Pura Vida

Gently swaying palm trees sprouting coconuts aplenty, the soothing music of the local insects and birds, as they sing in harmonic unison and the unmistakable beauty of where the jungle and ocean meet at the picturesque,  lapping shoreline. Welcome to Costa Rica, where nature reigns supreme, the vibe is as laidback as they come and the carribean rastas flutter by on their bicycles with promises of only the freshest weed. I like it here.

Almost 3 weeks into my escape from the hustle and bustle of city life in Sydney and i find myself very content, parked up in the house turned hostel of our affectionately named Costa Rican ‘Mama’.  Who for 10 dollars a night showers us with her infinite wisdom, ensures our clothes are clean and that we use her kitchen to cook up cheap and nutritious dinners. There are no alarm clocks here, no rushing to work through the unpleasant gridlock of Sydney traffic, no desperate longing for the weekends and an unlimited number of free smiles, are always on offer.

The local surf break here is only a majestic jungle walk away from our temporary home, with an amazingly diverse ecosystem all around us. Getting up close and personal with native sloths as they slowly traverse the treeline, while we traverse to the ocean only a short, asthetically pleasing  walk away.  The sloths are indeed the ultimate cruisers and they epitomise the way of life here. A life which is lived day by day, from one meal to the next, and from the gentle puffs of one joint to another.  I’ve found it quite interesting  when juxtaposed to the stress of a 9-5, the constant pressures of an unattainable property market and my growing distaste for the materialistic and bustling Sydney lifestyle. Was this exactly what i came here looking for? I guess only time will tell but i feel for now I’m on the right track.

After breaking my laptop and phone almost two weeks ago I have felt a forced freedom from the constant need to immerse myself in the social media world, the political blight of American politics and the endless scrolling through hours of meaningless videos and status’. As i lay here swinging from my hammock on the out skirts of the Costa Rican jungle, the ambience awash with the far cries of howler monkeys, i decide to borrow my friends laptop and re-enter the realm of western news. It’s just as i left it, in tatters. So instead i decide to write this new entry to my blog, an endeavor i hope to keep up from time to time. Writing which will not only document my new found knowledge of the world but also my newfound knowledge of self.

Last night after sharing a joint with my travelling amegos Dave and Luke, we were treated  by our local hermano ‘Oscar’, to many wonderous tales of the local fishing and fiestas. All in spanish of course, and as we tried to decipher the tales with some loose understanding and ‘mucho spanglish’ we laughed, learnt new words and began to immerse ourselves in a culture that whilst undoubtedly simpler than our own,  has the ability to be much more rewarding.

Until next time, Pura Vida.

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Pura Vida

An Afternoon Under the Pass.

As i kick push my skateboard along the pipeline of the man made dam, i see my destination off in the distance, beneath the highway, shrouded in trees, hidden only by a spattering of graffiti tags and lantana. The overpass where a fellow skateboarder has labored countless truckloads of ply wood to create a secret ramp, tucked away from the oblivious highway surfers, who drive right by it without so much as a glance. As i enter under the overpass, the cars flying over my head, i see him there sleeping on an old mattress, no shoes, scruffy exterior and with only a small bag full of belongings. I scurry past not thinking too much of the man, intent on making the most of my afternoon on the deserted ramp in this silent, urban hideaway.

As i near the end of my skate, the rain begins to once more float down from the sky and the wind quickly turns my sweat cold. As i reach for my Stoke Travel hoodie, i begin to have some profound thoughts. I think of the man only a few metres away, curled up, without shoes, a full sydney winter about to dawn upon him. I decide as i head back towards the exit tunnel i will offer the man my hoody, I don’t need it and I’m sure it would benefit him a lot more than it would me. ‘Hey mate how you doing’ i say to him cautiously from a distance… He opens one eye and then two looking very confused and uneasy at the fact someone was speaking to him. Realising his unease i quickly lift up the jumper, ‘You need a spare hoody brother, i don’t need this one?’ i say holding up the jumper in his direction. He looks at me in shear confusion, and begins waving me away shaking his head, looking almost scared i wanted to help. I didn’t want to push the matter so i continued on my way.

As I’m leaving i look down at my Stoke travel hoodie, a jumper which contains so many memories for me, of places i’ve been, legends i’ve met and times in my life i will never forget… I began to question. What memories does this lonely dude under the bridge hold onto.. What gets him through day by day, devoid of human contact, alone with his thoughts. Surely at one point he had a somewhat normal life? Where was his family? What had happened to his ambitions, was it his mental health that had lead him here or had he just slipped off the radar of society and never managed to climb back on.

I believe it is an inherently human characteristic to want to leave something behind on this earth, when we pass away we all want to be remembered for something. Whether that be our music, sense of self, our family, we all want to leave a footprint behind for our children to remember us by. But what about him? Surely he once aspired to be something more than what he has become. He must of had a family once, a hobby, a passion? Next time i see him i plan to try speak to him once more, find out who is, what led him here, or at the very least give him something warm for the winter because i’m a human and if i found myself in that situation one day, i would like to think a conversation or even a hoodie would go a long way.

An Afternoon Under the Pass.

Music is Life So Let us Live.

A city without music would be a lifeless one, a stagnant existence struggling for definition and of difference. Identifies are forged and passions are expressed through the grooves, funks, baselines and beats of an element of humanity which is not only an individual freedom of expression but also a collective expression of freedom. I believe without music we would be without soul. The spine tingling feeling you get when you are in the middle of thousands of fellow moshers, you’re favourite artist centre stage, you harness the energy of the crowd as the hairs on the back of your neck stand up in anticipation and ecstasy . We’ve all been in that situation, whether it be the throb of the deep baseline as you’re favoruite dj drops in, or the electricity sparking from the guitar amps as your favourite guitarist’s fingers dance across the frets. You look beside you to your best mate busting a move, look up to the sky, take a deep breath and think how fucking good is this.

Unfortunately the music scene in Sydney of late has taken a huge beating, a target of the atypical Sydney bureaucracy we are constantly subjected to. Out of touch dinosaurs who have chosen the age old issue of alchohol fuelled violence as a vessel to practically destroy what was once the heart and soul of the Sydney’s club scene, Kings Cross. A place where urban dwellers from all over this city, regardless of origin or social status, could end their 40 hour working week fist pumping side by side, forgetting the monotony of  their working life, as they are consumed by a sweaty dance floor of youthful exuberance until the early hours of Saturday and Sunday mornings.

 It was also once a breeding ground for some of Australia’s most epic DJs, where names like Alice in Wonderland, RUFUS, Golden Features and Flight Facilities entertained club goers, perfecting their craft and developing themselves into international icons, true representatives of a city rich in dance culture. The streets were bustling with characters, businessman, strippers, footballers, music enthusiasts, lads, introverted neighbourhood weirdos and common folk all swept up in the eb and flow of the Kings Cross strip. It is these very same streets which now lay baron, devoid of life and depleted of a once thriving culture, sadly lacking that mystical chaos only the cross could offer. As the clubs have been forced into closure, developers have moved in and much of the club space has been sold off for yet more uniform unit blocks in a city looming towards perpetual boredom and a distinct lack of soul.

 Many are pointing the finger at the vested interests of NSW premiere Mike Baird, a man who has allowed the likes of Star City Casino and their billion dollar owners to continue their greedy ways unhampered by lockout laws. A ploy to funnel clientele into the new Barangaroo complex which is soon to be completed and in the process punishing the innocent majority for the actions of a few. An alternative you might ask? Deterrence. For mine, if you want to coward punch someone it should be 10 years jail no questions asked, maybe then fuckwits would think twice before being heroes, and if they don’t good riddance. All i know is that the magical place that was Kings Cross was a jewel in the crown of Sydney and since its decline its us, the blood in the veins of this city, who suffer as we are deprived of choice and of identity.

For all its shortcomings and stereotypes Kings cross was a place where people could truly be alive,  we were able to be a part of a party scene which was unique and entertaining through both its characters and musical institutions.  Without it we have lost a huge slice of Sydney’s appeal, tourists and locals alike have been left at a loss and the region sadly resembles a ghost town by night. So sign a petition, take to the streets, attend a rally  email Mike Baird, egg his office, because if we let this slip on by who knows what we will be stripped of next in the fast becoming boring city of Sydney. #Keepsydneyopen. #fuckoffmikebaird #boring #nannystate #nothanks

Music is Life So Let us Live.

Killing ISIS Softly

A most interesting piece by my pal

Between Deserts

Alex Ray 26.08.15

“Traveling to Palmyra this week was a great break from Damascus and a welcome refresher on the amazing history of the region. Although this time we had the same driver (Abu Adnan) in Palmyra, nothing else was the same. It was hot dusty and dry, and the tourism industry of the place was suffering hugely. The hotel we stayed in (Tetraplyon) was completely empty and the ruins of Palmyra were host to only 20 or so tourists.” – My diary entry for the 24th April 2011, Palmyra, Syria.

Tears fell for Palmyra this week as ISIS beheaded its long-time curator Khaled al-Asaadand destroyed one of its most famous Roman-era monuments. The rose-coloured stone – which romanced so many visitors – has been obliterated. The world owes a debt to all who have died in defence of Syria and Iraq’s heritage. Those tears were not only…

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Killing ISIS Softly

‘A man is not his job, his phone his desk or his shoes. like a boat cut from a tanker he began to drift’

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‘A man is not his job, his phone his desk or his shoes. like a boat cut from a tanker he began to drift’ -Somewhere, anywhere, everywhere .

As I’m travelling central america reflecting on the debt i have gladly accumulated in order to be here, i look around at the isolated town of ‘El paradon’ Guatemala and realise how truly lucky i am to be able to experience a world where places like this exist. i came to the realisation that many of the people here may never have the resources or finances to be able to leave their small town. Which led me to ask myself, are they indeed lucky that they are exempt from the 9-5 rat race, the consumerism and the standards expected when living in the developed world?

The simplicity of a mere ‘ola’ whilst passing someone in the street here, the smile on their face said with only the best intentions is a far cry from the blank faces, sombrely glaring into the virtual world of their smart phones, as they float past one another, during another day in the city of Sydney. Although many people here are incredibly poor and living off the land it is their attitudes towards life which are truly inspiring. The bond between families is remarkable, always smiling, happy to see you even welcoming. It begged the question for me are they better off being deprived of the modern world, of a consumer culture which is sapping the soul of our next generations? Could being deprived of keeping up with the kardashians, instagram selfies and fake virtual realities be a blessing in disguise?

As Corey Taylor so aptly describes ‘the real problem with capitalism is the capitalists, and by that I mean those who care about profits above anything else and would sell their daughter’s future to make a profit.’ I feel the relentless push to ‘make something of yourself’  is dehumanising the little time we have on this earth. Is this what lies at the end of the tunnel for me once i fur fill my modern prophecy of a 9-5? People tell me to chase my dream, but what if i cant simply put my finger on what that dream is… how do i know if I’m chasing the right one… I for one can’t commit to the relentless chase of money, the obsession with profits, earnings and possessions, for me the dream remains to see and experience as much as this world as i can, earn what i can and enjoy being a citizen of the world, finding comfort in the little things. That empty surf break with the majestic sunset and the welcoming smile of the local burrito stand owner, the isolated towns where the people are friendly and the wifi is non existent, hidden away from the hustle and bustle of a subjective world.

Leading me to my next line of thought…Can one person really make a difference the way they want to in a modern age of corporate greed and a distinct disconnection with the true elements of humanity. People don’t give a fuck about each other, collectively maybe, but individually its every man for himself. People aren’t content with a roof over their heads and their families for company, they want more. The status, the popularity, the identity are all things people are becoming consumed by, things i just don’t value at all while drinking a coconut i found on empty beach in unpopulated Guatemala.

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‘A man is not his job, his phone his desk or his shoes. like a boat cut from a tanker he began to drift’

Concrete, Colours and Barbed Wire Fences

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Graffiti and street art for me has always been an expression of freedom, a sneaky jab at the authority who claims to say what we can and can’t do within our own city limits. An identity forged through colour, through style and by an ongoing inter-connectivity with the cityscape we profess as our own. If it were up to this omnipresent ‘authority’ that be, bus stops would remain riddled with only the art of the consumer culture. Ads that are paid for by multimillion dollar companies, aimed at telling the populace how we should live, what brands we should buy, what bank will best leak our money into the system or what motto we should live our lives by. For me these bus stops, blank walls, trains and transport systems should be flourishing with the colours of our city, artwork by those who live here, those who breathe this city and are in sync with it. Why can’t we advertise ourselves, because at the end of the day its our city, we live here.

A good friend of mine told me from the very first time i picked up a spray can, “never deface someones home”. Graffiti heralds countless unwritten rules this being one of them, although sometimes they get lost in translation. I have always acknowledged that people work hard to attain their capital to create a home they can call their own, they may choose to brighten it up themselves it’s not my place or yours. Apply colour to a usually bland emotionless wall, create an identity for yourself and for the community around you, but not on private property. Rework a novelty sized coca cola billboard until it is an advert of your own, adopt a council electric box with pinks, purples, blues and greens or create a work of art in a corner of the city usually reserved for monotony and boredom.

Graffiti has given me the powers of an urban explorer, as i have seen parts of the city most people will never know exists. I don’t claim to be the most prominent, or the most stylish of graffiti artists i just enjoy being able to transcend the preconceived notions of the common city, rework and adapt urban infrastructure to create new meanings.  We have all experienced a  common sterility walking through the city seeing the same bland suits, standing idly below the equally as bland advertising of the latest iPhone. Yet why when street artists try to advertise themselves is it seen a criminal activity. Another blown out of proportion, case of defacing public property…which at the end of the day is exactly that ‘Public’. All while these money hungry entities can cover our city in advertising, which is essentially art, to influence the way we should look, eat and behave.

Graffiti embodies a sense of adventure, a sense of identity and expression. Through the delicate shading of a kids piece high up in the rooftops, to the outlandish statement of a whole car floating through the Sydney train system, graffiti embodies the advertising of a cities  inhabitants. Those without the voice of a million dollar ad campaign, those who explore the undisturbed paths of the city while the rat race is asleep, because at the end of the day its our city, and who’s to say it couldn’t do with a little more colour.

Concrete, Colours and Barbed Wire Fences

Explore, Transcend and Create.

Growing up a part of the middle class within the eastern suburbs of Sydney I have often defined myself as having been just that, in the middle. Defining my own individuality through a litany of different cultural and social activities whether that be the realm of surfing, skateboarding, street art, politics, music, martial arts, rugby or simply partying for days as is the norm here in the south east of Sydney. So to speak I have had my fingers in many pies, relishing any opportunity to explore new pastures with different social and cultural groups. I made this blog to express some of the identities I have forged and some of the lessons i have learned from my life so far which has included interaction with people (most of which i now call my friends) that have originated from such diverse cultures and places within our city, and from around the world. It is also an outlet for me to write, I’ve always love to express  myself through writing and to do this without the confines of a university essay or a short Facebook status subject to 1000 comments from our friendly neighbourhood morons, is my ultimate objective.

A lot of time people see me a long haired, moustache bearing, party boy. Just another beach bum who works for the council as the surfy looks the rents gave me often harbour these preconceived ideas. To an extent they are right haha. But then they might hear my opinion on politics or i might mention I’ve graduated university and they are genuinely surprised! Being the guy who walked into The University of Sydney politics class skateboard in hand, usually blazed as shit, wearing jeans and a singlet with my patented DC cap on, I’m no stranger to this reaction. But in saying that I like that element of surprise. Im proud of the fact that i can travel the world and interact with anyone, whether that be the English intellect picking my brain about the current state of the world economy or I can smoke a joint with the 40 year old street artist who explores the city of copenhagen painting trains and seeing parts of a city that most stuck in the rat race will never know exists.

Im not sure how often ill post, or what the subject matter will be but it could be anything from transcending the true intention of our city scape with my skate board, to the harsh reality of the Sydney bending scene, or perhaps even a sharp political statement against the fear mongering and propaganda fanning being implemented by the murdoch media against innocent muslims, who are being tarred with the same brush as the islamic extremists we all loath so much. If it sounds like your cup of tea then feel free to check it out, if not thats the beauty of blogs you can just keep on cruising.

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Explore, Transcend and Create.