Wednesday, July 29, 2009


January 13th, 2009

Dear Bernard,
Can I take you back a few weeks to a telephone conversation we had? I'd rung you after watching the particularly inspiring Lakes District episode of Griff Rhys-Jones' Mountains BBC-tv series. Griff was in top form --he's literary, intelligent, very amusing & enviably fit! He emulated Coleridge's leaps down precipices, albeit assisted by ropes & pulleys & professional climbers --one certainly wasnt going to follow him in that --and he walked in the footsteps of one of your (I almost say 'holy') men, Alfred Wainwright. It was at that point --my head full of the Romantic poets & Wainwright's pleasant & seemingly accessible walking trails --that the question presented itself : What is the British context for the 'Dharma Bum'? The immediate answer might be : poetry, walking (hills, moors, woods, coasts), art, pottery & craft, photography, traditional & contemporary religious practice... You responded with a laugh : That's my life you're describing (health & opportunity permitting)!

Staying with this British angle, a word around & about Jim Burns, inspired not so much by his book, Beats, Bohemians and Intellectuals (edited & introduced by John Freeman, Trent Editions, UK, 2000), but what I hoped it contained when i returned to it this past winter. Old amigo John Freeman's introduction sets the scene, accurately claiming that "Burns' criticism is a one-man crusade against the star system in literature", since "he is interested in the whole picture, to which the bit players and technical staff also make essential contributions." It's a "crusade on behalf of the forgotten" Freeman says --or those who'd be forgotten were it not for the certain kind of literature in which Kerouac's project, for example, is also found.

I too feel a nostalgia for that era of American Bohemians & progressive writers of whom Burns is so fond. It was a model of creative non-conformity & the confluence of life & art. The time I encountered it in my reading I was similarly defined. I'm nostalgic because I've changed/life's changed... I remember some years ago confiding to Alan Pose that to a great extent I'd "lost History" because of massive & cumulative disenchantment with left-wing politics, but experiencing the concerts of Martin Carthy & The Watersons, & Roy Bailey & others, in the'90s had returned History to me. At least initially (--recall exploding in disbelief last year at a Brunswick Folk Festival concert when Alistair Hewlett invoked Hugo Chavez as first of the 21stCentury's saviours; Dave Swarbrick continued tuning his fiddle)... Raising roses out of the rubble (a la Allen Ginsberg's Sunflower Sutra?!) is one, & an abiding, thing, but rabble-rousing is too much of the blood & fury of the something-else I no longer believe.

You'll recognize some of my early favourites in Jim Burns' roll-call --Erskine Caldwell for example, Kenneth Patchen, & the writers identified with 1920s Greenwich village. And then there are the Beats themselves --particularly John Montgomery & Lew Welch, & Seymour Krim as a devoted commentator. At one time many of us drew from the same source. There's a larger story here about life in the English provinces predisposing one to an American counter-culture which had, one felt, reacted to a similar impoverishment & saved its soul. However, the wheel turns.

It was an article Alan pose showed me, by Iain Sinclair (Man in a MacIntosh, published in The Guardian, 30-8-08), essentially discussing forgotten English novelists --Londoners of course; Sinclair's eternal & apparently infinite patch --the import of which, at least for me, is the constant fecundity of the local and the necessity to know & celebrate its particulars & exemplars. England, it seems to me --I remember exclaiming to Alan --owns a cultural density enabling constant rediscovery & reevaluation of people & their scenes & times. Much more than in Melbourne, I said. But no sooner made the claim than retracted it --: even with the thinner history of settler Australia, forgetfulness is endemic! I'd begun my own reclamation project in the 1980s, publishing my 1960s diaries & notes concerning La Mama & the emerging new poetry scene, and then pushing back to the '50s & '40s for roots, and intending then to bring the whole thing back to the present. But I shelved it all the moment I stopped producing H/EAR magazine in 1985. (I've been thinking of re-asembling it within the magazine space of my blog recently --the blog might now be the best medium for my concept of the 'active archive'.)

And so, returning to Beats, Bohemians and Intellectuals, I was disappointed not to find anything local. Jim Burns says that his 1967 article, The American Influence, "has dated in the sense that some of the facts have changed." --but he doesnt repudiate his original statement : "I suppose I am, in a way, an exile in my own country. (...) In fact, I can't honestly say I feel very much part of English life in general. I'm probably in a position similar to the American expatriates in paris in the 1920s, moving around the areas i know best, ignored by most of the locals, and in touch with a few literary acquaintances by mail, and a few local friends because of our interest in jazz and drink." What I hoped I'd find in Burns' collection was something else on British '50s & '60s predecessors --though, predecessors of whom & what? Without the dharma, who & what are these (notional) bums?!

It's forty-odd years since the Sixties, and boxed sets to prove it! And there are fiftieth anniversary editions of the seminal Beats, not to mention "The Original Scroll", before us. Are Griff's mountains --Lakes District, Wales, Scotland --the closest our English selves will get to Taoist & Buddhist Asia, not to mention the Beats' Tamalpais & etc?

Happy New Year!

Love, Kris


Weymouth/Dorset, UK
19 April-16 July,'09

Dear Kris,
I'm floored by your question in the last letter and by my life's current events. To touch upon the latter : earlier this year it was realized that Mum had Alzheimer's. Her short-term memory-loss impacts on life here sharply. In some ways we have a normal life given she's coming up 85, but to cap it off she's had a fall in town and fractured her hip. Looks like she'll be in hospital quite a while. Anyway, it's some respite for me to write if I can get into gear.

As to your question -- "What is the British context for the Dharma Bums?" -- hmmm? To me Dharma Bums seems an essentially American trait. Americans are so 'open'. They 'let go' and 'go for it'. Put their all into things. Not that the British don't. They're eccentrics, their trait is eccentricity -- people of the ilk of Griff Rhys-Jones whom you mention. But they don't seem able to accommodate the spiritual. That is, the artists don't. Dharma Bum for me says 'Buddhist', 'artist', 'Bohemian', 'poet', 'free spirit'... a merging of all these. I don't aspire to be an English Dharma Bum! Have never felt English English. As an Egyptian said to Mum, "But you're not Egyptian Egyptian." Anyway, the British don't do it for me. Just isolated pockets here and there I relate to. But as I said, I'm not English English. Am I labouring the point?

Poetry : I look to Chinese, Japanese and American models. Jazz : Americans (I mean, Courtney Pine, for instance, is not a great musician -- innovative but not great). And there's no U.K. Buddhist magazine with the profile of Tricycle, Buddha Dharma or Shambala Sun, tho' I 'enjoy' the Journal of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives. But that is a dedicated Soto Zen publication.

There is no hint of Dharma Bummery in Rhys-Jones or his Mountains t.v. series, though I do like it. And I've been watching Julia Bradbury in the footsteps of Alfred Wainwright (A. W.). I watch all the walking programmes. I don't think Dharma Bum comes into it. One of two Brits I have regard for and makes me think 'Dharma Bum' is Bill Wyatt. (I don't know if Bill Wyatt and Ken Jones relate to being Dharma Dums. Both are poets and Buddhists.) Wyatt's latest is Gleamings from the Throssel's Nest (Longread Publishing, 2005). 'Throssel's Nest' refers to Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey up in Northumberland, where Wyatt goes for retreats. Initially Jiya Kennett forsook her native England for the U.S. There was antipathy from the British Buddhist establishment on her return from Japan. The U.S., as usual, was more accommodating.

The other, Ken Jones, I'm tempted to also call a Dharma Bum, but wonder if he's more the 'Pilgrim Fox' of his self-styled persona? See Pilgrim Foxes : Haiku & Haiku Prose by Ken Jones, James Norton & Sean O'Connor, published by Pilgrim Press, 2001. From the blurb, "These three writers are on a spiritual quest. They are foxy pilgrims. But fox is a trickster, a shape-shifter. And this quest about how to make sense -- or nonsense -- of our lives is far from straightforward." So, it is a spiritual quest not dissimilar to being a Dharma Bum. But I don't think they identify with what is essentially an American manifestation. Jones is the pick of the three. Also, his Stallion's Crag : Haiku & Haibun (Iron Press, 2003), and Arrows of Stones : Haibun (British Haiku Society, 2002) are top notch. Jones is well known and respected on the British Buddhist scene, and widely published.

Beyond these two I haven't found anything to get excited about in respect of Dharma Bums in Britain. In any case, activity is all very well, but what about mind? Walking in itself doesn't make a Dharma Bum. As Arthur Braverman writes, "Most of the foreigners in Kyoto in the early Seventies were wanderers and bearers of an exciting new consciousness. we would strike up conversation with each other on trains or in coffee-shops. These people don't look like dharma bums. But there again, neither do I. Are they exchange students, businessmen, or simply tourists?" (Living and Dying in Zazen, Weatherhill, 2003.)

On the bus back from Dorchester hospital this afternoon, after visiting Mum, I started reading A Blue Hand by Deborah Baker (Penguin, 2009). It's "The Tragicomic, Mind-Altering Odyssey of Allen Ginsberg, a Holy Fool, a Rebel Muse, a Dharma Bum and His Prickly Bride in India." This is the real deal for me! The Americans have it!

So, who's to know? Dharma Bum aint visible in U.K., but things do go on.

Your aspiring Dharma Bum of a brother,


Tuesday, July 28, 2009




(a review of Delinquent Angel, the biography of Shelton Lea by Diana Georgeff, published Random House, Australia, 2007.)

romantic |rōˈmantik; rə-|
1 inclined toward or suggestive of the feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love : a romantic candlelit dinner.
relating to love, esp. in a sentimental or idealized way : a romantic comedy.
See note at sentimental .
2 . of, characterized by, or suggestive of an idealized view of reality : a romantic attitude toward the past | some romantic dream of country peace.
3 (usu. Romantic) of, relating to, or denoting the artistic and literary movement of Romanticism : the Romantic tradition.
a person with romantic beliefs or attitudes : I am an incurable romantic.
(usu. Romantic) a writer or artist of the Romantic movement.
|-ik(ə)lē| |roʊˈmøn(t)ək(ə)li| adverb
ORIGIN mid 17th cent. (referring to the characteristics of romance in a narrative): from archaic romaunt [tale of chivalry,] from an Old French variant of romanz (see romance ).

When I heard there was a biography of Shelton coming out, it was a bag of mixed emotions. Good that the enfant terrible was to be noted, celebrated probably, by the machine which loves to punish poets in the worst way – that is, to ignore and to not publish. And emotions from a darker zone because I had not been consulted for biographical data. I coulda been a contender, I could have been somebody in that biography.
Okay…To be sure to be sure, I was but a minor player in just the B Role of Shelley’s (I was gonna say ‘braggadocio’ life. But I don’t mean that in a rude way, I think I mean ‘shining’, or ‘romantic’) life. But like all of us who knew him, I felt that I knew him.
There had been one line which only Shelton, a policewoman, a quite comatose drunk and I were witness to. Reading the book, as I have now done, I can see that the comment by Shelton to the ‘jack’ really was made for this book. It was perfect as a window into his way, into the journey and moral righteousness that was this knockabout poet. Shelley was a lover. A lover of life. Abide with me while I regail:
Spinning out of the Albion Hotel *one night, Shelton and I were headed Christ Knows Where(* the Albion was on the corner of Lygon and Faraday in Carlton, now replaced by a frock shop and in the early seventies, chockerblock with artists/panhandlers/pricks/ponces/partygoers/poets/physicists/novelists/Pram Factory etc etc plus the odd murderer) when he spots a policewoman with a divvy van (we used to call them the Black Maria back in South Australia—or my Scots grandmother did, and maybe it is so in Victoria too) loading a bloke in to the lock-up.
Shelton is outraged at the spectacle and confronts the uniformed woman with a snarled (and I quote verbatim because of the strong impression of the moment…) "Any man who turns the key on another man is a dog!”
I got him out of there, as I didn’t want to see us in the divvy van too, and the copper was glad to see the back of us.
The title of the book about Shelton – Delinquent Angel – is a just title. It is perfect for the boy. And I do like the book. With reservations. It has been researched up the keister, apart from missing out on a few essential spectators to the Romantic life that Shelton lead.
A friend of ours, Billy Baker (not a poet, not a published poet, but a face from the Albion and the times) ran with Shelton in the teenage years. Billy knew a lot, a real lot about Shelton in those years. The author did speak to Billy on the phone but I suspect she missed a lot of pure gold to be had by an afternoon with Bill talking of Shelley.
That said, the book has many (though not a daunting amount of) pages and reads well and full. Like all great persons, Shelton lead a life that could serve to fill the pages of more than one biography, and each would be worthy…well here I’m in truly hypothetical space, so I’ll say potentially worthy.
I first met Shelton when I wrote for a counter-culture newspaper named The Digger. IT was a great paper, a broadsheet and acknowledged worldwide in the alternative scene as being a class act. Names like (well, actually and in fact) Helen Garner, Virginia Frazer, Phillip Fraser (I think the ‘s’ and ‘z’ are where they ought be), Garrie Hutchinson, Bill Garner, Jenny Brown (now Jenjewel), Ponch Hawkes etc etc worked for the rag.
I had reviewed a book by Shelton and I think the collection included a poem with a line about hammering a dog to death, and I reacted to it. Also Shelton sometimes was a trifle majestic with his language and I being not a great fan of the prosaic. … though some might contend otherwise… anyway, the review I gave was ‘mixed’.
And by chance a few days after publication of the review, at The Albion, someone said that Shelton Lea, I didn’t yet know him, was there. I went up and introduced myself. I said I had written the review. Shelton said he'd read it. Now Shelton wasn’t built like a brick shithouse and his fighting skills were never formalised, as far as I know, and he had no karate belts or martial arts gradings. I was taller and weighed in a division or two heavier. But he could summon the hard eye of a bloke who’ll happily go in. Especially when the honour of someone has been tarnished. In this case, his.
But he said, not in these exact words but near enough…that he respected honesty, as in my equivocating review, and he appreciated that I had faced up to him. Shelley had dash, and he admired it in others, even if, as in my case, the dash was fleeting and minor.
I immediately liked him, and not just because he had no plans to deck me.
Shelton was the true spirit of poetry. The wanderer, you might catch him at a hippy poetry reading here, a library ladies luncheon reading there, or jumping up on the bar of a rough pub somewhere inland to read his work, and almost beggin’ for a punch in the gob.
Over the years I can’t remember a time when to run into Shelton was not an uplifting moment…well, maybe the odd time when he was too pissed to perambulate, or too stoned to dig into his pocket and share what was making him fly.
Hard Time One: He was really angry when the publishing company I was a founding member of –Outback Press – stuffed up the publishing of his poetry collection, The Palatine Madonna, misspelling the cover to make ‘Palantine’.
Of course there is always the obligation of the writer to proofread (you the writer of the book are the one who cares most and knows most, and the chance will never comer again) but…the publisher must wear it. I said to Shelley that I too thought it was shabby and then made it clear that I had been cleaned out of Outback Press (with Mark Gillespie) and that Fred Milgrom and Morrie Schwartz, who had tipped out Mark and me, were the responsible ones. But I won’t venture further down this memory lane, that dark time is not for this review.
Hard Time Two: And the only other time was when somehow he ended up with what I thought was a rare copy of a theosophy book by Madam Blavatsky that had started out that day being owned by me…he didn’t nick it, I gave it to him, but I suspect there was so me sort of hypnosis thing happening. And really, madam Blavatsky wasn’t all that important. Actually I’m just saying that, I wouldn’t know either way.
Speaking of Times: The last time I saw Shelton was at Shelton and (his partner in life) Lee’s place for dinner, a few months before he left this world for parts unknown, or left in parts and unknown, when he invited me and my friend Liz, and a handful of poets, to celebrate the launch of Raffaella Torresan’s book of photography of poets reading live around Melbourne.
Shelton had acted as publisher, and I had written the cover notes. There was, at the dinner party, unfortunately, a moment were voices were raised over an issue (an issue I took seriously), things got a bit testy and Shelton watched from the sidelines. He didn’t jump in and up hold the honor of the situation, as I just assumed (but was not encouraging or wanting or hoping for) would happen. And I guess that’s when I felt something was up with his state…more than just the crook ankle that the walking cane and the slow release morphine started. For normally Shelley would have been front and square.
I don’t mean for this to sound like I think I was a close friend or that I knew Shelley well. Many others knew him better for longer and in a more real way. But I was a close friend and knew him well. (That’s the sort of statement Socrates could make I reckon.)
When he had his bookshop up in North Fitzroy called Dehavillands (the significance is mentioned in the biography I think), I had a book I’d written called The Zen Detective (it was totally unpublicised by the publisher so you’d never know it had been released) and I placed a few in his shop. Sometimes I got cash from a sale (but I kept sales records, I hasten to mention), sometimes, if he was short, I’d swap my sale for a book or two in his shop, and more often than I wished, the invoice had sort of slipped behind a cabinet and we didn’t know what had sold or what he held…After a while, I realised that it didn’t really matter. It was simply a reason to visit, a transaction to have while Shell sat in the back room smoking tobacco lacerated dope, drinking mild grog and swallowing slow-acting morphine (for a broken foot).
It wasn’t as if I thought his poetry was the greatest – but apart from John Forbes and Kris Hemensley and a couple of others, Judith Wright, Slessor, CJ Dennis, I dunno… okay there are heaps of good ones, I dunno…I am not a massive unquestioning fan of modern poetry anymore– but his presence as a poet was perfect. He was poetry. Now that sounds a wee naff, but I dunno how else to say it. Errol Flynn, Lord Byron, Rimbaud, oh yeah,
But back to the book. And I liked the book,to read it is to get a feeling for the regard in which Shelton was held. Is to understand a little of why the title Delinquent Angel is just right. How the wee Shelton was abused, and it is awful to read of this abuse. That poetry saved his life from much much more crime and sorrow is just true.
That poetry gave a grand focus for the rough diamond light blazing from his soul is beyond dispute.
Now there is an episode in the book where Shelton is at a poets' pub in Sydney, I think it was the Rose, Shamrock and Thistle, called the three weeds by locals and poets – I see Wales didn’t get a look-in, I dunno what their national flower is– at a poetry night and Shelton emptied his bladder on a row of Hell’s Angels' Harleys (I think they were Harleys).
I read in the book that Robert Adamson thought it had to be an accident and someone else thought it was deliberate. The outcome was Shelley was bashed a bit by the bikies when they came out.
Well, friends, it was deliberate because I was there, beggin him (well, begging is a bit strong, let’s say trying to appeal to a drunk Shelton’s reason, when he was already upset at the way the bikies were acting inside the pub – and I have no idea what the problem was, but Shelley felt his honor was besmirched, whatever) not to do what I feared he was about to do.
We’d left the hotel together to do what I can’t recall, he saw the row of bikes, I saw the light in his eyes raise in radiance, and he changed the direction of his minor alcoholic stagger. Then he fumbled with the zip of his fly and I yelled out ‘Shelton, don’t, please' (a few tries) and then ‘Shelley, I’m not going to back you up on this one, Shelley you’re on your own..dont please’ etc etc.
Yeah, I admit it, I never had much dash, and Shelton had it by the wheatbag full—although Shelley’s was coupled with a chaotic edge, often.
So he pissed on the bikes, the bikies came out, true to my word I sat back and watched as half a dozen leather clad blokes knocked Shelley about a bit. I mean, he had just done a pee on their prides n joy. He fought back as best he could.
When they stopped, I probably helped him up, I dunno. He had a split lip. Blood. He was happy. Another stoush when he was five out. So if there’s a second edition of Delinquent Angel, I offer this version as the whole truth of a moment in Shelton’s remarkable life.
Take two: Now after writing the above, as luck would have it, the next day I was at lunch in Windsor with Jen Jewel Brown, who is a poet and was Jenny Brown when she wrote for The Digger so many years ago, and she is also literary executrix for Shelley’s Estate. Jen says that there is not a lot of happiness about the biography. For instance she says there is dispute over the use of Shelley’s poetry in the book (a lot is used) and that there are rights’ issues. Among other issues. I will not here break the privilege Jen’s conversation details with me. But it was necessary to mention the above, I felt. If you want to read one view of his life, the biography exists. Yet there was much more to Shelley’s life, and many more views and angles are yet to be shown the light.
If you want to read his work, go to Shelley’s books of poetry.

And that is where I leave it.
colin talbot st kilda july 2009

Colin Talbot is a self-described "minor Victorian novelist". An ex rock columnist for The Australian and existential columnist for Richard Neville's Living Daylights newspaper, he was a founding director of Outback Press in the '70s. Wrote & directed the feature film Sweethearts from his own novel. Last published novel was The Zen Detective. Web,

Sunday, July 5, 2009

TIM HEMENSLEY ARCHIVE, Additions posted July, 2009


There's an apparent seamlessness to Tim's concerns & style, from his commentaries in PUNK PURGE : TEDDY BOY TALES, in the early '80s, to the late diaries & stand-alone pieces of his last few years (late '90s to 2003). A couple of ways of looking at that : he found his style very early and maintained it for twenty years, or he didnt develop much beyond what the precocious writings reveal. Certainly he was ready for a new stage at the time of his death. In conversations over several years he never disagreed that he had some serious fiction in him as well as music & cultural commentary; obvious, too, that so long as he was playing music he'd be writing lyrics which would have had to transcend the narratives of teenage angst at some time. But who knows? Young deaths suspend everything; one's left with questions forever.

Yet it's clear from the start that he's a cultural commentator & a memoirist (which, coincidentally, recalls a recent conversation with Stella Glorie, about the difference between essay & memoir, especially how autobiography is or may be written). I'm addressing Tim but may as well be explicating myself; my way of recording the history which includes oneself, implicating oneself within the historical, feeling this history course one's own corpuscles... It's clear to me also that at least in the writing there's an affinity which begs the question of authorial distinction, though this might well be what any reader feels of a powerfully resonant text : that one's reading accords with the writing to the extent that it occurs within the pulse of the writing, as though two edges of the same perception. In addition, my son Tim is who I am in his skin & on his scene... The gift for me of this period of transcription is in recognizing another manifestation of the Hemensley writer-chronicler. I feel we are "the Elder" & "the Younger" --name-sakes & inscribers of the very same nuance.

--Kris Hemensley
March 16-18,'09--




i thought i'd use this last page [of Punk Purge, #5, ed] to remember a club called The Killayoni Club, one of the best non-pub venues for new music (new wave or rock, not strictly commercial) in the last 3 years. when i was interviewed on the "Behind the Shelter Sheds" (a programme for kids on Radio 3CR, what else could it be!), i named the club as one of 2 places kids (under 15s) could get to see live new wave or punk. a few months alter The Killayoni Club was gone, and the bands scattered to other places far and wide. The Killayoni Club was located in Flinders Lane [Melbourne], and bands such as The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies, Plays With Marionettes, 3 Toed Sloths, Daughters of Charity, and Voix would be the night's entertainment. the first time i went there was new year's eve, 1981. meeting Kathy Buck (manageress) at the door was a surprise (as i thought it was a Polish night-club)! and later on actually meting the performers was something rare, and something which probably hasn't happened since the demise of the 1st wave of punk in this country in 1980. let me point out that the club was NOT strictly a punk club. this 'zine isn't strictly just a punk 'zine. i am a punk, punk is the music i love and therefore i give considerable coverage to punk. but the music and bands who perform at The Killayoni Club hardly ever get any mention in the rock press, & most of the gigs they do are publicised by word of mouth, so there should be some 'zine or magazine that talks about them. one of the bands who (to me, anyway) represents the true KILLAYONI sound was 2D. they played very sixtiesish garage band post-punk rock, very heavy, very psychedelic (ie, garage psychedelia like late Pretty Things, Masters Apprentices, Shadows of Night, Kingsmen etc), very good. even though 2D are gone now and Ifs, Buts & Maybes have taken their place, the energy etc still remains. THE band of the club was The Incredibly Strange Creatures... who were thoroughly improvisational and seemed to alienate most of their audience rather than attract them. Kathy Buck lying on the stage screaming and Jim Buck monotonously saying "she says / she says / she says" while other 'musicians' have arguments through saxophones, was hardly 'fun' or a 'good night out'! punk was supposed to be anti-music-music but the person who said that would probably be choking on their words when they saw The Incredibly Strange Creatures! another band who sometimes appeared there was Three Toed Sloths, consisting of Jim Buck on heavily distorted guitar, and Terry Shannon on bass. with "songs" (ihn th' greyest C'n'W tradischon!) such as 'i'm gonna bust yer ass, you son of a bitch!", Johnny Cash's "angel from vegas" and "i wanna be a worm". of course, no history of The Killayoni Club would be complete without mentioning Royal Flush (plug!!!), who played the club on the "FINAL FLING KILLAYONI THING", final night. oh, i don't know what to say now!! alas, poor Killayoni, i knew it well! P.S. : watch out for the album, "Killayoni Rag", with Royal Flush, The Three Toed Sloth, Ania Walwicz, et al!

(Xmas Eve, 1982)

[NOTE: Melbourne's Missing Link record shop also published a transcription from Punk Purge of the same review in their newsletter, August issue, 2003. Their memorial for Tim Hemensley can be read at ________________________________________________________________


i walk tall. i walk proud. i create the footprints that the stars walk in. i've seen it all, i've seen the aura of many a holy and disturbed man shatter under the strain of a broken ego. i sit on the left hand of god. i share martinis with the living buddha. the virgin mary cooks my meals and moses does my laundry. i never sleep. i'm awake 35 hours a day, 365 days a week. let's get serious : it's 4 a.m. in fitzroy st. and i'm hanging out with the famous and sleazy. the degenerates, the scuz, the scum, i love 'em all. y'see, i'm a high flyer -- live fast. the fast lane is the only lane there is. 200 m.p.h., adrenalin fling thru' my body, running on empty, my head in full throttle. i'll never die. so, 4 a.m., my t-shirt covered in pizza stains, blood, sweat and beer, and i feel good. yeah. GOOD. i'm out of my mind, out of my head, completely whacked, i wanna die, but i wanna live. YEAH. i'm a full blown crazy, a real live one. the undercover cops know me and stay out of my way. the hell's angels guard my front door. the mafia sends me free siccilian lasagna samples. i look down on everything, the world looks up at me. i need nothing, i want everything. i'm on a natural high, helped along by vast quantities of drugs. i'm a loaded, explosive, armed and dangerous mass of manhood.

[Note : "Creative Writing Semester 1, 1988. Well oh wondrous one, let me bask in your aura. Great stuff -- very funny -- excellent use of words -- great juxtaposition of ideas -- great use of cliche as a means of self-deprecating humour, you 'armed and dangerous mass of manhood'! --Graeme Smith, teacher at Ardoch College, Melbourne.]



Dear Keith,

what's happenin' man? You don't know me, but i'm in a band called GOD, we've got some records comin' out on Au Go Go Records. (You've heard of us?) We're doin' a lot of gigs at the moment, 'cept we keep gettin' banned or barred or kicked out of a lotta places, but that's life when you're a young, exciting rock'n'roll band. Anyway, the purpose of this letter is : i'm getting a band together with some of my favourite players, it'll be called SLIM KILLERS, it's nothing serious, just a few gigs here and there, doing lots of my fave songs of all time, maybe write some stuff for the thing? It'll just be good sweaty fun. Mind you, we'll be playing smaller venues than what yr used to, but we'll try for some open-air gigs if the crowds are TOO big!! Anyay, pass the word around, 'cos i want the BEST!! Ask Ronnie Wood. Hey : it'd be coool if youse could both come on down?!
Alright. Anyway, get yrself a copy of "My Pal", the GOD single, and look out for our 12" "PHALLICA" 8 track e.p. Hey, i'll even put your name on the door next time yr in Melbourne, O.K.?
O.K. Take care,
Tim Hemensley

(ca, '87-88)



The first dream occurred in late 1983 or early 1984. Unable to sleep or relax throughout the nite, breaking into a nervous, shaking sweat around dawn.
A gradual feeling of powerlessness, lifelessness, blood being drained from arteries and organs, a sickening buzz in the ears becoming progressively louder, a sense of suffocation and impending doom. Then a voice, talking not in words but images and feelings
awakening with a scream as bodily sensation and brain blood flow was returned.
First dream / first death,
First blood / first fuck,
from now on, all would be tainted with the stench of premonition.


December 1983. The knife was green after being used to stir up paint.
It hurt as i slid it across my left wrist.
Unable to slice through flesh, grinding my veins into a mangled pulp, the blood sprayed as the result of friction.
Blood and skin clung to the paint. Tears ran down my face and the knife turned orange. A small scar the size of a freckle stains my wrist to remind me forever.


In June 1982 i stepped onstage with my school friends Roman and Simon at an inner city rock'n'roll venue and played Punk Rock for one hour without ever having held a bass guitar in my life. Two girls with short skirts and long blonde hair danced in front of the stage and yelled for more when we finished the set.
After the gig i met Jack Bloom (Feedback Jack) who told me it was the best thing he'd seen in 5 years. He took my number and booked us for two gigs, neither of which we played.
Most of the assorted parents and relatives who had gathered to see us were utterly disgusted by the band, the club, the scene. I felt ecstatic, excited, moved. The serpent gave me the apple and i consumed the whole tree.
I am lustful and greedy. My appetite has never been satiated.


The end of another drunken weekend -- bruised, battered and bloodshot.
Xmas Eve '89.
They took our only lord and murdered him so society could breathe easy.
In his name we take up the gun / the guitar -- the weapons of god.

The streets of every city will run with blood --
the sky over Bermuda will glow purple.

(Xmas Eve, 1989)




It's a cold, dark nite in early '70s Rome. As David Hemmings walks home from a rehearsal of his Jazz combo, the heavens open & it begins to rain with a vengeance. Just as suddenly, the tense semi-silence is shattered by the sound of a Woman's screaming; Hemmings looks up in time to witness her murder... Through the window of an apartment on the second story of the building opposite him, a figure can be sen staggering, clutching at the deep knife wounds in her chest & side, then collapsing to the floor. Dropping his clarinet case, Hemmings runs into the building, up the stairs & through the open door of the apartment. The flat appears to be empty, except for the blood-soaked woman, & she is dead. A state of uncomprehending shock grips Hemmings as he crouches over the corpse, & he decides to run to the nearby Police Station to seek help. But as he leaves the apartment, Hemmings focusses on one detail : a framed Photograph of a composed yet fearsome looking Male face on the adjacent wall to the dead woman. Returning to the crime scene with the Police, Hemmings is unsettled by the sensation that SOMETHING has been altered here in his absence. While the bloodied form of the woman & the flat's general disarray is as it was, SOMETHING is missing... While describing the events of the murder (as he saw it) to the Police, Hemmings remembers the framed Photograph. He searches around in vain, but it is no longer there. An investigating officer suggests that the killer may've hidden from Hemmings, then removed the Photo (& himself) when Hemmings left the room. Furthermore, that this suggests the picture holds some clue to the crime. Later, Hemmings returns to the apartment alone & while snooping around for 'clues', he's jarred by a terrifying discovery: on the adjacent wall to where he'd stood over the dead woman, hangs a framed glass MIRROR. What he'd taken, at first glance, to be a Photograph was in fact a reflection of the killer himself, staring cooly back at Hemmings from the wall...


The above description of a scene from "Profundo Rosso", Dario Argento's most masterfully-realised early film, perfectly embodies the quality of the "Giallo" movie: essentially an Italian "Who-dunnit", with all the trade-marks of that genre (cops, killers, red-herrings & a gradually unfolding murder mystery). The wound is 'salted', if you will, by the uniquely European double-whammy of the "Giallo"; the intended 'effect' is Terror, achieved by utilising plot-premisses & action most commonly found in the conventions of Horror cinema. "Giallo" movies are Who-dunnits occurring in a Horror-movie context, yet "Giallo" is more than a 'genre'. It's more accurately represented as an ATMOSPHERE, an attitude & aesthetic approach to Film-making, achieved by photographic technique, lighting, music & plot-line perversity. Unlike the colour suggested by the word, "Giallo" movies are dark, brooding & cold-blooded. Far from sunny, gay Yellow, the rightful colours of these films are dark blue, black & the Deep Red of their more unfortunate characters' blood & grue. Put simply, "Giallo" is Italian for Murder.

(ca late '90s)


Transcription from hand- & type-written manuscript follows Tim's syntax, capitalization, & grammar except for typos & mistakes that would ordinarily have been picked up editorially.
--Kris Hemensley,
July 5th, 2009]