Tuesday, September 16, 2014

20,000 Days on Earth



20,000 Days on Earth is a fictitious account of the 20,000th day of the life of Australian musician-songwriter-author-screenwriter-composer-actor-national treasure, Nick Cave. Filmed during the recording of his 2013 album Push the Sky Away, this documentary blurs the line between fantasy and realism; gently mocking the modern anathemas of reality television and social media, and our insecurities of having to document every sordid detail of our dreary lives for the approbation of others.
 
On the surface, it appears that 20,000 Days evolved organically: casual encounters with ghosts from Cave’s past; spontaneous dialogue with Bad Seed member, Warren Ellis; a stilted session with a Freudian psychoanalyst; and nostalgia for a particular moment in time while rummaging through archival material. The film is, in fact, a carefully structured collection of staged scenarios in which Cave and his contemporaries improvise within the boundaries of a storyboard.
 
What I surmised from this stylish documentary is that Cave is a stable and secure individual in synch with the creative process. At age fifty-six, he should be. Cave is portrayed as a self-assured and slightly pompous figure, but we can forgive him for that. After all, he is Nick Cave. He describes Boys Next Door and Birthday Party members, Rowland S Howard and Tracey Pew (who have passed away), as ‘being born already formed’; a fitting juxtaposition for himself who hints at only having just arrived. Cave has grown into his Sun in Virgo and it shows throughout the film.
 
 
Through the viewfinder that is 20,000 Days on Earth, I see the man with a Stellium of planets in Virgo (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars, and Pluto). There is concentrated power within a Stellium. It provides the individual with focused energy, perhaps even with tunnel vision. Indeed, 20,000 Days omits the big picture. It concerns itself with routine, and the lens captures Cave’s fondness for the nitty-gritty of writing ingeniously. He is the office worker in a respectable suit, stabbing keys on a manual typewriter like a Luddite. Words are scratched in blue ink and highlighted with fluro marker pens in bulging notebooks containing typed notes cut and pasted in the old school way. Cave’s cosmic DNA confirms that he values the practical details of work, a point not entirely missed by the filmmakers.
 
 
For me, the highpoint was Cave’s stopover at Warren Ellis’ home in France, where they share a meal of eels and black tea. It is through Ellis’ amusing anecdote of singer Nina Simone (and her addiction to champagne, cocaine, and sausages) that I grasp how meaningful and fertile their relationship is.
 
You have to marvel at Nick Cave. He has successfully covered ground in various art forms, yet remains a marginal and mythical figure in the music industry. 20,000 Days on Earth dispels some of the myth by showing a grounded side to the man so many revere as a Goth God or whatever. With tight Moon-Pluto and Venus-Neptune aspects in his birth chart, we need to keep believing in the mythology of Nick Cave (a point that he touches on during the driving scene with the actor, Ray Winstone).
 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Spiritual Conversations with Punks

 
I was invited by the lovely zinester, Tamara Lazaroff (Prisoner of Macedonia fame), to be part of this panel titled Spiritual Conversations with Punks at the Zine and Independent Comics Symposium (ZICS), Brisbane in August 2014. I almost chickened-out due to nerves, but was glad to finally go through with it, as it was an irrational fear that I needed to conquer sooner rather than later.
 
The panel consisted of Bianca Valentino, creator of the zine Spiritual Conversations with Punx, Andy Paine who has a radio show on Brisbane's 4ZZZ (and who creates a truckload of spiritual DIY material), and the wandering seer of Brisbane, Sarah Muller, who writes and publishes the most eloquent poetry you'll ever read. I'm flattered that Tamara thought I was punk enough to be on this panel. The discussion covered the often overlooked topic of spiritual content in zine making. The talk was well-received by a supportive and interested audience. That hackneyed phrase is true: feel the fear and do it anyway.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Astrobabble goes to Repressed Records

 
Due to disappointment and lack of support, I have ceased dealing with all Australian zine distribution centres. I wish them well on the rocky road to zine-hipster Hell.

On a lighter note, issues nine and ten of Astrobabble are available at Repressed Records in Newtown, Sydney. Repressed and Red Eye Records are now the only two stores on the planet stocking my zine. Sure, I've shrunk my readership base to less than zero, but it is easier for me to manage zine distribution entirely in my home city while I work on getting a life.

 
Repressed Records is located at 413 King Street Newtown and is staffed by the irrepressible Nic Warnock, who I hear is a bit of a legend in the Sydney music scene. Oh, those young people and their rock 'n' roll ...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Astro Shite for April 2014

Aries
The much talked-about (by me) Cardinal Grand Cross peaks on 23 April. Your quest to take on and complete various projects fails, thanks to being pulled in four directions (and not in a sexual way, I might add). This transit teaches you that multi-tasking is severely over-rated. Do the unthinkable: choose one task and complete it. What?! The period between 5 April and 3 May is one of your most spiritual. Escape the daily grind by grinding fair trade coffee beans in the Byron Bay Hinterland while loosely draped in cheesecloth. Mercury enters Aries on 7 April, awkwardly coinciding with the Section 18C amendment. Say no more.
Aries superfoods: onions, tomatoes, chilli

Taurus
Mercury enters your sign on 23 April followed by the New Moon in Taurus on 28 April. These cycles set the scene for slow and steady movement. Savour the moments and be grateful for them. Revitalise a stagnant undertaking, like that failed two-minute noodle perm, under the Mercury-Jupiter-Pluto connection, and watch it spring to life. Expect unexpected down time around 2 April, as Uranus activates your house of retreat and lowers your blood pressure in one fell swoop.
Taurus superfoods: beans, peas, carrots

Gemini
Venus’ affirmative energy helps you shift old zine stock and provides inspiration to create fresh DIY masterworks. You’ll be in a gregarious mood until 23 April. Your social experiences get (even more) twisted and unpredictable between 2 and 14 April, crashing Instagram with your snapshots of alternative uses for dental floss. Eeeek! You’ll have time to reflect on your dickhead actions at the end of the month when you’re ostracized by the Gods to the house of prisons, hospitals, and mental asylums out of embarrassment.
Gemini superfoods: asparagus, sprouts, mushrooms

Cancer
The Sun, Mercury, and Venus highlight work issues on 2 April. Your slippery boss may have wet dreams of replacing you and the rest of the staff with androids while he organises his trip to Tahiti, but fortunately, Venus steps in to steer you in the direction of teaching, writing, and some healthy zine-making activity. Yay! The New Moon in your social sector on 28 April gives you the green light to expand your network by moving in creative circles.
Cancer superfoods: fish, lettuce, parsley

Leo
Uranus generates restlessness from 2 April, urging you to stowaway on a ferryboat to see where it takes you: terminus #8 at Circular Quay, I presume. Experiment with unconventional philosophies such as Compatibilism and Cannibalism, but watch your cholesterol level. The Sun, Mercury, and Venus combine in your professional zone to help you make your mark with that inevitable Leo stamp - lipstick. Nobody can pucker a pout for success the way a Lion can.
Leo superfoods: eggs, raisins, lentils

Virgo
Your most romantic period begins on 5 April. You’ll radiate desirability in an office administrator kinda way. Comprises are negotiated and others are content to meet you halfway in the open-plan office behind the stationery cupboard. You get an extra dose of lovin’ on 12 April when Neptune joins in. Fine wine, scented candles, and that tin of Catholic biscuits reserved for the executive department help set the scene for a special rendezvous. Late April is an excellent time to broaden your world by activating the right side of the brain with wanky-arty pursuits.
Virgo superfoods: beetroot, figs, almonds

Libra
The Full Moon in your sign combined with the Cardinal Grand Cross adds tension to a nagging issue. This is not the time to sweep your dirty laundry under the carpet or to air the two birds in your bush. In fact, this cycle asks that you avoid idioms altogether. They’re a dime among the pigeons. The Moon and Mars fly the flag for peace, while Venus and Neptune provide compassion. Ask what you can do to improve the planet without tapping a tambourine with your hip. Look to fellow Librans - Ghandi and Simon Cowell - for inspiration.
Libra superfoods: celery, corn, spinach

Scorpio
Creativity peaks for many Scorpions between 5 April and 3 May, thanks to the artistic force that is Venus. You’ll be bursting with ideas for zine creation. Get excited and share your passions with kindred spirits. This transit demands that you quit your usual scheming and scamming and have some fun for a change. Oh, I forgot; scheming and scamming is your idea of fun. Silly me!
Scorpio superfoods: rhubarb, kale, liver

Sagittarius
Between 17 and 24 April, values surrounding money and how it’s distributed amongst family will weigh heavily on your mind like Gina Reinhart on a ski lift. The days of frozen TV dinners stuck to the kitchen ceiling are over now that Venus is adding her personal touch to your seedy share house. Expect an interesting twist to your love life between 2 and 14 April when you’re greeted by your concubine with a Chinese burn. Despite the discomfort, you go about your business with the zest of an orange. Avoid spray tans.
Sagittarius superfoods: red cabbage, parsnips, oats

Capricorn
There is change on the domestic front for the Goat between 2 and 14 April. You are drawn to the Vortex hot spots of Sedona, Montserrat, and Rooty Hill RSL. The New Moon on 28 April sparks a creative surge. Traditional art techniques are resurrected as you ditch the Modbook Pro for a Goat Hair Mop 3/4. Relationships will have an exaggerated but transformative quality between 17 and 24 April, thanks to the Pluto-Jupiter tango and some seriously sexy Bomba rhythms.
Capricorn superfoods: cheese, prunes, rye

Aquarius
‘Abundance’ is the keyword under the Venus transit between 5 April and 3 May. The hot action money date is 12 April when you hit the local TAB and blow two weeks’ pay. You’ll want to lounge around your abode more than usual under the New Moon of 28 April. Get you living space sorted by weeding, cleaning, and purifying it. You may not believe it, but undertaking housework is an act of magic. Ask any witch.
Aquarius superfoods: barley, apples, figs

Pisces
You’ll be at home in your watery element when Venus and Neptune occupy Pisces from 5 April. Immerse yourself in the ocean and reconnect with your cosmic environment. April is the month for self-care, so be gentle with yourself. Financial matters are emphasised on 15 April. Cluey detective work unearths hidden capital lodged inside your Converse Chuck Taylors. I love it when the Universe solves those perplexing money mysteries.
Pisces superfoods: bilberries, cucumbers, dates

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Cardinal Grand Cross

April 2014 heralds a rare astrological event. The ongoing square between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn peaks when Jupiter in Cancer and Mars in Libra participate to form a Cardinal Grand Cross. These planets create a stressed, crucifix pattern: two pairs oppose each other and two pairs square each other. This challenging configuration indicates a demand to confront and transform established social and political structures that are corrupt and broken.
 
 
The Cardinal Grand Cross is shaped by these aspects and plays out in the following way:
  • Uranus square Pluto: radical social, economic and political upheaval, national debt crises, sexism and gender issues, racism and ethnic cleansing, intolerance
  • Jupiter opposite Pluto: extreme philosophies, fundamentalism, megalomania
  • Jupiter square Uranus: dangerous ideas, cult leaders, religious instability
  • Mars square Pluto: power struggles, military action, destruction, enemies
  • Mars opposite Uranus: impulsiveness, rebellion, ambushes, explosions
  • Mars square Jupiter: risk taking, tactless manoeuvres, rash actions, accidents and injuries
The T-Square of Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto lasts all of April, peaking on 23 April 2014. Any restlessness caused by Uranus will be exaggerated by Jupiter. Pluto will intensify this transit further, resulting in a crisis of sorts (observe the political conflicts in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Sudan, and the Ukraine, for example).
 
Moreover, the climax of this Cardinal Grand Cross takes place between two eclipses: a Lunar Eclipse on 14 April 2014 followed by a Solar Eclipse on 28 April 2014. Traditionally, the Lunar Eclipse is a time to release old wounds and fears, and transcend negative patterns that delay personal development. The Full Moon in the Air sign of Libra is reflecting the light of the Sun in the Fire sign of Aries. This Eclipse is about acknowledging others (Libra) and recognising that they mirror our own actions, beliefs, and expectations (Aries). Gandhi’s quote, ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’, applies now. It’s a call to Humanity to set aside our differences and embrace our commonality to create the society we want to live in.
 
The Solar Eclipse on 28 April 2014 is a time to reflect on how past actions have influenced present circumstances. Both the Moon and Sun are in the Earth sign of Taurus, bringing determination, focus, and an old school work ethic to achieving goals. As we move into this New Moon, creating a ‘gratitude list’ of the things that make us ‘wealthy’ (both material and spiritual) and how we can share that wealth with others is worthwhile. Making this commitment to share our wealth, however we define it, creates a practical vision for an ideal world.
 
We are already witnessing a groundswell of change. The March in March event which took place in major Australian cities around 16 March 2014 is one example. Frustrated by the status quo, ordinary people showed their distrust and disgust with current social, political and religious frameworks by taking to the streets in peaceful protest. Despite bias reporting by mainstream news agencies, it wasn’t a Big Day Out for the lunatic fringe but the coming together of all people demanding ‘outings of truths’ within religious organisations, global corporations, and political institutions.
 
 
It's crucial that a docile society such as Australia cultivates the art of galvanising radical change before we lose what freedoms we have left. Transformation doesn’t happen overnight. The struggle for individual rights will endure possibly until Pluto’s ingress into the constellation of Aquarius in 2023. In the interim, progress is possible if we resolve old problems with new methods. Nowhere is this message stronger than in the workings of the Cardinal Grand Cross.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Astro Shite - 2014 Overview

Aries
Your ongoing experiment with self-discovery continues this year, thanks to Uranus, the planet of sudden transformations. Explore unconventional practises like fermenting your urine to the sounds of Einsturzende Neubauten in the name of performance art. Jupiter activates Uranus in your sign twice in 2014 (between February and May, and then September to October). The surprises will be colossal, they will be unpredictable, and they will be electrifying. You never thought Clive Palmer and his dinosaurs could be this much fun, did you?
Aries strengths: dynamic, brave, initiating

Taurus
The action happens in the second half of 2014 with Saturn and Jupiter working together rather cordially. Finally, long held plans for change come to fruition. Jupiter brings progress to stagnant domestic situations, while relationship lessons are best understood with the help of wise Saturn. Adopt a flexible attitude when organising your daily routine. Ditch the Coolendar app and plan your days around your feelings and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Taurus strengths: diligent, persevering, solid

Gemini
This year’s themes are productivity and apprenticeship. Based on the movements of Saturn and Jupiter, you’ll require sustained effort to get out of bed and put on your pants. Focus on professional planning in the first half of the year by consulting Mark Bouris on how to master a smug and superior attitude. Mercury parks his butt in your sign for an extended stay, stimulating your mind with stimulating peeps on stimulants. Jupiter’s influence clears any writer’s block that may be holding you back, so 2014 should be a productive zine making year for many Twins.
Gemini strengths: multifaceted, adaptable, sharp

Cancer
If you’ve blown all your cash on Craps and Baccarat over the Christmas period, take stock. This year, a fresh money cycle begins under Jupiter to save you from financial ruin. Personal development is another hot topic. Ouch! Check-in with yourself and see what areas need improving. Return those upper arms to the tuck shop lady, and exchange pies and lattes for Pilates. Don’t wait for external forces to bump you along; be bold and initiate change. David Bowie once said ‘turn and face the strange’, which means he wants you to look at Noel Fielding.
Cancer strengths: intuitive, imaginative, devoted

Leo
Jupiter enters your sign in the second half of the year, jump starting a twelve-year cycle of growth and adventure. You have renewed faith in humankind; Scorpios and Virgos think you’re a sucker. 2014 could be the year when you get the hell out of the country before Tony Mokbel catches up with you. Your days of living inside a whiskey barrel will cease when Saturn provides domestic stability. You move into a Kevin McCloud-approved bunker carved into the side of a grassy knoll in Winchester. The second half of 2014 sees many Leos achieving success with major projects. You will be at your most powerful, moving mountains and grassy knolls with poise and ease.
Leo strengths: benevolent, loyal, robust

Virgo
2014 is like two years rolled into one for the efficient Virgo. The first half of the year will be busy and outgoing. By July, external activities slacken and the remainder of 2014 takes on a reflective tone. Mars activates productivity, so you’ll achieve more than usual, despite the fluctuating external situation. This isn’t the year to chill out in the kidney-shaped swimming pool while listening to Daft Punk and sipping Pepsi. Take on the perzine challenge of our time, which is to create a zine for every day of the year without going crazy. Neptune eases the stiffness in your mind and heart, enabling you to take a soulful approach to romance for a change. Marvin Gaye would be proud.
Virgo strengths: refined, self-effacing, secure

Libra
With Mars and the Karmic North Node inhabiting your sign this year, life-changing choices are possible if you are considering reinventing yourself like Jocelyn Wildenstein. Rad! Major events throughout 2014 will have a touch of destiny about them. If you experience de-ja-vu repeatedly, then you’ve been there before. The Gods want you to re-visit lost passions and re-ignite them with bangers and pinwheels. Mars triggers your sign for the first time in over thirty years. Assertive-compliance issues will be on the agenda. Restore the balance between other people’s needs and your own.
Libra strengths: aesthetic, charming, tactful

Scorpio
2014 will be a year of extremes. Fortunately, that’s the way you like it. Anything else would be, well, in between. Mars activates the personal sphere of your solar chart. Achieving mastery over you mind and subconscious actions is a predominant theme. Your professional world expands in the second half of 2014. A job change, promotion, pay rise, or exploring a second career are all possible after July. Distance yourself from superficial relationships, no matter how good they look in latex, and pour your efforts into fundamental concerns. Your actions will determine future success. I guess they always do.
Scorpio strengths: cryptic, erotic, committed

Sagittarius
A mid-year shift by Jupiter brings action, adventure, and that ring of confidence often found in toothpaste commercials. Financial matters are a priority until July. Sorting your pecuniary dramas ensures that you’ve got time and money to play with later in the year. Your career zone will be one of your least active, which is a blessing considering the flying trapeze routine you’ve been trying to perfect since Christmas.
Sagittarius strengths: sanguine, animated, adventurous

Capricorn
Every eight years, Venus extends her stay in your sign. This cycle gives you the opportunity to take advantage of the Love Goddess and enhance the romance in your life. Overhaul your appearance so that the outer reflects the inner you. Sorry, but turtlenecks and wombat sleeves are definitely *out* under this transit. You’ll spend ample time in the public domain thanks to Mars and the North Node, so you don’t want to prance around like a Frank Thring wardrobe disaster.
Capricorn strengths: dependable, pragmatic, sagacious

Aquarius
Life gets busy for the Water Bearer from July onwards. A new cycle in love and relationships begins under Jupiter, while Mars and Saturn combine to help you power forward professionally. Overall, 2014 is shaping up to be a sound year, and there isn’t more I can add to that.
Aquarius strengths: unique, unconventional, gregarious

Pisces
That cliché ‘your health is your wealth’ will apply to many Pisceans this year, now that Jupiter asks to focus on well being. Uranus, Mars and the North Node combine to help reshape your finances in unconventional and innovative ways (think bitcoin). The Universe throws you in the spotlight for most of 2014. You’ll crave excitement and danger where work is concerned. Admiring your office furniture and developing ‘computer shoulder’ are not part of the script. Get involved in physical action like tree lopping or garbage collecting. Have the courage to follow your instincts on leads that are thrown your way.
Pisces strengths: psychic, gentle, tolerant

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Tarot Magic


My recent trip to Melbourne for the Festival of the Photocopier included a visit to Sticky, located in the Flinders Street tunnel under Degraves Street. Visiting the shop in person, as opposed to online, is a far more valuable way of keeping abreast of new titles and zine news. Unfortunately, I have to travel all the way from Sydney to do it. It was worth it though, as the amiable Fulsome Prism (who staffs the shop) introduced me to some choice zines, one of which was Bastian Fox Phelan’s latest offering, Tarot Magic.

Naturally, I got excited about the existence of an esoteric zine that wasn’t mine. I’m unaware of other DIY titles that cover arcane subjects, so discovering Tarot Magic was a bit of a revelation. As the author expresses in the opening page, ‘this zine is an unapologetic love letter to the deck of cards that helped me become my own best partner’. Tarot Magic is a tarot reading in itself, and documents Bastian’s adventures with a pack of cards designed and printed by The Collective Tarot, a creative/esoteric co-op based in Portland, Oregon.

The Collective Tarot uses images loosely based on the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. Interestingly, it contains the Suit of Bones, which I feel represents the Earth element and our questions concerning structure, support, and finding ground in a wobbly world.
 
Tarot is Bastian’s preferred method of engaging in healthy dialogue with herself. It’s a self-care ritual where she can safely process negative emotions and experience the ‘thing’ that has many guises – magic/intuition/instinct/gut feeling/insight/sensitivity/sixth sense/divine guidance/Universal consciousness … call it what you will. Unfortunately, there isn’t much room for magic in Western culture. Many health care workers treat magical thinking as a character defect that needs correcting, yet magic can provide answers to questions that remain unresolved despite mainstream approaches to problem solving.

Tarot, like astrology and other divinatory tools, is a creative way to check-in with yourself and re-connect with suppressed feelings. It’s an opportunity to pause and ask:

‘What am I feeling right now? Why am I feeling this?’

It’s refreshing to see another esoteric zine bobbing around the sea of perzines and artist books that defines twenty-first century DIY culture. I don’t feel like the maverick so much. It requires a certain amount of bravery to produce a zine like this, so I commend Bastian for taking it on. Tarot Magic is an enchanting read, and the fact that one of our finest zine makers has created it is reason enough to go there.