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AS I SEE IT… “Once we were Roadies!!”

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” Said Victor Hugo.13509093_10153626749001766_8637562070675799114_n
I’ve been watching a series called ‘Roadies’ and it has me hooked. I started to drift back to a time long long gone. Nothing but a faded memory in these Autumn years. Never the less, still a beautiful memory. It took me back to dust filled sweat laden alcohol and drug fuelled days of that long hot, wild and beautiful Summer when I became a roadie.
Sure, it was a lot different then to what it is now, but basically the culture is still the same. We were all there for the same adrenalin rush, the thrills, the music, the drugs, the groupie girls, and the excitement of being with the band, on the open road. It was a pure form of what we called “Freedom!” We had broken free of the restrictions placed upon us by controlling parents.. Parents that had not embraced this new world, after all, mother was kept at home, cooking keeping house and being the dutiful wife! (In May of 1955, Housekeeping Monthly published an article entitled, “The Good Wife’s Guide,” detailing all the ways that a wife should act and how best she can be a partner to her husband and a mother to her children.) Looking back, it may feel a little strange to accept these rules today, but it remains so interesting to see how society once behaved. This was still the case in 1968 and even to this day, that stigma remains.

So, how many of us remember wishing we could just quit school and live the free life? After all, it was the 60’s and to take the line from Dylan’s famous song, ‘For the times they are a-changin’ indeed, the times were changing! America was at war with Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand were being pulled into it. We all looked at this unique group of miscreants, ‘The Roadies,’ with many of us secretly wanting to be one of them, albeit for a night or a week. I don’t know about you, but I wanted to be a  ‘roadie’ to escape the reality of the world, to unleash my creativity by writing lyrics and poetry, to rebel, to grow my hair long, wear a black tee shirt and jeans and bright silver chains. Go on a trip and have a smoke! But for others, it was to avoid the draft. No one questioned anyone’s motive for being part of this eclectic group of heterogeneous people. Creativity excelled as we found a multitude of ways to manipulate our parents and peers. We had dropped out of school and for now, the mainstream of society. We were chastised and castigated pretty much by all members of the community, all because we wanted to pursue our dream, to live this open and carefree lifestyle. We were from many different cultures and classes. From the wealthiest of the wealthy to the poorest of the poor, but here there was no class distinction. We were all, as one. All sharing more than the food we had pooled. We shared stories, many horrific stories of growing up in what I can only describe today, as a dysfunctional society. We wanted our taste of freedom.. To taste the golden apple!
But alas, I guess some of us may not remember the 60’s and 70’s all that well these days. The years have taken their toll. The ‘Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll’ have influenced many of our generation. A lot are no longer here to tell the wonderful tales, to reminisce about those precious days filled with a banquet of decadent indulgences. Sadly, we see more and more wonderful influencers of modern music going to prepare for that mighty gig in the sky. There is not a month that passes, where at some point I’m sure we wonder who might be next? It could be a favourite song or special memory that may trigger it.
Now, I must say that being a ‘Roadie’ was far from glamorous. There was nothing luxurious about it. It was a hard graft. Yep, it kept me awake at night, sleeping on a cockroach-infested floor, did not serve as a comfortable bed. More like a penance! Still I persevered. I loved what I did. Met loads of talented people from many different bands. Most today, would have no idea who I was.. I learned a hard lesson in life. One I’ve carried with me all these years…
Sometimes the grass appears greener on the other side, because it has been fertilized by bullshit!
As Victor Hugo said “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”

AS I SEE IT… This is how it is!

common_tables_logo_gold_123c__3__copy_pprfRam Dass once said
“As long as you have certain desires about how it ought to be you can’t see how it is.”
For months, there has been more and more disapprobation in regard to Sharia Law, ISIS, Jihad and Muslims in general. Religious fanatics citing Walid Shoebat as one example and a host of radical videos appearing on You Tube another.. Alarmist websites that are there for one purpose, scaring people and engaging in fear mongering. They’re designed to scare you into believing everything they say is correct.. It is not!

Let me state one thing here and let’s be very clear about it!!
Sharia Law is not going to take over the mainstream Governments in the Western World.. Normal citizens will not be forced to pray toward Mecca or (officially: Makkah al-Mukarramah;) Women will not be forced to wear the burqa  As a matter of interest,wearing the burqa, or niqab, or forehead veil by Muslim woman is not an obligation.. It is a matter of local traditions and cultures. In other words, it is found to be popular in some countries while not in others, according to a specific area and their tradition. As for the Traditional Islamic belief, it is to be favored only if a woman fears to be harmed or to cause harm for others, or, if she is very beautiful, for example.
It doesn’t have a specific shape or form, every woman can have her own style, neither a specific fabric is recommended, even a soft transparent cloth is fine. In effect, the aim is to make face expressions not so apparent, but without hindering the woman’s ability to look, talk, and breathe. (Many thanks once again to my researcher; Dr. Hanay Qoulaq PhD. MPhil. (Middle Eastern Studies)
When I was in the Middle East last year, I spent a good deal of time with many locals.…They were gentle, kind and welcomed me into their humble homes, treating me with the utmost respect..Me, a Westerner! I learned a great deal from these locals about their religion and culture.. I was also surprised to see a number of women in the hotel I was staying at, sharing their breakfast and discarding their veil.
Sadly we have been indoctrinated by these few misguided radical groups and they have managed, like most other cultist groups to install fear into many of us. It is sad, because once again, every situation it comes back to religion..
Here’s the thing, I do not support terrorism,  just as I do not support domestic violence, abuse or discrimination of any kind!! Unfortunately, there will always be radical groups, ready to cross the Rubicon
All they need is one person, just one one person to look at their website, listen to their message, it reverberates!! and they’re off!! You know the saying…”One tells one, two tells four tells eight etc. I’m pretty sure you get the idea!!
The biggest coupe for these radical miscreants has been Social Media…it’s like ‘bees to a honey pot!’ They have new and powerful platforms.. Cell Phones, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc…
My dear friend Hassan will tell a very different story.. He owns a small Kebab shop. His wife and their sons, who are studying at the local University, one to become a Doctor, the other, a Marine Biologist, work long hours to pay their way in this country…They fled from their war torn remains, fleeing the corruption and desolation that surrounded them..
Under the rule of the Ayatollah Khomeini, life was never to be the same..a nationwide referendum resulted in a massive vote in favor of the establishment of an Islamic Republic. Ayatollah Khomeini proclaimed the next day, April 1, 1979, as the “first day of God’s government”. It took a number of attempts and much planning for Hassan to get his family out of their country..They did it with the help of friends and family and are now settled here.. The scars run deep and every day they are reminded of the pain of leaving loved ones behind..
Sadly, we have no concept of what their life has really been like.. We only see what we want to see and will read into it what we will, but at the end of the day we only ‘know what we think we know!’ We have made our minds up as to how it ought to be and that is that!!
The point is this.. because we are all so wrapped up within our comfort zones, the minute there is a post or a media report about an attack or coupe we react! Sad thing here is, every hour of every day there is some attack or gun fired somewhere on this mortal coil.. A child molested, a wife bashed,an Indigenous person berated, a child going hungry because dad, or mum spent the lunch money on the pokies or cigarettes. Another homeless person forced from their shelter because the Church does not like them sleeping in the foyer.. and so it goes…
Just stop for one moment and look at your surroundings.. You are probably reading this post in the warmth of your home, comfortable with a nice hot cup of tea or plate of food…relaxing and thinking about what tomorrow might bring..
You don’t spare a thought for those suffering. No doubt you will watch the news on television, read it on line or in tomorrows paper you may or may not pass comment.. That’s fine…it’s your choice. But…think about this, my friend Hassan will once again be spat at, berated and cursed.. It continues on a daily basis..He does not react publicly, but inside, cries in pain.. He feels sadness for those that do these things to him and his family.. Sad because they are not young kids, but mature adults… He does not call the police because he knows there is nothing they will do. These so called Christians, yes, they are Christians.. spout forth sayings they have been parrot fed because they sadly believe what has been indoctrinated into them by these cultist groups. As Ram Dass said….
“As long as they have desires as to how it ought to be ….they will never see just how it is.”

AS I SEE IT….. Tolerance!!

13322079_10210092394374475_3211243072656483180_n“We all have a Monster within; the difference is in degree, not in kind.”

….. so said Douglas Preston

The events of the last few days has left this world in disbelief… Disbelief that 49 Gay people are dead and another 50 odd injured.. We are reading headlines from around the world…sensational headlines like “HERO TOOK HIT FOR LOVER”  Tweets with the hash tag ‘#TwoMenKissing is something beautiful because love is beautiful! “Love is Love” and profile pics with “We are Orlando” The LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or intersex.) community across the world has been shaken by the attack, which comes during America’s  Pride Month and on the day of the LA Pride parade.
It has been reported that allegedly Omar Mateen (the shooter) saw two men kissing each other in front of his wife and child, and he got very angry.” now, I’m no expert and nor do I profess to have the answers… but, here’s the thing! There is another side to this tragedy..
It’s the side that most would not have known about until the information hit social media and then was picked up by the mainstream networks..
This homophobic maniac who murdered 49 people inside Orlando’s gay-friendly nightclub Pulse, on Sunday morning had been hanging out there for three years — and chatted with men via online dating services like Grindr. Multiple witnesses have claimed to have first-hand knowledge of Mateen’s habits. A former classmate of Omar Mateen’s 2006 police academy class, however, said he believed Mateen was gay. The classmate said Mateen had asked him out.. One couple, who work together as drag-dancing performers, said they’d seen Mateen as many as a dozen times at Pulse. But even his  his ex-wife, Sitora Yusufiy, who was asked on CNN if he was gay, sat in silence for a few seconds before answering, “I don’t know.”
As the rumours circulated that Mateen had been hiding a double life, his father Seddique Mateen insisted his son was not gay.
His ex-wife Sitora Yusifiy, said he was “mentally unstable and mentally ill”, was bipolar and also had a history with steroids.
There is much more still to be discovered about this terrorist.. In the coming days and weeks we will become sick of it.. Sadly, this is the reality of social media today… Everyone has an opinion, right or wrong..
To be honest,  many people are secretly glad this has happened…
You see, these people are homophobic, no, they won’t admit this to you or I..  Surreptitiously, they are elated that this has happened…Not that they are going to come out and state the obvious by putting it in the public arena….  but they are out there!!
I overheard a conversation where a group of tradies were talking about this tragedy. The comments I heard were far than comforting and less than pleasant… I was disgusted, did I speak out? Yes!! You bet I did…   I suggested they think about these poor souls that have lost their lives, just by simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.. I suggested they think about their families and friends, their grief and loss of these beautiful souls…
I suggested they showed some tolerance toward these people and to put themselves in their shoes….
There are some who are just more stupid than brave and will climb on board with the media circus. Just like the Family First Senate candidate from Tasmania.. He sparked fury with his anti-gay marriage tweet.  But….the anger came from the Westboro Baptist Church’s headline..  ‘GOD SENT THE SHOOTER’.. People are paying attention to a group of whacko’s that number less than 50!! “Christians” from Westboro Baptist Church have now entered the picture. The LGBT activists blame Christians for the Orlando attack and on it goes.. Unfortunately, people are forgetting the most important and fundamental of all here is Tolerance!!..
People also forget the role Jihad has played in all of this!  Well, for starters…. it’s Ramadan…
Just to refresh your memory, ‘Jihad’ is an Arabic word meaning conflict, used especially to mean a holy war waged by Muslims against infidels. This is precisely what took place in Orlando.. This terrorist was well organised and heavily armed with an assault rifle, handgun and some other device. It appears that his target may have been Walt Disney World in Florida.
Of course this  would not be a story without comment from Trump would it… He said, “When I am elected, I will suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the U.S., Europe or our allies, until we fully understand how to end these threats.”
You know, for once I’m on his side. I think that he has made a stand and it is one I feel many people just might embrace.. I’m with him on this one!!
As Douglas Preston said…
“We all have a Monster within; the difference is in degree, not in kind.”

“May they rest in peace”


AS I SEE IT….. A question of access ??

“Hard things are put in our way, not to stop us, but to call out our courage and strength.” – Anon: Boat

I have just returned from 10 days in New Zealand.. A beautiful country and described by many as  “God’s little Acre” I’m sure “Aotearoa” needs little or no introduction to you… It is stunningly beautiful and unspoiled in almost every way..  However!!  (and here’s the thing!!) …my time there was spoiled.!! Unfortunately, I’m going to be rather critical of what should have been a seamless relaxing break.  Let me say at the outset, I am a “Kiwi”.. I grew up there, know the country inside/out.. I have over the years worked tirelessly to improve the plight of persons with a disability.. I take no kudos , nor do I wish for any recognition. I was involved with the NZ Government and their very first “Think Tank” on accessibility and disability many years ago..  I was proud to be invited to the table, to offer my meager input. Australia is streets ahead today, sadly. The inroads that have been made here, leave NZ for dust… Once again, this has been due to successive governments being prepared to ‘grow a pair’ and get on with the job of making accessibility somewhat of a priority.. But, yep, there’s a big but!! this sadly seems to have faded into oblivion. One almost gets the feeling of “well, we’ve done enough to shut the commentators up for now” and the attention has turned elsewhere. Yes, there are significant inroads here…Public transport, building access, workplace access, but it sadly has not gone far enough.. People still struggle on a daily basis just to get across the road, let alone even think about going on holiday. this becomes a logistical nightmare…finding suitable accommodation, airline that is going to be sympathetic to the person with the disability and their carer… Not throwing ‘roadblocks’ in their faces just because it is in their ‘too hard basket’

My intention here, is not to make comparisons between Australia or New Zealand, or any other country for that matter, because accessibility is universal and it should be nothing less… In my opinion, it is just the variance and interpretation that differs!  Unfortunately there seems to be a lack of guidelines when it comes to this. Airlines, Cruise Ships, Train Travel and Rental Car company’s all have their own interpretation and the variance is huge!  What needs to be addressed again, some 40 years on from its inception, is the United Nations Charter… The International Year of the Disabled came to light in 1981 and it was a huge leap forward… The hardest part of this was education and sadly, this is still the case in 2016… I digress!! Before leaving for NZ, I needed to make sure that my accommodation was going to be fully accessible.. Sadly this was not the case and even sadder was this involved an international 4.5 star hotel chain. I called this particular chain to confirm that my room was fully accessible…I was informed that this hotel pride themselves on having full access.. Well, I do not know what their definition of full access is, but sadly it was far from acceptable.. Now, most would just accept this as the norm..I did not!  I refused to pay their rate stating that I would have chosen another establishment but as it was late, cold and wet.. (that’s New Zealand for ya!!) and the staff that were on duty when I arrived, had gone above and beyond their station to make my stay as comfortable as they could, I decided to let it slide… As I said, the staff were exceptional all doing what it took to assist.. Free breakfast & drink vouchers… Honestly?? yes! I was very appreciative of this gesture, but all they were doing was putting a band-aid on a severely embarrassing situation.  When it came time to check out, the Executive Manager was waiting at the reception desk, wanting to know if everything had been to my satisfaction… I made it very clear it was not! I explained it was a disgrace! What could they do to improve ? was the question…I simply said go look at other hotels in the chain to see how to get it right.. Also said I was not paying .. No problem, they did not want any fuss as they knew they were not up to standard!

As for the rental car company, they were faultless and could not have done enough… Other motels and hotels have a very different view on access so the lesson here is BEWARE!! Then I visited my old mate who runs a dive charter business. I was his guinea-pig for a new hoist he’s developed and prided himself on being fully accessible..  It was pure magic.. Yep! that’s me on his boat!

AS I SEE IT…. “The Forgotten!!”

Ernest Hemingway wrote..
“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.”11109504_10202784240646800_1687920510832940099_n

Despite what some in the RSL (RSA in New Zealand) along with many others might have you believe,  Australia and  New Zealand were not born at Gallipoli” nor did they‘come of age’ there!!   Unfortunately it was politicians, not historians,  who made this ANZAC myth what it is today – nothing more than a fantasied  idealist retrospect  of what was a bloody catastrophe !!

New Zealand and Australian troops formed an alliance. In 1914, the ANZAC’S were born. ANZAC is the acronym for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and in December 1914 the Australian Imperial Force and New Zealand Expeditionary Force stationed in Egypt were placed under the command of Lieutenant General William Birdwood. Initially the term Australasian Corps was suggested, but Australians and New Zealanders were reluctant to lose their separate identities completely. No one knows who came up with the term ANZAC. It’s likely that Sergeant K.M. Little, a clerk at Birdwood’s headquarters, thought of it for use on a rubber stamp: ‘ANZAC’ was convenient shorthand. Later the corps used it as their telegraph code word. The ANZAC’S first saw action at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. The small cove where the Australian and New Zealand troops landed was quickly dubbed Anzac Cove. Soon the word was being used to describe all Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Eventually, it came to mean any Australian or New Zealand soldier. These forces at Gallipoli were indeed ‘fighting for our freedom ‘and their lives. Alongside this, is received wisdom such as how an Englishman and a donkey somehow embodied the ANZAC spirit and that the Aussies and Kiwis could have succeeded if it wasn’t for British amateurism and tea making.  The merits or accuracy of these legends can be debated endlessly. (According to Mat Hardy Lecturer in Middle East studies at Deakin University.)
However one of the clichés that always irks me is the assertion that at Gallipoli our forces were fighting against Turkey or ‘the Turks’ This is completely incorrect!
Just to further provide some factual evidence, you should know this…
The Republic of Turkey was not declared until 1922 and was only formally recognised in 1923. Prior to that, the place we now call Turkey was the heart of the Ottoman Empire. In 1915 it was Ottoman, not Turkish soldiers that were shooting at the ‘diggers’ (as they later became known) when they hit the beaches in the darkness.
Some will try and get around this hair splitting premise, by saying that the Ottoman Empire is synonymous with Turkish ethnicity. This is also false. Even rolled back from its medieval hey-day, the Ottoman Empire of 1915 still covered a wide patch of turf and this included huge numbers of Arabs, Armenians, Greeks and various Caucasians.
In fact without the assistance of nearly 300,000 Arabs in the ranks, the Ottoman forces would have never been able to bat on for as long as they did in the First World War.  A general policy of making troops serve away from their native lands meant that plenty of the Ottoman troops in the Gallipoli campaign were not ‘Johnny Turk’ at all, but men from the Levant, Iraq and all the far-flung corners of the dying empire.
On the first day of the landings, roughly two thirds of the troops doggedly defending the heights were Arabs, mainly from Syria. They and their like served throughout the war, usually unwillingly. For the Arabs, there was no great love of their Ottoman masters. Many of these conscripts were little more than slave coffles of untrained cannon fodder. Just as Australia has a great deal of national identity invested in Gallipoli, so do the Arabs place a lot of stock in their role fighting against the Ottomans. The Arab Revolt and their use as a guerrilla force against the over-extended supply lines of the Ottomans makes for a good film. This was the point where the noble desert warriors rose up to be a nation again and were to be rewarded with self-determination at the conclusion of the war.
Naturally it didn’t quite pan out that way. The numbers actively involved in the revolt were a fraction of those serving on the other side and the rebels were often from regions where the Ottomans had very little control anyway. Not that it did most of them much good. After the war, the British and French did as they pleased. The Cairo Conference of 1921 saw Churchill and his ‘Forty Thieves’ parcel out the rewards to some favourites and make up some borders, stamping a political geography on the whole Middle East that still persists today. Only two Arabs were invited. Favourites like Faisal and Abdullah were given puppet kingdoms, setting the scene for decades of squabbling and the eventual rise of nationalists like Saddam Hussein and Hafez al-Assad a generation later.
So whatever you think about the idea that Australia was ‘forged’ at Gallipoli, the fact remains that many other nations were, much more literally, born from the ashes of the campaign to solve the Eastern question  Including Turkey.
(Many thanks to my researcher..Hanay Qulacq..)
Now, here are some facts and figures you may like to ponder…The Battle of Gallipoli took place on a small peninsula on two, later three, different battlefields, not far from each other. On one of these fields merely Anzac soldiers (from Australia and New Zealand) fought – and died. In the other two places British and French troops took the Turkish blow. The casualty figures give a good understanding of who suffered:
Australia: 18.500 wounded and missing – 7,594 killed.
New Zealand : 5,150 wounded and missing – 2,431 killed.
British Empire (excl. Anzac) : 198,000 wounded and missing – 22,000 killed.
France : 23,000 wounded and missing – 27,000 killed.
Ottoman Empire (Turkey) : 109,042 wounded and missing – 57,084 killed.
Furthermore 1.700 Indians died in Gallipoli, plus an unknown number of Germans, Newfoundlanders and Senegalese.
( These figures are educated guesses, but still approximate and controversial. They are taken from various sources, i.c. official Turkish, Dr Geoffrey Partington, Bernd Langensiepen, Robert Rhodes James, Spencer Tucker and Geoffrey Moorhouse. )
The British, French, Ottoman Empire and the Indians, along with Somalis are “THE FORGOTTEN” Yes we remember our ANZAC’S and rightly so. Sons, Fathers & Grandfathers pledged their allegiance before their King, just as every nation did with their own Sovereign.

Pointless senseless loss of beautiful lives…For what? In my opinion one of the biggest British balls-ups in history. Our Grandfathers, Fathers, & sons served their country without question…Today we honour these men, but…while we do on this 101st anniversary..Let us also honour “The Forgotten” They too, were Sons, Fathers and Grandfathers.
We all know of someone who fought in that horrendous war at Gallipoli.. We are after all both small Nations. Today this ugly war continues as our troops are now deployed to the Middle East.  Let us remember all who have served and are still serving our countries, as we take a moment  to reflect..
As Hemingway said..
“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.”

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