Filed under sad

America’s racists

President Obama

President Obama’s speech to the memorial service for victims of the Newtown mass school shooting meant the broadcast of a football game was delayed a few minutes. Cue drunk racist bogans: Deadspin has the details.

Apparently interrupting a football game is offensive, while shooting twenty 5–7 year olds isn’t.

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Silence of the Mice

Yesterday I was on TV. Researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall institute in Melbourne made a significant breakthrough on HIV, and the media needed someone to be the voice of positive people. In my PLWHA Victoria role, this duty falls to me.

It’s not often that the Australian news media take this much interest in HIV issues at all, and when they do it’s typically bad news, so it was refreshing to see this much interest in a ‘good news’ story. The fact that the news release had the words ‘HIV’ and ‘cure’ in it probably helped (the last time the commercial TV news became interested in HIV science, that news release had the ‘C’ word in it too, so I’m seeing a pattern; from now on all my news releases will have ‘HIV cure’ in the headline).

So I scrubbed up, borrowed a clean shirt (thanks Nathan), and choofed off to WEHI to do my bit for the cause. Here’s the resulting ABC TV News item. Read on over the page for the horrifying truth.

(The Channel 10 version is also available, on YouTube, if you’re really keen.)

Continue reading

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Blue Mosque sketch

I am sitting on the roof terrace of the Side Hotel in Istanbul, eating breakfast, alone. The morning sun is hot on my back and there are beads of sweat on my forehead, although it’s only 8 a.m. The bright light makes me squint as I look out at the domes and minarets of Sultanahmet Camii (the ‘Blue Mosque’) to my right and the calm waters of the Sea of Marmara to my left.

The sky is full of birds – big silver gulls, calling and squawking and stealing food from the breakfast plates; crows, black and grey feathers and beaks, murderously red-eyed; and little swifts diving and weaving through the sky like kids at play. The sounds of the seabirds and the smell of the water remind me that this is a port town.

A gull has stolen a piece of bread from someone’s plate, and on an adjacent rooftop an all-in battle is being pitched over it. These birds are much bigger than the gulls in Australia; they seem to be about a metre from wingtip to tip, with long yellow beaks and big heavy bodies. One of the big gulls has forced another down onto the roof tiles with its foot and inserted its big yellow beak into the unfortunate one’s craw, trying to extract a morsel of already-swallowed food. Judging by the racket this is not a painless procedure, but it’s over quickly enough and the defeated one flies away.

Apart from the birds, and the other diners, and the millions of strangers around me in this big, noisy city, I am alone. Brent has taken a taxi to the airport and by now he’s in the air, headed for home. We said our tearful goodbyes on the doorstep this morning and I went back to my room to think about what lies ahead. The next three weeks are my own, as I get to stay in the dream world of this summer holiday while he returns to the cold and dark and drudgery of work. We have travelled well together here, as we do everywhere our lives take us, and while I have a great fondness for solitude and while I know I enjoy these next few weeks, I will feel his absence upon me until we’re back together.

Later today I will fly to Athens, and then Thessaloniki, where I plan to spend five days in a hotel by the beach, enjoying the sunshine and the solitude, catching up on some reading and, hopefully, some writing. I have Hemingway to keep me company and to inspire me.

Image above: sketch of Sultanahmet Camii, from the rooftop of the Side Hotel, 17 June 2007 – made when we stayed here three years ago.

An earlier version of this post referred to the Blue Mosque as Topkapı Sarayı, which is hopelessly incorrect. I can only blame the lack of coffee.

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In response to many emails

Nothing but rubble ... more than 500 homes were lost at Kinglake. (AAP: Andrew Brownbill)

We are quite safe from the current bushfires. Our home is not in one of the areas affected by the big fires which have made worldwide news. The nearest fire to us was 30 or 40 km away and that fire has now been contained.

Naturally we, like all Australians, are shocked and saddened by the events of the last few days. With all the death and destruction, I haven’t been in the mood to write, so sorry to all of you who took this silence as a sign that we might have been affected.

I’m gratified that so many people in such distant places thought of us. If you are able and inclined, you can make a donation to the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal.

Image: Nothing but rubble … more than 500 homes were lost at Kinglake. (ABC/AAP: Andrew Brownbill)


Bushfire tweets

A selection of my Twitter messages about the Victorian bushfires as they unfolded. Continue reading

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Happy New Year


Above: Palestinian men bury the body of 4-year-old Lama Hamdan at Beit Hanoun cemetery in the northern Gaza Strip December 30, 2008. Lama and her sister were reportedly riding a donkey cart Tuesday near a rocket-launching site that was targeted by Israel. (MOHAMMED SALEM/Reuters)


I lost a friend today. My lovely Melki got hit by a car and he’s gone.

I’m very sad.


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I heard last night that Paul had died. Long-time visitors to this website will remember Paul de Koning as my partner in life, love and crime back in the days when this site was called The House of Love.


Paul and I had a brief, spectacular and ultimately doomed love affair about a decade ago, in an age when we lived on the edge and stared death in the face, when we lived for today and assumed that tomorrow would take us up in its cold embrace and deliver us to somewhere dark and cold…

Our relationship ended dramatically and badly, of course, and it’s been a long time since we were close. We reconciled our differences a long time ago, but it’s hard to convert the riotous energy that marked our time together into the sedate friendship of ex-husbands. So for the last few years we’ve seen each other occasionally, exchanged emails now and then, but otherwise gone on with our separate lives, changed of course by the experience of loving and losing each other, perhaps damaged by it too.


Paul gave me a great deal in our short time together. He had an extraordinary capacity to accept me as I am (or was) — not a straightforward undertaking in those days — to celebrate me and us, to love and trust and fuck with spirit, energy and abandon, and to care. He was a truly special man, imperfect in many ways — sometimes bitter, often troubled — but with a old soul of pure gold.

Not many months after we broke up, Paul was diagnosed with adult myeloid leukemia. His survival with this aggressive cancer (as well as HIV) for so many years is a testament to his strength and tenacity.
Happy trails, old friend.

Last day

I quit my job a while back — after five years of writing about AIDS, thinking about AIDS, talking about AIDS, eating, drinking and shitting AIDS, it’s time to pull back a bit. Today’s my last day so I feel a bit sad, a bit frustrated at the work that has been left undone, and more than a bit relieved that it’s over. Working in “the sector” is renowned for it’s capacity to make bitter old queens of what were once brightly optimistic you things, so I think it’s best to get out before that happens to me. New challenges await.

There are a bunch of other things happening in our life — we are about to head off on holiday to Europe (I’ll try to keep the blog updated as we go) and we’re in the process of buying a house, or trying to buy it. With the clock ticking down to our departure on Sunday, the odds that we’ll get to the contract stage before we depart are slimming rapidly. Most likely we’ll go away not knowing whether the sale will go to us or not — that’s not ideal, but we’re only gone for three weeks so presumably we can pick up where we left off on our return.

The holiday, much needed and well-deserved, will lighten my (currently heavy) spirit I’m sure, once we step on the plane and leave behind all that is dull and quotidian I suppose I’ll be less bothered by my inability to juggle 18 balls simultaneously, but between now and then I guess I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Off to Sydney tonight to say farewell to my workmates.

Local news

A couple of stories from the local papers (click the images to enlarge).

1. From the front page of the Macedon Ranges Telegraph, two weeks ago.


“A LOCAL road reserve has been targeted for a clean-up of undergrowth amid concerns it is a homosexual hotspot and a fire hazard,” the story begins. It’s pretty much the standard sex-panic riff, with a country beat “suddenly” discovered to be a homosexual meeting spot (or “hotspot” in the Telegraph‘s shorthand), but there’s an added element: it’s not just the sexual nature of the goings-on that we’re warned about, but apparently there’s a fire hazard as well.

“There are used condoms and tissues and other things left lying around where they have been, and it’s a worry to think that families on a long drive might stop here to let children stretch their legs and run around a bit.”

He said many of the incidents happened in broad daylight, and better maintenance of the long grass and plants might deter such activity.

“Not only is it a bit of a fire hazard, it’s also a health and safety risk. You just wouldn’t believe what can go on there. It’s shocking.”

2. The second article, from today’s Macedon Ranges Leader, also made the font page:

Sex-Count Teen

I don’t know anything more about this story than what’s in the paper, but it sounds like a tragic series of events:

A MACEDON Ranges teenager involved in a horrific head-on collision with a water tanker in Benalla was facing nine criminal charges, including two for rape, before his death.

The 15-year-old was due to face a Children’s Court today on charges relating to an alleged incident involving a 13-year-old boy at a 2006 New Year’s Eve party. But, the charges will never be contested in court after the boy died instantly when the Holden Commodore sedan he was driving slammed into a water tanker on the Midland Highway on January 29.

As I say, I don’t know any more than what I’ve read: maybe this is just a tragic coincidence, or maybe this young man deliberately ended his life when faced with a truth about himself that he didn’t feel he could go on with.

Either way, it’s terribly sad.