Note: stuck in my house, I’ve been starting to go through old files. Trying to clean up my pictures directory, looking through old story ideas. During this process, I found this text file, named FORCASS.TXT.
It’s an email I send to a friend of mine, Cass Brain, who I haven’t seen in decades. It’s a very melancholy diatribe, but it definitely gets into my head. It’s an email from 1998, so here’s a slice of Damo from more than 20 years ago.
I may have deleted some of the completely irrelevant bits, to leave the reflection intact. Enjoy.
One last bit of background: I was living in Park Street in South Melbourne with Dave at the time. It was a glorious apartment with views of Crown Casino. So the walk along St Kilda road took me home via a lovely walk through the gardens.
So much to say. So many thoughts and feeling running through my mind. So many of them gone now that I am in the safe comfort of my home and not out on the streets, marveling at the city I now call home.
When I left to go to Kyabram, the place that I have always thought of as the town I grew up in, Shereen and I commented on how good it would be to get out of the city. When we got to Kyabram, we pointed out the sun, and how much warmer and brighter it was in the country. We noticed the spaciousness, the (this is a totally inadequate word) quaintness of the houses, and I remembered what it was like growing up in a small town. I didn’t remember how I was tormented for having parents for teachers, for being “the fat kid”, for being useless at sport in a town where everyone played football in the winter and cricket in the summer.
I didn’t remember the derision or the loneliness. It was a day – beautiful and blue, warm and peaceful in a town where you could walk certain streets for hours without seeing a moving car – for remembering the good times. I remembered swimming in the town pool, playing water tag and scarecrow. I remembered going to the tuck shop at lunchtime for a dollars’ worth of lollies that would last you for the rest of the day.
I remembered my old houses. The treehouse out the back, our pet chickens, my dog, who was older than I was, up until she (but we called her a him) died. I did a jigsaw puzzle. I caught up with some old friends. Made some new ones. It was a 21st we were going to after all, and when you’re talking around a drum with a fire in it at 3am you tend to make new friends. Everyone’s willing to talk and to laugh at 3am in the morning at a 21st.
And when it was time to go home, I thought about what Jerry Seinfeld said about Melbourne being the anus of the world, and really found it hard to disagree.
When I got to Melbourne again, I wandered along Bourke Street up to the mall. It was evening, and I had a free ticket to go see a movie. I thought I might go and see The Night Flyer (the new King Flick). I ended up seeing The Opposite of Sex. A weird movie to say the least. Before that. I walked past Hungry Jack’s, when this tall thin guy with Einsteinian hair came charging past with his girlfriend. He had his hand cocked over something he had stowed in the hem? Lining? Top of his pants. My imagination running wild, I was thinking gun, and already was working out how to put it into a story idea. I watched the couple as they walked off, and he was smiling as if telling a funny joke and gesticulating wildly. That’s Melbourne for you. Never a shortage of weird people. I love to watch people in the city.
I walked to Hoyts and bought my ticket, then went to the bathroom. When I came out I figured I’d go and get something to eat. I walked out of the cinema into a police barrier. When I got to Hungry Jacks I asked the guy behind the counter what had happened (there were police everywhere). He said there’d been a stabbing and the police were asking everybody for info. Yay. I love this city. I went back to the cinema, but told a policewoman what I’d seen, just in case. It could have been a knife rather than a gun, and it was at the same time.
When I got out of the movie, I decided to walk home. Have you seen LA Story? Steve Martin, disillusioned with the shallowness of his city, is saved by it in the end. Incidentally, he finds true love as well.
I walked through the night streets of Melbourne and marvelled at my city. Remember how I told you that I was awed by the work of man over the work of nature? I love to walk. I love to go up to the mountains and see scenery and smell fresh air. But I am always moved by what man, a selfish egotistical self-destructive race of beings, can create with the pure, passionate part that makes up humanity.
I gave three dollars to a guy who was asking for money. He commented on my dream catcher necklace and wished me a good night’s dreaming. I stood and looked up at the Arts Centre – the first time I’ve seen it from below at night for a while. There wasn’t a tram in sight, so I decided to walk home. It was a brisk night.
Nippy but not uncomfortably cold. I walked across the bridge of the Yarra and stared at it’s muddy waters. Then I turned and looked at the Yarra on the other side of the road. The lights of Flinders Street and Southbank reflected off the water and the polluted river was transformed into a thing of beauty. The Arts Centre, a towering spire of cold hard metal glowed with the blue light and flashing bulbs that turn it into a sculpture of light. As I continued to walk, I heard the sound of the tram. I looked over at it as it pulled to a stop, the familiar green and yellow creature that is such an integral part of the city. This one had a sign across the top: NOTHING GETS YOU GOING IN THE MORNING LIKE VEGEMITE.
I could have caught it then, but decided that I would walk the rest of the way. I just can’t believe how much the city changes at night. I walked past the memorial to “Weary” Dunlop. Then I went back, walked up the stairs and read the inscription on the plaque. I stared at the statue for awhile. I think I had a huge astounded grin on my face. I had never looked twice at that statue until tonight. I went onto the flower clock. A clever use of nature in a clearly man-made architecture. I walked past the statue of our first governor-general. The flowers below it, just recently planted, read “Red Roses for Cystic Fibrosis”. I looked at the statues of athletes in the botanic gardens. I marveled at the way the lights lit up the fountain that sprayed water in structured hoops to make a beautiful pattern. I was nearing home. And then I saw, lit up by huge spotlights so that is always seen, night and day: The Shrine of Remembrance.
Do you know, I haven’t been there since 1990, when our year level came up from Kyabram to do the sightseeing thing? Like everything else, it was transformed in the night. I went to see it. My heart was filling with awe and respect. I walked up the stairs and stared quietly at the Eternal Flame for a while. I walked up the next flight and came face to face with the ancient gods. Pressed into the stone before me, a frieze of deities. Not God, and Mary, Jesus or the Saints. These were the ancients. Humans in the sky. Understandable, with faults of their own. These were the deities that guarded the memory of our soldiers. I walked around the side – should I say this? – tears in my eyes at the beauty of the sculptures before me. The lions pulling the carriages. Flanking the message of the Shrine. Can I remember it now? Did it have that much of an impact?
“All men know this. That this is sacred ground. This shrine…”
No. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was a powerful message embossed into the stone, and the shadows cast by the light on the engraved stone was a stunning sight to behold.
The flying foxes, fruit bats, whatever, screeched and fought in the trees around me, another part of Melbourne, especially the gardens. Imagine that, in the midst of a city, teeming with life and spewing death into the sky, that there are these beautiful gardens, stretching for what seems like an eternity. A hideaway from the city, but still a part of it. Definitely. I walked down the stairs and across the neatly kept, soft green grass. Down to the fountain on the corner at the Domain interchange. Flanked by a turtle spewing water into the center and sea horses or fish or maybe ducks and topped with Pan and his water-flowing pipes. I love turtles, and the mythology of turtles. I walked home along Park street, slowly coming back into reality in the knowledge that Dave and his girlfriend would be waiting and this epiphany of Melbourne that I had just experienced I could not pass on to them, sitting in front of the tv.
I thought about my city for a while. We have two brothels and a nightclub on our street, another nightclub around the corner. The Crown Casino, the most decadent structure in the city within walking distance. And as I stare now out the window over the lights of the buildings and vehicles, watching other Melbournians go about their nightly business totally unaware of the soul staring out over them, I have only one thing to say:
F*** you Jerry Seinfeld. I love this city.
Well, two things. Melbourne’s so much better when you’re sharing it.
Afterward: the thing I miss most about being locked in are the evenings where I just jump on a train and head into the city. This hasn’t helped my out-of-home-sickness in the slightest.
A few years ago I put together a bucket list of things I want to do before I die. Last night my daughter was talking about creating her own bucket list, so I thought it might be time to update my own.
But first, let’s have a quick look at the first one. From that list, I came incredibly close to buying a purple suit, but balked at the last second. Now that I have a bit more money I think I need to do another trip down to Rosebud.
No penguin costumes, no troll costume, no replaced eyeball.
In fact, I have to say no to most of the old bucket list. Let’s see.
I have had a play produced – had a couple in fact – through GemCo. You can even buy the scripts. There was a link, but now you need to email them.
The idea that you send a message to your distant descendants in the future. All of the messages will be whooshed off into space, or into a time capsule, or buried in mud, or something. I didn’t read that bit very closely.
Here’s what I wrote:
I really hope that you know the name Damian Perry as having done something great. Or at least recognisable. Or at least not infamous.
I hope that you left the planet of your own choice and not because we ruined it for you. If not, I am truly sorry for my generation’s actions.
Finish this sentence: a horse walked into a bar and the bartender said: _________________________
Look up the lumberjack song. If you don’t know Monty Python, you should.
Read Terry Pratchett.
If you’ve invented time travel, come back and say hello.
We do some stupid things to the planet, but one that I don’t regret is having pets. We have dogs and cats and they make your life so much more bearable. I know they aren’t great for the carbon footprint, but they are good for the soul. Goldfish, not so much.
Does Apple still exist? What number iPhone are they up to?
Do they still talk about 2016 as one of the worst years ever?
Watch Star Wars.
Watch them as movies, and not as holograms or dreams or whatever they’re using for entertainment these days. I’m pretty sure Empire Strikes Back is still the best of the series, no matter what Disney does to the franchise.
I don’t care how plugged in to technology you are, it is absolutely vital that you get out and play. Being bored is essential for creativity. Paint something, draw something. Use your hands instead of a machine. Sing. Dance. Let your imagination take you somewhere you can’t get using a computer.
Is Doctor Who still around? Who is your favourite Doctor?
Definitely come back and say hi. I’m sure they’ll have time travel by your time.
Don’t use transporters, because there’s no guarantee that your soul will be transported along with your body. Seriously. Think about it.
The real you is turned into computer information. A dead-inside clone appears on the other side. YOU ARE NOW DEAD.
created a CGI opening for the school production which almost killed me,
saw my daughter perform at the Melbourne Arts Centre,
had our first cancer scare with our dog Amy and then
lost my grandfather to cancer (which doesn’t seem that long ago).
They were huge things, and very draining. And still, I finished this year completely shattered and I’m just getting out of it now, after a good few days down at Dromana soaking in the ocean (my calm down place). My 2015 list on the face of it is much longer. This year I:
Had a number of articles published in educational journals
Had a reunion of the Five
Fixed the shower head
Ran the sound for Macbeth
Wrote half a dozen stories for a sequel to Dwarves in Space and found them mostly awful
Discovered Netflix and Stan and Presto
Had a Marvel Universe movie marathon
Went to a number of art galleries
Attended a few Guides functions
Started an educational blog
Read the Harper Lee sequel nobody thought would ever happen
Flew in a very old bi-plane
Finished my wedding video – three years on
Celebrated Grandma’s 90th
And that’s just the ones that come to mind going back through my photo gallery. Of those, they were all incredibly positive, life affirming and creative pursuits, which didn’t bring me down in the slightest. So why am I so mentally exhausted?
I think all that I can say is: don’t get involved in politics in the workplace. Just do your own job as well as you can and let what’s up top run itself.
I just wish I believed that was a good idea. Anyway, as always, I promise I will write more in 2016. And I have actual things in place to make that happen. AND I did actually write a lot in 2015 – just not on FindingDamo.
A convtroversial picture to get a conversation started.
I know I’ve been away for a bit. It’s because of the picture above. I created this because it was something I was genuinely interested in knowing the answer to: why is this image different from the “Still don’t deserve to be raped” images going around the Internet and social media? My contention: I never want to blame the victim for things that happen. The reason why bad things happen to people is because there are bad people out there who don’t care about human rights. However, knowing that there are evil people in the world who do the wrong thing even with all of our laws and protections in place, isn’t it a good idea to make yourself less of a target?
That was my opinion. So I created this picture. I posted it privately on Facebook, only to my friends. And I invited conversation. I wanted to go through the conversation and post a summary of what was said. But I honestly think that the conversation shows the explanations and crossing of lines better than my summary ever could. So I’m posting the whole thing, names changed to protect the opinionated. And no, I don’t believe the picture above is a good picture to put out there. But as one of the conversationers says: the more conversation out there, the better. Just don’t use it as an excuse.
Male1: I wouldn’t recommend posting it. It won’t change anyone’s mind, because it is such a sensitive issue that people feel strongly about.
This particular example only applies to some people and those victims don’t need to be reminded of dumb decisions made at the time, and it discounts that, short of wearing a bubble, women are at risk anywhere.
Damian Perry The number of times it comes up, and I think “There are so many screwed up evil people in the world, with such screwed up senses of morality, that this argument is less valid than you would expect”.
Damian Perry But yes, I’ve been very hesitant in even putting the picture together
Female1 The picture sort of implies that being a girl wearing “sexy” clothes, or even just walking somewhere alone is a stupid thing to do. The guy in the picture looks like an idiot, who would do that, really? It implies that the parallel message of “still doesn’t deserve it” (with women and rape) is a message of the women doing something dumb and that being the result.
Damian Perry Yeah, and that’s why I’m trying to feel through the situation here rather than in public with people who will, hopefully, forgive me for saying something ridiculous.
Damian Perry Nobody deserves to be raped. Nobody deserves to be robbed. However, there are bad, evil people in the world. If someone walked down an alley with bad people around and (to be less ridiculous) was fiddling with his iPhone, we might say “you idiot”.
Damian Perry Nobody deserves the bad stuff that happens, but bad stuff happens, in these cases because of the bad people. Knowing that there are bad people, is it worth taking the precautions to avoid the bad situation?
Female1 I think the point of the rape issue is that even with precautions many women are still in danger. It’s not always the ones who are flaunting themselves, they could be fully dressed, and conservatively, but still be just as at risk.
Damian Perry Ah. Have I been misreading these pictures then? I thought it was “even if I’m dressed sexy (or naked) I don’t deserve to be raped.”
Female2 This is not the blog I was looking for but it’s close. The difference is is that whilst most men don’t feel entitled to someone else’s money / shiny thing, they are increasingly feeling entitled to a woman’s body Everyday Feminism link When even the ‘sane’ men start questioning misogyny in our society it’s pretty frightening to women. I have no answers, I’m just trying to tell you it’s not the same.
Female2 Ok. Think of it like this. You rob me – I am immediately the victim regardless of circumstances and you are the evil person.
You rape me – I am immediately judged on my clothes, where I was, did I fight back etc etc and you may be misunderstood, you may have not understood no. Etc.
Female3 You’ve got two issues within the spectrum of the rape culture thing, I think – the straight up idea of women being assaulted in lurky places, and the “dressed in tooth floss does not equal rape me” factor. And as someone whose had enough street harassment to varying degrees to want to retire from society forever, I actually find this parallel offensive for the same reasons Female1 has mentioned. Feminism and issue aside – don’t you dare post this because the shadowing on that face and money needs some serious revision.;)
Damian Perry I wanted to create a painted version of the guy to take away any copyright issues of stealing faces and bodies from Google and Photoshopping them, but in the end it was taking too much time for something I wouldn’t be allowed to post anyway, so I just gave up and posted it as is. Sorry Female3!
Female3 That’s what I wanted to hear, Damo. I can deal if its a mock up. I’ve been doing print ready files all day today and feel ready to set adobe on fire.
Female2 It might be more on the money to have a big, macho looking dude telling some cops that he was robbed and them saying – but what were you wearing? Women of the jury?
Female3 I like that idea better. there’s just something about putting a comically dumb man’s face on the issue that sits badly with me..
Damian Perry I’ll repost with the original guy’s face but it didn’t seem to fit
Female4 I am unsure of the message you are trying to imply. Particularly with your comment of taking precautions. The point of the rape pictures is that often in sentencing, and general attitudes of the community it’s the victims responsibility to not have gotten so drunk or not have behaved so provocatively. It is about changing community attitudes that shift the blame from the victim and educate men that consent must always be sought.
To be honest, if I saw that as a blog post I would find it offensive as it implies that women and girls should be taking responsibility through their choices. It is as you said a very sensitive issue.
Damian Perry From that article: “The clothes we wear do send messages to the world – if they didn’t we would all be content to wear the same thing. Learning how to decode and respond to the messages being transmitted by a woman wearing a low-cut top is a skill many struggle to ever master.
Again, this is not to argue that a scantily clad woman deserves anything she does not want, and that includes lewd comments and judgment. But women are definitely aware of the attention a nice bum in hot pants will attract, and are generally careful of the context in which they don them. Nightclub: yes. Workplace: no.”
Damian Perry And yes, posting this as a blog could give some people an excuse to use it against women, so I’ll leave it alone. All of the “still don’t deserve…” pictures are trying to reclaim some of the rights that women have lost.
Damian Perry Another point from another source, is that women need to take risks so that they can feel empowered. They need to be able to wear what makes them feel good, even if it does sexualise them, and walk home alone, even if it does put them in danger.
Damian Perry So yes, the picture does say that women should be taking some responsibility through their choices. Not because women are to blame for the things that happen to them. But because there are some evil bastards out there who don’t care that they hurt women.
Damian Perry But I’ve been convinced that posting it would do more harm than good, because we need to live in a world where women will take risks and feel safe and empowered, rather than living in a world where everyone wears loose sweaters and won’t walk anywhere alone, feeling unsafe in their own world.
Damian Perry I like to believe that most men are good, if slightly ignorant. These are the men who can be educated. But not all of them can.
Damian Perry “In the social utopia we all know will never eventuate, of course women ought to be able to do as the chant says: ”Wear what we want when we want.” But in the real world we live in, that is a dangerous motto to live by.”
Damian Perry “Sexual assault counsellors often post leaflets in the toilet cubicles of Melbourne’s busiest nightclubs giving tips to women on how to stay safe : appoint a friend to watch out for your group, make sure your phone is charged, always have a cab fare etc. This is practical advice that does not spark a movement suggesting the counsellors are blaming victims of sexual assault. But in cautioning women against placing themselves in the sort of situations that can make them more vulnerable to rape, are they not saying the same thing as Mr Sanguinetti?”
Damian Perry This is what I’m trying to say. Not to be offensive, just honestly wondering.
Female5 Interestingly… I was on holiday with a gf whose image (choice of jewellery, dressing up in the day time, her choice of window shopping) gave the impression that she has lots of money. Actually she has expensive taste and appears to be a bit “precious”. To me, she looked as though you could easily take advantage of her. On the very crowded train my choice is to appear organised, knowing which stop to get off, looking alert and confident. .. and she loudly says “where are we? What stop are we getting off?” While fixing her lipstick.
She’s MY friend and I made judgements based on her behaviour and appearance that she was vulnerable (“pick me” in a evil persons language)… I feel bad for even thinking it… I’m used to changing my exterior when I Feel vulnerable… and this includes living on a “rape timetable” as one male friend called it. He said: I couldn’t imagine having to live on a rape timetable, be home before dark, don’t walk- take a cab etc. .. I don’t even think about it as a man.
And therein lies another layer to a delicate issue.
I love the point above re: clothing and image communicating… 🙂
For me: I choose to reduce risk of harm. I will change my image, appearance and energetic vibe to camouflage or hide. I will change my behaviour including timing of outings to ensure my behaviour does not say “pick me” in evil language. .. although of course, I shouldn’t have to. Xo
Female3 I can’t comment on this anymore. Damo I am pleased you wanted to discuss this but I think you’d do well to leave it, as you said.
Female5 has a valid point about images and appearances, but that argument makes me tired. A vast majority of rapists are people you know, statistically friends, family etc, and sexual assault perps have been found to care less about skanky clothes and more about vulnerability (I.e drunkenness, Female5’s friend having no idea where she was, being alone). I’d source that but I’ve just woken up and have forgotten where it’s from. I got sexually assaulted on a tram because I had my hands full, carrying stuff home from university. I dress like a mountain potato. If you want to discuss it, maybe approach the issue from the concept that women don’t owe men anything, and vice versa. Safer to do, easier to talk about.
And I agree about the original image – he’s kind of leery, but I can’t say how.
Male2 It’s a discussion we can never have, because all it takes is for someone to say “so it’s the woman’s fault she was raped?” and the rational argument about taking responsibility is over. I’m sure Godwin has some law about it
Male2 Maybe you could make a meta-poster with a picture of yourself creating the original poster. I’m sure there is a great caption you could put on it but can’t think of one right now
Male3 There are so many nuances of the argument that this picture does not address that it becomes a bit pointless. For example, if you had 100 men like this, would one of them be giving all his money to anyone that walked past, and maybe 10% have gone to the alley(nightclub) with the express purpose of finding someone to give their money to, and would the guys in the alley have spent their formative years watching other guys give their money away for free on the internet, would a couple of the guys have gotten so drunk that they gave all their money to someone that they didn’t really mean to and wake up wishing they could get it all back? Is the alley in fact the right place for this scene? Don’t just as many crimes occur in lounge rooms, bed rooms, etc.
Male3 I should also mention that we are not constantly bombarded by popular and social media with content that reinforces the idea that our money belongs to the world, it should be a certain size and shape, and you should post pictures of it online on an hourly basis for the enjoyment of others.
Damian Perry Well, I’m glad that I posted it, just to get so many varied and interesting reactions. But, yes, we do constantly get bombarded with popular and social media content telling us to give our money away, and we do take thousands of pictures of our money (or what we spent it on) to post on Facebook.
Damian Perry And I KNOW that there have been nights where I’ve gotten drunk, woken up the next morning to find that I’ve given my money away and desperately wishing that I hadn’t done it.
Male3 And I guess therein is also part of the problem with the analogy. You may place a different value on your ‘money’ to someone else and the emotional attachment you have to your ‘money’ may be different. It doesn’t give anyone the right to take your ‘money’ but if enough people place little value on it then it creates societal expectations. Add in booze, drugs, mental illness and just plain bad people and you would do well to put your money away and perhaps use something else to make friends. Friends who will still love you when your ‘money’ isn’t as young as it used to be :o)
Female2 When I was at uni my psychology professor said that he once asked his male students to line up at one blackboard and female students to line up at another and write what they do every day to make them feel safe. They could not repeat what another student had written. That was the only rule. The sexes were split fairly evenly. The guys eventually filled up maybe a third of their blackboard. Mostly it was locked their door, make sure that they didn’t leave ovens on etc.
The women filled their blackboard and some of the white board and while it had some of the same stuff as the guys it also had things like don’t make eye contact after dark, don’t walk home alone when the sun goes down, don’t give the taxi driver our real address, etc. He said that women are brought up with a siege mentality, that we were taught how to survive the attack as well as to minimize its happening. He couldn’t then during the exercise, and while telling us about it, begin to imagine what living in constant fear all the while knowing that whatever happened it would always be viewed as our fault. He said that until men decided as a group that this was unacceptable and that no female regardless, was to be thought of as a product to be owned, and until females believed that they meant it the status quo wouldn’t change.
Damian Perry There’s the statement that explains all of the pictures. Finally I get it. Now: would taking all of this conversation, drawing it into a cohesive whole, leaving off attributions (unless you want them) make a good post that would justify an exploration of the picture? If you say no I won’t bother, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who had this picture in their head.
Male3 Do you follow Collective Shout Damo? They bring up some interesting material including the recent Wicked Campers controversy. This is an interested read along the same lines as Female2’s post:
Female2 I don’t mind Damo. The more discussion there is about this subject the better I think. You can’t change someone mind with silence.
Male3 My real problem is this “men must decide as a group it’s unacceptable”. We have. It’s against the law. It’s prosecuted when it’s reported. I don’t know a single man who would condone this behaviour and if I did I’d slap him. To paint all men as complicit in every occurrence of sexual assault is as ridiculous as painting all men as accessories to every murder, robbery, car jacking etc.
Female2 But that’s your group and who you know. I would always presume that people that I hang out with, the people they hang out with would think mostly like me. But do you immediately think predator arsehole when you read about a woman laying charges against a football player or do you think – what was she wearing?
Damian Perry I think that I and my friends are pretty good. I also know some of the conversations we have in guy nights, just as a joke, that prove the exact opposite. I’ve tried to pick up girls in bars and nightclubs (when I was single) which is, according to one of the articles above, a no-no. Men as a group might be outwardly ok with it being unacceptable, but the point is that we all still have our inner apes.
Male3 I try not to judge without knowing the facts. That’s a job for the courts.
Female6 In regards to those we call ‘famous’ getting charged with a crime and society asking who’s really to blame. It’s hard not to question motives when some ‘victims’ wait for so many years. As for people flaunting money, power, fast cars, boobs! Yes you have the right to but it will always draw attention and not necessarily from the right people. I do believe most people are good but there are still dirtbags out there that choose to go against social norms
Female2 See. The way you wrote victims just upsets me. Think of the most traumatic thing that ever happened to you. Make sure that there was a shit load of guilt and self-shame associated with it to make it really work. Then think about how long it would take to tell someone about it. Now think if the person who did all that to you was known to others as good person. How long do you think it would take you to come forward now? Just because you think you are a strong enough person now doesn’t mean they are in the same place. I know a person who wet herself in 5th grade in from of the class. I can bet you she doesn’t talk about that at all.
Female6 ‘Victim’, a word I chose to incorporate a vast group of people. I am a victim of several crimes and I own that word. Being a victim clarifies that I am in no way to blame for what others chose to do to me. I have never felt shame or guilt over any of it and have always come forward. I’ve worked with girls about that age in the same situation, it doesn’t have to be like that and schools aim to teach children to be more accepting these days. Hell, we use to get belittled for blowing our noses in primary school!
Female6 Female2: what are your thought on the siege mentality that your psych professor demonstrated? I would love to live without it and feel safe enough to go to gigs on my own but there have to be some up sides right? It means we should kickarse at risk assessment!
I guess it can explain helicopter parenting. I’ve heard it blamed on Gen X growing up with Stranger Danger that we are terrified of letting our children do anything. Hence why so few kids walk to school or play outside or any activity that a parent can’t hover over.
Female6 Ok, I’ve think this is what I should’ve said all along.
I am glad to live here, I can wear what I want, when I want and stand up for myself when I do it without fear of persecution. Most people will still come to a woman’s aid if she needs it.
Male3 We were at Fed Square on Sunday with our kids then read later about an attempted child stealing. Nothing wrong with reasonable helicoptering! I think part of the ‘blame game’ is also a way of risk assessing. Is there something that person did that, done differently, would have reduced the risk of becoming the victim of the crime. When we establish that we establish the risk to ourselves and also establish how we can protect ourselves and our family from becoming victims.
Female2 I think it’s like anything. Too much is bad. Focusing totally on nothing but your safety means that you will miss out on a lot of awesome stuff, not focusing at least a little means ‘bad’ things can and will probably occur.
What we forget is that towns used to live under siege for many, many years sometimes and the people would get used to the sounds of warfare and just get on.
Heightened awareness is not a bad thing.
To me what has changed about stranger awareness is that WE are more aware of the dangers. 50 years ago no one thought a thing about letting your kids run mad, the dangers were still there but we didn’t talk about or acknowledge them. Now we have pulled the bogeyman out of the closet we are not sure how to deal with it.
Damian Perry Holy crap this became a very in depth discussion.
Male2 It’s certainly a lot better than some other discussions i’ve ever seen on the subject! A rational discussion on a sensitive subject is a rare and wonderous thing.
Male2 Some parallels between the MH17 shootdown here… lots of comments like “how dare you blame Malaysian Air! The people who shot it down are at fault, not the pilot who flew a plane where shootdowns were known to occur”
Don’t blame the victim. Don’t blame the victim. Don’t blame the victim. There’s no other way around it. Men will never really understand how women feel, but through discussions and actually listening to what is being said, we can start to get an idea.
That’s out and about now. I can get back to some slightly lighter topics.
“You look nice today,” my wife said a couple of days ago. She looked at me. “I think it’s the beard.”
How’s this look?
In other news, Madonna posted a photo on Instagram that briefly broke the Internet:
Women everywhere jumped to Madonna’s defence. Anyone who made a negative comment was instantly branded as being sexist.
“A woman’s body is her own. She can do anything with it that she likes, you sexist beast!”
This is true. But having a preference isn’t sexist.
My wife likes me in a beard. She prefers me with a beard. She thinks I look better with a beard. Other girlfriends have hated the beard. The beard must go. They would never date anyone with facial hair. Or chest hair. Or back hair. And no, I’m not posting photos of that.
Not to mention this look:
I was having a very positive online dating experience with a girl. We’d emailed back and forth for a few weeks and were ready to meet up for the first time. And a couple of days beforehand I did Shave for a Cure.
She almost had a heart attack when she met me. She was very attracted by the hair that I had. Less attracted by the weird bald creature that turned up to our first meeting.
It is completely ok to have a preference for the hairy or hairless look. If you choose to have leg hair or underarm hair, wear it proudly. But people will judge you. If you grow a beard or shave your head, that’s fine. But people will judge you.
You can’t call someone sexist for having a preference. If you call them out on their preference and they tell you “Oh, they look like a man” or “it makes them look less feminine” or “women need to keep themselves nice for us men” then you may slap them with something heavy.
I alternate between bearded and shaven for various reasons. Movember is one. Winter is another. I’ll shave my beard again soon for the production I’m doing up in Emerald. Sometimes I shave or grow a beard for a costume. Sometimes I just want a change. But I’ll admit that I have a beard more often than not now, because my wife likes it.
First up: WordPress got annoyed at me because I haven’t logged on in 180 days. I have no excuse. This year has been one of extreme lack of creativity. I’ve still achieved a great deal, but I’ve actively avoided anything involving writing. This is the first year since I learned to write that I haven’t written any number of stories. And I think my brain needed the break.
But now my brain is itching to create again. I’ve already started extending some chapters of Finding Damo and outlined a few short stories and plays. Come the summer (if Melbourne experiences summer at all this year) I’ll be up to my eyeballs in creative juices and spitting out new stuff left right and centre.
Can you believe that I just taught a class on not using clichés?
The overt reason that I stopped writing was the below entry. I wrote it. I planned on using a heap of pictures I drew over my high school years. I wanted to discuss it with a couple of people who had joined me in the hell that was Kyabram Secondary College.
And then I left it. I’d thrown out the pictures. The responses from my friends confused me.
And now 180 days have passed.
At about 90 days, I wanted to just post something. But by that time, anything that I wrote would have to be spectacular to justify the delay. A number of what could have been very interesting blog entries have died because they didn’t match up to the gap.
But now I’m done with school for the year. My brain itch is forcing me to write. I have a dozen topics I want to discuss. So I’m going to post this entry, fantastic or not, pictures missing, and then get on with my life.
So, here goes:
School is Hell.
I wonder if anybody actually enjoyed going to high school. Primary school, for the most part, is fun. There’s a heap to learn, and the teachers usually present it in a way that involves making posters and dioramas. Even the bullies don’t hit as hard.
I’ve been thinking almost constantly about my feelings towards high school. If anyone asks me how my high school years were, I instantly respond with “Oh God. I hated them. Worst years of my life. I was bullied constantly from year 8 onwards. It was Hell.”
In Year 8, a knob called Stewart decided to draw on my pencil case with a permanent texta. I didn’t want him to and knocked the texta away, causing it to draw a line across his shirt.
“You bastard. Don’t you know that our family is poor and I can’t afford to buy a new shirt?”
And that, to me, was the catalyst. His friends jumped on his side. And suddenly school was a horrible place to be.
And to be sure, that statement is a bit reductive. Is reductive a word? I’m sure that there were a number of reasons, slowly building, that would have had me excommunicated from my social circle around that time. But at the time, it seemed like a pretty slim excuse to get me thrown out of my friendship group.
They jumped on my “attack” on this kid as an excuse to ditch me, and it spread through the year level.
The best thing that could have happened to me was my trip to Canada in 1989. Dad worked out an exchange and we were going with him. A year’s break from Kyabram was just what I needed. The students even had a (grudging) going away party for me when I left at the end of Year 8.
I’m getting to a point, but hear me out.
When I was in Year 10, my issues were more with a couple of absolute tools than with the school in general. One moron who promised me that he would “push your head through the wall and watch your brains leak out.” His name is Joel and I’m really hoping he’s in prison being stabbed with a shiv. He’d lay in wait for me, so that I had to take the long way around the school buildings to get out without him seeing me.
The other was a dropkick whose name I really should remember. He would casually push me around for the hell of it. He was… Shannon*? He was a burly lad with a good following of hangers-on and a desire to make my life difficult. Issues with him came to a head when I was on the Central Australia camp. He pushed me to the ground because the concept of me was annoying to him.
* 2018 edit: You can see in the comments the one I received from Shannon. I honestly remember being friendly with Shannon. I know I have a couple of friends who he wasn’t friendly to. I remember being pushed to the ground. The guy was a year older than me, was an arrogant sod. Apparently not Shannon. So, sorry Shannon, for slandering you in my blog. I need to find my drawings and Central Australia placemat to find out who was on the trip. No more random namedropping without proof.
Hamish was a good friend of mine in Primary School and Year 7. Seeing as I’d come from a catholic school and moved into the state system, he was my link into the group of friends I had in high school. His turning on me was one of the more hurtful things that happened to me. Honestly though, he turned out to be an absolute dick, so I’m probably better off without him. I caught up with him at a night club when I was in university with Scott something-or-other, another “good” friend from those early years. They were belligerent and bullying, something I thought I’d left behind from school. But neither of them actually accomplished anything with their lives, so I’m not overly fussed by their opinions.
So, the point: I have some incredibly strong negative associations with school. But if I list all of my memories of school in two columns, I’m pretty sure my positive associations will be stronger than the negative.
Let’s give it a shot, remembering the fact that these are all pretty specific, and you might be lost. Bear with me. I’m unburdening.
Damo’s list of school memories, separated by positive/negative bias:
Bullied by Joel. of course, this went on for most of a year, so it’s up there.
Bullied by Shannon someone.Not a major memory. just that one incident on camp that sticks in my mind.
Ostracised by friends in year 8.
Zoe Kennedy – always looking to pick on a kid for something.
Mr Ryall, who I annoyed on a Biology camp and who took it out on my brother. He’s a lot nicer now, btw.
That evil cow… what was her name? She was doing the production instead of Lance Twentyman (he’s another blog completely!). And we just bumped heads from the beginning and it ramped up as the production went on. And I’m sure, through a teacher’s eyes, that I was a difficult prima-donna, but she was evil.
The Year 10 city camp. A couple of kids got done for shoplifting. One girl got pregnant while her friend watched from the bottom bunk. And my friends weren’t talking to me after my breakup with Shereen.
All the zits and the medication for the zits. And the mood changes caused by the medication for the zits.
Fighting Jason – the only fight I’ve ever been in in my life. It lasted less than 10 seconds. I didn’t win.
Attempting to sing Time Warp at a school social and the DJ turning off the music and kicking me off the stage.
Being put into a remedial PE class.
PE class in general.
And that’s pretty much it. There is probably a lot more, hidden away and popping up as I remember, but considering my dislike of the institution, that’s a pretty short list.
The Year 7 Pram Drag – we always ended up being completely covered in mud.
School productions. Again, this is probably a different blog. A happier blog. But highlights included:
Bats – dressing up as Dracula
Pippin – King Charles
Roll Over Beethoven and being a member of Kiss and the Beatles.
Vanessa Walker, who I’ve never been able to find through cyber-stalking, but who was a vibrant, happy personality, and who left at the end of … Year 7?
Shereen and Nat and that group. Happy, cheerful, fun-loving people.
Amanda and Grant and that group.
Justin Thompson, Jason Morris, Jason D and Lyle, who were my main social group in Year 11 and 12.
Craig Grummit, who introduced me to Queen and showed me what you could do with computer programming.
Georga Evans in Year 8 and Year 10. And linked to that:
Being asked to be a deb partner, but better still:
Not having to actually be a deb partner (she had to have an operation on her foot).
Literature. With Julienne Sinclair – an absolutely marvellous individual.
Biology and our two male Guinea Pigs that were meant to breed.
Photography class – for the week I did it.
Getting copies of Wired World of sport on copied cassette tape.
The computers – the first IBMs I’d worked on. I hacked the password and replaced all of the software links with games.
Maths tutoring with Mick Walsh.
Graphic design and my In Line for the Dole Queue VCE top design (which wasn’t taken up).
Going out in Shepparton.
A VCE Info Tech weeklong camp looking at Technology and my first taste of the Internet.
The school library, which was a haven and a constant source of books.
Chatting with Nick, who was weird but very knowledgeable.
Piano lessons with Sharon Leppard.
Home economics. Learning to cook is something I will never regret.
The positive list is way longer than the negative list. I had some very positive experiences at high school. Being bullied is hell for anybody. And it coloured my perception of high school for years. But now I can look at the experience as the growth experience that it was. I’ll never forgive the idiots who felt the need to torture me through high school. But I can now realise that it wasn’t all bad.
I emailed this to a couple of people I went to high school with to see if they had the same perception of what I was going through. This led to a very interesting conversation. Part of that was “You realise that nobody’s going to get anything out of this, because it’s all incredibly specific?”
The rest of it is below. Names removed to protect the innocent.
Friend 1: I asked him what he remembered of my experiences in High School, as I might have blocked out some of the worst stuff.
“We went to high school?” he said. His experience was as traumatic as mine. He was surprised and upset to find out that I’d had this experience in high school. He told me about his own experiences – beatings and pranks and humiliation throughout primary school that still upsets him. He went to a school reunion hoping that things had changed to find that these people were just as ignorant and juvenile as they had been in primary school.
He has good memories of high school as well, but they are also overshadowed by the crap that happened alongside them.
I went to a reunion. I think it may have been 10 years. I enjoyed myself immensely. Most of the people I didn’t want to see didn’t show up and the people that were there were all very nice. It was a pleasant evening. The people at the reunion were people who didn’t get involved in the bullying. Of course, they didn’t actively stop it, but that’s pretty standard for high school.
The other comment from my friends was that it was good to know that even though we were in our own bubbles, not knowing what was happening to the others, that there was someone else out there who knew how we felt.
And finally, that it was sad that we travelled together through this journey, but also completely alone.
This blog started off being something strange and quirky and quickly became a quite deep conversation on religion. I’ve done studies into the Church and the Catholic faith over the years, being a Catholic school teacher. I’ve taught Religious Education and try always to approach it from the point of view of acceptance and tolerance first, as the best priests I’ve known have also preached. Below are some of the thoughts I’ve had. The scholarly writing I’ve put together has always gotten me into trouble, but it seems to be based on solid research and interpretation. Enjoy. Or don’t.
Send more Exorcists!
So the pope apparently tried to perform an exorcism on a disabled man during an appearance (1, 23). Exorcism experts say that he was reciting prayers for ridding a person of evil spirits. The pope’s peeps insist that he was only praying over the man, as he usually does when meeting sick people.
However, a spokeswoman for the church in Madrid says that exorcism is real and there is a plan to train up more exorcists to fight the devil in Spain. The devil came down from Georgia and just kept on going.
I posted this on Facebook and a friend immediately came up with these statements:
“Hmmm… I might give Madrid a miss until they have their demonic possession problem sorted out.”
‘Or maybe it’s a trap? “Our demons are hungry. Please send more exorcists.”‘
Catholics are weird. I should know, I am one. But the church in general, being the starting point for the Christian religion, has just held onto all of the things the other flavours have given up on.
Celibacy for leaders of the church.
Disappeared in most denominations when they realized that it was completely untenable and caused more problems for the community than a holy man who dared to love someone else apart from God.
People sin. A sinner can’t get into Heaven. But if you have a priest absolve you of your sin, that’s all good. Tell the priest what you did. He’ll give you some Hail Marys and Our Fathers, and send you on your way, blameless as a newborn child.
That’s an insultingly simplistic view of the rite. You have to want and ask for forgiveness. You need to repent. And if you’ve wronged someone, often the priest will suggest as part of your penance that you tell the person and ask for their forgiveness as well. It depends on the priest. But for years, I went to confession, sat in the booth, very aware that the priest knew exactly who I was, and confessed that “I took the Lord’s name in vain. I had impure thoughts. I fought with my brother and didn’t respect my parents”, took the penance of prayer and went on with my life. I’m pretty sure confession only works when you’re confessing to a priest you don’t have to deal with every Sunday as an altar boy.
That reminds me of a joke, the punchline being: “A Mars Bar and a can of Coke”. You’re not getting any more out of me here, that’s for sure.
No women priests.
I’ve actually done research on this one. And although hundreds of church leaders and scholars came up with a different interpretation, I can’t find any reason why women can’t be priests. So, to finish off, here are some excerpts from an essay I wrote on the subject:
Modern scholars and Christologists interpret the Gospels and the life of Jesus from the basis of their own world views. There is no such thing as objectivity. Our world is not Christ’s world and our culture is not His culture. Having said that, we can still take valuable lessons from the words and deeds of Jesus. We can definitely use his actions as written in the Gospels to provide examples on how to react to certain issues in contemporary society.
In society today, one of the greatest issues is the equality of the sexes. The equal treatment of men and women in the workforce and in the minds of the people. Part of that equality should be the ability for both men and women to be ordained in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church makes an illogical argument for not ordaining women and ignores the message of Christ’s actions as set down in the Gospels.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994, p394) tells us that women cannot be ordained because:
“The Lord Jesus chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose the collaborators to succeed them in their ministry.”
Taking the argument that anyone not chosen by Christ* cannot be ordained as a priest can lead us in a terrifying direction. No Asians were chosen. No people of colour. No disabled people. The negative argument is far too limiting. We need to look at the intentions of Christ and his Ministry, as well as the world that he lived in.
The Jesus Christ of the Gospels was all-inclusive. He dealt with and welcomed thieves and tax collectors, prostitutes, the sick and foreigners.
And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:3)
He had a special place in his heart for children.
But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. (Luke 18:16)
Most importantly, he always treated women equally to men. In a society where women “had no official place in religion”**, the Gospels make a point of mentioning Jesus’ interactions with women, especially in Luke’s Gospel. Women were clearly important in Jesus’ eyes.
Jesus called upon women to be disciples, as well as men. His message was that the call to discipleship and the “message of the kingdom” was to come before “social and family patterns” (Notes, p33). Women such as Jesus’ mother, Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha and Joanna were called to follow him and pass on the message he was preaching. More significant is the fact that it was Mary Magdalene and a number of women who brought the Good News of Christ’s resurrection to the Apostles***. The angels at the tomb reminded the women of Jesus’ words, “that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” (Luke 24:7) The women went to the apostles and others to tell them. It is hard to claim that women cannot preach the Good News when it was women who were the first to do so.
And, being that this is a blog with research, here is the research that I did! Proud of me?
Before I begin I need to reiterate to any new Damo Finders that I very rarely do research before I rant. This blog does not contain scholarly rigour and I freely admit that pretty much anything I write here could be completely untrue.
You have been warned.
Once again, I’ve returned from coaching a debating evening filled with the half-formed thoughts of Year 9 students. This time, they were asked to argue “That children should not be incarcerated”. From what I could gather, they were arguing that children (legally, those under the age of 18) should not be held in detention, put in prison, taken to juvie, or the like. It was a challenging topic, especially for our side, who were trying to convince the audience that even a murderer would benefit more from a kind word and some therapy than a stint in the pokie.
Their arguments were that children’s minds are not fully formed before the age of 18 and that they cannot distinguish between right and wrong, and therefore cannot be held accountable for their actions and should not be punished for them. That placing children into institutions puts them in contact with other criminal types, increasing the risk that they will become hardened criminals through association.
The negative team’s best argument was that if the Victorian Police are willing to give a 12 year old a gun license, they must be pretty damn sure that the child knows the difference between right and wrong. They also felt that the greater good of society needed to be taken into account and that a murdering child needed to be removed from society for the good of society.
Good arguments. What do I think?
It is completely possible for a child to be a psychopath. A child doesn’t turn eighteen and then lose the ability to empathise with others. As far as I know, psychopaths are born, not made. There are children that are, if not evil, then at least completely amoral. They either can’t tell the difference between right and wrong, or they know and don’t believe that such distinctions apply to them.
If a child kills or assaults someone, not through an accident or loss of control, but through careful planning and forethought, that child can’t be allowed to continue to exist in society. Who knows? Maybe they can be “cured” or “rehabilitated” through intensive therapy. Maybe not. But until they are judged fit to coexist in society, they are requested to leave the pool. Play time’s over.
Those are the extreme cases. Remember James Bulger? Jon Venables and Robert
Thompson – both ten – stole the two year old from a shopping centre. They walked him around town, beat him and kicked him, and then killed him and left him on the train tracks.
Did you know they moved them to Australia? Gave them new identities and gave them to us.
One of the important concepts highlighted in this case is that of “Doli incapax”. Legally there is a stage that a child can be held responsible for their actions. That they understand the concepts of right and wrong, and that death is a permanent state. Back in the early nineties, once it had been judged that the boys understood that death was permanent, they could be tried as adults. I’m pretty sure that’s no longer the case.
Either way, the argument is for or against putting children into detention. I say yes, for murderers and insane evil little Chucky clones (ever see The Good Son?) but no to those who commit crimes against property.
Sticking a child in detention that has been done for shoplifting or similar is like creating a master class for junior thieves. You can find out all sorts of nifty tricks when you hang out with other people with a similar mind frame.
“I’ll swap you some breaking and entering skills for some tips on pickpocketing.”
More to the point, incarceration creates an institutionalised child. It’s not a natural society. The pecking order is similar to prison. The concepts of helping out a fellow inmate or being kind are beaten or terrified out of the child and they learn that being stronger than the next person is the way to be. How is that going to help them in the real world?
Some would say it’s a perfect lesson. I say it’s the top of a slippery slope to hell.
I deal with teenagers every day. Only once in a blue moon do I have to deal with a child around whom I am genuinely uneasy. There is good in almost every child. But there is always the exception to the rule.
I’ve seen a student who was the most surly, angry boy in the school smile with genuine appreciation when I told him his work was good. I can’t say that his attitude changed that much, but his mother told me during parent/teacher interviews that he really liked my class and talked about it a lot at home.
Childhood in general is like Lord of the Flies. The power plays and shifting alliances are complex and endless. Teenagers are in constant fear of being embarrassed, of breaking an unwritten rule, of being ostracised or excluded. The rules are many and you often only find out you’ve broken one after it’s too late. And everything is done under the shadow of the authority figures in their lives.
We can only be the best role models we can be. We can listen and give advice. We can point them in the right direction and hope that something sticks. And we can fire up their imaginations so that they have more productive ways to exhaust their energies.
But if they’re out there killing people, then hell yeah, lock ’em up.