One friend I have on World Of Warcraft and I have very little in common, but we both love the 1980s British television show The Young Ones. Every episode has something to recommend it. One of the less-quoted jokes from the episode Nasty has Alexei Sayle facing the camera and going into a spiel about how since he has been appearing on television, his Marxist fellows have been accusing him of selling out, making him march at the back at demonstrations, and so forth. Continue Reading
Earlier, I have mentioned things about how I feel I have to make life as unpleasant as I possibly can for others in order to achieve any positive results for myself. This continues to be my belief, especially in light of recent events. One of these recent events is that an actual timetable and plan for my departure from Northern Queensland has finally been established. That is why my reaction to ‘phone calls from rude, pushy workers was one of such unbridled fear and anxiety.
You have probably heard me say a million times now that I hate Queensland and its people on a level that few people ever hate. I could go on for volumes about this, but instead, I want to talk about a few contrasts and ironies of my present situation.
Now, as I have mentioned, the place where I spent the vast majority of my childhood, and all but a year or two of the first twenty-three years of my life, was what I will refer to as a sattelite-suburb of the Western Sydney city called Parramatta. This sattelite-suburb went by the name of Greystanes, and as far as I am aware still serves as an intermediate junction between Parramatta itself, the smaller city known as Merrylands, and the area called Prospect. Prospect is in turn on its way to places like Blacktown, Parklea, Quaker’s Hill, Penrith, and Richmond (and please do not ask me why any of those places have those names). Now here is the first point of comparison. Richmond can, for all intents and purposes, be considered the outermost point of Sydney. Penrith is slightly further inward by a margin of about five kilometres. But the thing is, Greystanes is (slightly) less than half as far out of Sydney as is Penrith.
Morayfield is, according to the search results, 47.6 kilometres out of Brisbane. That is 19.1 kilometres more than Greystanes is out of Sydney. But the kicker is that when one is looking for rental housing and not wanting to spend more money than most of the bottom sixty percent of earners in the nation can afford in a week, the prices one is expected to pay are about the same. Sometimes, you can even get housing at a cheaper weekly rate in Greystanes than is the case in Morayfield. Another kicker is that the suburb and hospital therein known as Westmead are so close to Greystanes that one could ride a bicycle there. (And by one, I mean your ordinary, regular individual, not marathon cyclists and the like.) I have done exactly that in the past, so please, Queenslanders, no attempts at negationism.
When you have a cancer growing in your face that needs delicate surgery to remove, being able to get to a hospital quickly and easily is a very important thing. And not just any hospital, but one that is able to provide the services required for such an operation. I have already had one skin cancer removed from my face. That operation was performed in Westmead Hospital. The distance between Greystanes and Westmead is about five and a half kilometres. Making that journey presents a very manageable risk to me. Far more manageable than would be the case between Morayfield and Herston, where the nearest hospital able to provide the service I need is presently located. Of course, this is only taking into account direct routes, but if you think I would ever choose a journey of forty-two point nine kilometeres over one of five and a half kilometres when I a) feel massive anxiety about being able to get to my destination (and back) and b) will likely need to make the trip repeated times, I think you may well be legally retarded.
Getting into the central business district of Sydney from Greystanes is also quite a lot easier than is the case between Brisbane and Morayfield. In the Northern outer edge of Brisbane, I believe I have thought up a saying that no matter what time in the day one starts the journey, one should always add at least half an hour of time sitting idle at a train station and waiting to whatever projected time they expect it to take. Sure, suburban stations like Pendle Hill, Wentworthville, or Westmead still have noticeable gaps between departures, but I kid you not when I say that I have travelled from Parramatta to the central Sydney station known as Town Hall in less than fifty minutes. And that was in 1995.
So now that you know portions of the basis on which I consider Sydney, and even its central-Western suburbs (long looked down the nose at by those who live further in), to be in every way superior to anything Brisbane can offer, I am sure a question comes to mind. What do I plan on doing once I get there?
Truthfully, I do not know a lot of the answer myself. One thing that I found during earlier parts of this year was that it was getting very hard, nearly impossible in fact, to feel any real enthusiasm for photography when I was going to the same sites again and again. Brisbane can bleat like a sheep all that it likes about how many places it has to go to and take pictures of. But the thing is, when those places are as inaccessible as Brisbane’s are, they for all intents and purposes may as well not be there. So when I do get to Greystanes, and get sufficiently settled to feel confident in getting to and fro, I intend to make my way into Sydney’s central business district and take a literal assload of photographs.
Come to think of it, for a long time, I have wanted to collect photographs of places like Parramatta from ages past and photograph the same sites as they exist now. Not because I want to demonstrate how they have grown (and continue to do so), but because I want to demonstrate something to people like my male parent and the imbecilic hicks he now calls friends.
With the extreme problems our world faces, largely caused by population growth, pretty much every settlement in the world has reached the full extent of its possible growth. This includes the tiniest village (if you have seen the film Tremors, then you know what I mean) to the largest megaopolis. Oh, do not get me wrong, with population growth around the world showing no sign of slowing down in spite of how badly resources are depleting, the populations will continue to grow for some time yet. But the key point is the resource depletion. We can redirect our resources (and yes, richest one percent, this means you will have to start paying for what you actually use) to build new housings and healthcare facilities, but there is a point coming at which efficiency is going to become such a concern that growing populations are going to end up having to simply make do with what is already in place. The problem is, with a populace in the greater area of a mere two million, Brisbane is already bursting at the seams.
What makes this funny to me is that after all of the perpetual moaning about how baad Sydney is I have heard from the like of my male parent, the growth that I saw in Western Sydney really blew me away the last time I was there. Try this exercise on for size. Imagine you are meeting with a seventeen year old boy who is wearing more or less entirely black clothing including multiple shirts (a short-sleeve over long-sleeve arragement) with the trademarks of such recording artists as My DyING BRIDE or Type O Negative (amongst others) all over them. Tell him that there is a point within his lifetime, and sooner than he thinks, when there will be an office block tower type of building in the suburb of Wentworthville. Albeit a small one (eight stories, if I remember the count I did correctly). Tell him that the city he most frequently visits, Parramatta, will have office towers in it of twenty stories or more. Now, do you think he will a) believe he will be an elderly man by the time that happens, b) expect Queensland to grow to a similar extent, or c) just plain not believe you? Granted, the first answer is possible from the younger version of me, depending on what day you catch him. The second? Do not make me laugh. But the third option… plausibility is golden, I say. So go with that. The point here is that for how much Queensland likes to crow about how much bigger it is going to get in future, Sydney needs only take one look at its acute infrastructure and housing market distress, and say get back to me when you figure out how to make that happen.
I am frightened. I do not mind admitting that. I am frightened of making my way to the little sattelites of Parramatta and finding out that the warmth and hope I have long craved is gone. I am frightened of discovering that the difference in disability services I have heard about compared to what is available in Queensland has been exaggerated. I am frightened that the abuse and neglect I experienced at the hands of certain people associated with Westmead Hospital (you know who you are) will be visited upon me once again.
But all of that pales in comparison to my fear of what I believe is likely to happen to me if I stay in the state of Queensland. Funny how that works.
I have two things to tell you before we begin. One, this essay will contain repeated and very precision-intended uses of a derisive word for dark-skinned Americans that they themselves often use to deride other dark-skinned Americans who behave in a manner that they find objectionable. Two, this is necessary for making the point that I ended up circling around in this essay. If you do not like it, the door is in that direction. *makes a pointing motion* Continue Reading
I make no secret of this. I play videogames. I have played videogames since sometime after my sixth birthday. One day whilst I was on my way home from school with my still very young mother, she told me cryptically that my male parent had something at home that I would like to see. That something turned out to be a Commodore VIC-20, the first of what is now many, many computers that have passed through the households I collective have and continue to reside in. Being that this was 1984, the price of a VIC-20 was likely quite cheap, and the machine turned out to be a source of entertainment enjoyed by the whole family as a collective. But whilst I was at the time mildly interested in the programming and creative aspects of the device, I got the games in a big way.
I did not know this at the time, but in the previous year, the Commodore 64 had been “unveiled”. Although it suffered reliability problems at first, by 1984 its greater flexibility and capability, along with its greater visual and aural capabilities (do not laugh) meant that the VIC-20 was quickly headed for retirement. I do not recall exactly what year my family traded in the VIC-20 for what came to be referred to in shorthand as the C64, but it probably did not take long. Now, by greater visual and aural capabilities, well, obviously by today’s standards that is a pretty sick joke. But the Commodore 64 could give brief real-time voices, constant music that, although low in quality, put the player right into the mood of the game, and crude representations of visual elements that in 1982 matched or even exceeded those of arcade machines. If you can imagine a bass voice saying “Another visitor. Stay awhile… stay forever!” in exaggerated tones, then you can sort of get the idea of my first impression of the Commodore 64. Continue Reading