Back Behind The Desk

July 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

On Saturday Angie and I had our first stall at the Wauchope Markets with our new business, Angie Gluten Free. I say “our” in a very loose sense, Angie is actually the talent.

Asleep on the job, but looking great in the chef's jacket

Last week we travelled down to Sydney for a birthday and while there, went to see Seeker Lover Keeper play at the Clarendon. It was a beautiful reunion, as I used to manage Sarah and Holly who play in the group, and have worked for Sally as well. It brought back memories of management and Angie and I both laughed that with Angie Gluten Free, I’m almost doing the same thing – ensuring the talent gets attention.

Carrot cake with cute little borrage flowers on top

I’m mostly in charge of things like promotion and organising stuff, a very similar role to what I was doing in the early days of artist management. The markets saw me back behind the merch desk, so to speak, as well. The main differences here were the punters weren’t drunk and I got to eat anything left over at the end of the day.

Angie's awesome Bliss Balls

It was a fantastic morning and we sold almost everything we took in, which was a huge surprise. I thought I was pretty much alone in enjoying the delights of chocolate beetroot cake before lunchtime, but it appears that I’m not.

Everyone loves cupcakes!

So now I only have to pull together our recalcitrant website (nothing on there yet) that’s not playing nice – it’s all set up ready to be adorned with photos and witticisms but it’s not unlocking the back door for me. I also have to get a Facebook page up and work on the twitternessof it all. I’m hoping to have the lot done by the end of the week – Angie heading down to Sydney on Thursday will help with that, I’ll have little else to do each night.


Like Aversion

July 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

I had two articles in the most recent BodyMindLife newsletter, quite exciting really. This one was all about the weirdness that is aversion.


Like Aversion

by Craig New, Jasper’s Village Resort

Art mirrors life mirrors art. Heather asked me a while back to write something “practical and/or fun” on the concept of aversion and I, of course, said “yes”. In hindsight, it would have been funnier if I had said “no, I don’t know if I should do that”.

Fast-track a couple of weeks later and I’m yet to create a page I’m happy with. Everything I write, I need to erase. I seem to have an aversion to writing about aversion.

I started off with the idea of compiling a list of all the times I’ve personally succumbed to aversion in my life and missed out on what could have been something special. But I couldn’t think of anything. It seems that most of my life I’ve taken opportunities as they arise. Well…I thought of one…a time when I had declined meeting a super-hot girl in a bar after a show I was working. But I didn’t want that incident to be the only thing on the list in case my girlfriend thought I’d been obsessing over that memory and got upset.

Then I started writing a long diatribe about the little voice inside, that seductive con artist who wheedles and coerces you to run away from anything that challenges its sensitive and fragile ego. But I realised I could have been talking about desire just as much as aversion and the whole thing unravelled in my hands.

I even resorted to quoting Seinfeld episodes (specifically the one called The Opposite where George Costanza makes every decision counter to his intuition and finds life suddenly getting better). In the end, I decided I didn’t want to be that person who relies on sitcoms for his article inspiration (yeah, too late).

So here I sit, trying to write a meaningful (yet practical and/or fun) article on aversion, and it’s all I can do to refrain from flicking back and forth from Twitter and Facebook, writing a blog entry, watching Jason Statham or Muppets movie trailers and sending emails. What is it about aversion that is so devious, so malicious, that to even speak its name causes a fog to creep around the senses and all rational thought to dissolve? Aversion is the Adjustment Bureau of kleshas. It sneaks in while you’re busy thinking about something else, freezes time for an indeterminate period, resets your thinking, then vanishes. When you come to, you’re on a different path with only the vaguest memory of what it was you were originally going to do.

The reason we allow ourselves to get away with it time and time again is because, ultimately, not much tends to happen when we avoid things. Lightning doesn’t shoot down to smite a kitten; the world doesn’t stop spinning on its axis. We generally don’t even feel much of anything – guilt, despair, sadness, contrition; none of that wells up. Aversion is a victimless crime; it does to what-could-have-been what Magna Doodle does to terrible sketches.

So, why on earth should anyone care? If it doesn’t make us feel bad, it doesn’t hurt anybody else and nine times out of ten we probably won’t even remember feeling it mere minutes later, why don’t we tolerate aversion with the same magnanimity we display toward those people who stand on the street offering coupons?

The only thing stopping us is imagination. Sure, we could happily get by in life walking hand in hand with our aversions, but it’s also possible to live out our lives sitting in a big room with a toilet, a bed, a monster screen television set, and a well-stocked fridge. To defy our aversions is to give ourselves a chance to discover something new or to grow personally in some way we never thought possible. Aversion is the bouncer at the door to our dreams. We can bow our heads and slink off when he tells us we’re not wearing the right shoes, or we can smile politely at him, leave the queue and sneak in through the back entrance.

Clearly, aversion has its role. It reminds us there is something of value on the other side, something worthy enough of having its own security force to keep out the unworthy. In this way, aversion can be seen as the measure of our potential, an ‘X marks the spot’ on our psychological map of hidden treasure.

As Madonna nearly sang, “Like aversion”. It is a reminder that something magical may be waiting around the corner, if you have the imagination and temerity to push past it and look.

Jaspers Origins

July 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

I had two articles in the most recent BodyMindLife newsletter, quite exciting really. This one was about the beginnings of our eco village project.

Jaspers Origins

By Craig New, Jasper’s Village Resort

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

It seemed all of us had different reasons for leaving the comforts of the city. Some had imagined and planned this day for months or even years, carefully acting upon an inexplicable desire to return to a rustic lifestyle that had been visited only in dreams. Some flew toward it as a lost toddler hurtles toward his mother, frightened by the noise and cacophony behind him that could just as easily mean death or joy. I came partly to be hospitable to opportunity (who I never liked to keep waiting at the door in case she tired of knocking) and partly from a curiosity that kept me up at night. I had only the vaguest notion of the plans – words like community, mountains, veggie gardens were being bandied about – but it all sounded like something from a Steinbeck novel. I couldn’t resist.

We all left the city for the country with varied expectations. For me they seemed to be loosely based on becoming sustainable on my own terms. The problem was I only knew city living.

The honeymoon period was intoxicating. There was a motel business needing attention and after many years of staying in hotels, I was finally able to call the shots. I love late check-outs, so that’s what everyone gets here. I despise unhelpful staff, so helpfulness is my mantra. It was like a real- life version of a Zynga game, and the fact that screwing up might result in a lot more heartache than just an embarrassing Facebook update didn’t really register.

Our gardens thrived on love. From early morning until the sun slipped away, the soil was worked and the plants were tended. We were a happy group. We had few plans other than a vague manifesto based on our city dweller concepts of rural living and at the beginning that’s all we really needed.

Looking back now, two and a half years on, is like peering out of a car windscreen on a frosty morning. The details are there but obfuscated. The thing is, we’ve learned so much and some of our ideals have changed so dramatically that it’s hard to imagine the people we were at the start. It’s easier for me to recall my motivations as an awkward 15-year-old than it is to accurately remember what drove me when we started this project. Although it makes me wish I had kept a journal, it’s encouraging to think we’ve been able to roll with the punches well enough so that our vision itself has adapted so subtly to appear as if it was always there from the start. I don’t think the idea of us creating a wellness and learning centre was apparent in such pure form back then, but now it’s at the top of our list. The things that keep us here are different now, as are the obstacles that threaten to take us away.

It’s a long story between the beginning and now, one that a few hundred words can’t, at least in my hands, convey. But we need happy endings, don’t we? Jaspers isn’t a happy ending – not yet (nor will it ever end I don’t think) – but it’s certainly a life-affirming middle bit. I consider myself blessed to be working alongside such a driven group of people and despite our ups and downs; there is something about the place that puts a smile on my face and a song in my heart. It sounds corny but if you’ve been here you’ll know what I’m talking about.


July 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

I never was a big fan of advice columns. Not that I’ve read a great many of them, but those I can remember seem to be filled with either condescending pity or less than subtle nudgings of self promotion. If I needed to read any, I would find something comical, where the whole thing is just an excuse for some light laughter.

But then I discovered Sugar at The Rumpus.

The RumpusNot only were my ideas about advice columns shattered, my ideas about writing were shattered. Here was a writer who could bring me to tears in a public library (the letter linked to above) in an advice response, in point form.

I used to have a habit of easily falling in love, and I very nearly fall in love every time I read her column. The compassion sans schmaltz that she shows her correspondents is sometimes literally overwhelming. She attracts countless comments every week, many from people in tears and many with stories or advice of their own to offer up. Through the sheer force of her writing she has created a committed, giving and caring community that are helping each other through whatever hard times they might find themselves in.

She is never easy in her responses, but Sugar does not aim to please. She aims for honesty. As far as I can tell, her inbox is likely flooded with letters every week, and she seems to take immense care with the selections. With so many letters unable to be answered, she does her damned best to provide the most thoughtful responses she is capable of to the ones that make the cut. Despite the often dangerous ground she walks on (giving advice to parents who have lost their children, women who are leaving husbands, carers of “troubled” kids) she never shies away from the responsibilities of her correspondent. She addresses their concerns but insists on an acceptance of position and a willingness to find the truth in their situation. There is no pity, no slack, no compromise. It is complete and utter devotion to helping her correspondents be the best they can be, even if it hurts like hell.

I was very, very excited to discover that she has a new novel published and that I will learn her real name. I’ve been aching to read something else written by her, to find that voice in a work of fiction. There was an email from Stephen Elliott that promised a link to something about it, but the link was broken. I’ll be keeping an eye on The Rumpus for news, and ensuring that every day I do whatever I can to introduce a little more Sugar-like compassion into my life.

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