Sunday, October 18, 2020

Musing on potential for NZ community arts using aspects of Australian models.


[Photo Roberto Di Lernia]
We here in New Zealand have a growing responsibility to acknowledge and reflect not only our own potential to exist as a functioning cultural unit but additionally we have a kind of global eye of Mordor fixed upon us as the bruised globe fixates upon us seeking hope in times of progressive cross spectrum degradation.

Who needs it?

Well we do, we can congregate without danger and the onus is on us to fill a gap that imported culture, which as been eradicated has left us and more importantly find ways to express ourselves in artful and uplifting ways. Because life will continue to be hard and it helps when people gather and celebrate themselves.

We are lucky culturally to have a sibling that’s always been slightly more evolved, bigger, more casually cosmopolitan to learn from.

Australia is our friend.

We are stoic, small, used to understated passive aggressive stealth sarcasm as our only weapon of mass destruction. We are creative and imaginative yet also quietly yet dangerously self critical.
We have the Beehive, Australia has the Sydney Opera House. We had Flying Nun, they have 'Triple J’, we had advance NZ, they had indigenous genocide. But I jest…

Australia been our big brother forever but it might be time to recognise that neither of us are teenagers any more.

Australias dedication to the showcasing of the Arts and specifically the efforts made to integrate art throughout its far flung communities is something we might have a squiz at and learn from. We might do well to look at the cohesive models they employ and focus on generating similar projects using the latent talent we have with our own creatives as well as nurturing creative talent for the future not least because in a world of collapsing social, economic, environmental and political systems a sense of fun and finely tuned whimsy may help us maintain our collective sanities and endure cascading collective disappointments that might otherwise collapse us as they are quite self evidently collapsing other countries less fortunate.

I’m a clown prone to flights of fancy and not in fact an omnipotent social engineer so instead I’ll stick to recollections and let the more qualified prospect for applicable resonance.

There's a small town in Western Australia called Kellerberrin, it has a population of 868 last anybody checked, its chosen byline is ‘Kellerberrin…Where life is as rich as the landscape.’

 It’s 205 kilometres (127 mi) east of Perth [Itself one of the most isolated cities in the world] on the Great Eastern Highway.

Kellerberrin is about as much in the middle of nowhere as it’s possible to be. Yet due to the efforts in general of a progressive and muscular Arts council it and many other far communities have vibrant expressive little pockets within them. 

Over two decades ago I took a small part in the opening of an arts exhibition in Kellerberrin and it really opened my eyes to how enthusiastically rural farm folk can digest and discover and play with art and whimsy. It laid bare my hoity-toity pretentions.

The opening, in this small rural agricultural outpost was of work by Umberto Cavenago, an Italian conceptual artist who had been imported for six months as an artist in residence.
He was a small man who wore silk suits and didn’t speak much English.
The opening itself was the culmination of the mysterious efforts he’d been putting in the preceding months. As with any small close knit community the local grapevine was a robust and pre-internet information highway unto itself and he had given them much to chatter about. He was harmless and seemingly incongruous but this is a culture where yahoos, larrikins  and misfits are generally accepted and sometimes celebrated and apparently this guy was a high level eccentric and part of Australias charm is that at quite a deep level there’s really nothing wrong with that.

One story concerning him was that on a long straight road slicing through the wheatbelt he was  sightseeing, driving his rental on the wrong side of the road because in Italy that was his reality, they drove on that side, when in the far distance a local farmer approached driving the other way. As the vehicles approached over an extended distance they slowed, each sticking to their guns, until they almost touched at which point they stopped and the silk suited Italian conceptual artist and the wheat farmer on his way home got out and in basic English tried to work out what was happening. Eventually they worked it out, laughed and order was restored and the beginnings of an eccentric legend was added to the local folklore.

Umberto Cavenago spent a great deal of time walking throughout the town with large bags of grass seed, sewing them on the well packed dirt of the pavements. He would nod cheerfully at passers by and pretend he knew no English at all so he didn’t have to explain himself. This improved the quality of the local scuttlebutt considerably. 

Later he went through a list of local people and set up a video camera face onto them and asked them questions I confess I can no longer remember, recorded the answers and disappeared back into the local Gallery which he’d been provided.
Scuttlebutt intensified.

Still later the grass that he’d sown took root on the pavements and he went round taking painstaking record of that in its entirety.

It all culminated in an art exhibition in which myself and a small group of creatives travelled from Perth to embroider on the evening of the opening.
I’m writing this in Oct 2020 from recollections of the actual event back in 98/99 so apologise I can’t remember specifically the colourful crew. I do remember Marcus Canning had a large inflatable costume and the hot gusty winds that were blasting across the plains on which Kellerberrin resides were so strong that if he had been swept off his feet it would have been miles before they touched earth again. He survived.

Inside the gallery which was two main rooms were the answers to all the strange behaviours. Umberto Cavenago had sown the seeds to have them grow and then his photography was him recording the tracks locals had made through them as they walked the footpaths of their small town. He had then used that data to painstakingly render a scaled down model of the matrix of footpaths in the town in dirt with grass and replicated the paths worn down outside in replicate in his model.
Heady stuff, but not hard to understand.

The other room contained banks of video monitors facing each other from across the room each with looped footage of local answering questions to camera.

The locals were cheerfully milling about inside and taking it all in. It was after all a very interesting interpretation of their community on a couple of different levels. There were the tracks they made through the town and there in the other room were recordings of their local kinsfolk answering questions.

The local agricultural and produce association chairman got up to deliver a speech. He welcomed everybody and thanked Umberto Cavenago for his work and then went on to explain art to weather beaten isolated folk in a really inclusive and homespun and to me quite glorious way. 
He said art was an excuse for people to get together and celebrate their communities. He said you didn’t have to understand it and perhaps part of it’s value was not understanding it gave people something to discuss and that itself was interesting. He said it gave people shared experiences and in a community of hardworking folk that perhaps didn’t get out much shared experiences were gifts. He said that this particular art was reflective of this specific community and that he and the people he represented were grateful to Umberto Cavenago for the unique perspective he’d brought to them From all the way on the other side of the world.

There was applause and then with a certain newfound collective pride after so good a speech the local people milled around the exhibition making conversation til the event concluded.

This tiny town and it’s adoption and celebration of an obscure Italian conceptual artist really brought home to me how art and the stubborn promotion of it throughout communities can invigorate and generally enhance the wellbeing of everybody within them.

I hope we can learn from our Australian brothers and sisters in these trying times and foster relationships between the creative and pragmatic within our own communities large and small to benefit us all.

Obviously I’m biased as a clown but I think whimsy's more important than most people give it credit for.



Sunday, September 20, 2020

not all negative, my obscure quiz attempt



How many wives did King Henry the 8th have.

AnswerC6 marriages  although 3 were annulled by the Church of England so 3 but only if you’re a practicing anglican

Q 2
How many wives did King Henry the 7th have?

One  bonus 1000 Elizabeth of York.


Elvis typically performed how may encores?

A 0. B1. C 3
Answer A-0 Elvis never did encores

How old is the table fork? Pick a century between one and ten

Answer..the personal table fork was most likely invented in the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, where they were in common use by the 4th century.

How many eyelids do camels have?

Answer, 3


How many Bananas would you have to eat to equal the radiation in a typical chest Xray

A, 70

B 7000

C 70,000 
Answer C 70-000 bananas.

Last week we learned that on average we wee for 21 seconds.
This weeks question is, What is the world record for the longest pee.

 The World Record for the longest pee is 508 seconds.
That's almost 8.5 minutes. However I could not get confirmation of this fact plus there’s a lot of other dubious claims down this particular rabbit hole so the answer is inconclusive and question seven is cancelled.


How many ATM’s are there in Antarctica?

Answer 2, run by Wells Fargo .

Which is wider, Australia or the moon?
Australia is wider than the moon. But only just.
Australia's diameter is 600km wider than the moon's. The moon sits at 3400km in diameter, while Australia's diameter from east to west is almost 4000km.


And finally an easy one
What is the longest word in English with all the letters in alphabetical order.

Answer ‘Almost'

Q11 what’s more dangerous vending machines or sharks?
Answer vending machines.

From Google: The yearly risk in the U.S. of dying from a shark bite is roughly 1 in 250 million. In contrast, the yearly risk of dying from a vending machine accident is roughly 1 in 112 million. Vending machines are roughly twice as deadly as sharks.

True or false, it’s illegal to sleep naked in Minnesota 


 why do divers fall backwards out of the boat?
Answer ;Because if they fell forwards, they would still be in the boat.
What’s older Sharks or trees?
Answer, sharks.
the last gold medal for the tug of war in the Olympics was won by..
A; The City of London police
B; The Belgians
C; The French Navy.

Answer, A; The City of London police

What is a Flaneur?

Answer. someone who walks around not doing anything in particular but watching people and society.


If you clap your hands once, wait one second, and clap again, thanks to the earth's motion in space, you traveled approximately how many miles between the two claps.

30k miles

B 40K miles

C 90K miles

Answer 30k miles

Q 18
Can anyone here tell me anything about  the Hanging of the Hartlepool monkey. Hartlepool is on the Welsh coast and this was said to have happened in the early 19 century.
Legend has it that during the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century, a shipwrecked monkey was hanged by the people of Hartlepool, believing him to be a French spy! To this day, people from Hartlepool are affectionately known as ‘monkey hangers’.
A French ship was spotted floundering and sinking off the Hartlepool coast. Suspicious of enemy ships and nervous of possible invasion, the good folk of Hartlepool rushed down to the beach, where amongst the wreckage of the ship they found the only survivor, the ship’s monkey which was apparently dressed in a miniature military-style uniform.
Hartlepool is a long way from France and most of the populace had never met, or even seen, a Frenchman. Some satirical cartoons of the time pictured the French as monkey-like creatures with tails and claws, so perhaps the locals could be forgiven for deciding that the monkey, in its uniform, must be a Frenchman, and a French spy at that. There was a trial to ascertain whether the monkey was guilty of spying or not; however, not unsurprisingly, the monkey was unable to answer any of the court’s questions and was found guilty. The townsfolk then dragged him into the town square and hanged him.
There could perhaps be a darker side to the tale – maybe they didn’t actually hang a ‘monkey’ but a small boy or ‘powder-monkey’. Small boys were employed on warships of this time to prime the canons with gunpowder and were known as ‘powder-monkeys’.
What is the most abundant species of animal on earth?
Nematodes outnumber every other species on earth by a 5:1 margin there are   57 billion nematodes for every single human being.

What is a tittle? And how is it part of the alphabet?
Answer The little dot on lower case i’s and j’s is called a tittle.

Which is longer, the wingspan of a Boeing 747, or the first flight of the Wright brothers?

Answer. The Boeing 747 wing-span (195 feet) is longer than the Wright Brothers first flight of 120ft.

What unusual shape is Wombat poo

Answer Cubed.

Question: Which Disney Princess sings “Once Upon a Dream”?

Answer: Aurora (Sleeping Beauty).


Question: Which Disney Princess attended Elsa’s coronation day in Arendelle?

Answer: Rapunzel.

Question: Who serves a Pinocchio’s conscience?
Answer: Jiminy Cricket.


Question: Who said: “Fish are friends not food”?
Answer: Bruce.


Question: Quasimodo was the bell-ringer of which famous cathedral?
Answer: Notre Dame.


Question: Dory from finding nemo suffers from what?
Answer: Short-term memory loss.

Which Disney princess appeared on our screens first? Cinderella, Snow White, or Aurora?

Snow White

Which character in Moana said: "If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you're a princess.”?



Neo-cretins NZ politics


There’s a distinct difference between expats and immigrants.
The first is in the subjective eye of the beholder. An expat recognises their prior status is advantageous . An immigrant submits to their newfound statuses superiority .
I consider myself a NZ expat. I left when I was 23, spent most of my life in a series of other countries, I have a UK passport I got in my 30’s and had a green card for most of my 40’s.
I only returned to NZ because I was misdiagnosed with stage 4 cancer and a friend suggested it was the done thing to have my parents touch me before I died.
Take it from me after much experimentation, the big Island Hawaii is easily one of the best places on the planet to live.
I didn’t as planned die. The NZ heath system saved my life. I’m still alive and there’s no immediate mortal threat and so I digest my land of birth with a jaundiced and wryly grateful eye.
Elections are coming up and interestingly I have a background in circus.
The clowns of the piece are the ‘New Conservative’ party. Anyone who’s studied semantics will recognise the oxymoronic flavour of the branding.
Imagine oxy = 'completely unselfconscious' and you’re close to the truth.
New Conservatives are basically gentrified Orcs, a simple and uncomplicated breed dedicated to the reactionary and simplistic creed. "BURN ALL THE WITCHES!”
Their answers to complex issues are based on them being undisputed paragons of moral superiority .
I.e. all solo mums need to be billeted with good christian couples [much like themselves] for their own and societies greater good and presumably have chastity belts welded onto them while being locked into basements to avenge the collective guilt new conservatives feel for having ever having masturbated, poor darlings.
There is no god but Jesus Christ and conveniently he’s manifest in the patriarchal Middle Ages with smart-phones that the new conservatives represent.
They are like sulking preteens given adult powers which given their mental retardation must seem to them godlike and aspirational.
They are overlooked geniuses who’s only disadvantage is throughout their lives they’ve been surrounded by people brighter than themselves which combined with their bible studies has put them in a vengeful mood and the best of them can write paragraphs that engorge their friends who can’t.... but feel they could if they weren’t so distracted by people they didn’t know having sex.
If NZ were ever to take them seriously then obviously it would be for them the chosen land.
But it doesn’t and they’re not and it isn’t.
NZ is a charitable small country otherwise these folk would be considered lapsed mennonites and ridiculed for their digital fumblings.
They are evangelically useful while being socially useless and that’s their comic essence in a nutshell.
If you take them seriously or as one of them take yourself seriously you’re a self branding lower end of the bellcurve sub intelligent dipshit.
They don’t deserve the early 20th century definitions of ‘moron’ ‘idiot’ or ‘imbecile’ which were terms given to infantile retardation in adults.
There is no historical background for the kind of stupidity that requires actual intelligence to ignore objective reality and instead cuccoon itself in a shallow puddle of inflated self regard all pointed towards whomever waves a bible and makes otherwise naturally meaningless people feel they are legends in their own sad nuclear families lunchtimes.
It’s a global thing but luckily in NZ generally brittle tryhards are self evident and not taken particularly seriously.
New Conservatives are thus clowns unaware they are their own punchlines.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Maniacal Laughter Required, You too can help fight collective terminal depression.

So check this out,

I'm looking to produce locally a cover of this instrumental as the opening part of a show I'm working on.

I've made inquiries towards a keyboardist, [but might be looking for others if he's not available.]

and I've made inquiries of a sound engineer, [But might be looking at others if he's not available]

Additionally you'll notice there's layers of maniacal laughter involved in the piece.
That's where you come in....

download 'Audacity' [ free, easy audio recording software]

or use what you already have and please record and email me a soundfile of your best evil laughter.

I'll probably distort it beyond recognition but everybody who sends me a file will be included in the credits and in the recording somewhere.

and I'll record the show and send you a copy.

I need your help. Thanks.

Sadly, the keyboardist Dave Greenfield died of Covid on may 3rd this year. I'm hoping he's appreciate you turning your sadness into maniacal laughter.

Further notes, one man show

My Post below is the preamble, a voice over monologue as I’m filmed putting on my makeup and stilts.

There is potential to emphasise by cutting from voice over to speaking to camera for dramatic punctuation.
Parts can be sped up and slowed down however the prime editing criterion is that the length of the preparation footage matches/equals the length of the monologue.

Then intro music, 'Waltz in Black' By the stranglers.

[PRODUCTION NOTE-I’ve started inquiries to have NZ musicians produce a cover of this music to sidestep potential copywrite issues]

[Martin/Lurk enters bare stage, 11 ft white face clown and moves towards abnormally tall mic stand mid centre stage front]

[Grabs mic off stand and begins pacing]

Who the fuck do I think I am?

That’s what some of you are thinking.

You people put yourselves abstractly in other peoples shoes to ask questions. I like that.

Others of you who don’t do that sort of thing automatically are simply asking.

What the fuck is this? And that’s fair enough too.

I can answer both questions at once.

I’m the last clown standing.

Which is a bit of a stretch, I’m guessing Leo Bassi’s still holed up somewhere being an isolated madcap asshole, and Jonathan Freddes who’s the last ancient Ringling Clown is still dodging plague and gaining successive blackbelts at 70 something in Mississippi and there are others alive and I could continue to namedrop like it was an olympic sport

And also I’m not nearly so well known, except to clowns. I’m pretty secure in the fact that most international clowns know me. Heard of me. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m well liked generally. I’m like Clown wasabi.
I kept to the streets mainly but I did my share of international festivals and mad private events and a smattering of circuses and international corporate bollocks but I’m the last standing
Here……..[moves] and here, etc etc.

And I’m not sure but I have a suspicion collectively our days are numbered simply because as a species we have less and less to laugh about.

The chuckles are finite. Who knew? Notice how comedies getting darker generally? There’s less and less yucks that can be mined from the human condition.
Our ability to laugh at ourselves is receding into a collapsing bubble of diminishing returns.
And probably making a sound similar to a fart cushion while doing so. Don’t worry, that’s the only fart joke you’ll get from me.
The sound of humanity disappearing up it’s own ass. [Makes fart noise] Moving right along.

Clowns were the mostly insipid fluffy little canaries in the coalmine, Circus based, street theatre festivals, before their ultimate accolade became a residency in Vegas . I suspect Vegas is in the process of drying up and blowing away. Always was a bit of allegorical shitstain in my opinion. I’ve worked there. I’ll get back to Vegas later in the show. But Vegas is a city, in a country, in a western world, in a global interconnected system that’s convulsing in case you hadn’t noticed.

The only Clowns built to survive this convulsion were more like Crows or Ravens to begin with, dark brooding slightly unsafe instruments of humour.
Performers who gained your trust by being untrustworthy towards everything but their audience.
You ever been in a restaurant and some violinist or rose seller is going from table to table.
You know that dread you feel, like your whole nights been ruined as you feel them heading your way?
The clowns I liked used people like aztec sacrifices. It takes great skill to choose who to pick on.
I have picked on tens of thousands of people. I’m not proud, but I’m not embarrassed or ashamed either.
It’s a serious business and I know what needs to be done. I engineered laughs.

Check this out……

[STAGE NOTE, I need to workshop whether for pacing purposes I go straight to this gag or build it using the rule of threes via my one ball juggling anticlimax gag followed by my magic pen gag leading into this bit]

[Pulls out LED Yo Yo, shows it to the crowd, milks reaction, teases anticipated big trick, engages Yoyo but even though he’s on stilts the string is impossibly long and the Yoyo shatters on the stage. Lurk freezes in shock, the tricks ruined. He turns himself so his back faces the audience and frantically begins pulling up the string of the broken Yoyo in small increments. He glances over his shoulder intermittently. When he has fully collected the string there is a little further surreptitious furtive movement before he turns to face the audience with the fingers of both hands supporting a woven doily triumphantly.]

Update from about a month ago.

Saturday, August 1, 2020


I’m what is known, in what passes for academic clown parlance, as a ‘droll’
'amusing in an odd way; whimsically humorous; waggish, jocular or witty, full of roguish good humor.’

I’m additionally a white faced pantomime on stilts. I don’t speak and thus have worked many cultures who’s spoken and written languages were unknown to me.
I had no problem communicating.

That worked for almost thirty years until around 2010.
Since then the idea of distracting the already distracted has lost it's romantic appeal. Ecosystems are crashing, parts of the world that didn't used to be are now uninhabitable and migration's already started. Water tables are more or less empty in Africa and southern Europe and the Americas. Globally fish are over 50% depleted and non renewable as of 2016, the worlds convulsing and collapsing systematically in real time as I write and playing my worlds tiniest violin on the deck of humanities Titanic, or even worse, on a cruise ship or whatever real estate development and multi-corp sponsor facade masking as community event I could whore myself out to for yucks ...well I used to think the majority of dumb fucks and their kids about to inherit a barren wasteland before their middle age was darkly amusing. Now I'm more inclined to see clowns as the cruel mother tereasas with serpentine eyes pacing the terminal ward of humanity living off whatever hope the hopeless still radiate.

I’ve had a change of heart. It took a near terminal cancer and two years of recuperation and a global pandemic to reorientate the kind of dark optimism that was my professional trademark.
I’ve decided Clowns can still be useful.

Salman Rushdie in midnights children wrote something that resonated with me as a clown.
I’m paraphrasing but he wrote about Indian street magicians and he said.
“Their hold on reality was so fundamental and strong that they could bend and shape it to their will.”

All performance incapsulates this ambition and street theatre is its most fundamental form.

A public space is bent and shaped and moments are spun from straw into metaphysical gold in that ideally a group of strangers are given focus and access to a joy that is larger than the sum of it’s parts and also practically there’s a transaction borne of collective gratitude that empowers the performer. The performer also benefits in a rare and singular way in that their life actually makes sense for a select period of time. The best of the best [not to be confused with the most commercially successful ] [and this is all just my thoughts and opinion] achieve a kind of profound peace whilst dancing round inside their absurd creations.

This is the ideal or the bedrock of the situation as I’ve always seen it. I’ve studied and inhabited and experimented within this conceptual membrane for as long as I could and also studied others in the convergence of Clown and Street theatre artists/engineers.

It’s not enough to simply be a boilerplate narcissist, it’s helpful to know that metaphor and psychology exist in applicable realworld units. As a mime I lacked the luxury of the word being made flesh and dealt primarily with metaphor, psychology, the interpretation of the moment and timing.

It worked for me. Suicidal people in my audiences would puncture their isolated hells to let me know I’d made them laugh. I guess that makes me a generous psychopath given I victimised people for a living.

I look for the bedrock in other performers, I think the essential nature of people who manipulate others for a living is important. I identified mainly and not surprisingly with robust nihilistic contrarians who created incandescent joy because someone had to and life held no meaning otherwise.

I’m fifty fucking seven now. I’ve spent the two years isolated in a room with the luxury of the state paying my rent getting used to the fact I’ve had my stomach removed and just thinking generally.

The difference between being insane and being a clown really comes down to whether you can orchestrate laughter.

As such I’ve been unemployed the last couple of years and while I once wrote of Performer and Clown Anthony Livingspace.

"Figuratively, if you were to imagine the outskirts of society and from there walk a day and a half, then have on hand a very powerful set of binoculars, you may, in the distance make out what looks to be a putrid swamp.
Tony lives just on the other side of that but returns to do shows for the folk.”
I feel myself I have ventured so far away from what constitutes 2020 collective reality that it and I no longer have enough in common to form a collective bond.
I choose to find that liberating because, and I’ve been there before, the alternative is simply to keep to myself and with patience wait to die.
During this period of isolation the world convulsed and itself shrank and isolated.
I got a head start by chance.
Another wise clown once told me that our main responsibility as Clowns is to keep ourselves entertained.
So I’ve decided to once again entertain myself and others and create something larger than myself, an ambitious vehicle, to do it as we all navigate the new global cultural turbulences in search of new sources of bread, [not my business] and circuses, [the wider definition of which being my paddling pool of choice, my business]