Saturday, May 24, 2008


Walking along Kellett St. in Kings Cross yesterday, with my son, I was sad to see Dean's (or Deans as the sign out the front always said) had closed down. Dean's, with its polychromatic, eccentric interior (that featured everything from a jukebox playing 45s to a surfboard hanging from the roof to tatty couches that looked like they'd survived the bombing of Hiroshima), waitresses-with-empty-faces and otherworldly, ambient vibe, was a late-nite cafe I loved to chill out in on the odd occasions I came to The Cross. It was an oasis in the beautiful maelstrom that is inner-eastern Sydney of an evening. I doubt the cafe/bar/restaurant that replaces it will have the aura Dean's had.

LJ, May 25 2008.

Monday, May 19, 2008


I recently entered a poem into the Inverawe Poetry Prize. It was given an honorable mention by the competition's judge, Tasmanian poet, Louise Oxley. This is pleasing. I was highly commended in the Prize in 2007. My poem was one of two-hundred and forty entered this year. Twelve poets were ahead of me with commended, highly commended and winning results. The poem was a meditation on what the construction of a tollway (the M2) did to sclerophyll bushland in north-west Sydney and those green-souled individuals who fought its birth.

LJ, May 19 2008.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Over the years I've had a few things published... when I was at the Australian Catholic University in Strathfield back in the day I started up the campus' first student paper (Chalkdust) with about five others (including Sydney-based author for young adults, Melina Marchetta)... there were bits for the Cumberland Bird Observers' Club (mob out in north-west Sydney) newsletter in the early 90s... in 1999 my interview with Moby, poems and film reviews were all published in Vegan Voice magazine... I penned gig and CD reviews, as well as interviews, for Sydney music press publications The Drum Media, The Brag and 3D World from about 2000 to 2003... there have been CD reviews for The Big Issue on and off... an interview with Sydney jazzer (and mate) Mark Harris for Spinach7 online a couple of years ago... the odd small thing in The Sydney Morning Herald over the years (then several CD reviews for The List, their entertainment supplement in 2007)... a poem on Sydney city in the Broadway Poetry Prize Anthology 2004... another poem on Western Australia in Eclogues The Newcastle Poetry Prize Anthology 2007... check out for two of my latest poems (big ups to Michelle Cahill the ed.)... the latest edition of Dogs Life (in OZ/NZ) has a couple of poems and a bit of stuff on writing poems from me as well... there's an albatross poem at and an article on birding Sydney in the latest edition of Wildlife Australia Magazine (see


LJ, May 16 2008.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I was speaking with a Chinese gentleman today who was absolutely under the impression that Tibet had been part of Chinese territory for about 100 or 200 years and that worldwide protests against the Beijing Olympics were unwarranted because of this. His position on this was interesting, probably a by-product of governmental propaganda, considering the People's Liberation Army invaded Tibet in 1949-1950 and turned part of Tibet into Chinese provinces (according to

LJ, May 14 2008.


This morning at Loreto, a Sudanese man came to speak to the girls. He was one of Sudan's 20,000 'lost boys'; an orphan due to war. Both his parents died when his family were evacuating Sudan and heading for Ethiopia. He was seven at the time. He told the assembled girls to listen to their parents. He said parents should always say good things to their kids. During his brief years with his parents, they never told him he was good.

LJ, 13 May 2008.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Moby's new single 'Alice' is spectacular - the best thing I've heard from him in a long while. It's sort of Cypress Hill meets The Gorillaz in The Caribbean. I turn it up very loudly when cruising about alone in my station wagon with the baby seat in the back - very cool, huh?! I interviewed Moby back in 1999 for an Aussie lifestyle magazine called Vegan Voice - he was a lovely bloke. The editors who ran the mag and supported my interview idea lived in a solar-powered shack ten hours north of Sydney in the middle of gorgeous subtropical rainforest at the base of a vast tableland near Nimbin (NSW's hippie/druggy HQ). Satin bowerbirds would eat fruit on their kitchen sink and pythons lived in their roof! It was Edenesque. LJ, May 2008.


Absolutely up there with Big Audio Dynamite are West London's dub 'n' dance hipsters Dreadzone. Dreadzone was formed by Greg Roberts, former percussion supremo with BAD and Screaming Target. Greg is a long distance mate of mine; I approached him as a fan at a festival in rural New South Wales in 2000 and we've stayed in contact ever since. He's a sincere, gentle, cool visionary in a time when so many musicians are regurgitating pap for the mindless masses (think Justin Timberlake). Dreadzone are crafting a new disc as I type - I am hyped to say the least - again it will take them into unchartered waters where dragons and hydras dance and snap. LJ, May 11 2008.


Last night, I went to see London's Rasta man from the Renaissance, Don Letts, at Sydney University's Manning Bar. He showed a doco on The Clash, a doco on Gil Scott-Heron, read from his 'Culture Clash' autobiography, helmed a raucous Q&A (where old skinheads, one whom spent fifteen minutes trying to convince me Bad Brains were the best band of all time; and wasted losers, vented rubbish) then did a blinding, uplifting 2 hour reggae/dub set accompanied by a plethora of visuals (featuring everything from dead Buddhist monks to men boxing with kangaroos and Matrix trilogy snippets).

I had the chance to speak with him a few times - he signed my copy of Screaming Target's 'Hometown Hi-Fi' (the only album from his posse of 1991), his book and a DVD of 'Westway to the World'. I was impressed with his alacrity and zest, honesty and grounded manner. Whilst his docos screened, he mingled with the crowd and often became embroiled in quasi-philosophical discussions on the legacy of punk rock and posed for photographs...

Since 1986, Don's original incarnation of Big Audio Dynamite have been THE band that moved me the most: they got me through high school, university, life in general really. If my home in Sydney was burnin' like London or Babylon, I'd evacuate my home angels, then reach for BAD's four seminal, hypnotic and polychromatic albums of the 80s. From the moment I heard 'E=MC2' in 1985 I was hooked by their bouncy-as-Hell soup of guitars, synths and beatboxes ... So, seeing Don was awesome last night. BAD never toured here in the 80s.

LJ, May 11 2008.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


A couple of weeks ago, on a bleak, freezing weekday of pigeon-grey skies, I saw my first wild platypus at Cecil Hoskins Nature Reserve, a beautiful, windswept domain of wetlands and open woodland (think mini-Kakadu floodplains) near Bowral (an hour and twenty minutes or so south of Sydney). I had my 10x50 binoculars centred on a feeding grey teal at the time. Behind the teal there were ripples and patterns in a sphere of still water surrounded by floating vegetation. These designs in the water revealed the back and bill of a platypus. This was at 1pm in the afternoon; usually platypuses (is that a word?) are crepuscular or nocturnal, but in cold weather they are active throughout the day; I was lucky to see the monotreme as it was right on the periphery of my binocular vision. After many searches for this creature over the years (up and down high altitude areas of eastern Australia) it was great to finally see it, although I wish my view had been better. LJ, May 9 2008.


There's a lot buzzing and fluttering in my head writing-wise at the moment... I have to find the space and time and mindset that allows the inspired stuff to gush out... There's an essay on silence; poems concerning the Strathfield Massacre of 1991, making the mind stone during times of bad health and the individual's responsibility to the day and its strugglers; a review of Anthony Lawrence's new poetry collection 'Bark'; and eventually, rewritings of a manuscript that did well in The Vogel Literary Award of 2005 so I can push it off to the Kings and Queens of Rejection in their palaces built from slush pile novels... I'm also about to judge a kids' poetry competition for 'Dogs Life' magazine... So, as the Pet Shop Boys once said, 'We were never being boring, we had too much time to find for ourselves.' LJ, May 9 2008


This is my first Blog entry... Over the upcoming months my blog entries will address a spectrum of things, but there will always be an emphasis upon poetry and my adventures in the natural world... Hopefully, they won't be too self-indulgent and dull. Enjoy, or not. Lorne Johnson