2019 began with Australia’s hottest summer on record. It wasn’t too bad. For a crust I was reading water meters, out walking in it all day, wearing boots and long cotton pants. Compared to the many summers I’d spent roofing in Queensland, it didn’t seem any worse, and I’m pretty sure that Brisbane’s average temperatures weren’t up as much as some other places. But it was still very hot, like always. However, the heat that was hard to handle was that which was building inside me.
It felt volcanic. It had been building for some time. After a year spent regaining a functional existence, following almost two years dealing with a painful permanent shoulder injury, I began to wonder, where to now? Ideas were not forthcoming, but a pressure was mounting, for which there was no obvious channel for release.
Chronic lower back issues also dogged me. It was manageable, but if I did more than a little running, on top of work, it got problematic. So it was time to come up with an idea to move into less physical income production. And in April/May “Flame Zone Dream Build” (FZDB) was created.
Combining a mild long term interest in architecture, with fantasies of building a fortress in a high risk bushfire flame zone, professional metal roof and cladding experience, and the extremely obvious future risk for Australian bushfires, led to the concept of a website looking at designs, products, services and systems for building in bushfire zones and isolated locations, especially for townie wannabe tree-changers and weekend retreat builders. An excellent idea, at the perfect time. But…it wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. What was I supposed to be doing? Something. And it never leaves me be.
That fire of the soul. The energy of life. Always flowing in time, it channels through us all, in different volumes and intensities. We either move with it, or against it, depending on the trajectory of our lives through this universal reality. Many people are turned off to it, allowing them to safely lead relatively successful or functional lives, or at least survive the challenge of human existence, as we follow the paths available to us within the paradigm of our modern world. And many people aren’t constructed, or they don’t occupy positions, to channel an amount substantial enough that it matters so much for them where they direct their energies. Well, that’s cool, but I’m just not built like that.
As I began directing energy into a solution for a functional professional lifestyle it became apparent that it wasn’t the thing restricting my flow. It began to draw more heat into the chamber, and I knew what the engine was that needed to move, but I didn’t know where to. The pressure kept building. It felt volcanic.
The story of the prophet was always idling along. I kept the pistons moving. The occasional blog, or tinkering with bio’s. I planned a blog for FZDB, where I’d slip in veiled indicators of who I really am, for the enjoyment of those who know, called “Beating ‘Round The Burning Bush Build Blog”, yeah, it’s fucking brilliant, right? The first blog was going to be about the launch of FZDB and the 10th anniversary of the Black Saturday bushfire disaster, which was to feature in a lot of articles. Many building standards and regulations were written following that event. I was going to start it “Remember when you first heard about the tragically fatal bushfire emergency that was to become known as Black Saturday?”
Remember when you first heard about the tragically fatal bushfire emergency that was to become known as Black Saturday? I was a long way away, in Brisbane. I’d had a hell of a week.
I’d been roofing. I was only a second year roofer and I’d only been working in Brisbane a few months. On Monday I got given a job to do on my own that was poorly planned and told it should only take a couple of hours and it took all day. I kept getting put on jobs on my own because I was the only guy who had experience with a particular product, and I wasn’t liking it. The rest of the week was also bothersome. I was starting to have concerns about the crew I was working with. And it was the stinking hot height of summer. I was beginning to think I might be in the wrong situation. What was I supposed to be doing?
Saturday I rested and tried chillaxing, which didn’t really happen given I had a hangover and my little flat had no aircon. On Sunday I decided to go for a mountain bike ride in a forest to an old flooded quarry that I had recently discovered, which was good for swimming. I was wound up, tight and hot. Driving across the city I was exploding with road rage inside my non-air conditioned car. What is wrong with these people?
I couldn’t relax on the bike. I was riding a classic fully rigid ‘True Temper’ double butted chromoly steel Diamondback Apex. I wasn’t in tune with the springy frame flex and it punished me.
Then I went for a swim. I hadn’t been swimming for over a year and couldn’t get any rhythm and I got out of the water hotter than when I went in. The ride out was furiously rough.
I burst out of the forest onto Underwood Road, in the suburb of Priestdale, across from the gates of the Buddhist temple, swearing and cursing, spitting fire like an angry dragon annoyed with the world.
Driving home I listened to Triple J and heard on the news an estimate that 15 people or something had been killed in Victorian bushfires. By the evening news the estimate had doubled.
I can’t remember how long it was before I learned of the full horror of the Kinglake/Marysville fire that claimed 120 lives in the Kinglake area and 34 in Marysville. 173 people were killed in the disaster.
The first leading article on FZDB was going to be about a house that was a post-Black Saturday build, which featured on the very first episode of “Grand Designs Australia” which they’d titled “Bushfire House”. I discovered a second episode featuring a post-Black Saturday build. Episode 10 of season two, titled “Steels Creek Earth House”. Steels Creek is adjacent to Kinglake. That was interesting.
As my ability to synchronise reality streams began to blaze, so too did the pull of the prophet. That was my job. My real work. Once again I needed to push it in a direction so that the value of the information and the excitation available externally, from within the story, was increased, thus increasing its value as an asset to be traded. But the story was a bit tired. It needed to get a move on. It needed to get cracking. Something needed to go boom, baby.
The volcanic visions had been building for months. I say visions, but they’re sensations, which when focussed upon, power imagination, meaning I then begin to focus (with or without intent) upon artefacts in my reality stream (consciousness) which have connecting threads. This secondary focus, or visualisation, is a projection in response to the initial stimuli, which in turn becomes a source of stimulus. And that’s how we all create reality. Right? We’ll get there.
Like many Brisbanites, I was living under a well used airplane flight path. Sometimes the rumble of the jets would sound like thunder. Then it started to sound like some kind of distant explosion. When my creative awareness fired up, and my senses would become more acute, I began to crack the shits about all the fucking noisy jet planes. It eventually weaved into a volcanic fantasy about disrupting international air travel. Some 9/11 influence here?
I had begun to cut back my meter reading hours to not much more than the minimum requirement, so that I could run more. I’d been looking for a new design of trail running shoe that fitted my feet and running style better than what I had been using. I found a pretty good match. They felt better straight out the box. They were Brooks Caldera. I didn’t click on the name at first.
Sometime later I was listening to Daniel Schmachtenberger talking about existential risk and he mentioned the super-caldera scenario. I looked over at my running shoes. Yeah, it doesn’t have to be a super-scenario to disrupt air traffic.
Then I thought about a photo I’d taken in 2016. I was on the road, bush camping, with a very painful shoulder that would only let me sleep for an hour or two each night. Travelling away from Brisbane, after selling my fridge, washing machine and extension ladder, which I had in storage, I drove up the Border Ranges and camped. I’d been thinking for years about getting a sunrise photo from up there. It would have required a few recon trips to work out when the sun was in the exact right position. I never got around to it, till then. I got lucky.
Weeks later, after having just written the first draft of “Dreams Love Fucking Life Near Death and Some Other Shit (Part One)”, I felt compelled to drive up there and camp again on my way to Brisbane, riding a wave of pump, which was soon to deflate.
It was becoming clear to me that it was time to pump it up again. And this time, pump it hotter. The story needed to get explosive. I needed to regain the old magic. Make some shit happen, big time. Channel some major flow. If I was just a tired old has-been, then that was that. Job’s finished. Yeah nah?
These feelings coincided with the need to plan for new accommodation. The lease was running out on the house where I was renting a room and it wasn’t being renewed. So I decided to quit work and go bush, see if my body could still run some distance, and either work on FZDB, or something else.
I helped my mate start to clear some of his shit out of the house. He had a crappy dining table and chairs that had belonged to his late ex-mother-in-law. The chairs were all falling to bits, so we started to break them up and get rid of them in the wheelie bin, piece by piece. I discovered that they had been made in Singapore. Weird. I looked at the chair in the bin and imagined something.
I imagined ash from an Indonesian volcano showering down on Singapore. Coating the Merlion. Like something from King’s Landing’s apocalypse. I thought about when I was last in Singapore. 1997, with Yasmine, an unwritten early chapter for “Dreams Love Fucking Life Near Death and Some Other Shit”.
Yasmine was working in Kuala Lumpur. The city was covered in smoke from forest fires in Indonesia. The forests were burning due to drought and deforestation effects. It was terrible. We went to Singapore to go shopping for a video camera, the new MiniDV format Sony PC7.
Erica’s parents lived in Singapore, we’d met a few times. I had her dad’s number, so I rang to meet up and say hello. He took us to a jazz club and he played the trumpet. He did pretty good for an old guy, but his lungs weren’t the best. Singapore was also suffering from the smoke.
Put it all together, and what do you get? A pretty interesting story for starters. Then I started to get drawn to something else. Music.
Tool’s 2001 album Lateralus had been in my music collection for many years. I didn’t become a Tool fan until 2006, after “10,000 Days” was released. However, I was told in the year 2000 that I should listen to them. It was when I was working as a waiter at a very busy Indian restaurant in Wellington. It was a job I got when I was getting back on my feet after my millennium disaster. I very quickly regained my form.
One afternoon I was setting up for the night shift with the head waiter, who also wasn’t Indian. David Mizrahi was a European looking guy about my age who was an Israeli ex-pat since childhood or something. I had just opened some bottles of the house wine with my new ‘waiter’s friend,’ it was great to use.
“This is excellent,” I said to David. “You know, there’s nothing like a really good tool.”
“Ha,” he replied, “is that what your ex-girlfriend used to say?”
“Her? Fuck her. She had the man and she didn’t even know it!”
David snorted a derisive laugh. I looked at him straight faced and raised my eyebrows. He went straight faced also.
“No,” he said, “You’re right, you’re right.”
I grinned and replied, “Ah ha, the Jew who knew, the Jew who knew.”
But I thought no, I wasn’t right. I was only joking. She knew. Fuck her.
Later David asked me if I listened to Tool. I didn’t.
“You should,” he said.
It took a few years. Lateralus wasn’t an album I listened to very often. But for some reason, in May 2019, I began to feel a strong pull to listen to it. It was a very real specific impulse. I’d think of it, then not get around to it, and then feel it again. When I started listening to it I became particularly hooked on the title track, for obvious reasons.
I eventually googled the album to read a bit about it.
The second sentence on the album’s Wiki page reads… “It was released on May 15, 2001 through Volcano Entertainment.”
Okay, so serious volcano synchronicity threads happening. Could I weave it into something substantial? It was time to push the envelope. Come June I was pumping so much energy into the idea that eventually I felt I had to act on it with intention before it exploded into reality and I missed the trick.
So I wrote it down, stuck it in an envelope, and posted it to myself c/o a mate’s address. I was attempting to push the envelope, so I got very specific about what I was visualising and imagined that I was posting it just in the nick of time.
A few days later, after I had been told it had arrived, I was contemplating that my mate’s girlfriend was going to New York. I had chatted to her a few weeks earlier on the day that I was working on an insignia design for FZDB. I had been googling to research fonts similar to FDNY and NYPD styles. I didn’t tell her anything about what I was working on, but she told me that she was going for a holiday to New York and her work was going well including some entrepreneurial venture training or something? I had kinda zoned out by then thinking about New York. So that had hummed in my mind for a while.
When I remembered it, it was like a penny dropped. That’s it! It has to go to NYC! I didn’t know when she was leaving. It was late, so I rang my mate early the next morning. He was just on his way back from dropping her at the airport. Oh well. Nice try.
I did also have some strong reservations that I’d got it badly wrong. The desire to give New Zealand a god sized smack always burns in me. At times, through the whole volcano realization, I’d wondered if it might be Ruapehu that was going to blow. Imagine it becoming a caldera. And winter was coming. That’s always a likely time to kill lots of people with that mountain. Yeah, stick that in your one ring-piece and smoke it, bitches!
But I went with the Indo international air traffic interrupting scenario. I’d included tsunamis because I had begun to imagine that it would be an island volcano. And I’d bought some road running shoes named Wave Prophecy 7. Cheers Mizuno, here’s lookin’ at you. This all mostly happens with an air of humour, just in case you don’t get it.
I knew of the Krakatoa caldera, but bizarrely I don’t remember knowing about the Anak Krakatau eruption, landslide and tsunami that killed 437 people in December 2018. I didn’t do any research about Indonesian volcanoes, except for once looking at Google Maps satellite pictures, which was when I found where Krakatoa was. That’s when I had the amusing thought of taking out Christmas Island with a tsunami. Was that even possible? Who cares. And how big would an eruption have to be to shower ash on Singers? Does Indo have other island volcanoes? Didn’t know.
I googled Krakatoa while writing this just now, to see if you called it Krakatoa or Mt Krakatoa or what. So the deadly Anak Krakatau eruption in December 2018 was a bit of a surprise, but I do know Indonesian eruptions are not uncommon, which is why I was pushing the envelope by trying to go big and specific. It’s strange I don’t recall reading a news item about it, did I see any? Maybe. Probably. It’s like I said to a dude the day before I left Brisbane in June. He was the only other person I mentioned it to. I asked him if he knew anything about any Indonesian volcanic activity. He didn’t. I told him I was taking a swing at a prophecy and to think of me if anything big goes bang. He thought I was talking about a super-caldera event type apocalypse.
“Aw no,” he said, “not doom and gloom, end of the world stuff is it?”
“Nah,” I relied, “just a few thousand Indonesians, I mean, who cares about that, right?”
Next day I said goodbye to my old mate before driving south. I asked him if he had watched the first State of Origin game the previous night and who won. Neither of us were rugby league fans. Queensland won.
“Bugger,” I said. I told him how I’d had a run-in with some little punk who was driving fast, aggressive, and inconsiderately, a few days earlier when I was driving home from the local forest after a run. He had Maroons flags stuck out his car. I was having serious homicidal fantasies about the little cunt, who had told me he lives in that street. I wanted the Blues to destroy his team. Oh well. Perhaps the magic just wasn’t happening.
To be continued.