The Energy Strip

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Walking down Oxford Street in Sydney today, a promo girl offered me a little something something. 

Nothing wrong with this. Happens all the time. It’s a great way to get brand recognition for a new product. So what could possibly have made me so outraged as to be making words on shiny screen a day after I just made words on shiny screen?

I’m going to have to give you some back story. 

Marketers have a traceable history of using drug references to sell products to the kids. It all started with the ecstasy craze in the 90’s. This was when products like Lucozade came on the market. All of a sudden the letter X and the idea of high energy and hyper was attached to everything. It was all eXtreme or high energy or high energyX (actual product name). The day after taking said products, people were often feeling highly eXistential.

Then the 00’s came along and ice became the drug in vogue (or crystal-meth for my non-Australian audience). Suddenly there was a glut of ice coloured products on the market. They had cool blues, silver and white labels and most of the time they were unashamedly labelled “Ice.” -Now you might say that this is a coincidence that there was a rational reason for branding products this way- I really don’t understand the correlation between protein powder and feeling cold.

Of cause the dirty, grubby, coke sniffing marketers will tell you that I’m reading too much into this. After all we all have the right to free speech. And branding is an important component of the market. and as we all know the market is the thing that makes the earth spin and rotate around the sun, holds the starts in the sky and makes us all sleep safely in our Made In China beds at night. Right? Just relax and try some of our new Marley-June Tea. 

-No I will not!!!

So I’m walking down oxford street and this beautiful looking South American/European (who the hell can tell anymore) backpacker offers me the latest and greatest product on the market.

ImageLadies and Gentlemen I introduce to you, the Energy Strip! Bear a resemblance to anything you might have tried at a music festival?

At first I was shocked. I stood there and looked at the little silver package in dismay. The world had begun to lose meaning and I could here the promo girl’s voice coming to me from far away. She was explaining to me that if I put it on my tongue it will dissolve and I will feel great. She asked again if I wanted to take one and I jolted myself from my daise just enough to croak out a “no.” She then suggested I take one for later, “in case I need it.” 

I need one right now, but that’s not the point.

Shanking my head in disbelief, I walked away, playing the role of the proud abstainer. I felt heroic and I had the vague sensation that she was watching me in disappointment and wondering what it is that I know she doesn’t. 

Then I thought, ‘words on shiny screen!’ And I doubled back to tell her I’de changed my mind.

“Does this resemble anything to you?” I asked

“What ever could you mean?” she says.

“Have you ever taken acid?”

“No.” I stare at her disapprovingly while she smiles. “What is it?”

“LSD, a trip.”

“Drugs?” She shakes her head, “No this is caffeine.”

I have no intention of talking all day to this buffoon. Complex as my psyche may be, I bear no genuine ill will to anybody. I love all. But my loathing of this kind of ignorance is sinister and my desire to see it crushed is homosidal. So I search for the best way to explain to her, her folly.

“There’s a long history of using the vogue drug in marketing.”

“But see that picture, it’s a battery.”

“Oh my god. You poor enthusiastic simpleton! Go and do your job in ignorant bliss while Murdock hacks our brains and the globe burns up and we sit around picking nits off each other’s backs. We have all become apathetic chimps due to brain rot brought on by designer drugs and eXsessive amounts of HBO specials. Can’t you see this?!!!”

I didn’t say that. I’m only a complete bastard on the inside. Outside I’m far more obliging. 

What I actually said to her was, “I’m not going lecture you, I’m just shocked.”

“That’s OK, I hope you enjoy it.”

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Well, I’m off now. I’m going to take my Caffeine Strip and imagine myself in the desert talking to a weird naked shaman and his green, pointy nosed friend.

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The Mad Ranting of the Thermonuclear

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I love language. I love getting fired up and making words on shiny screen. But I have a pattern where I build my productivity up to thermonuclear levels and then find myself in bed for and entire week. 

An editor gave me some feedback recently. She told me I have a knack for seeing past the obvious. To me -as welcomed as it was- it made no sense. The only angle I ever take is the one that jumps up at me. If I am stressed about weather or not I should follow my gut I usually end up struggling over the piece for days, or just plain old procrastinating until an hour before the deadline. At which point I’m forced to throw caution to the wind and get it done. 

Again and again I’m reminded that excellent writing has an emotional truth. Even if that means that the physical text is absolute bullshit.

So recently, after building my work rate up to unprecedented levels., I found myself with such a severe case of what I’ll call “head-in-jar syndrome” that I crashed and burned, spending the bulk of the next week in bed.

A friend of mine who is a psychologist tells me this is called hyper-focus. He was kind enough to wait till prompted before he offered me some strategies to deal with it. I was suffering enough to be interested enough to ask. 

One of the things he suggested was to approach writing as a mental exercise rather than an emotional one. He said that if I could do that and break my work into fifty minute blocks, with a few deep breaths in between, I could continue working at a sustainable level no matter what kind of turmoil was going on around me. 

All of this reason and logic is way too practical for me. Usually I begin my writing sessions by meditating on a particular emotion and harnessing it as inspiration. 

But what my well meaning friend was saying, is that I should let go of this idea and discipline myself into new methods. He assured me that by developing an intellectual approach to being inspired, I would set myself up to be less stressed in the future. He then fell into a geriatric rant about some sort of mythical time when I would have a wife and family, a mortgage, a car, an office job, a wide screen TV and a pet dog that understands me in a way that no other human-being can.

I certainly don’t dispute his point. I’m sure that it is advice I should be taking. The problem is that every time I’ve tried it I get distracted by the world of repressed emotions that I spent my twenties trying to ignore.

I managed to avoid these feelings in the past by numbing them with alcohol. This didn’t end well. It finished with me reaching a thermonuclear state of hyper-focus, followed swiftly by a crash that laid me out in bed for a long time. I seem to also remember this as a unique time of my life when I began to accept people’s advice on how to live my life. 

But here I go, ranting away and I’ve forgotten my point.

That’s it! I’m angry and I’m writing about it.

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After over a month of internal ranting and procrastination I’ve finally returned to my blog. 

 

The problem that has kept me away from this wonderful and hairsplitting little forum is that I haven’t been able to figure out exactly what I want to do with it. Do I write more long, heartfelt articles that end with a clever twist which nobody is ever bothered to read? Do I get a bit arty and write letters to my left-frontal-cortex about how disenchanted with the world I am?  Do I stop inspecting my navel and do something useful with my time? Like not obsessing over a blog that never gets written?

 

Two significant things have happened to get me motivated and back here. Firstly, I received some great feed back for an arts review I wrote recently in a Sydney street-press. Secondly, I started tweeting to the ABC, Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbot about the disappearance of climate change on the political agenda. Has anybody else noticed the magical reappearance of climate change in the political agenda? This is amazing!

 

Realising just how much weight my voice actually carries when I am actually bothered to move my thumbs has astounded me. And it’s motivated me. BOOOM!!!

 

So here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m going to stop whinging about stupidity and ignorance and start blogging about beauty and…well politicians. 

 

Now the nob-heads say that if you want to brand yourself successfully when your on the online, you should advertise each of your endeavors separately. This directly implies that “mixing pop and politics” (as Billy Bragg so eloquently put it) is a bad idea. But I say that I’ve always just done what I wanted anyway. That’s how I became a writer instead of a bean counter, which is awesome because I love writing and I’m really good at it and beans just give me gas anyway.

 

So here it is (for this week at least) my fantastic amazing super duper blog! Where I talk about the Sydney shows I’m covering at the moment as well as express my opinions about how backwards our society is. 

 

I really don’t see how the two are mutually exclusive.