semen
Ive always thought of Tokyo is the neon mecca of the planet but the more i travel around Asia I am not so sure... It's as if after thousands of years everyone is over the cosmic fresco of starlight and have devised more and more obnoxious ways to blot out the sky. It makes it that much easier to forget there is a universe outside of this metropolis. Maybe thats how cities work?

In the last few weeks I've spent many days wandering aimlessly in the techno-wilderness thanks to the inscrutable Tokyo address system. For some reason the buildings in any city block are not number sequentially. oh no, of course not - they are numbered by the order in which they were constructed, which is rarely sequential.. all i know is that i just follow people and wander aimlessly through the digital bazaars. It seems like the best trick for not getting lost in a place which doesnt seem to have any real logic, for such a logical country.. actually, where did that myth come from? This place is a just another human zoo and I feel like a child from a some mytholigical past looking at what all the clever futuristic animals have made to entertian themselves..
Oh look!! wrist watch lobster phones - Amazing! Robot security guards - wow! Origami television sets to burn at ceremonies - interesting.. $600+ shoes on sushi trains in shopping malls while homeless people drift outside - no thanks. Astroboy panties with authentic schoolgirl scent? hmm..
While here I've been staying in the Shibuya-ku ward with my friend Hiro who just laughs at all the trinkets as we pass them. He's a confirmed post-pop-consumer-fetish-connoisseur, which means that even though he has no money to buy any of this crap he still enjoys wandering the hypermarket and laughing at all the latest, strangest collectible techno-gadgets on display.

Hiro is the closest thing to a ninja I have ever met. When i met him a few years ago he was coming out of a phase of heavy meditation, studying zen and osho(?) in a radical anarcho-shinto monastery in the mountains. Nowadays he's metamorphised into a hip hop artist of dubious quality who 'wields words like they were shurikens' (his words not mine).
AT least he looks the part. His long straight hair is dyed a golden orange blonde and he has calligraphic tattoos that cover his arms. He still wears his kimodo's everywhere, which is odd here amongst the 'modern' jeans and jacket globalised culture of japan, but fairly normal amongst it's radical fashionistas.
His band name translates to something like 'Akira's Semen..'

>>tokyo techno tribes and robot dreaming>>>

I gotta say, Im no stranger to using digital technology over the years, but Im a little overwhelmed by the kind of techno fetishism there is here. everyone is so incredibly plugged in. On the streets ipod bubbles are so common people think you're strange if you are alone and dont have white wires coming out of your ears. Everyone has a mobile video phone too.. Shit, Hiro even has a sampler on his phone which he freestyles to at parties. He complains that the only problem is he can't record at the same time. All the apartments are plugged in and wireless, let alone the TV, DVD sound system animal which seems to have become the neo-replacement for a garden. and the robots.. those fucking robot toys that everyone has.
I hate them with a passion.

On the other side of the fence is Widget, the Taiko drummer and beat progammer (does that make him a beat poet?) in Akira's Semen. One night we're sitting around at his unit discussing everything from the Kyoto protocol to japanese indigenous rights issues as we smoke hash on an upturned television coffee table. People are jamming in the other room with jembes just like any bohemian niche anywhere in the world, except the difference is we're here in a two story house way outside of the city in a block with no garden only of succulents on the balcony. Widget tells me only the business people can afford units in the city. All the artists live on the outskirts of the CBD, probably just like they do everywhere.

>>> Turning the Clock Backwards.

Akira's Semen is performing tonight at a club called the 'Disobediant Machines' which Page and I find by going through a non-descript door next to a McDonalds and going down three flights of stairs in which people are hanging out, soaking up the stairwell atmosphere. Inside it's packed of course. I havbe to watch out I dont get stabbed by one girls mad spiky red hair sculpture. Another is wearing tank girl boots so huge can barely lift them.. I love japanese fashion.
On stage there are big, 1950's style robo go-go dancers. I gotta say, there's some seriously wierd robophilia going on in this country.. Tokyo must be the robot capital of the planet, and im not being symbolic here. Is there really anywhere else you can buy a range of robots at the local convenience store? And what do they actually do?
Hiro sees us and runs over, handing me a new designer-drug which he says is the latest greatest alchemical cocktail called 'Fictions'.
Usually i think to myself we've got enough fiction in our lives, and we need a little bit more Non-fiction.. A bit more reality..
But maybe in this kind of info-overload, inhospitable mediapolis its hard to find drugs that will give you the truth?

Standing next to me is Shuyo, Hiros brother. He's only 18, but Hiro's worried that he becoming a shut-in, addicted to the virtual reality sim called 'Elseworlds' or something. Hiro decided to drag him out with us for a night on the town. Even though he's the local and Im newcomer, I feel like his chaperone, scared that he wont know how to deal with the reality of tokyo. He tells me he's tried Fiction before. Everyone here has, it's not too scary.

Thirty minutes later I'm having a great time. The drugs are kicking in, whatever they are. They've got me dancing. I think I've got a handle on it, it's kind of like soft edged DMT - just enough to make reality vortex, on the edges, but not enough to send you all the way down the rabbit plug hole. Im beginning to see the music moving around me, synaesthetic colours shifting through the crowd. I can feel the bass vibrating through my whole body like big invisible whales passing through me every beat.
and then suddenly everything started running backwards.
i kid you not, everything was running backwards.
the beats became like wierd cuts through the crowd, sh sh shsh shs shshs hshss h - the vj has digital clocks counting down.. dates moving back.. big hands circling anti-clockwise.. im spinning too.. im getting dizzy. it's like im getting hypnotised.
whatever the words were are now some kinds of strange abstract glossylalia..
it took me a moment or too to realise the dj was just fucking around with our minds, perparing us for the band that was about to start.

>>> 'Life Is Suffering'

At first it's all white noise and tako drums. My japanese isn't good enough to understand the lyrics, but Shuyo tells me mostly it's about translating buddhist texts into contemporary form. I particularly liked the one they introduced as 'Life is Suffering' which sounds like an earthquake on the horizon.. big taiko drums booming through the speakers. louder and louder as the video footage of an american bomber cruises over the pacific ocean.. there are samples of radio dispatches.. i get a sick feeling in my stomach as i begin to realise what's about to happen.. the whole inevitability of it is disgusting.. the drums get louder and louder.. the static of the radio dispatches.. a button is pressed.. the bomb falls through the open hatch.. it falls in slow motion as the drums get louder.. and just as they are about to land.
thelights go out.
the drums stop..
there is silence...
the whole club is silent.
even the ecstasy babies who weren't paying attention to the performance have stopped dancing, there's no music anymore. Just a moment of sickening silence as we swallow the whole bitter wave of history in our imagination..

Suddenly a spotlight appears on the stage lighting a television set.. it is playing 'duck and cover' the US cartoon made for kids during the war.. Hiro gets on stage and methodically slays a television with a samurai sword.. sparks fly all over the room, like some sadistic pyrotechnic display.. the microphones close miked up to get all the strange staticsound. I was just worried he might get electrocuted..
The room is filled with squealing and distortion, as the other band members tweak nobs behind him.. it's like some kind of wierd electro-torture is being conducted on the poor machine, and suddenly I feel sorry for the poor little bugger.. I feel like jumping on stage to stop the cruel assassination of this medium shouting 'Stop! Dont you realise it's not the TV's fault we fill it with such utter crap! It's just an innocent medium for all of our demons!" but i dont. I watch, in shocked awe at the whole performance.. Everyone does. Hiro has us in the palm of his hand..
He slay the evil robot.
The end.
The whole performance only lasts a total of fifteen minutes.

Afterward, Hiro comes up to me sweating and excited and asks what I think of it..
It tell him i thought it was horrible.'
and he hugged me in glee at my response.
"Yes! It was wasn't it! So fuck-ing horrible! Perfect!"

That was my Hiroshima Day in Japan.

I think, no wonder Shuyo doesn't want to leave his room..

let me tell you a story
i grew up on a cane farm outside of cairns, alienated from the redneck lifestyle and one nation politics of the qld country. As I grew I was pulled to the ocean where i could surf as often as possible, i grew my hair long under its influence, met kids who put me onto bob marley and pot. suddenly i didn't fit in with the other farming boys who would call me a faggot or a freak and sometimes beat me up. that's open minded australian multiculturalism for you.

after high school i moved into town and started working hospitality, washing dishes at first, till i got a bar license. me and my brother used to hang out on the esplanade which is the tourist precinct in Cairns, and just watch all the women of the world pass by. We liked to imagine where they all came from, what their accents sounded like, the adventures they carried in those big chunky backpacks, and what those tanned limbs and torsos felt like to run your hands up them.

occasionally, drunken after endless titillating backpacker party games at my bar i would get picked up by some sweet swedish traveller and we would blindly try to stumble to my shared house to fuck. once we didn't even make it there, and ended up shagging in a park nearby. the next day she would disappear to some far corner of the world, never to be seen again, leaving only an email address.. i would go back to work, hungover as hell, and keep trying.
as you can imagine, it wasn't the height of romance.

when i was 19, an art student from Germany who I became friends with lent me jack kerouac's 'on the road' and it rocked my little world. suddenly i understood; travelling wasn't about shagging blonde scandinavians who had just got a tan in thailand at all - you can do that anywhere. it was about freedom. i saw roads as ways out and trainlines were bullets shooting you into elsewhere, anywhere. airplanes in the sky were escape hatches into other worlds, far more exotic than this little bird of paradise.
so i flew the coup.

i saved up my sheckles and travelled to america first, having watched so much american tv i didn't know much else about the world. i hung out in san fran for a while working at bars and got picked up by a spunky gay boy called Verite who introduced me to the charms of the west coast lifestyle, experimenting with lsd in the remnant psychedelic culture that still flourishes there. san fran is beautiful city, its as curvy as its culture. none of the ego of new york. none of the superficial celebrity of LA, beautiful mountains, the bay. ive never actuallly studied at uni, but spent a helluva lot of time dipping into lectures at Berkely once I realised that i could.. education is free, you see - but degrees aint..

that was where i heard about the zapatistas - so i made my way down there with some radical anthropology students who were in love with Subcommandante Marcos the poet laureate of global justice. In the summer holidays of 99 we all jumped in a comby and drove down to mexico where we saw craziest dirtiest city i could ever imagine. I can't say much about that place, coz we only drove straight through, further south, to the beautiful but poverty stricken lands of chiapas where the mayan culture once thrived, and now their descendents are fighting for dignity and honour amongst the voicelessness of the global village..

Do you realise that in south America, Che Guevara is more than just a logo for the green left resistance newspaper? The man is a bonafide hero of the masses. I was reading Motorcycle Diaries at the time (i like the film too), but Marcos inspired me to start a journal of my own. This was before he became a recluse, and avoided interviews having realised the danger of celebrity, so we got a chance to hang out with him quite a bit.

One night he said to us, "don't think that you can change the world with stories alone but everyone has story to tell about the world changing. In fact, it is stories that let us know that the world has changed." Soon after that on a mountain overlooking the ruins of mayan civilisation high on psilocybin i realised that i loved this planet but i was scared that it was dying.. i needed to figure out a way to use my life to help stop that. It was the closest thing I had found which resembled meaning in my life, besides the pheromones inspired by beautiful women...

In mid-1999 every activist in the Americas knew about Seattle. it was impossible not to - if your head wasn't up your ass watching Jerry Springer and Judge Judy all day, that is. We travelled back up there and got involved in the first indymedia station that got set up during the protest. Running around with video cameras, documenting democratic fascism, thinking the world was about to change, today. this very minute! and that nothing would be the same... Instead, I got teargassed in the streets and beaten around by thugs in gasmasks who wore badges of authority and toold us we were scum.. They smashed my camera. My friend Jose got shot with a rubber bullet the size of a mobile phone that crack his skull and sent him to hospital. It made me fucking angry.. I think it took me a few years to recover from that anger.. as if it were a disease id caught..

But suddenly I realised I wasn't alone, and alot of us were angry at this bullshit. Next thing you know I was travelling around Europe with a bunch of crazy German anarchists in a big bus following the carnivals against capitalism. We travelled from one city to another, connecting with a vast network of squats and squatters all across the EU.. We really thought we were heroes, taking the struggle to the barricades, no matter where they put them up. We let loose our mad passion for life in the form of garbage cans thrown into the windows of mcdonalds, nikes, banks, anyone who represented the destruction of diversity, the vast monocultural creep of globalisation.

After Genoa I burnt out. Somewhere in the middle of that mad stupid chaos of running backward and forward playing cat and mouse with police who were more heavily armed than us, more violent, and on the side of the law I realised this whole game was a load of shit. that was before that kid got killed. then i knew i needed to get the fuck out. caught a lift with kids from israel who were heading to a trance party in the desert called 'ascension island', and got the fuck out of there to gather my thoughts.

That was where I met Page - she was on the dance floor, a golden tanned goddess, brown curled hair flaying in all directions, blue eyes luminous in the desert sun cut through me, like angel wings. That night we stayed up to watch the dawn over the ancient desert, sharing tales of our journeys.. Slowly edging closer as the night disappeared and the ecstasy wore off.

Page wasn't her real name - she'd taken it on when she left the israeli military service she'd just finished. she told me she wanted to forget what she'd seen while in the army. the eyes of the young girls and boys in the occupied territories, filled with such angry helplessness. wanted to forget everything about it, including her racist family who hated palestinians like they were vermin, the endless cycle of violence. she wanted to forget her name. so she left it all behind. chose a new name, Page - said it meant turning over a new leaf. she cut her ties. disappeared into the world just like i had done. found herself immersed in the world of global trance via the new age momvemennt, then she got into feminist-shamanism and psychedelics, which led her to the trance culture, but she was over that too now.

Page was a writer. she opened up my world to the sensual spell of language, in a way that i had never known. up until that point all i had ever written of was political struggle for radical european activist groups.
she said to me; 'don't spread your anger. let it dissolve. change your world. let it become love.' in a way that only a lover can really ever truly communicate.
and when i was with her i understood exactly what she meant.
she read to me by candlelight as we camped under the stars, her gentle insights into the world. she was jewish by birth but had fallen in love with the sufi mystics, rumi, hafez, ... ahh rumi you old romantic, do you know how you opened my heart like a bird who discovers that he is holding the key to his own cage and the world is a forest of cages and keys, and all we can ever do is realise that none of them even really exist and we are the cage and we are the key? of course you do, beautiful man. it's your metaphor.

i remember one thing she told me that night - a rumi quote:
'the world rewards those that change suddenly.' or something like that.. it summed up everything id learnt over the past two years, challenging myself to travel further and further into my dreams of what this planet could be - constantly enriched and suprised. Now here I was, with the most beautiful woman I had ever met, watching the dawn of a new day. Completely content in each others presence. Awake.
My pupils dilated. my heart beat loud in my chest. i was struck in my place.
and i thought; i love you.
and that was the essence of it... about as simple as it ever needs to be when you know the scent of kindreds and dont need to waste time finding out anything more. we spent the next two and half years travelling the world. I felt like I could go anyhwere, and so did she. Like most young israeli's with a conscience, she wanted to get the fuck out of her basketcase country that was so torn with endless war and terrorism.

so we escaped the world, and all its ugly political powerplays,
into each other

that was, until it all came crashing down a year ago in beunos ares..
she left on a plane, and disappeared from my life, and i thought i would never see her again. but there we were, six months later, flirting over email. sharing our journeys again, disembodied though we were. she told me she'd been in japan teaching english since the start of the year, and i told her i was going to be visiting my bro in china (although i had no plans to at that stage) and maybe we should meet up?

ive travelled to some pretty hairy places in my time, mostly ive been too foolhardyt to realise how dangerous they were until afterward.. but nothing has made me so excited or apprehensive as seeing a woman that inspiresevery atom in your body to sing, or scream in existential bliss..

we spoke on the phone for the first time in 10 months yesterday, and the sound of her voice was like the sound of my own voice, it was so familiar.

im scared.

wish me luck fellow travellers!

Rest and Motion
its been a while since ive been at a computer terminal.. what strange clean straight lines the city has.. The sound of fingers on keyboards at this internet cafe. This flickering screen waiting for me to give it data. The whole wired world on the other side of this optic fibre.. Queues of email in my account from friends and family. Endless web pages of recent history, the political world and all it's endless merri-go-round machinations. What an obscene, beautiful, intense, crazy world we spin in!

i have not been able to post any more entries because i have been happy to minimise my visits to the brown cloud of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei region where dogs line the street waiting for execution and motorbikes are clogging the roads since the economic boom making it less safe and incredibly unhealthy to ride within. i can see great potential for critical mass here in the future - gotta get some of my san fran anarcho-bicyclists friends to come here and stir up some velo-passion.

i have been keeping regular old fashioned journals though so i spose ill get over all this 21C cultureshock and just tell you about what Ive been up to since last entry.

today i woke to the sound of fireworks. it echoed throughout the serene valley like a bomb going off. I reminded myself Im still in the country where the sound of cars and machines are out of place. after the burn out of hong kong lifestyle Ive come to enjoy the village life, improving my fishing skills, and spending a lot of time playing mah-jong. I have become good friends with the english teacher of this village. She is a chinese national who proudly tells me her exotic english name is 'Jane' (after Jane Fonda). im paying her to teach me Mandarin while i'm here, and in turn I am helping her translate all the slang in her collection of Archie comics (dont ask me how she got them, or why).

i now understand the reason marijuana is called 'weed'. They call it Ma here, and it grows wild throughout this region, enjoyed by many a local for both its medicinal effects and its uses as hemp for clothing. Many a day pass, stoned, gambling with rice pieces, watching the bamboo grow - im not joking - you really can see bamboo grow day by day - it's the fastest growing plant in the world you know. My new friend, Sun, is a young horticulturalist who grows them for a hobby, slowly guiding them into many creative spirals and sculpted forms. You can make paper out of bamboo. Houses. Offerings. Pipes. Instruments. Rafts. Actually, Im not sure what you can't make out of bamboo. This may all sound rather boring, but somehow compared with homicidal communist gangster on ice who wanted to kill me for kissing his daughter, Im finding the change of pace a tad refreshing. Im also not ready to go to Japan for another month, so this will do me fine for now. Watching the bamboo grow..

i have set up camp in an abandoned hut which Jane tells me no one has lived in for some years due to local superstitions. its basic, but as soon as i've covered the thatched roof it's as good as the guestshouse i've been staying in, with more privacy and no little kids running around pointing at my big western eyes, pulling my dreadlocks and laughing. Its agood place to work on some of my art as well. Im fascinated by chinese calligraphy and brought a whole collection of brushes, inks and paper while I was in Wuhan last month.

I came down with some kind of intense illness, possibly malaria, although i couldnt make it to a western doctor to tell me for sure. Sun's father is a herbalist who lives on the edge of town. he arrived and said; 'where is Poison Arrow?' laughing at his own jokes. i wasn't laughing though, i was scared. He spent a few hours giving me acupuncture and making me inhale steaming smelly liquid that mad me throw up lots of black liquid. that night i had fever dreams, hallucinations. i dreamt i was still in HK and my brother had betrayed my location to the triads and i was running and they were on big kawasaki motorbikes chasing me down like in Akira. The next day I felt like id passed through the gates of hell and come out the other side. The Dr. came back and made more jokes about my name "The Arrow was poisoned, i am antidote." he said in broken english but with a good natured smile to Sun.. He says he will check on me in a few days and leaves me a selection of herbs i cant recognise but agree to take conscientiously.

Today Sun's father, whose name is Wong Fumi, came back and gave me another acupuncture treatment. im intrigued to meet someone who could tell me more about traditional chinese medicine since most of my travels here have only managed to dispel any myths i had about mystical chinese culture. I used to live with Chinese medicine students in Brisbane so I knew some of the basic information about the taoist philosophy behind it and was intrigued to know more. Only problem is Dr. Fumi doesn't speak much english and my mandarin is still so basic we don't get past the most basic concepts of yin and yang dualities. He recommends that I stay with him out of the village while im getting better, telling me that my hut is not a place to heal. 'Too many unhealthy spirits'. Jane translates. She tells me she will visit soon, and so I agree, and am taken by donkey up the dirt road which leads out of the valley to his house perched on the edge of a lake. As soon as we got there he ordered me to jump into the freezing cold water. I refused, so he threw me in. That pissed me off annd i skulked cold and shivering in the sun for the next hour while his kids laughed and danced around me and his wife fed me green tea mixed with ginseng and who knows what else. When it got dark they gave me a mattress made from duck feathers and i slept a deep dreamless sleep of exhaustion. the next day i woke at dawn to find him gone, reappearing an hour later with fresh fish and sparkling eyes. i ask him where he's been. he says 'talking to the universe'.

it's taken a whiole to get my strength bback, but all this gorgeous mountain air, acupuncture and ginseng tea seems to have done wonders for my health (what asuprise). So much of China seems to be developing at a mad rate, it's like the lessons of western industrialism were never heeded as waterways are dammed, pollution is rife and simple country life is getting affected by the economic behemoth that this place is becoming. ive also taken well to fumi's family, Sun visits us for the day, which made it easier to commmunicate with the old man. He and i sit on the edge of the river watching the mist moving along smoking ma discussing the way of things. He told me that night his father is full of superstition and seems to have little respect for the old ways. Basically he thinks his dad is crazy and lost in the past. He wants to move to the city to raise ssome money. We discuss the possibilities of starting a business exporting chinese hemp together, although im not sure if i can really raise the capital needed for such a venture, he thinks i must be able to since im a rich westerner. i start trying to describe my meagre place in my countries economic positioning, but the mere fact that im here on the other side of the world while he cannot leave his own province makes anything i say seem fairly redundant. It does sound like a good business idea though, and i resolve to find out more about this when im in japan and america.

they say the difference between insanity and eccentricity is wealth. Ive been living with D. Fumi for two week now and Im beginning to realise he's one of the richest and most eccentric people Ive ever met. He must be 80 years old, but he acts like a horny teenager around his wife. I hear them having sex every night for what seems like hours. Then he disappears every morning at 4am to do chi gung. He has a wicked sense of humour, like a cheeky monkey, and he loves pushing people into the ice cold water in the lake which his house is built on the edge. His kids, the ducks, his wife, but mostly me. He's bloody quick too, the other day I tried to get him back and snuck up behind him while he was watering his orchid's only to have him twist around at the last second and grab my hand, sending me flying into the water. I should have guessed he knew martial arts I suppose. He always gives me warm tea afterwards though, mindful that I don't get sick again. He likes his ma fen (cannabis seed) juice too, mixing that in with his drinks and getting into trances while doing calligraphy or playing his shakahachi style flute. The other night I sat up with him drinking this brew mixed with local honey we'd collected and recognised it's taste from the drink he gave me on the first night i came here when i was sick. He started teaching me calligraphy, but I was too drunk (or stoned) to make the beautiful clean brushstrokes the craft requires. Of course, Fumi had no problem doing it. His arms were rock solid, but he let the paintbrush dance over the ricepaper effortlessly. He told me this was the way we should olive our lives, and this was the secret of the art. This was why we learn the art, not to draw pretty pictures but to live with the perfect balance of control and freedom. He told me not to get hung up on trying to be perfect, just enjoy the process. We drank more wine. I spilt the ink.. he threw me in the water.. another beautiful day in the mountains.

Im told an Autumn harvest celebration is coming and Dr. Fumi is visibly excited and wants to show me how to make fireworks, one of his eccentric passions.
Today we went out and collected special rocks from the mountain to file down into ingredients to mix with a big bag of gunpowder he keeps in his workshop. I wonder if it is legal to keep so much explosives. As we climb the mountain Dr. Fumi jumps around like a goat up the incline. He's incredible, so much healthier than me and Im thinking; i need to practice some of that chi retention magic that taoists are always talking so i can act so sprightly at his age too. If I live to his age that is. He laughs with glee as he finds a rock of charcoal. Im thinking, relax man, it's just charcoal - but perhaps he knows something that I dont? We also collect sulfur which must be from an old volcano and a few other minerals I dont recognise and can't translate. Back at the house Fumi was like a classic mad inventor in his laboratory, giggling and excitedly heating and mixing compounds. I keep thinking he's going ot blow up the whole place, me included, but am fascinated enough to watch the whole arcane process which I imagine must have been practised like this in China for hundreds, if not thousands of years. It's ancient elemental alchemy at work. Eventually we finish with two dozen crudely wrapped packages of 'black powder' mixed with a cocktail of chemicals and minerals. As we put them into the sacks to take to the festival I could not help but feel like a terrorist preparing our home made bombs. Dr. Fumi was completely oblivious to this undertone though. I dont even know if he knows about the war on terror or any of the big disgusting opera of world politics. I realise its been weeks since Ive thought of any of this stuff either. Suddenly I felt so incredibly distant from all of the pressures of the modern world.. and then for some reason I felt homesick for all that crazy pace and out of control culture. I will have to leave soon. My friend Page will be waiting for me in Japan, and I have after all travelled across the world to see her, but Im still wondering if I want to leave at all. I get this all the time when Im travelling. The hardest part is leaving all the places which have welcomed you with open arms. Where you feel content finally.


The full moon harvest was a wild night. Me and Sun got terribly drunk on rice wine, I got into a fight with Jane and told her she had no taste in western culture. Dr. Fumi kept running around blowing things up. One firework landed in the chicken hut and started afire. Villagers were runing back and forth from the lake to put it out. Alot of the rest of it was a blur. I think I kissed Jane..
The next day I decided the time had come for me to move on. Im keen to see my friend Page in Japan, and have worked out a way to travel overland to Korea and fly out from there rather than go back to Hong Kong. Dr. Fumi tells me he wants to read my i-ching before I leave. I didn't quite understand all of the process, but we used a small handfull of sand which I spread out into six groups to draw a hexagram. The wholoe universe he says is about broken and unbroken chains. Yin and yang. one and zeros? He had many elaborate and arcane looking charts which he read and I had no idea what the meant. They looked like weather charts, mandalas of flowing energy full of symbols and curling waves. Finally, he told me I had much adventures ahead, but I should not be scared by any of them - I would not get harmed. Then he paused, and looked at me silently for a minute as if shaping up whether he should continue.. I asked him what was wrong. Then he told me that i was going to die at the age of 49 of a liver related disease. I looked into his eyes, looking for a smile, some acknowledgement of his black sense of humour shining through, but he looked back completely serious, as if he was looking through me.. He said 'don't scare, Arrow. This is Way.'
But I was.
I asked 'how old are you Dr?'
He grabbed a pencil and drew a wavy line on some paper, like a sine wave. and then another with smaller peaks and troughs but which went all the way to the end of the page. He said in Mandarin 'these two lines are the same length you see. One is used all up in extreme high and low. The other is calm and last longer. These aredifferent ways how we can live our lives. It is our choice.'
I knew what he meant, and it made sense. But I fear losing the peak experiences. Is it worth sacrificing the intensity for longevity? Am I addicted to my lifestyle and this is the i-ching told me I will burn out? All these thoughts are on my mind more and more. Living out here is really changing me, I can feel it. Not sure how to describe it yet, but maybe Im learning about another way to live. One Ive been too distracted to ever notice in my endless travelling and adventuring.
Soon I will catch a lift with the trading merchants into the capital and from there a buss to the border of South Korea where Ill connect on to Japan. Its sad to leave this place, as with every place. You never know if you will ever see these people again. Somehow I imagine i could come back in twenty years and Fumi would still be living up there in the mountains, healiing, painting, playing tricks on people, making bombs out of rocks, reading the future in bundles of rice. I hope I can come back here one day, and that the river hasn't been dammed, and people are still living in this way, but of course, everythying changes.. This is part of the tao isnt it? We flow with it and it flows through us. And while Immhere worrying that the economic development will destroy this lifestyle, I also know it's all out our hands. There are bigger plotlines afoot in this landscape. All we can do is ride it out and mmake peace with ourselves and each other as we do.

Goodbye China! Thankyou to the Fumi family, Sun, Jane. All the Mah-jong cheats. The rice farmers, the friendly pliable sticks of bamboo that Im goonna try to get through customs. I love you all.

Arrow >>>>>>>>>>>
chaos engines
>>so i met this character in darwin about in january claimin to be running some kind of underground magazine or somethin, says hes just set up a new part of it; travwelling blogs, nomadic style. said i might be interested. i was, but its taken me a good few months to get my shit together to contribute to this li’l thing, let me tell you why>>>>

>>ive been travelling round the world about six years now, hopping from one mad gypsy community to another, trying to avoid the bacpacker circuits, donning chamelon skins and invading high rise towers in japan with anti-capitalist samurais, slumming it in temples of india with hari krishnna funk musicians, hitchhiking across the south american continent looking for shamans but mostly finding backbreaking poverty, getting bored in the malls of australia wasting my life.. i wont bother y’all with the details, yeh? Thats the past and im still going. let me just say, everywhere you go theres the same shit going on, different smell. new accents, same humanity. nothing surprises me too much any more, but everything intrigues me..thats why i keep travellling. there is organised crime underneath the layers of everything, activists who think their changing the world as it changes around them, land being raped, poets raping language, beautiful beautiful multicoloured rainbow flavoured women that blow my mind everywhere with endless shades of desire>>>

i haven’t written any of my travels down up to this point, haven’t needed to, and to tell the truth, some of it has been too illegal to really document safely. but maybe im just being paranoid? the world is one big  fucking chaos engine, no one really knows what the fucks going on, except one stoned zen monk i met in japan called Hiro - and all he could do was laugh uncontrollably. Another thing that no one really knows is what anyone else is really doing.. the cops haven’t got a clue the kind of lunacy that tranpires inside the temporary autonomous zones, the priests dont want to know the sins we commit everyday underneath the suns gaze, and you dont know who the fuck i am, so i may as well tell you everything eh>

>> for the last month ive been living on the edge of a rice paddockc in the wuhan region north of hong kong, farming with the locals, who dont seem to  mind that ive joined their community as long as i buy them the bai jiu (rice wine) at the end of the working day and make outrageous jokes about george bush. dont mention mao though - these guys still think he was the christ incarnate. ask them about tianenmen square and they’ll talk proudly of it's shining patriotic architecture.. the media never reported on the democracy marches here dontchaknow. im not trying to make any more enemies though so i thought id leave that one be.. sadly, after the cultural revolution, no one wants to admit to being a taoist here, and the chinese medical profession has never been the same they reckon. Its the classic modernist trap, everyone wants to be riding the wave of the future, no one wants to be left in the past.. somehwere ancient traditions are lost along the way..

anyway, the reason im here is that im hiding out. back in HK things were getting a little too tight, and i needed somewhere to relax. the guesthouses weren’t safe though, Ho and his henchmen would have tracked me down easily there. so middle of the province of nowhere in particular it is. The Triads would never come this far out of town you see, not enough ice to make them forget about their impotence problem. sorry, thats the kind of thing that got me into this.

let me backtrack.
two weeks ago i had just arrived in HK, visiting my brother who works for a big investment bank here. I went and saw him at his office, he’s doing well for himself, authentic fake picasso in the hall, armani suit, diamonds impressed into the window to refract the light at sunset (nice), would probably have a sports car too if anyone ever drove in hong kong. it had been five years since i saw him and back then he was a surf bum in byron bay. He came over to china to study kung fu and never came back. I always wondered how the hell he
turned from a stoned hippy into a turbo-capitalist, so on my way from australia to japan i had to stop and see for myself (his offer to pay my expenses helped me decide as well).
“So, what exactly do you do Jamie?” I asked him, once we were properly seated and sipping his expensive whiskey overlooking the highrise hell he calls a great downtown view.
“Nothing.” he replied, grinning sheepishly through his teeth. I took a swig.
“No come on, what is it that gets you up here on fifty first floor with a diamond studded window and a liquor cabinet worth more than my annual wage?” I pressed him, gently.
“It’s true mate, I don’t really do anything. Im a currency speculator.” Jamie moves money back and forth across the global economic system umpteen times a day as the currencies fluctuate subtly he and his clients get rich. They're playing the global casino, hedging bets as to which currency will rise or fall one percent over a day. sometimes he tells me he can make twenty thousand in a day, or he could lose just as much.. he needs to really keep onto it. Thats where the mmethamphetamines came in.. ice. Id heard of it amongst die hard speed freaks in sydneys club scene, but never had any before hong kong where jamie seems to have an endless supply. The shit keeps you up for three days, wired and bulletproof. It's great for riding motorbikes on, although I thought it was crap for gambling (Jamie obviously didn't think so). It also makes you limp as a sausage on a broken barbie, and I dont like anything that fucks with my sex drive.. although it was fun while it lasted.. the other thing that no sleep does to you afteer three days is string you the fuck out. I got very paranoid, especially when we started meeting triads with links to the fucking communist party who thought i was trying to scope their territory,.!

It turns out that the kung fu temple Jamie had started studying at was a bit coruupt, owned by a particulalry powerful Hong Kong businessman called Ho’ Tse, who took well to Jamie’s loud and lazy Australian attitude, endless appettite for beer, and infintely corruptable character. When Jamie left the temple he looked up Ho and found out he was living the high life in Hong Kong’s Happy Valley Racecourse scene, making dirty money with the triads, fixing races to launder it and thhen paying off the newly introduced communist government - and,using the school to train new henchmen.. Jamie was invited in by Ho, and was soon working real estate scams across the peninsula, finally geetting to use that shitty business degree he got at the sunshione coast university when he was pulliong bongs on surfers paradise and colelccting austudy. These days he’s moved back into the more classy scam of international monetary speculation, but he stillhas to pay money to the Triads and the communists, who are just as corrupt as the international finnanciers. Perhaps a little scarier, at least the WTO never tried to run me over after I protested them. Gangsters come in all shapes and sizes.

Shit, Im running out of yuan and the kids at this LAN dungeon are getting withdrawal pains waiting to jump onto my computer so they can play diablo till dawn so Ill have to continue this next time..
ciao amigos
arrow >>>>
dslctd_logo (12K)      Australia Council logo (1K)