IT WAS ON THE TABLE
It was on the table..
If you click on the link provided, you should be able to listen to the sound file of one of my more unusual “Art Projects” from back in my “Mr FreeMarijuana” days when I was busy being a drug-law reform activist. The events leading to the creation of this spontaneous artwork still make me chuckle all these years later, and I still believe the work maintains an artistic integrity.
(Please note that I wasn’t advocating people go out and recklessly “take drugs”. I was advocating the end of the ridiculous drug-prohibition laws that needlessly turn people into criminals, corrupts police forces, creates huge criminal empires and facilitates the spread of diseases like AIDS and Hepatitus C.
I stand by my beliefs)
It was 1.45 on a sunny Saturday Autumn afternoon long ago, and I was minding my own business (as usual) and going about my chores. I had just smoked a joint and had left a second on my kitchen table for when I finished doing the housework.
Alas, I never got to smoke that joint.
For at that moment four eager young Detectives came bounding up my stairs dramatically waving a vaguely worded Search Warrant. The timing of this “drug raid”, of course, was purely coincidental and had nothing at all to do with the Interview I’d conducted on radio the day before, launching the campaign against Queensland’s repressive Drugs Misuse Bill. Yes, surely a coincidence, they were just acting on “information received”, there is no harrassment of political activists in Queensland. Ho ho ho.
Anyhoo, whilst in the following incompetent search & trash
of my home, while they were unable to come up with my well-hidden stash, they DID manage to find that careless joint,
left lying there on the kitchen table in plain view.
Well shit boys, you got me. I’m a criminal.
So they dragged me off down the station for the fruitless exercise of the ritual interview.
They would ask the usual cycle of awkwardly phrased questions and, being “Old School” in such matters, I would decline to provide any information that would prove to be of assistance.
Still you had to say something, and I couldn’t be bothered thinking up a different answer for each question,
so I pretty much just kept repeating the phrase
“It was on the kitchen table”,
everytime they asked me something related to that fatal joint.
The interview didn’t last very long. After disposing of a series of inane questions, we quickly got into a loop. Whenever they asked an impertinent question I merely answered by stating the obvious, that is I just kept repeating my mantra;
“It was was on the kitchen table”
Inevitably they got tired and grumpy. You can sense their growing frustration on the tape. I like the way how, by quibbling over minor details, I was able to force them onto the defensive.
“All..all I said to you …”, she stutters at one stage, in self-justificatory frustration. Hoho.
And so they soon gave up. When they wearily asked if I wished to make any further, final comment, I merely lent forward and mumbled,
“Yes. Can I just say that this has been a complete waste of everyone’s time.”
So there it was, about 3.30pm and they turned me back out onto the streets with a bail form and a cassette tape of the interview. The whole thing was no more than a nuisance to me legally speaking, a small fine at worst, but still I was vaguely depressed. It really WAS all such a waste of time. Mine especially, but also the police. What in the world did they think that they were going to achieve by this farce? Was justice done? Would I see the error of my ways? Shouldn’t they be catching car thieves or something?
Then I had a Eureka moment! For I suddenly saw how I could turn the afternoon’s series of unfortunate events into an Anarchist Art Project worthy of Marcel Duchamp. I started to laugh wildly, startling passers by who shied away. Perhaps they could sense I was a convict.
Racing home I had a quick joint from my stash and popped the interview tape into my trusty Tascam 4-track cassette porta-studio. Working quickly I added a drum track, guitar, harmonica and effects to the vocals. By 5.30pm the musical assemblage was complete. It was time for stage two of my plan.
Zipping down to nearbye Fortitude Valley, I made my way to local ratbag radio station 4-ZZZ just in time for Saturday nights regular “Request Show”, where subscribers to the station could ring up and request a song to be played.
Walking unannounced into the studio, I told the announcer my story and explained to him how important it was for the totality of my Artistic Vision that he play my “request” as soon as possible. To his credit he understood where I was coming from and so it was that the first song played on the Request Show that night was “It was on the Table” while the announcer and I shared a smoke out in the seedy alleyway behind the station.
The whole process of getting raided, arrested, interviewed, bailed, and turning it all into an art piece and getting broadcast on the radio took a little over four hours.
“A good days work”, I thought, as I blew an idle smoke ring, “Antonin Artaud would be proud of me.”
PS. Eventually I went to court and got something like 40hrs community service which I idled away brewing cups of tea in a community “neighbourhood centre” and making long distance phone calls to friends in other cities. And so, having paid my debt to society, I returned to the streets to plan even more daring crimes, and even more audacious Art.
A big thank you to the QLD Police for their co-operation in this project.
The Reverend Hellfire is a practising Performance Poet, an ordained Minister of the Church of the Universe AND the Church of Spiritual Humanism, and the President of the Kurilpa Institute of Creativity INC.
Puts his pants on one leg at a time.