Survival Blindfold

Depending on the angle that you are looking from, the world can seem like a pretty ugly and terrifying place full of misery and suffering. It doesn’t pay to look too closely if you want to avoid sobbing on the ground in the foetal position. Without even being aware of it, we all tie on our survival blindfold every day. It is the only way that we can ignore the pain and suffering of our brothers and sisters and get on with the real worries of the day, like what to have for lunch.
The newspaper must be treated like a racy storybook….full of gory little tidbits to quicken the heart rate and add spice to a dull day. For if we were to truly empathise with the humans portrayed…to feel with our own feelings…to soak our nerves in the molasses of misery, we would feel it as viscerally as a punch to the gut.
To be a truly empathetic being is to be constantly wounded.

I don’t read, watch or listen to the news because it makes me feel like my soul has been mugged.


In a completely white room, a single black chair sits dead centre. A plain-faced man in dapper suit and bowling hat enters quietly and takes the seat, placing his briefcase on his lap. Once settled, he theatrically opens the briefcase and removes a newspaper, cracking it for effect. With exaggerated attention he moves his head from side to side as he reads. We’re already irritated. What is this Marcel Marceau bullshit?
The words that our man is reading appear on the screen, writing on like newspaper type:

HEAD ON COLLISION: Two motorists dead after fatal collision on Highway

As the man takes in what he is reading, a ninja-like character, covered head-to-toe in a black lycra suit springs agilely into the scene and prances across to our man, pinching him sharply on the arm before dashing off. The man on the chair reacts with hurt surprise. Rubbing his pinched arm, he returns to reading. Another headline types on:

MISSING TODDLER FOUND DEAD: Three year old boy who went missing from the local playground while his mother talked with friends has been found dumped in the bushes.

While our man reads this sad story, the Ninja returns and slaps him forcefully across the face on either cheek. Again our man in the chair reacts with self-pity, but he doesn’t look to blame the Ninja. Instead he rubs his cheek gingerly and puts the newspaper away. From his briefcase he pulls out a portable radio, makes a show of extending the antennae and switches it on. Settling back to listen to the radio, we hear the distinct voice of a radio news announcer disseminating more bad news:

“In Syria today, more bloodshed as thousands fled their homes. Russian airstrikes devastated local villages, killing hundreds……(The horrible facts drone on)”

This time two Ninjas appear to unleash more violence upon the man in his chair as he listens. Like mischievous kittens, they frisk around the man, punching, kicking, hair-pulling and slapping as the radio voice continues it’s awful litany of violence, terror and tragedy from around the world. The man is exasperated, hurt and self-pitying, but he continues to take no notice of the Ninjas. Rather he switches off his radio in disgust and the Ninjas melt away.
Looking slightly dishevelled from all the rough-housing, the man in the suit opens his briefcase again and extracts a TV remote. With a smug look of self-congratulation he points the remote into the middle-distance and switches it on. An explosion of imagery immediately fills the white space around the man. A cacophony of competing commentaries shatter the silence. Our man rises slowly from the chair in shock and disbelief. His head swivels at the sound of each new horror. Eyes dart left and right, taking in scenes of war and disaster, death and destruction. He flinches theatrically, the images of violence from the news appear to physically affect him. At the same moment a gang of Ninjas burst in and attack the man with the calculated violence of professional hitmen. Mirroring the brutality on the screen, they beat the man within an inch of his life. Cowering from the attacks, the man desperately crawls for the remote, mimicking scenes from a movie where the attacked person tries desperately to reach for a gun.
Finally he reaches the remote and switches off the TV. The images zap off and silence returns. The Ninjas leave their victim in a heap on the floor, bloody and beaten, with a few parting kicks for good measure.

Vis a vis a Visa

Yellow Brick Road. Part 2.

From the sidelines I have watched many a visa game play out. Seems like a lot of people would like to call Australia home.
I wrote a statutory declaration testifying that the relationship between my sister and her Northern Irish partner was true love and not just a scam to get him into the country.
I have witnessed up close the trials and tribulations of being sponsored by a workplace and the barrel that one can be held over – for when you rely on an employer for your right to remain in a country, they really own you in a significant way. The greatest power that an employee holds – the ace up their sleeve – is the ability to say:

“Take this job and shove it, I ain’t working here no more “ – Jello Biafra

When your right to remain in the country rests  on a company sponsored visa, you just have to cop it sweet.
And I have even known someone whose visa was revoked and they were asked to leave the country. The old fake relationship game requires much trickery – shared leases, shared bank accounts. It is easy to fall apart when the two people don’t actually live together and barely see one another.

And now Mattie and I have signed up for the visa game. It’s the first and most important step in starting a new life in a foreign country. Unfortunately you can’t simply choose which country you want to live in and show up on the metaphorical doorstep. So many refugees have learnt this the hard way. We are in the extremely blessed position of already having the winning numbers in the visa lottery. Australian Citizens with all of the glorious rights that still entails. But now we are tasked with convincing the US Government that they really, really want us to come live with them. It’s a little song and dance routine with all the braggadocio of a Kanye West rap. Which really goes against the grain of the Aussie personality. Bragging about all the good things you’ve achieved in your career is just kind of…embarrassing.
Which is why I have taken on the role of Mattie’s Visa PR Chick. I am harnessing all my powers of the superlative to convince the US Government that he is a man of Extraordinary Ability. Our amazing Immigration Lawyer (first time I have ever mentioned a lawyer with “our” as a pronoun…it’s not like we keep one a retainer or anything) will add a further layer of hyperbole and pull together the entire application on our behalf. The thing is, I do believe that Mattie has Extraordinary Ability and I do believe that America would be lucky to have us (Kayne, pipe down) – but it is a struggle to trumpet all that is usually downplayed.

However, the process of ordering Mattie’s career milestones into a dossier and gathering evidence of his achievements has been a wonderful trip down memory lane and given me renewed respect for his talent. Parallel to our normal life of raising kids, making a living, watching shitloads of TV and occasional partying, Mattie has slowly built his own mini media empire with Unbelievably Bad.
Beginning with nothing more than a hand me down computer in corner of our bedroom, he has breathed life into a concept that is more than just a magazine, or a website or a YouTube channel – it’s a cultural stance, an attitude that is recognised as having a life of its own. That’s extraordinary.

poppy red

A Family Affair

If I had to nominate someone for “Best Aunty In The World”, it would have to be my dear friend, Marina. Throughout our friendship I have had the pleasure of meeting all of her wonderful nieces and nephews and watched with awe and admiration the way she loves and cares for them. Marina is a such an amazing Aunty because she loves her nieces and nephews for the people they truly are and not who she wants them to be. She supports them in the things that they are passionate about. In the case of her nephew, Josh, that’s graffiti. This guy is amazingly talented – I believe he could make a career out of this.
Last Saturday, Marina took Josh to May’s Lane in St Peters and hung out in the alley while he painted. Skating down the alley is Marina’s son, Bo. What a cool dude. Behind the camera is my talented boy, Angus. And me – I edited this video (harking back to video clips from the 80’s and 90’s). Music is by our friend’s band: Hostile Objects.
See – a family affair ; )

The Loss of Lost

I’m making a bold prediction: in the future the word “lost” will be gone forever. Not lost, because there will be no concept of lost.

Ancient explorers risked their everything charting the unknown. They put the shapes on the map – the squiggly edges we know as continents and countries. They set sail into oblivion and returned with new lands. Now we have Google Earth.
GPS tracking is one of the most mind blowing technologies that I have ever wrapped my head around. In effect there is not one millimetre of earth that cannot be accounted for with a couple of co-ordinate points. The most remote and tangled patch of Amazonian forest or stark and uninhabitated square of outback desert. The tip of a mountain that even the goats can’t reach. We may not be able to get there, but we can pinpoint it on a map.
Before the days of Sat Navs, every car had a beat up street directory in the glove box. The ability to arrive at your destination or be completely lost all came down to the competency of the navigator. I still tremble at the thought of sitting in the passenger seat and someone thrusting a Gregory’s into my hand – “Can you look it up?”. Gulp. Do you want to be completely lost?
I have absolutely no sense of direction. Even with iPhone maps I need to experiment walking in a certain direction to see which way the little blue dot is going. Invariably my dot steers off course and I need to back track in the opposite direction. But as frustrated as I am with myself, I still feel safe knowing that I am the blue dot and as long as the phone keeps its wits about itself, I will never be lost.
Setting aside any questions of privacy or ethics, try to imagine what the world would be like if nothing was ever lost again. If every single item and human and thing had a GPS tracking device inside it, imagine the applications.
Starting with the cliched conundrum of the lost sock. The mystery could be solved forever. There you are, folding your washing, and once again you are left with a random assortment of single socks. A little tap tap on your computer or phone and you have your answer. One sock is behind the washing machine (it must have bounced out while you were loading or unloading the machine). Another is half submerged in the flower bed by the clothes line and yet another is in your top drawer, mismatched with a similar black sock that you folded last week.
A more vital and serious application is the end of the Missing Person. They may be living with a  new identity in Brazil, they may be dead in a ditch or wandering the streets with amnesia…but they are not lost. A child who wanders off from a remote campsite can be tracked immediately without the need for search parties.
Of course there are downsides. That wonderful phrase, used in anger and frustration – “Get lost!” – will mean nothing. The concept of anonymity will be compromised and the threat of Big Brother will need to be more closely guarded against.
In George Orwell’s “1984” the Newspeak dictionary is constantly being updated as more and more words are rendered obsolete. One day I believe that the word “lost” as it refers to the dictionary definition “no longer to be found” will be an archaic notion and will only exist as an emotional and poetic concept. While we will still feel loss, nothing will be lost.


When I was around 12 years old, this painting – Lost, by Frederick McCubbin – was my favourite. I bought a postcard print from the Art Gallery and blu-tacked it to my bedroom wall.

Surviving The Decade of Fluro

We are living under the harsh glare of a flurocracy. It has been creeping up on us for years, but here and now the evidence is undeniable. Look around and you will see Yellow Vests choking up the landscape like the noxious dandelion weed.


Being told how to behave by someone dressed in “High Vis” gear infantalizes the population. I am all for looking out for and looking after each other. I am not advocating for an every human for themselves free for all. I am simply pointing out that we need to open our eyes and see the Yellow Vests coming.


I object to being told how to “alight” from a train. A few years ago the major city stations started employing train helpers for peak commuting times. At every stop where the Yellow Vests are on duty, it was 20 seconds of pure mayhem. As soon as the carriage pulled in, the urgent shouting began “THIS WAY, THIS WAY, GO THIS WAY, STEP HERE, GO THIS WAY, RA RA RA, THIS WAY”. Passengers resembled unruly goats being funnelled through a sheep sheering chute – all panic and clattering heels. One’s own sense of direction was interfered with – the internal compass needle spinning wildly. With no time to collect your own thoughts, you simply obeyed the fluro bark. How many more simple, daily tasks will we allow to become flurocratised?

It is not too outrageous to imagine “ATM Wardens” being sworn in to keep an eye on the queue. We will no longer need to rely on the unwritten laws of civic consideration, the polite hand wave and “You were next”, it’ll be a rough shove in the back and stern glare of borrowed authority keeping the peace. What about “BBQ Bouncers”? A couple of Yellow Vests stationed in the driveway of every back yard BBQ. If things get a little unruly, the vests will multiply and descend upon the party to restore order.
I know that it is every human’s right to feel safe in their society and it’s also naive to imagine that if left alone, we would all behave considerately. But if we allow the balance to tip in favour of the fluro we lose all right to decide for ourselves. Believe in your ability to step off a train without causing a riot. Trust your instincts when walking on a footpath. Resist the vest.

As the pendulum swings sharply back from today’s overt narcissism and over consumption the battle ground will be joy and exuberance, creativity and ideas. The Party Poopers vs The Revolutionaries.

Equilibrium Junkie

My pseudonym is a misnomer. You could be mistaken for thinking that Adrenaline Boots is a bungee-jumping, sky-diving, para-sailing, snow-boarding, Extreme Sports hooligan. But the reality is, I’m an Equilibrium Junkie. I crave the flat line. Extreme Inner Peace.

For me, happiness is a zero-sum game. If there is one tiny element out of whack, my serenity is shot to pieces. I need everything in my life to be vibrating in perfect harmony. The state of equilibrium is the thin gold line separating me from chaos and I must learn to tiptoe across it with the delicacy of a tightrope walker.

I have a new motto to live by:

Cultivate the Good. Strangulate the Bad.


The colour scheme of this diagram is absolutely horrible. Blergh. Rushed post.

Up Sticks

Yellow Brick Road. Part 1.

The time has come to start recording the story of how The von Reekie’s took New York. I know that one is not supposed to count one’s chickens before they hatch but there is nothing wrong with a bit of positive forecasting. If I talk about it enough, I can will it into existence. I am writing the story as I live it into words.
Most of my life I have been an aimless drifter. I drifted not through towns and cities, but through days and weeks and years. I didn’t know what my aim was, other than to live a good life with my family and friends. Aimless drifters are negatively stereotyped, but they can hold jobs. Raise children. The only thing missing is a plan.
For most of my life, I haven’t even needed a plan, wonderful things have happened to me by sheer luck. Starting with the happy fate of being born into a beautiful family in Australia with loving parents who wanted only the best for me. That alone was enough to set me up for life. I am eternally grateful to be in the middle of a sister sandwich. Happily wedged between my Taurean siblings who form an integral part of my social circle well into adult life. They are friends I would have chosen regardless of sharing DNA.
Kismet struck again when I found the love of my life.  I was lucky enough to meet the human with whom I share my daily life at the age of seventeen. Right place, right time – another blessing for which I will be eternally grateful. My relationship with Mattie was forecast by a clairvoyant…but she called him Bob. She told me that my Bob and I would have a happy life together. Everyone wants love in their life, but it doesn’t always work out how they hoped. I have beautiful, talented and amazing friends who would be so wonderful and loving in a relationship, but the right one hasn’t come their way yet. So again, I cannot credit any of my good fortune to anything more than blessed luck.
The path that Mattie and I have taken together through life has been full of happenstance. Things just happened. Two amazing kids popping up in the cabbage patch, jobs we fell into. Matt was in the business of printing magazines before he wrote for them, I got into editing because the first proper job I landed after university was as a receptionist at a post production facility. Of course we had to work hard once we got there and we always had the drive to be in a creative field, I’m simply trying to convey how random it all was. I never had a 5 year plan or even a two week one.
Which is why I’m frankly a little surprised that I suddenly have a dream to achieve.
The grand plan of moving to New York evolved slowly. Beginning as a little whisper in my subconscious (crooning softly like Frank Sinatra) until it became an insistent voice broadcasting across my inner monologue “Go There Now”. I have never known such laser focus – I’ve become one of those boring obsessive types. Drifters are a little lackadaisical. But when you have a plan, you make things happen. We are building a bridge from Sydney to New York, like beavers building a dam. Every step of the process seems inconsequential, dragging another twig with our teeth, but we will get there.
On my quest to find information about visas and housing, jobs and credit ratings, social security numbers and health insurance, I have come across many personal blogs and gratefully devoured the trail of information scraps. Now it is our turn to do a little Hansel & Greteling, to leave behind some tasty breadcrumbs, which may one day help someone else find their way to the greatest city on earth.
Step one is to believe. If I do nothing else in this life, I will go with my family and live in New York.



Soap Suds Bring Me to A State of Grace

I just had a moment of divine clarity: soap suds bring me to a state of grace.
I’m a bit rusty on my religious terms (rusty…or never knew them), so state of grace is perhaps a little off the mark. But I can rub my soul a little clean, rinse out my mind and put it on the drying rack of reflection all just by washing a cup.
Things were a little tense in our house this evening. Nothing major, just one of those nights where everyone is in a bad mood and everything seems overwhelming. I had no idea what to make for dinner and I couldn’t even conceive of cooking until I’d washed the dishes in the sink. Pulling on my rubber gloves and muttering under my breath, I reached for the “Dishomatic” and instantly felt a little calmer with the wand in my hand. I prefer the “Italian Method” of washing up, as taught to me by my beautiful friend, Jessicat. Rather than dunking the dishes in a sink full of water, you scrub them individually, and rinse them one at a time. It’s less of a commitment that way. With each cup, or spoon or bowl I soaped up, I started to feel a little better. The act of getting in there and digging around with the Dishomatic, really putting in a bit of frantic energy, cleared my mind. The suds, the hot water and the sense of achievement. I may not be able to control the world but I am the master of that kitchen sink and dammit if I don’t feel better after a bit of Suds-Time.

The Second Onion

This morning I woke up to see that a 30 second video I posted on YouTube had over 28,000 hits. I know that’s small potatoes relatively, but it’s the most damn views I’ve ever had and it’s exciting because I saw it happen in close up. For the last few months, YouTube success has been a topic on my mind. A colleague and good buddy of mine (or rather, a good buddy and colleague of mine) have been discussing how ludicrous it is that “YouTube Stars” make so much money out of silly little videos. Then we got past how ludicrous it was and decided we wanted a piece of that action! We are both in corporate video production in our day jobs, so we figured that we should use our “skill set” to jump on the band wagon.

Concurrently, Danger and I started UBTV – the Channel of Unbelievably Bad magazine. We want to churn out little videos every week, covering everything you’d find in the zine and more. One day we’ll give up our day jobs and do that full time. That’s the dream. So a couple of days ago, I had a day off work and I was editing videos from home. I have the attention span of a kitten, so I need to work on a few things simultaneously. Danger and I were emailing and I showed him a link to one of my old videos that employed a fun editing technique. We talked about making a video for UBTV employing the same technique. I said that it’d be good to use on a politician. Danger suggested the Tony Abbott onion video. I know nothing about current news stories, so I just googled the video and found it. Angus was home too and when he walked past my computer, I asked him what song I should use. He suggested Darude’s “Sand Storm”. I’d heard him mention this before as an internet meme and we’d had fun watching him and his friend Bo dancing to the song. Within the space of an hour – literally from the first email – I had the video edited and posted on our UBTV YouTube Channel. It was just a throwaway idea, executed quickly while I should have been doing something else. I shared the link with my buddy Jo and told her that we could easily make videos like that for our YouTube campaign. This was on the back of the mash up of the Dinosaurs and Biggie Smalls – which incidentally, has over five million hits (to put it in perspective….). Then I forgot about it.

A couple of days later (that’s yesterday), Jo sent me a link to a small article on the Junkee website that said that Tony Abbott had eaten another onion – big news apparently! But the interesting part was that the writer of the article suggested watching the six second clip of Abbott eating the first onion, while playing Darude’s “Sand Storm” in the background. Wait, what?? Isn’t that the video I’d already made? So I posted a link to my YouTube clip in the comments section. And the internet did the rest. While I was at work, editing videos about an ASX Conference (yep – riveting stuff), Jo kept texting and emaiing me updates of how the video got picked up and gained a life of its own. Junkee made a little reference to it and then it was picked up by Pedestrian TV. Junkee Pedestrian Later at home, when Danger was showing me all of the Facebook comments, we agreed that we couldn’t have planned it any better. It was the perfect storm. The day that I made the video, the onion story was already old news. It was only the fact that Abbott ate a second onion that gave the video a life. Watching how the video spread was like tagging a pigeon. Hopefully the next pigeon will be one I’m proud of.

Update: By late afternoon it’s up to 37,500+ – jeez!

Times Square Hustlers

On our first day in New York we literally stumbled across Times Square. I have no sense of direction and Danger never wants to be seen with a map, so we were just kind of ambling.

Cool kids and native New Yorkers will tell you to avoid it at all costs, but I enjoyed the energy and sensory overload, the way I don’t enjoy it when it’s somewhere like the Easter Show or anywhere else that involves crowds. Go figure.

After getting ripped off and hustled within minutes of arriving, a little niggling feeling of resentment was itching at the back of my mind. But later that night, as we started laughing about the experience over pizza and beer, I decided that I wanted to make a mini documentary about the Times Square Hustlers. We had our camera kit with us so that we could shoot interviews for our Warm Feelings documentary, so it was no hassle to go back and get some footage of the Super Hustlers.

The weekend that we shot was one of the coldest that New York has experienced in a long time. The first day it was snowing and magical. The second day it was just unbearably freezing. Danger was a trooper and he stayed out getting amazing footage while we ducked into Starbucks and Toys’R’Us to defrost ourselves.

Because it’s a fun subject with a human interest element, we are hoping to get the video up on some websites like Reddit or Buzzfeed or Huffington Post. Below is an excerpt of the story that I’ll be sending out with the video.

On our first foray into Times Square we couldn’t help but notice the colorful super heroes and Disney characters prowling among the tourists and civilians. Our children are thirteen and fifteen, so we didn’t pay much attention to the costumed characters, but before long my daughter spotted a plush Hello Kitty and she decided she wanted a photo with her. Understanding the basics of tipping, we gave our daughter a dollar bill to pay Hello Kitty and nudged her gently towards the Kawaii cult-figure. Like a shark will notice a drop of blood in the water, it was almost as if Hello Kitty smelt the money. She nearly lost her big, furry head in a rush to get over to us. Navigating crowds with restricted eyesight and no regard for the outer edges of her cat headpiece, Hello Kitty seized my daughter by the coat and pulled her into a pose. Within seconds, Mickey Mouse, Cookie Monster and Super Mario were flanking her on either side and our petite thirteen year old was dwarfed by a pushy pack of furry characters. After the photo was taken, she timidly proffered her dollar bill to Hello Kitty and tried to exit stage left. Obviously we didn’t know the protocol. The other three characters whipped up their headpieces so that they could make eye contact and held their palms up as if begging for alms. I was overwhelmed by the surreal nature of the scene. Super Mario was a small Latino woman, pleading with liquid eyes. As I fumbled for my purse, the furry characters edged in closer. Being unfamiliar with the money (to an Australian, it all looks the same), I pulled out a five-dollar bill. Realizing my mistake, I tried to fish out some dollar bills, but three voices assured me “It’s ok, it’s ok”. While I worried how they would share it, Mickey Mouse unceremoniously yanked it out of my hand and turned tail – off to find a new victim. Cookie Monster and Super Mario followed suit.

We were left scratching our heads wondering how we had just lost $6 in a matter of a minute. As we continued on our way, running the gauntlet of Times Square hustlers, it became apparent that we would need to be on guard – or flush with dollar bills. I felt a little dismayed by our ignorance and determined not to be suckered again.

Our next visit to Times Square we came armed with our camera and a fat stack of dollar bills. It was our turn to approach the furries and the super heroes and find out what made them tick. Getting right into the spirit of it, I was waving dollar bills like a businessman at a strip bar while my husband caught everything on film.

“If I give you a dollar will you answer a few questions?”

We quickly realized that a large number of the costumed characters didn’t speak any English. I was impressed with the resourcefulness and spirit of these entrepreneurs. When all communication is pantomimed and the language of an outstretched hand is universal, there is no job discrimination. One clever Smurf answered humbly “No sorry, no English” and plucked the dollar bill from my hand with a rueful smile.

Refining our technique, we first asked whether they spoke English before offering to pay. Before long, the checkbook journalism paid off and we found our story. A sweetly innocent young man, dressed as The Flash, told us how he was just learning the ropes, mentored by his friend, Spiderman. He told us that he gave all his earnings to his Mum, as she put food on the table. We asked The Flash if we could take him somewhere quiet and pay him for a proper interview. He couldn’t leave his post at the most lucrative hour on a Saturday evening, so we tried to set the interview up for the next day. The only problem was The Flash didn’t even have a phone. Excited by the prospect of appearing on YouTube, Flash called Spiderman over to help out. Visibly irritated at being called while he was on the job, Spiderman quietly schooled Flash on the ways of maximizing a prospect.

“We’re not going to talk now, we don’t have the time. Give them my number, ok?”

The next day, in weather just over 2 degrees Fahrenheit, we met up with Spiderman – aka JJ. The Flash had stayed home for the day because he was too cold to hustle.

With relief, JJ/Spiderman quickly steered us to a deli just off Times Square that he used as a home base. For twenty dollars he told us his story and shared with us his dreams of starting his own fashion label and starring in a YouTube series.

The video below is a small introduction of what could be a fascinating story of New York grit and ingenuity. The hustlers of Times Square are paying their way through college, feeding their families and starting empires one dollar at a time.

We will be hosting the video on YouTube soon, so I’ll replace this link when it happens and everyone will need to watch it again so we can get as many likes as possible.