Saturday, December 31, 2016

Why Milo Yiannopoulos is going to win, and your hatred of him only makes him stronger.

This guy's book is already destroying the Amazon kindle charts, and it's not even released until March. This incredibly smart, young, gay man has some very important things to tell you. If you've never heard of the rising journalistic demi-god that is Milo Yiannopoulos, then I strongly recommend you get on it!
You might see him in the newspapers and TV headlines for the next little while. They'll call him some names. They'll spread some false allegations. They'll ideological mischaracterise him. What they WON'T do is provide any arguments against his rhetoric.
THAT is why he is winning, and so very needed in the public sphere right now.

New from The Rational Right: Christmas Truth

Sven and James discuss the difficulty we face as red-pilled people with family members who are still plugged into “The Matrix” of mainstream narrative.

The post Christmas Truth appeared first on The Rational Right ➔.

2016 - The Best Year Yet (A Review)

So, it's the last day of 2016!

I see many of my friends and acquaintances, as well as public figures lamenting what a dreadful year this has been. I would concede that it has certainly been an intense year. Many changes in people's personal lives and certainly in the global political/economic sphere. In my irrational youth I would have chalked this up as an astrological convergence or some kind of destiny/fate for humanity. I probably also would have been lamenting the horror of 2016. That is, I would have had I not had a massive awakening in early 2015 which was well and truly concretised as a radical shift in world view by the time 2016 came around.

I discovered philosophy. And through philosophy I discovered the tools within myself to adequately assess the world around me with logical consistency, with an understanding of principles, and an ability to be guided by those principles into better, healthier choices for my life.

But better choices are not always easy ones.

I had to face my internal reality about some of the relationships in my life. My experience was not being shared honestly with people I claimed to love, and who claimed to love me. And I had to ask myself "why am I withholding?"

To quote one of my favourite musicians (though less so these days because of his political positions, which irk me) Jason Mraz, "When there is love, I can't wait to talk about it." I used to think the it he referred to was the love itself. But how can one talk about love? We don't even know what it is, right?

Well, I learned a new definition of love from my favourite living philosopher, Stefan Molyneux. He says that love is an involuntary response to virtue, experienced by virtuous people. So love is just an attraction, to the goodness in others, when we ourselves are good.

There were people in my life who I couldn't share that understanding with, and worse, who I couldn't share my own feelings with. The word love was there, but we couldn't talk about it. But, in my pursuit of my own virtue, I chose to recognise my failure to be truthful about my experience and start talking, at risk of exposing dangerous truths.

And that's when people started revealing themselves to me - their truest selves.

The best relationships in my life have strengthened beyond description. This has been the best year of my marriage so far, and my close friends are people I am truly intimate with, in ways that would have been terrifying for me in the past.

The worst relationships became apparent for what they were, and I dissolved them.

At age 30, with two children of my own, a wife, and a wildly creative multi-disciplined career, I simply don't have time to invest in relationships that don't have the basic notion of reciprocity down. If there's nothing in it for me, I'm out. My life is not a charity for others. My life is my own.

This year has probably been the year of the MOST social adversity for me. My opinions about Donald Trump, about feminism and Islam, about the government and the welfare state, are not popular ones - at least not in the creative circles I operate in. So I've positioned myself as someone who is quite a contrarian to my contemporaries. The result, however, has been surprising.

Most people who see the world like I do are scared to talk about anti-feminism, pro-freedom, men's rights, anti-Clinton (and so on) ideas openly, because they fear being fired by their leftist liberal bosses, or ostracised by their social circle or family.

I haven't faced such consequences. Why? Because I'm self-employed, so I can't be fired. I could lose clients, sure, but that hasn't happened. I'm really damn good at what I do (which is sing and play guitar and keyboards and entertain people and make them feel good with great music!) and so my philosophy and politics are irrelevant in my workplace - music is a unifier.

Secondly, my social circle is two-fold. There's the music scene, in which I have many people I consider friends, but really we are just professional colleagues who work in an environment where we can drink beer, dance around like idiots, and have a great laugh together. It's work, but it feels like play. Some of these colleagues have taken an interest in my politics and philosophy, and while not all of them are convinced by what I talk about, I know that most all of them respect me as someone who is able to have contrarian values, but still conduct a discussion with respect and with strong rational arguments.

My real social circle is, in fact, very small. I have three people that I socialise with regularly, and they are my Philosobros. They are men who share my interests and values deeply, and we convene regularly to discuss them, as well as make videos and articles for The Rational Right, and have a great laugh together.

But at the core of my life as a social animal, is my family.

I spend much of every day with my sons and I help them grow, and they help me. Anyone with two or more kids would agree that twice the number of children is not twice the challenge - it grows exponentially. But the rewards for facing that challenge with eyes and heart open are indescribably sweet.

My wife's family are an essential part of daily lives too, and they are of such valuable influence in the lives of my boys. Without them, I'm not sure where we'd be.

My father lives on the other side of the world to me (in China) and has a new wife who he loves very much. They are career partners too, and kicking serious goals. I see my Dad once a year if I'm lucky, and yet (thanks to social media) I feel we are closer than ever. I think most of this has stemmed from my own growing self-awareness, which has fostered a greater appreciation of all the wonderful qualities my Dad has, and all of the wonderful gifts he has given me - both through his genes and his parenting. I am probably more like my Dad than ever, and I couldn't be prouder.

My wife is far beyond anything I might have imagined from a partner. She is my best friend, my ally, my challenger to greatness, my harshest critic at times, my creative collaborator, my co-parent, my counsel, and my research assistant. My career allows me a lot of time at home with her and my sons, and for that I am truly grateful.

But there was loss, too.

Marcus Aurelius said: “Loss is nothing else but change, and change is Nature’s delight.”

I lost some friends in 2016. I lost some social safety, by exposing my non-mainstream values so publicly. I lost my mother. But I lost all of those things because I lost my illusions, and my willingness to carry on dishonestly. And all that loss cleared the way for something new, in me.

I changed; I became a better, more principled man. A gentler, more patient father. A more generous and compassionate husband. A more reliable and welcoming friend. A person with self-esteem. Someone with boundaries, and a willingness to defend them when necessary.

I love myself, finally. There are still parts of me that I'm working on, but having lived one full calendar year now knowing that my philosophical principles are my guide, I have walked the right track, and tasted its fruits.

I've achieved big things in 2016, major career milestones, including:
  • Worked on my first songwriting collaboration with a major international artist.
  • Finished building my recording studio (with my own hands).
  • Engineered and mixed my first primarily TAPE-based album project - coming soon, stay tuned. (This is a pretty nerdy thing to list as a major achievement, but it's been a lifelong dream, so there!)
  • Rebooted my public image to incorporate my music, my writing, my philosophy all under one brand. No longer just a MUSICIAN, now a PUBLIC FIGURE - with lots to say!
  • I wrote (and am just about finished re-writing and editing) my first novel, something I've always thought I am capable of, but never found the time for. This year I made the time. I am really proud of this book. It's an exciting science fiction adventure, but its also a brave manifesto of my beliefs on many topics: metaphysics, epistemology, politics, ethics, aesthetics, parenting, technology, government... it's all in there. All of my ideas and views have been spun into a world of my creating, delivered by characters who I am now deeply involved with, and may be for years to come! The book will be out next month, and you can be sure I'll be letting you know all about it!
There's probably a gamut of other achievements that don't spring to mind as I write this, but needless to say, I don't feel like 2016 was "just another year", and it most certainly wasn't a year to lament.
Sure, some big name artists and actors died. But that's life. We are all just candles in the wind, and rather than get scared by other candles snuffing out around you (usually thousands of kilometres away, and people you've never even met!), my advice for 2017 is this.

Spend your time trying to answer the question: HOW BRIGHT CAN I BURN?

Happy New Year, everyone. Let's make 2017 even greater than 2016 was! I know I will.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

New from The Rational Right: ARRIVAL (Amy Adams) – A Philosophical Review

James Fox Higgins delivers a scathing review of what he calls “the worst science fiction movie” he has seen in a long time.

“Arrival” stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker and centres around a linguistics professor trying to communicate with the aliens that arrive on Earth in 12 sideways saucers. The results are predictable, implausible, laughable, and angering.


REFERENCE: Our presentation on the nature of Globalism.

The post ARRIVAL (Amy Adams) – A Philosophical Review appeared first on The Rational Right ➔.

Friday, November 25, 2016

New from The Rational Right: The Tightly Woven Web

James and Sven sit down in the new Rational Right studio for a chat about the tightly woven web and the potential future of cultural discourse.

Sargon of Akkad vid that prompted this conversation:

That “First” O’Keefe video:

CASUAL COUCH CHATS – Let There Be Trump:

The post The Tightly Woven Web appeared first on The Rational Right ➔.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Russell Brand: So close to right, but still wrong.

There are things about Russell Brand that I really like. And other things that I don't. He's one of the few leftists who speaks (somewhat) honestly and with relative intelligence about big issues. He has correctly identified the problems with the world, and for that I really enjoyed his book "REVOLUTION" (also for his honesty about his own trauma and struggle with alcohol, drug and sex addiction). The problem with Russell is that after he correctly identifies the problems with the world, his brain twists into a pretzel and he offers completely counter-productive solutions (such as wealth redistribution).

Once again, he is able to identify HOW we've gotten to where we are, and to some degree why Trump was voted for (though his assumptions about the "insanity" of Trump's policies belie his ignorance of the facts). His suggestion that understanding is the key to the left regaining some political footing in the west is precisely correct. But as I mentioned in my video yesterday, the left are incapable of winning arguments in the forum of reasoned debate, because their arguments are so logically untenable. Check out my video here for more comment on that topic:

Saturday, November 12, 2016

My son made a Lego portrait of me loading in to my wedding gig today!

New from The Rational Right: The Death of Leftism in the West

Jonathan Pie’s Rant:

With the complete takeover the American government by the revitalised Republican Party, Hillary supporters take to the streets rioting, protesting, and otherwise completely embarassing themselves and their cause.

Remember when Hillary admonished Trump for even suggesting he might not accept the outcome of the election if he loses? Where is Hillary now? Why isn’t she disavowing these rioters?

Remember when Hillary tried to use Donald Trump’s delay in disavowing the endorsement of a KKK leader as evidence of his racism and hatred? Why isn’t Hillary disavowing the violence that is happening in the streets of the USA – led by her supporters, who act in HER name?

The truth is, this violent turn heralds the DEATH of leftism in America. The anti-gun, anti-fascist democrats have resorted to the beginnings of some kind of pathetic attempt at civil war… because they have lost the war of ideas.

Fortunately, the violence won’t last long, precisely BECAUSE the left disarmed themselves, and because law enforcements are squarely behind Trump.

I believe that the Left is FINISHED in the West, for at least a century. It may take a while for them to get it, but their revolution came and went, and conservatism won – as it should, because conservatism leans towards self-governance, and away from the evil of globalism.

The post The Death of Leftism in the West appeared first on The Rational Right ➔.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

New from The Rational Right: CAR RANTS – Self Work With A #GorillaMindset – Book by Mike @Cernovich

James (Editor-in-Chief) discusses the value of self-work through his own experience (in brief) and reviews the book #GorillaMindset by Mike Cernovich as his personal key to unlocking his physical motivation.

The post CAR RANTS – Self Work With A #GorillaMindset – Book by Mike @Cernovich appeared first on The Rational Right ➔.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016

New from The Rational Right: CAR RANTS: Calling Pauline Hanson “racist” is #NotAnArgument

Yesterday Pauline Hanson made her maiden speech in the newly formed Australian Senate. Within minutes, the Greens Party senators stormed out in a cuckish, unintelligent protest.

Unlike the pouty, virtue-signalling Watermelon Party (Greens on the outside, Red on the inside), Pauline Hanson believes in democracy, and she stands in the senate speaking uncomfortable, politically incorrect truths that are recognised AT LEAST by the citizens who elected her.

When a party walks out (en mass) on a speech in some form of lame protest, all they do is demonstrate the wilfulness of their ignorance.

James Fox Higgins explores some of the content of Hanson’s speech, and makes a case for why the Greens’ protest was the least effective approach they could have taken for their own cause.

Watch Pauline Hanson’s full speech here:

The post CAR RANTS: Calling Pauline Hanson “racist” is #NotAnArgument appeared first on The Rational Right ➔.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

New from The Rational Right: CAR RANTS: 9/11 – The Only Truth That Matters

15 years ago today the heart of western civilisation was attacked by Islamic extremism in an event that rocked the world, and changed the zeitgeist of planet Earth irrevocably.

While the debate still rages about whether or not it was an inside job, or whether the attack was some kind of justified retaliation after the violent interventionism of America in the Middle East, there is one fundamental cause that people tend not to discuss on this day:
Irrational Faith.

Faith in God. Faith in Allah. Faith in America. Faith in any Country or State.

One must have faith in these things, because they are figments of imagination, they do not exist in the empirical universe. And when one places faith in these fantasies above a commitment to reason, evidence, rational self-interest, or universal principles like the NAP, then we inevitably have war and death to follow.

Rationalism is the only thing that got humans out of the realm of grunting animals, and its the only thing that will get us through this tumultuous time of mass enslavement by Statism.

Spread the word, share this video, write your own article, make a video, unleash your own mighty barbaric yawp into the world, and lets work together – with *words* – to ensure that another 9/11 never happens, anywhere.

The post CAR RANTS: 9/11 – The Only Truth That Matters appeared first on The Rational Right ➔.

New from The Rational Right: CAR RANTS: When Compassion is Toxic

In today’s Car Rant, James Fox Higgins explores the idea that compassion and empathy are not universal or infinite values, and that they MUST have limits applied to them, lest they mutate into their very antithesis.

The post CAR RANTS: When Compassion is Toxic appeared first on The Rational Right ➔.

Friday, September 9, 2016

New from The Rational Right: CAR RANTS: Saint Harambe – Patron of the Self-Loathing Human

The social justice battle for Harambe, the previously unknown Gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, goes on. And on and on…

Around the globe, thousands of keyboard warriors have banded to together to petition, hashtag, and virtue signal about the cruel injustice that faced this beast when he shot to protect the life of a young child who climbed into his enclosure.

Some think the child should have been left to die.

Some think the mother should be punished.

Others think the Zoo should be closed down.

Some are question the very validity of animal captivity in the first place.

Meanwhile, Harambe has become a figure of parody for the SJW mindset, as well as a patron for environmentalists and vegans.

James Fox Higgins unpacks the philosophical problems that Harambe represents, and tries to share his views on the value of human life relative to animal, as well as the toxicity of environmentalism as an absolute ideology.

The post CAR RANTS: Saint Harambe – Patron of the Self-Loathing Human appeared first on The Rational Right ➔.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

That Moment When You Finish Your First Novel...

Dear Diary,






Please excuse me while I celebrate. If you need me, I'll be at Gatsby's house:

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

New from The Rational Right: CAR RANTS: #kokesh2020 – is America ready for liberty?

Adam Kokesh is an American libertarian who has recently announced that he intends to run for President in 2020, with the singular plan of using his position if elected to enact an executive order to abolish the US Federal Government. While this is aligned with anarcho-capitalist philosophy, is America really ready to be freed overnight? Or does the transition to liberty need to be a slow, paced journey.

The post CAR RANTS: #kokesh2020 – is America ready for liberty? appeared first on The Rational Right ➔.

New from The Rational Right: CAR RANTS: Anarchy & Equality

James Fox Higgins takes twenty to try and offer a brief off-the-cuff explanation of why anarchy is the only truly moral social model, and why the basic acceptance of existence leads us in a straight line to acceptance of self-ownership, then to property ownership, and along the same line to capitalism and non-aggression.
The post CAR RANTS: Anarchy & Equality appeared first on The Rational Right ➔.

from WordPress

New from The Rational Right: Anarchists for Trump? Will there be War? Self-work Cures Leftism.

 In our first ever interview, James Fox Higgins speaks with fellow Aussie Anarcho-Capitalist Adrian Pikios from Love, Life & Anarchy.
Should anarchists suspend absolute adherence to the non-aggression principle and vote for Donald Trump?
Will there be another major war in the West, in our lifetime?
And how does a Leftist change? – an honest exploration of the importance of self-work.
Check out Life, Love & Anarchy on YouTube here.
The post Anarchists for Trump? Will there be War? Self-work Cures Leftism. appeared first on The Rational Right ➔.

from WordPress

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Making of an Unreleased Short Film

So yesterday I posted my short film which I had dug out of my vaults of works from many a moon ago.

Being the obsessive and unemployed artiste that I was 10 years ago, I also made a "Behind the Scenes" documentary for the short film "Strung!"... neither of which were ever released.

So, in the spirit of cleaning out my creative closet, here's the making of "Strung!"

Saturday, August 20, 2016

What's a film without some epic trailers!

Yes... I was quite the obsessive dreamer. When I made my short film "Strung!", I also made three trailers for it. Trailers that were never seen, for a film that was never seen... until now!




Friday, August 19, 2016

HEROES, 001: Aubrey Charles Roff Higgins

I'm going to start a series of blog posts about heroes.

Heroes are an essential part of human history. They show up throughout the entirety of literature, all the way back to the first recorded story known to man - the epic tale of Gilgamesh (more than a 1000 years before the Old Testament!).

And in real life, heroes are often the difference between survival and death, evolution and stagnation, inspiration and despair.

To honour the heroes (both real and fictional) that I admire, here is the first episode of the HEROES series of my blog.

Aubrey Charles Roff Higgins (1914-2007)

Who better to begin with than a real-life hero, who was a person in my own life. My paternal grandfather Aubrey Higgins was an extraordinary man, who led an extraordinary life. I won't detail his full biography here, for two reasons:

1) This series is much more about painting a picture of the qualities that maketh a hero, not historical recount.

2) I am currently in the process of researching and organising the story of his life in order to begin work on a novel inspired by the experiences of he and my Nanna Marjorie Helen Higgins (nee Stevens). Theirs is an epic tale that has been told many times in my family, in many chapters, in many ways, but it deserves to be made into an epic, romantic, adventurous work of fiction, and I plan to do that (just as soon as my first sci-fi novel is finished!).

It is for the latter of those points that this story came to pass.

I told my Dad recently (when he was visiting from China) that I was planning this novel. I think he was touched by the notion, given that he too holds his father in the highest esteem as a hero, but also that he himself is a writer, and that for me to follow in his footsteps as it were (at a very similar time in life as when he too "came out" as a writer) is perhaps the highest form of flattery to both him and my grandfather, the latter of whom will be the hero of my story.

My Dad had to clean out some personal items he had in storage on the property I live on, and as I was helping him I told him of my plan. When I saw him again a few days later, my comment to him about the book I was planning had obviously stayed with him, because he decided to gift me a collection of treasures that had belonged to his father.

Needless to say (as you may empathise when you see the treasures below) that I was utterly moved and inspired by this collection, and no sooner had I spent a little time studying the contents, did the direction and outline of my story based on Aubrey's life take shape - INSPIRATION!

So these objects now take pride of place in my writing/music studio/man-cave, and each object will offer you a mere morsel of the heroic life that was Aubrey Charles Roff Higgins's.

Here is the shelf on which Aubrey's items live. Some of them I already had, some were the recent gifts from my father. The Stetson hat to the right was one that my grandfather wore a lot, and it's pretty old. One peculiar thing about it is its size. My grandfather sported a very small head - at least insofar as its diameter. He was tall, and his head was more long than wide. No one else in the family could wear this Stetson hat successfully, except my son at age 2, which quickly changed again when he had a growth spurt at age 3.

My grandfather was born into a military family, going way back. His father Louis Charles Higgins was a soldier in the British Army based in India. He was fatally wounded in Mesopotamia when my grandfather was just a boy, during World War I (then known as the Great War). There is only one (maybe two) photos in existence of that father and son together. I have them both, somewhere in the boxes of artefacts from my grandparents' lives - marked TO BE SORTED. I will post the photo on this here bog when I find it.

In the above photograph is an official letter (brief as it may be) from King George VI, embossed with the emblem of Buckingham Palace, that came with the large brass medal which was minted in honour of Louis Charles Higgins upon his death in the line of duty. These items were the earliest remnants of memory my grandfather held of his father.

With the letter from the King is the leather wallet that Louis wore on his person when he was shot, along with his folding army knife, and his dog tag. The tag is scratched by the sand of the desert in which he fell. The wallet still contains grains of it.

Here is the aforementioned medal that was sent to my Great Grandmother, and kept by my grandfather until his dying day. The tales and culture surrounding my Great Grandfather and his service to King and Country must have had an impact on my Grandfather, because when he was only 13 years old, he shipped off from India - the country in which he was born and raised - to England, to undertake military boarding school and work towards become a young officer in the Royal Army.

In 1928, at age 14, Aubrey wrote this two-sided note to his mother with a list of items he wanted her to bring when she was visiting him on a break from his military boarding school. The penmanship is - at least to me - breathtaking. Certainly better than anything I was capable of at age 14. Such was the ways of many British men in the early 20th Century, especially those of military discipline.

In 1932, at age 17 (almost 18), Aubrey graduated from his military school "as a 'Sapper'", as the good Captain of "B" Company from the Army Technical School for Boys wrote to Aubrey's mother. That meant that he was a Royal Engineer, beginning his career in England, and eventually finding his way back to India, from whence he came.

Granddad was very proud of his career as a Sapper, and he always kept this coat of arms on his wall, in every house he lived in. This emblem has always been a symbol of my grandfather and his character, as a man of integrity, a gentleman, and educated man, a conservative, a builder, an engineer, a warrior, a protector of innocence, and all the other things that he was to me.

In his work in the Corps of Royal Engineers, he built bridges, repaired vehicles, built boats, and eventually as he became a commanding officer, led platoons of Indian soldiers. He also spent a time overseeing a platoon of Japanese soldiers in Java after their surrender at the end of WWII. His main job was to prevent them from committing seppuku (honourable suicide). To do this, he had them convert decommissioned weaponry into speed boats, and had them race each other around the lake. Purposeful work kept those men alive.

His Royal Engineers wooden box - in which he kept letters from the King, his medals, and love letters to and from his wife Marjorie - my Nanna.

On the 7th of February 1941, at age 27, my grandfather married Marjorie Helen Stevens on her 18th birthday. They remained married until his death 66 years later.

On the morning of their wedding, he wrote her this love letter (above). She evidently kept it on her person as it is torn and folded into disrepair. But this treasure was kept nonetheless, and it is just a taste of the depth of Aubrey's love, commitment, and honour that he brought to their relationship, and the seriousness in which he took his oath of marriage.

It reads:

My darling girl,  
This comes to wish you many many happy returns of the day. May God bless you and grant you many more happy ones with me in the years to come. 
A few hours after you receive this, we shall be joined together by God as man and wife, and I pray that God will guide and help us to be a blessing and comfort to each other. 
After waiting for eighteen months, at last the day I have so looked forward to is almost here. I have been living for this day, when you, the girl I love with my whole being will become my life long partner. I promise you that you shall never want. That I will strive with all my might and main to make you happy, to live only for you. Your happiness will be my reward. 
Once more my darling "Many happy returns", God grant you his choicest blessing, protect and keep you, keep you safe, until we are united as one at His Holy Altar. This is the fervent prayer of one who loves you dearly. 
Always your Aub.

And here's the beauty he married:

Aubrey was an accomplished swimmer, expert diver, and an active member of the Royal Life Saving Society. Above are two medals he was awarded, one for actually saving the life of a drowning man. That alone should serve as evidence for why I regard Aubrey Charles Roff Higgins as a hero, but in truth it is only the surface of his heroism. The rest, I shall explore in great depth, in my future novel.

By the end of his long military career, in which he ascended the ranks to Major, Aubrey was a decorated soldier. I don't actually know what each of these medals represents - that shall be part of my research for the novel. The gold discs were his uniform cufflinks. The medals are miniatures that came with the full-sized medals. The big ones were sent to his eldest son, my uncle John in England, who also served a long and decorated career as a soldier in the Royal Army. When Granddad died, it was fitting that his Army son should have them. But the miniatures stayed with my father, and now I am honoured to be their custodian, along with all of the other treasures that I have shared here.

About a year ago, Aubrey's widow Marjorie died peacefully in my presence. I had the great privilege of growing up with this great Matriarch and her late husband, the great Patriarch of our house, as central members of my family life. I spent lots and lots of time with them.

Many people cite a key moment in modern history that everyone (except millenials) can remember as the question: "Where were you when the planes hit the towers?". Well, I (at age 15) was in the home of Aubrey and Marjorie Higgins, my beloved grandparents, where I stayed one night every week without fail for my whole high school career. Prior to that, they lived with my parents, sister and I in an adjoined granny-flat to the house in which I grew up.

Today, the ashes of both Aubrey and Marjorie are combined together, and became the food for a mango tree, which we planted in their honour (as two children of the last years of the British Raj) only a few metres away from my man cave, where I sit and write this now. It is my hope that one day my sons, or perhaps my grandchildren, will climb and play in that tree and I will tell them of their ancestors. It will be my great honour and privilege to tell a fictionalised version of their great, romantic tale, just as it is an honour to possess these treasures that belonged to my Grandfather, and to publish a little about him here, as the first of my Great Heroes.

Finally, I will leave with you a song of them.

From my latest album, released only a few days ago, this song is calle "Marjorie (My Love Will Remain)" - it a song I wrote imagining what my grandfather might have liked to have said to my Nanna as he lay in his nursing home bed at age 93, unable to speak, dying. It is his swan-song to her, to tell her go on, to live through the pain and the loneliness, to know that there is a life to enjoy without him, and that even if he can no longer be with her, his love will always remain within her.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Strung! (A Short Film by James Fox Higgins) 2006

Those who have been paying attention would be aware that I have recently "re-branded" myself as not merely a musician, but as a creative who works in many media. Truth is I have been writing, drawing and making films and music videos as long as I have been doing music, so I thought 2016 was the perfect year to "come out" as a multimedia artist, and start to share some of my other work.

That should answer your question: "What the hell is this video doing on James Fox Higgins' Youtube channel?".

Now... to the film.

10 years, while I was studying music production at uni, I was also writing a feature film screenplay for fun, and dabbling in digital film production. I hung out with the film students on campus a lot, and even got chummy with the guy who looked after the camera and lighting gear, enough to get myself access to state-of-the-art Mini DV standard definition cameras and cracked editing/post production software.

It was a very creative time for me.

At that time, I wrote, directed, produced, edited, and animated this short film, "Strung!" with the help of many friends from uni.

The film stars three of my fellow music students, come amateur thespians, and my adopted cat. The two leading actors disappeared into a cloud of smoke when we finished uni, but the third actor, Ian Peres who played Juan (and the voice of Juan the Monkey) disappeared into a cloud of glitter, sweat and groupies after we finished uni - yes, he went on to become a world famous rockstar as the bassist and organist in Wolfmother.

Check out Juan/Ian being a rock god in some stadium somewhere:

The film is intended for comedy and entertainment only, it's certainly not excellent work, but I spent many hours working on it... countless hours, and for some reason, when it was done, I never published it anywhere.

Though thoroughly stupid, I look back at this film and it fills me with pride. This was something that I saw in my mind, scribbled down as an idea, developed into a script, storyboarded, planned a multi-day shoot around, edited, learnt how to use 3D animation software, particle emission effects, all kinds of compositing effects, I re-recorded all of the dialogue in post, edited it into synch with the film, cut it down from a 37 minute behemoth into something slightly more digestible... I saw it through.

It surprises me in retrospect that I didn't release it when it was done, but I think I was just so exhausted after creating it, and a bit disappointed that it wasn't "film festival standard"... so I filed it away and forgot about it.

But now that I watch it again, and remember what was involved in making it... I am immensely proud that I did something so bold and so utterly stupid as make my own film. I may never do such a thing again, but that is one thing I can certainly tick off the bucket list!

So, ten years later, from the vaults... here's my one and only short film as a writer-director. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Premature Memoir of a Wedding Singer (Chap. 1)


About two years ago I started writing a memoir. It came about from an inspired moment of wanting to jot down some of the funnier moments from my music career, but it quickly became something of a journalling process. The whole idea of me, at age 29, being an artist of very low profile compared to where I wanted to be, writing a memoir and expecting anyone to give a shit was rather ludicrous, and I knew it.

So I named the book "The Premature Memoir of a Wedding Singer".

I haven't even finished it. To be honest, once the idea for my first fiction novel came into focus in my mind, and I began planning and researching that novel, this book was pushed aside and I haven't touched it in over a year. But I did keep it!

And so, I've decided to now publish what I've written so far, chapter by chapter, into this blog, for you to read and enjoy freely. Perhaps sharing these chapters will spur me on to write more when I run out, and continue the story to its logical end. If you read my last post, about my career being officially rebooted as a musician/producer/writer (not just a musician), you would probably get a clear sense as you read this first chapter of my musical memoir of where the story must end. 

So, if there's interest and inspiration, I will continue the story. And who knows, perhaps one day I will edit these blog entries into a book... we shall see.

For now, here is Chapter 1 of The Premature Memoir of a Wedding Singer

Chapter 1

Destiny & the Reckoning of Seamus

It’s a warm night. Humid too. 

The air is thick and the only sound I hear at this moment is the gentle crashing of waves on the beach just outside. An occasional cough or giggle cuts through the silence in the room. My sweaty hands are hovering in the air, shaking slightly from exhaustion, fingers spread wide. 

There are two hundred people standing just in front of me, staring at me, grinning. Trying to suppress their laughter and excitement. They are all frozen in time, some in very awkward postures. Arms up in the air, some with legs akimbo, some barely holding themselves up. 

I can smell the alcohol on them. 

The silence is broken again, this time by a glass breaking behind the bar. The bar girl looks a little embarrassed to have interrupted this moment. The momentary distraction causes unrest in the crowd. 

A couple of people laugh and start murmuring or groaning. My face turns stern and like a schoolmaster I press my right index finger to my lips and lean towards my microphone. 

“Ssshhhh” I say, and a few members of the audience mimic me towards their disruptive classmates. 

I intend to keep this drunken group poised in stillness as long as I can, without them turning on me. 

They are at my command. 

I am in charge. 

These people adore me. For now. 

As I begin to sense the moment is nearing it’s death, out of silence my voice cuts through like a razor through hot butter and as the anacrusis of my phrase concludes my hands crash down upon the piano in perfect synchronicity with the three other musicians who stand beside me, each wearing a hearty smirk on his face. 

At this moment the frozen horde of drunken automatons erupt into a wild thrash of rhythmless fury, spilling more drinks into the already pungent carpet and upon themselves. 

Before long a woman in a lacey white dress is elevated to the shoulders of two men who barely balance beneath and barely keep their crumpled suits on their bodies. 

The entire rabble is ecstatic and grateful that I have chosen to relieve the awkward prolonged time freeze that I, the God of music in this time and place, created. 

They trusted in Me. 

They had Faith, and Faith is what my mouth bestowed unto them. 

“Because I gotta have faith, faith, faith, I gotta have faaaith. Because I gotta have faith, a-faith, a-faith, I gotta have faith. Faith. FAITH!” 

And on the first beat of the eighth bar, the music stops. The instant of silence is consumed with the hearty roar of two hundred overjoyed drunkards, one bride and one groom, and my job is done.

I always knew I’d be a Rock Star. 

This is not quite what I had in mind.

When this all started my plan was to be a global rock star, a worldwide tour de force, by the time I turned thirty. Like so many fatalistic artsy types I had made a pact with myself at some juvenile crossroads that if I hadn’t made it by thirty I would pack it in. To do what instead, exactly? Still haven’t worked out a plan B. But here I am on the eve of my 30th birthday and looking back on my career, it is an ironic parody of my childhood dream. 

And it’s been awesome. 

Therein has laid the learning and the adventure.

The decision for a creative life was made pretty early in my life, albeit via a number of meandering changes of direction. 

Early on I wanted to be an “inventor”. I had no invention ideas, but I did love Back To The Future and Doctor Emmett Brown was one of my idols. After that came “formula one racer”. I had no real interest in cars or going fast, still don’t, but at that time the Grand Prix was hosted in Adelaide and it was quite exciting. That would be the life for me. Around age four I realised I didn’t need to pluck a career path out of thin air. I should do what I love doing.

My parents were always very encouraging and supportive of my endeavours. I was a passionate illustrator from age two and fairly advanced for my age, at least in terms of being able to reproduce forms of Disney characters and animals in a fairly convincing and colour-correct way. I loved it and drew a lot. Creativity was my thing as soon as I could wield a tool of creation. My mum was very encouraging of that. I remember her helping me to draw a lot, showing me techniques, drawing with me. One of my earliest memories was attending junior art classes. I have no recollection of what was taught or who taught it, but I remember dark brick interior walls, tables covered in paper and pencils and my mum sitting by my side while I drew.

My Dad was a police officer in our home state of South Australia around that time and he wasn’t around much in the day time. If he was home in the day it’s because he was on a night shift roster and was asleep. On weekends and days off he was often stoned or half cut. He was self-medicating a lot to cope with the daily nightmare of being a beat cop in Adelaide. It’s not a very generous way to raise the curtain on my dad in this book, but he’s a writer too and he’ll tell his own story if he writes his memoirs one day. I’ll write it as I remember it. 

I was aware that he was under the influence a lot. Kids are smart, and I was aware of when he was high or not, even before I knew what it really meant. Truth told, at that time in his life and career, when he was high he was mellow and fun. Cuddly, playful and creative. When he was straight, he was quick to anger, he was paranoid and stressed. So much of that was apparent in all of his cop mates. Self-medication was part and parcel of being “on the job”. It was the cop life. 

When dad had a week of annual leave he would almost always borrow my uncles VHS shoulder-camera - bastardly behemoth of a contraption - get stoned or drunk and start making experimental movies. 

When I was old enough to participate I was keen to get on-camera and dad was happy to have a little actor ready to do his will. I mostly got bit-parts to begin with: guitarist in his Doors comeback video (my sister was the go-go dancer, dad was Jim Morrison of course); a demented skeletal clown in one of his arthouse pieces; a junior edition of himself, co-starring with my grandfather in a triple-generation art piece called “Seasons”. 

When I had mastered my acting craft by age 5, we moved beyond the David Lynch-esque arthouse into much more mainstream work such as our action sci-fi hit Psychodroid, in which I was cast as the protagonist farmer/Jedi in a battle to the death with a giant klingon android who had come to take my sister for experiments.

My sister Bronwyn was the damsel in distress - a role she never played too convincingly since she has always been a stubbornly self-sufficient woman, since birth. Mum was camera operator. I’m not sure if she liked that gig or not, I do remember the early 90’s “portable home video camcorder” was about as big as her. She had some hip issues later in life. Possibly attributable to that day of shooting.

Dad was evidently a frustrated storyteller pretending to be a cop. He did fine in his job. Survived it. 

Eventually he moved out of beat work and into prosecution - courtroom work - and got to act out his youthful desire for justice in that forum. That eventually changed into private investigation when he’d had enough of working for the state. 

The life of hunting criminals wore off completely after a decade and he quit entirely and went into - you guessed it - making pizzas. 

He later confessed it was one of the best jobs ever because he was able to be completely mentally absent and secretly work on his real passion - writing. 

Before long, by the time I was a teenager, he’d finished his second full novel and had signed with Random House for publication. Naturally he wrote what he knew - crime. 

It was a great time for our family. Dad was unemployed and we were broke, but we were incredibly happy to be all together and support Dad in doing what he was truly meant to do: Create. By this time as well my Mum had fully embraced her own life-long passion for the visual arts and she was an avid amateur painter across multiple media. I found myself in a fully creative household and it was awesome.

*SIDE NOTE. I’m only on page 2 of being a writer, and a gaggle of mid-50s ladies just decided they needed a photo with “that handsome man” (me) in this cafe, because I “look like an artist”. NOW I understand why writers are always in cafes with MacBooks and macchiatos. We’re apparently so attractive!

Dad’s learning curve came at a price though, in the form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (called Shell Shock in the old days, a label usually reserved for war veterans, but Dad like many cops was a veteran of the unending war in every city, everywhere). Dad had seen plenty of violence, and participated in some to defend himself, defend victims of domestic abuse, defend his colleagues. He’d been a physical being since his teen years of being bullied and beaten at school, so he knew how to fight. Karate, judo, kendo. Later body building and much much later Iaido - a passion he and I shared as men together. As a young cop, he could defend himself, and he did enough times to get broken up inside about it all. Dad told me later that two of the biggest traumas for him were when the violence came close to home. 

One of the times that dad had the miserable job of escorting a mother to identify her drowned eight year old daughter in the morgue, the emotional detachment he’d been trained for was tested when the corpse looked, for a moment to him, exactly like my sister. That moment of thinking it was his own child destroyed him, momentarily. The other incident was one I bore witness to as a 7 year old. 

We were all at home one weeknight at our rural property in the Northern Hills of the Adelaide area. We heard a helicopter fly over pretty low. 

Then again. 

Then again with bright searchlights scanning over our paddocks.

Dad was straight on the phone to whatever control tower or home base or hotline cops use to get information. He said some phonetic identification number (“Hotel Lima One Two Five” or some such) then dropped a bit of cop jargon and suddenly had some answers. 

Before we knew what was happening Dad had two loaded rifles out of his gun locker, bundled my Mum, my sister and I into the master bedroom, and latched the door behind him. 

It was all rather thrilling, and terrifying, but at this point mostly exciting! Dad was like Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon, or Bruce Willis in Die Hard. But with shoes on. 

He told us what he knew: two prison escapees had been crossing the state on the run. They were suspected armed after robbing some place and the chopper was trying to track them down. Due to an abandoned stolen car near our place, they assumed they were nearby. These were violent criminals and they had already burgled one house on their journey. 

Now we knew. 

Dad ran mum through the procedure. We were to stay locked in the master bedroom, all together. We were to stay back from the window, stay low, preferably in the bed. If there was a knock on the door unaccompanied by Dad’s voice, mum was to shoot the door at chest height. 

Then Dad left. 

That’s when the excitement turned into terror. 

That’s the first time I clearly remember being terrified that Dad was going to die. Truth be told he’d faced and avoided much more immediate doom many times before, but I’d never known about it.

Dad enlisted our crusty but tough farmer neighbour to patrol the paddocks with him and the chopper kept making rounds up and down the long country road we lived on. We huddled under the blankets in Mum and Dad’s bed with mum cuddling us close. Despite our efforts, my sister and I fell asleep before long. 

In the morning we found Dad at the breakfast table like any other day. He hadn’t slept a wink though. The whole thing had wrapped up quietly. The potential home invaders had been spotted and probably caught a few kilometres away. 

Drama over. 

Dad later patrolled the property again in daylight to check for evidence of their presence, and found some items they’d dropped in an area on our property they’d been hiding in. He might have even walked right past them the night before. 

These traumas and many other offences to his delicate artistic heart were accumulating. The proverbial camel’s back was broken when, at age eight or so, I wrote Dad a heartfelt letter. It read something like: 

Dear Daddy, please quit your job and get a new job so you can be home more. I miss you. I want to have you at home. Love, James. 

Dad came home after work as a police prosecutor one night, found that letter, and the next day tendered his resignation. Such has always been the extent of my Dad’s love - in action - for me.

So dad medicated himself in various ways for many years after he left the police force, and I got to see him in all manner of states. Unlike most kids with an substance dependent parent, the sad truth was that dad was more of an emotional train wreck when he was sober. He was pretty moderate in his drug use and he was usually just in the pursuit of balance and normality in his day. He tried a lot of different prescription and self-prescribed solutions at different times in pursuit of that perfect balance. 

I never saw him written off. Just jolly, a little numb or slightly mellowed. As far as I know when he was writing he never used. He wanted to be sharp when writing. He just used the drugs to wind down, or to get through a night’s sleep without horrific nightmares. 

It always made me sad though, especially that he never admitted it was a crutch. 

He purported for the longest time that he was in complete control of his addiction. I never believed him, he kept telling me he could give up anytime he wanted and he did go clean a number of times, usually coinciding with some new passion like scuba-diving or Iaido. But it never stuck for long. 

It wasn’t until many years later, well into my adulthood and after my own marriage and parenthood journey had begun, that my dad finally stopped using altogether. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that it came after the demise of my parents’ long and largely unhappy marriage. Dad found a new life for himself, one that fitted him perfectly - a new life, with a new wife, in a far East Asian land. And lo, he found the equilibrium he had been seeking through so many other means.

That brought a lot of my childhood into sharp focus - a lot of illusions I had about my parents, their marriage, my upbringing, were shattered - but that’s a story for a later chapter.

Dad wasn’t super keen on writing crime fiction, but the success of his first book put him in that box, especially given his career biography, and he wrote a few more of them while he pushed to get some science fiction and eventually historical fiction/fantasy out there. 

It was fun to watch him thrive as a writer and start his new “day job” as a touring public speaker at schools and writer’s festivals. He’s always had the gift of the gab - he can spin a marvellous story spontaneously and he has a way of drawing an audience everywhere he goes. It was the perfect skill set for his new career. 

His mother, my Nanna Marjorie, had the same gift. 

People often tell me I have a way with words too, perhaps that reinforcement throughout my life has given me the arrogance to bother writing songs, stage plays, screenplays, short stories, the beginnings of novels, and now writing a memoir! 

Dad’s storytelling gift, and his new career as a spinner of fiction set me up to doubt almost every story he ever told me. The language always so colourful, the situations always so dramatic and perfectly timed, the comebacks so whimsical or fierce and the rhythm so filmic. 

I took my Dad for a liar throughout most of my teen years and couldn’t help but roll my eyes when I heard him tell a story for the umpteenth time to someone. If I’d witnessed the events myself I could see exactly how he was embellishing the truth. But it wasn’t until years later that I realised Dad never lied. He told a great story, granted. His dramatic flair was a sight to behold. But just because he was able to make the truth hyper-real or more exciting by the way he told it, didn’t make him a liar. Just a fine storyteller. That’s his gift.

The curse of my Dad’s dramatic flair was the confusion it caused me. As long as I can remember Dad would tell me that I was destined for greatness. 

Those were his words: “You are destined to be a king among men” and other such Tolkien-esque grand words of affirmation. 

Most kids probably grew up hearing “great effort son” or “you can be whatever you want to be in life” - if they had Western liberal parents who came up in the sixties and seventies. But I got words like “king” and “destiny”. 

No pressure, right? 

I know my Dad meant well. And hell, he may have only said those words to me once or twice in my life, but the impression was made early and while it made me feel loved and approved of, it also made me feel like I really had a responsibility to live up to this destiny Dad spoke of.

Where to channel such a “great destiny”? 

Why, ROCK STARDOM of course! 

Enter The Reckoning of Seamus.

My older cousin Seamus was a special figure in my youth. He was the odd-ball rockstar musician cousin who was ten years my senior and was taking the world (at least the world of Adelaide, South Australia) by storm with his band Reckoning. 

I would hear tales of his Roger-Daltry-like stage antics and listen to his tortured angsty 1990s indie rock albums. 

I simply worshipped him. 

And he worshipped my Dad. 

Dad was a similarly oddball character in the scheme of my family, at least my mum’s side of the family. A large Irish-Catholic family growing up in Elizabeth - the home of Holden car manufacture and birthplace of the iconic Aussie rock band Cold Chisel. And that’s about all Elizabeth can claim as far as I know. Unless you include my Dad or Seamus or my “great destiny” in the annals of Elizabethan history. 

Dad and Seamus were two peas in a pod really, both being a little mad and most certainly creative, with a streak for performance. I worshipped both of them, and that Seamus worshipped my Dad gave me a sense of importance. Like I was a prince or something. 

When I was eight or nine Reckoning were having an album launch show in Adelaide. It was a big night apparently. Fortunately the venue in question had a balcony area above the mosh pit that wasn’t in use that evening, so Seamus wrangled tickets for my parents, my sister and I, along with his mum and step-dad and brothers. 

We got to watch the show from a safe aerial perch, far above the sweating teeming horde of fake-ID-wielding, crocheted-tank-top-wearing, velveteen-ankle-length-skirt-clad, Doc-Martin-boot-stomping, squealing, Seamus-loving, teenage girls of Adelaide as they writhed and moaned under some kind of Seamus-operated mass hypnosis. 

This show had it all. The loud guitars, the loud drums, the impassioned wailing of my elder cousin as his hundreds-strong crowd of fanatics hung on his every warbled note. 

The finale featured a modest yet shockingly sudden pyrotechnic display that launched from the rafters not far from where we were seated, timed perfectly to coincide with Seamus smashing his acoustic guitar over his amp and throwing himself into the crowd who groped violently for him, like lepers for Jesus. 

I asked Seamus some weeks later why he smashed his guitar. I had naively assumed it was totally spontaneous rock-star passion that inspired the punkish vandalism. He confessed he had just bought a new one and thought it would be a good way to see the old one off. I didn’t quite understand the theatrics at the time, but they sure made an impact. Seeing him up there in a world of his own, moaning and wailing with such passion and moving his body however the fuck he wanted. 

The music, the volume, the explosions and light show. It was ecstatic, even for nine year old me. But none of that on-stage debauchery compared to seeing the power he had over that crowd. He owned them, at least for a couple of hours. To me, that was the power of a king

That was for me. 

Destiny dictated so, apparently.

So, the next day I wrote a letter to Seamus. I was quite into writing letters. It read along the lines of: 

Dear Seamus. I loved your show. I have decided I want to be a music man like you. Love, James.

And that was it. My destiny had a name and it was Rock Stardom!

This is the point where most kids pick up an electric guitar, put a poster of Jimmy Page or Bon Jovi on the wall and start chugging away at E minor and D chords in their basement. 

For some reason, I picked up a trumpet and started taking mainstream classical lessons! 

Perhaps I missed the point of rock stardom. 

I didn’t even really know what kind of music I liked at that point. My favourite band was The Doors, but my favourite solo artist was Johnny Logan - the guy who won Eurovision for Ireland in 1987 with the epic power-ballad “Hold Me Now” (if you haven’t heard that song, check it out on Youtube right now. It’s incredible - and it couldn’t possibly be any further from Reckoning or The Doors.) Such was my love for this song that I sung it every day, and spun that vinyl 45 until the needle broke. And then I moved to the cassette dub we had of it. 

It wasn’t long before I recorded my own cover of it which I very proudly showed off to my parents and grandparents, all of whom were very encouraging and delighted. 

I still have that recording in fact. If I ever publish this book I’ll find a way to share that audio with you, dear reader, too. (BLOG READERS: Here's the file in question! Enjoy...)

I also loved the theme song for the British claymation show Tugs, particularly for the alto sax lines. I was quite partial to Simply Red too, thanks to a fondness spurred from very early memories of Mum dancing with me on her hip to It’s Only Love when I was a wee sprout.

Dad took up being a function DJ on weekends after he finished being a cop, or as they were called back in those days, a “Disc Jockey”. He had an extensive collection of cassette mix tapes and vinyl 45s that I had free access to through the week. 

I had my own little tape recorder, a National Panasonic portable one with a handle and built in speaker. I would grab cassettes from Dad’s crates while he slept and listen for hours to Motown compilations, The Doors, The Beatles, The Blow Monkeys, Style Council, David Bowie, The Who, Cream, Jimi Hendrix… the list goes on. 

I just loved music. 

Didn’t matter what genre, as long as it was throwback. I didn’t realise at the time that most of my favourite music was either from the sixties or seventies, or if it was from the eighties or nineties, it was a retrospective artist like Style Council or Simply Red who were drawing from the American soul music handbook. I didn’t have a need for such labels as a kid. I wanted music all the time. I wanted to listen, understand it, play it.

So I took trumpet lessons in earnest. I had a very gentle and encouraging teacher called Mr. Mateo. He was my first music mentor and I will never forget his face, or the pride it gave me when he told my parents I was one of his most promising students. That really put wind in my sails. Clearly I was seeking adoration from early on.

I stuck with the trumpet for a good eight years, taking lessons for most of that time. A couple of uninspiring and grumpy tutors down the line really killed it for me. Thankfully by then I had already taken up guitar, keyboard and singing. 

But not yet.

I remember my first performance on trumpet. I was part of a large ensemble at an end-of year Christmas themed concert at my primary school in One Tree Hill, South Australia. It was only primary school there in fact. What, you think a town with one tree would have two primary schools? Get real. We played the usual climate irrelevant American and European songs about snow and reindeer and toasty warm fireplaces, whilst sweating in 40 degree (Celsius) South Australian heat. 

Ours is a confused nation, I’ll tell you that much. 

But I digress.

I remember how terrible I was on the trumpet. I was glad to be in a group and while I wanted to be really really good, I also wanted to stay unnoticed, at least until I was good enough to be adored. I did my best to sink back into the group and play softly. It comforted me to watch the other performances that night and get a sense that ours didn’t suck the most. Being better than someone gave me a sense of worth.

Around the age of nine my family and I left South Australia for good. 

My Dad had an opportunity to take up a steady day job running a health food store for the growing franchise he’d been involved with for a year or so (yes, my dad has a very colourful Curriculum Vitae). It was opening a new store in Tweed Heads, on the New South Wales and Queensland coastal border, and given the morbid history Dad had experienced in South Australia, he decided to consider it. 

We took a two week holiday to the “rainbow region” as it’s often called - the area from Byron Bay to the southern tip of Gold Coast, once inhabited solely by hippy communists and Woodstock survivors, now a trench warfare battlefield between the children of said hippies (the Hipsters, or as I like to call them “Hiplets”) and the coal seam gas mining conglomerates. 

Politics aside, the Tweed Valley and surrounding regions are some of the most beautiful parts of Australia and I recommend anyone travelling here to visit. As I write this I reside in this lush rainforested area again for the fourth time in my life, and I plan to always call it home. 

My parents couldn’t afford to fly us all up (yes, back then domestic flights were much more expensive than the fuel cost of a two thousand kilometre drive) so we bundled into our beaten up Mitsubishi Sigma and drove across the arid middle of our huge sunburnt country. 

I don’t remember too much about that trip, except being forced to swallow ginger tablets to prevent car sickness. The first attempt made me gag (I struggled with severe Pharmaphagophobia until I was about twenty-five. I may have just invented that word. But the Latin should hold up in court.) so I devised a method, albeit disgusting, of concealing a tablet in my cheek until my Mum was convinced I had swallowed it, then sneaking off to spit it out. I kept my car sickness secret too, so as not to arouse suspicion. I do remember stopping at the incredible Siding Spring Observatory at Coonabarabran in Central NSW and looking at the stars in the giant motorised telescope in the deep dark of country Australia, where the stars shine brightest away from the haze of city lights. Seeing that twinkling array of pinholes in black sheet of sky brought me a real sense of insignificance, and with it, briefly, a sense of peace. Next morning, it was back to my internal obsession with fulfilling my great destiny of fame and fortune.

The holiday to the rainbow region was wonderful. I had never seen so much green in my life. South Australia is a naturally dry state. Grasses only go green in the winter when it’s cool and moist. The rest of the year it’s a shrivelled and brown landscape. Mostly eucalypts and dry brush. There’s a real sense of being on the edge of a desert there. 

The Tweed Valley is something else. Lush throughout the year, a plethora of unique flora and fauna, and a rapidly changing landscape as you ascend and descend the mountains and hills that surround the valley. From thick dark rainforest to flat open fields of sugarcane farmland and the drier hilltops with breathtaking drops into crystal creeks and camphor laurel and lantana-covered slopes. 

I instantly fell in love with the natural environment of the area and that love has never waned. We found Tweed Heads-Coolangatta to be a quaint seaside town full of blonde surfer types and tourists, and it was a welcome change from the atmosphere back home. 

Every day we swam in the Jack Evans Boat Harbour and explored the beautiful beaches, forests and townships of the region. On our way to the Valley’s central pinnacle, the towering and grand Wollumbin (or as Captain Cook perfunctorily dubbed it, Mount Warning) we stopped in the sleepy sugar farming town of Murwillumbah, whose population was about six thousand back then. Hasn’t grown all that much in the last twenty years to be honest, though it is a lot hipper now. 

It was only a short drive to Dad’s prospective place of work, but it had a quiet charm akin to our then home of One Tree Hill. Best of all, it had a public primary school and public high school with renowned music departments and a local performing arts festival. Mum and Dad did their research. So supportive of my singular vision for a life as a musician were they that they largely hinged our geographic habitation around supporting that dream of mine. If my parents believed in me that much, why the hell wouldn’t I believe in me that much too!

Our two week holiday naturally blew out into a three week jaunt. We all loved the place so much. By the time we started to drive home, we’d pretty much made the decision to permanently move there in the new year. My sister resisted the notion. Poor girl had just started High School and made a new circle of friends. She’d always been quite resistant to change, but the decision was made for her, against her wishes. It was best for us all to start anew.

Two thousands more kilometres drive later, we were home and starting to pack up the South Australian house and put it on the market for sale. A few months later, back in the car - this time two cars, with a trailer and two dogs! The cats and goats I grew up with were adopted by other families and we were off to our newly secured rental home in Murwillumbah, Northern New South Wales.

By this time my individuality had been well established in the social hierarchy of primary school. I’d just started Grade 5 in S.A. and I was pretty scrawny for my age group. Probably the skinniest and smallest boy in my class. I played trumpet, proudly carried it with me everywhere. I also grew my hair long and had the lower part of my scalp in an undercut style. It was quite outlandish and made me look like some kind of pre-teen lesbian Taylor Hanson (long before Taylor Hanson was even a thing). 

I also excelled in school academically and got along famously with my teachers. I loved a good chat with an adult. It stimulated me more than my peers did. All of this added up to being the perfect target of bullying and I had copped my fair share of school yard violence and intimidation in One Tree Hill. 

Humiliatingly, my most loathsome aggressor was a young girl called Kelly. She was a big lass. I’d known her since kindergarten and we used to get along well when we were little. But whatever it was in her home life, something had made her an angry nine year old, and my individuality or know-it-all verbal aptitude was more than she could handle. 

So she’d beat me up a bit. 

And then threaten to beat me up some more. 

It wasn’t very fun. I had to call in my Dad to help out a bit and he and the school faculty put it all to a stop, but the whole thing was pretty socially debilitating for me. I became a recluse at school. 

Not one shred of me was going to miss S.A. 

My life there had been full of fear and doubt, and as long as my little family of my parents, grandparents (my Dad’s parents had lived in a granny flat next to us my whole childhood) and my dogs were coming with me to Murwillumbah, it was only full of hope for a bright future. 

First Murwillumbah, then the world! 

My annoying sister was coming too, but that was okay. We tolerated each other now that she was a teenager. Once we had loved each other and I had a sense that we would again.

When I started at my new school, the cleverly named Murwillumbah Primary School, I was guarded and geared up for ostracism and ridicule, what with my pre-hipster-age man-bun and my beatnik trumpet-carrying ways, and the ridiculous school uniform shorts I was forced to wear that were so tiny they barely contained my nuts. 

First day at my first new school was going to be shit, I just knew it. 

But lo and behold, my teacher was warm and welcoming and so were my classmates. The teacher’s name was Mrs. Bliss. I knew with a name like that we’d have a grand old time together. Because of the stubbornly colonial state-managed education system Australia had back then, the grade levels from state to state didn’t align. By moving from South Australia to New South Wales, not only did we enter the confusing 30 minute time-zone difference, and the dastardly annual confusion of Daylight Saving Time - in which an entire hour is stolen from existence, only to be given back a few months later when we’ve just finally adjusted - but I also had to go from Grade 5 back to Grade 4. 

While this frustrated me, I was comforted to be informed that N.S.W. primary school only goes to Grade 6, where S.A. goes to Grade 7. So the same number of years remained until I reached High School. It wasn’t long before my wonderfully logical mind deducted that, despite the same time remaining until the commencement of High School, due to the reversion to Grade 4, would I not be still doing a total of 13 years of school instead of 12? 

And wasn’t this a hinderance to me ultimately, since I already knew what I wanted to do with my life after school anyway? 

The teachers and principal of the school didn’t quite wrap their heads around my logic and I was told to stay put in Grade 4. So I did! 

Frustratingly, when my academic “results” came in at the end of that year, the faculty decided that I was “too advanced” to go into Year 5 next (duh!) so they recommended I skip a year and go straight to Year 6. Which would mean starting over with my social group. 

No, thank you. 

It was an easy choice for me, though my parents made me sleep on it. I wanted to stay with the friends I had made, so I condemned myself to a thirteen year school career. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I would later win this time back, thanks to my dogged pursuit of my “great destiny”.

The biggest advantage of this administrative cock-up was that I went from being the scrawniest kid in my South Australian peer group, to being the tallest kid in my new group! And the oldest in my year! I was even taller than kids in the grade above me! 

I could only deduct that the infamous chlorination of the town water supply in South Australia must have been mutating my schoolmates into miniature giants, while I had been raised on rainwater harvested from our own roof and was immune to this physical aberration. In reality, I was tall for my age, toxic-waste-derived-mutants aside! I was one of the bigger kids in my new, hippy-rainwater-fed, school community. To top it off, my new school had a huge population of music students, with its very own full-sized concert band that I was asked to join and in which was soon promoted to 2nd trumpet! 

And my hair? It was exotic! Delightfully outlandish and individual! 

I was asked just once on the first day “Why is your hair long?” in a most gentle and inquisitive way. I confidently replied:

“This?” grabbing my man-pony-tail and flicking it to the side to the awe and wonder of all the girls in my class, “oh, it’s just a thing I’m trying. I like it.” And they were sold. My hair was cool. 

I was cool! I was popular too. 

I was friends with everyone in my class and I got along famously with my classroom teacher Mrs. Bliss and my music teacher and concert band leader Mrs. Armour. Even my slightly English-sounding South Australian accent was exotic and interesting to my peers. They said “deyance” instead of dance. I said “dahnce” like some kind of British aristocrat. Being different was awesome! I finally realised that at age ten. 

I knew life in this new place was going to be awesome.

I knew that this was the real beginning of my destiny. 

First popularity at school… next, world stardom!