<b>Song of the Seckii<b/> - A musical insight into the mind of a security guard. (Assumptions, of course.)
On Saturday night, 2nd November, my mother and I went to Manly to celebrate my cousin’s impending wedding. At the door to Manly Wharf Hotel, I was denied entry by the security guard because I was “dressed funny.” I was given the option to change my outfit to which I declined. My mother complained to the manager that it was unfair to be barred on account of my alternative style, and as a result, was asked to leave the premises. This is my letter to that Security Guard.
To the Security Guard at Manly Wharf Hotel,
I need to apologise.
When you denied me entry to your establishment because I was “dressed funny” I immediately painted an ugly picture of you in my mind, envisioning a small-minded, insecure little man blinded by his own views of the world.
But making angry assumptions about others undermines my hope for a society that celebrates diversity and so, I was wrong to have judged you based on our brief encounter.
I don’t know your story. Perhaps you, yourself, struggled in your earlier years to find acceptance. Perhaps your search for individuality was so difficult, you gave in, and like you asked me to do, you changed. Perhaps you thought the best way to survive would be through conformity, and now, as a result, you expect all to think the same way.
I am fortunate to come from a loving and supportive family, who have seen me through the most trialling times in my search for acceptance. In fact, I have spent the last eleven months sober so I can better understand my place in the world.
When my mother saw the humiliation you caused, it seemed understandable that she sought to defend me. But maybe you’ve never had someone care for your individuality, and found her love confronting. Did it scare you enough that you had to deny her entry too?
I’m not sure if you’re a father yet, and if not, I hope one day you’ll have that chance. I hope that your son or daughter will grow up with a family that cares for, and supports them, no matter what they wear, who they love or what path they choose. I hope that you will help nourish your child’s individuality, and like my mother, defend your child if that right to expression is threatened. And finally, I hope that when your child comes to you, having been made to feel invalid or ostracised, and one day it will happen, you will take them in your arms and tell them to be brave. I hope that you will tell them that people can be cruel and unkind, but that we should never change, our clothes or otherwise, because everyone is different, and it is in this that life is beautiful.
So I apologise for my hypocrisy. I apologise for making a baseless judgement upon your character, and I am sorry for expecting you to see the world as my mother and I see it.
Because it is wrong to think we are all the same.
- Hayley Schumann-Mitchell, 24 years old, Narraweena
Too true, fellow battler.
In a street behind Manly Wharf, folded away like a love letter from a past flame, you might come across a tidy little second-hand bookshop. Safe from the rolling slopes of sand and sun-crisped flesh, Desire Books is a haven for the Northern Beaches literati. Stocked with beat poets, new-age philosophers, and creased best-sellers from 1999, you’re bound to discover a treasure, or five.
On the last Tuesday of every month, they hold an open-mic night called Bonfire Desire. A red curtain drops and the book shop is transformed into an intimate performance space bordered by pre-loved tomes.
When I began playing ukulele last Christmas, I set a goal to perform at an open-mic night this year. [It’s important to note that I am petrified of singing in front of people, which made the fulfilment of this task particularly difficult.] A darling friend of mine is a regular performer at Bonfire so I mustered up a pinch of courage and cleared my calendar for the night.
This month’s Bonfire had fallen close enough to All Hallow’s Eve to warrant a call for costumes, so Tuesday evening I found myself desperately rifling through my wardrobe for something to wear. I’m not known for my casual stylings, but considering this would be my first time attending Bonfire, I decided to choose a somewhat-understated outfit. A subtle nod towards the macabre, if you will.
On top of a cascade of ivory polyester hair, I fixed a glittering life-sized skull, and, pressed for time, decided to skip foundation, instead favouring slashes of white paint across my face. Married with a floor-length black and white skirt and top, it would be sufficient to say the dress-code was met.
Unfortunately, my interpretation of ‘under-stated’ is generally an understatement, and walking towards the book shop, I could see a small crowd in the window dressed as, well, just normal people. But that, of course, is the delight of Bonfire at Desire; you can be the Voyeur or the Viewed.
The stage is set to serve creative ejaculations of all types. Perhaps you’ve been working on a Brechtian belly dance, or a splatter-punk sonnet inspired by Megan Fox? Bonfire is the equivalent of live Youtube, so anything goes!
The playing order is set using raffle-tickets. On arrival, you’ll be greeted by Katy, Desire’s owner, and if keen to sing, dance, rhyme, you’ll be given a ticket. Through the course of the night, numbers are drawn and if it’s yours, for five minutes, the stage is too.
After a face-melting performance by a man playing an alien-saucepan-instrument, my number, 7, was called.
Through crossed legs and bodiless coats, I tripped my way to the stage, nearly landing in somebody’s cup of goon and as I regained my balance, I felt a little sad I hadn’t fallen. It was now unavoidable that I would have to attempt to sing. On a stage. In front of people.
[Comparatively, death in a goon cup seemed like a perfectly acceptable way to have ended the night. My family could, at least, find comfort in blaming my untimely end on the poor sod, inside whose cup I had perished, and the whole situation would be passed off as an Unfortunate Event. Instead, they would now be cursed with disappointing memories of their late daughter who foolishly pretended to be a musician, choked onstage and died of humiliation.]
Escape plan thwarted, there was nothing to be done but to face the…music. Ha.
Stepping awkwardly onto the stage, I pushed away the microphone and sat down on an old green arm-chair in front of the crowd. As an aspiring actor, I’ve encountered a fair lump of expectant spectators. (Once, I was even sodomised by a lusty duke, in front of an audience that included my mother and grandmother.) Singing a simple country ditty for a salad of book-lovers should have been ‘no sweat.’ But sweat, I did and as I started to strum, my fingers rattled so hard they couldn’t form the first chord. Close to tears, eyes sticky with fear, all the lyrics vanished from my mind.
And I froze.
In that moment of silence, every mask I have ever worn fell away, and I was completely naked. For the first time in my life, I had nowhere to hide.
Then the audience, the loveliest most-encouraging bunch a musical neophyte could ask for, began to clap, and then the claps turned to cheers, and although the wet slicks of terror shone on my face, and a bowling ball I never swallowed stayed firmly in my throat, I sang that damn song, and I finished my first ever open-mic performance. I ain’t no Dixie Chick but, fuck, I felt proud, and though I sounded like a drowning duck, I am so happy to have popped my mic-night cherry with those super-talented, super-supportive human beans at Desire Books.
Located a safe distance from the stench of frying chips and tourists, you can find Desire opposite the Library Car Park on Whistler Street. Next time you’re wandering around Man-town, have a looky-loo, and if you’re interested, check their website for details on the next Bonfire and get your Kerouac/Gaga/Poe on. Go on, you know you want to. Hashtag YOLO.
Don’t Talk by H.S.M
"I don’t want to film a ‘slice of life’ because people can get that at home, in the street, or even in front of the movie theater. They don’t have to pay money to see a slice of life. And I avoid out-and-out fantasy because people should be able to identify with the characters. Making a film means, first of all, to tell a story. That story can be an improbable one, but it should never be banal. It must be dramatic and human. What is drama, after all, but life with the dull bits cut out. The next factor is the technique of film-making, and in this connection I am against virtuosity for its own sake. Technique should enrich the action. One doesn’t set the camera at a certain angle just because the cameraman happens to be enthusiastic about that spot. The only thing that matters is whether the installation of the camera at a given angle is going to give the scene its maximum impact. The beauty of the image and movement, the rhythm and the effects—everything must be subordinate to the purpose."
August 13, 1899 — April 29, 1980
Hayley Maree Herewini Schumann-Mitchell of Sydney, Australia.
The epically named Hayley is pictured here working her (pretty breezy if you ask me) job as a traffic controller on the streets of Crows Nest, and the free time that comes with controlling traffic at the far end of a one way street means she can write her own music, scribble letters to old friends, and prepare for her weekend drama classes quite thoroughly. She’s been playing the ukelele since just before Christmas, and even without considering she’s never played an instrument before, she’s getting pretty good - I walked past her playing outside a cafe a few days ago in fact and that rung in my memory. She’s already on her second ukelele (this one is called Lucas) and writing songs come easily to her; she’s just written a song for a dude she’s “got a crazy crush on” which she admits might sound a bit mental to some. She directs theatre, acts as hamlet, cooks a mean triple choc’ brownie, she can’t afford to drink alcohol as she’s got too much to do with her time to be hungover, and here’s an awesome tattoo of hers.
This is a brilliant idea, was well-chuffed to be asked to be a part of the project. Keep an eye out for 365ppl.
Mysore. This has been kept for posterity sake.