Miss Manners? Disability, the lost art of etiquette and things you can do to enable members of your community.

Clara with  Abrams at Postmodern Jukebox in 2016.

I suffer invisible dis/Abilities and most of the time I could probably pass by undetected in the population who don’t count their days by the humble spoon; though in Australia, 1 in 5 people are termed “disabled”. Like many people with disabilities, I was born with some but acquired others as I got older. In the Western world, most people with disabilities don’t actually get diagnosed until they are in their teens and early twenties, the probability increasing with age. And accidents happen all the time, it could happen to you and I consider you to take the position before you dismiss the following.

Most people are civilised enough to make way for someone with obvious impairments to mobility and sight or accomodations for a condition like asthma, but if you are like me living with invisible dis/Abilities, you often see the very best and the very worst of human behaviour. Like a rip tide just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there and it’s not devastating to live with the consequences of it.

This week, I was at Flinders University doing an intensive archaeology course in human osteology, and while I can state without hesitation that we absolutely without a doubt have the best support at university in the country from our Disability Officers and academic staff, in my experience, the rest of the university population were simply the worst and exams doesn’t excuse it.

So instead of complaining about what I suffered, I’m going to make a few suggestions about how you can make a few simple changes to your behaviour that don’t ask anything too onerous of you and enable people like me to get by without having the soul crushing experience of having to disclose or ask you to change:

• Situational awareness – be aware of what is going on around you. Someone like me who suffers chronic pain and has bandaged hands really appreciates it if you hold the door a second longer so it doesn’t slam in our face. It’s just good manners…

• Give people on elevators and escalators room to alight. You can’t get on when the occupants of the previous journey haven’t departed and also make room once your on the lift to accomodate other people. I’ve never met someone who is as big as the lifts at university! 

• Respect my personal space in crowded situations. There are many ways to be a good citizen in cramped peak hour public transport – it won’t kill you to put your bag on the floor or give me a better handhold if I ask for it because saying I’m clumsy is easier than explaining living with chronic pain to complete strangers who have read on the internet that fibromyalgia isn’t really pain because pain is sensed in the brain so I’m not really in pain I just think I am. Yes, this happened…

• Believe my condition is real. I’ve actually been to several specialists with years of experience before receiving my diagnosis and I have only started on medication this year that doesn’t provide complete relief from my neuropathic pain despite what you’ve read off a science feed on Facebook.

• Also don’t offer me cures you’ve read about or know helped if I mention the diagnostic label of my dis/Ability. You’re not a doctor and more importantly even if you have a medical degree, you’re not my doctor

• Understand if I mention I’m low on spoons in any conversation, I’m talking about spoon theory. I’m not obsessed about cutlery, I’m not feeling well, I’m unable to fully function or I don’t have the energy to do everything I need to do today or let alone do in a day. It’s not an opportunity to discuss spooning on Facebook messenger which might be the only contact I have with people that day (true story).

•Know I’m doing the best I can and don’t diminish the effort I’m trying to participate in society. Know that undertaking a masters degree is my primary occupation and I’m paying fees to do it. Understand that I have limited functionality and to me my time is precious so I’m going to prioritise it above everything else including my laundry but I’m not going to miss out on showering and eating because I’m volunteered and ran out of energy. If I haven’t done something, it’s not that I’ve forgotten or I don’t feel guilty but that something is preventing me from doing it. Like the choice between basic maintenance or intellectual labour.  

• If I talk about my disabilities, I’m only human and need to vent, so just listen and don’t try to fix it. Especially with politically correct bandaid solutions. The world for me with my bandages under my clothes is like being a cyclist in a world whose default status is designed for cars. I am at a genuine disadvantage a lot of the time and you can try to change what you can in your own sphere of influence, but I’m allowed to call society out on it until I’m  equal. Equality and accessibility for someone in society is making accomodations for the least abled as your basic line of inclusion. 

• If I ask you for your seat or I’m sitting in a disabled space, assume I need it and believe me when I ask for it. Ask me if you think I’m being too polite to ask you as I’m swaying and I’m facing the choice of asking you and your kid or the elderly woman at the bus stop because I’ll sit anywhere right now including the gutter because I haven’t got a choice. It is not easy to pull yourself out of the gutter when there is no where else to sit and one person is dominating the space…

• Give me the tools to participate as fully as possible. You’ll be surprised what we can achieve together, enabling me isn’t giving me an unfair advantage. All it proves is if you give anyone the right toolkit to succeed, they tend to succeed.

• When presented with an opportunity to make a better choice, take the better choice. I try to be the person I need in society and it’s not natural at first and it can feel like you’re stretching but eventually you fill that personal vaccum with the actions you made in changing the small bit of world around you. 

Clara Santilli, 4th November, 2017.





How to write a good music review (by someone who studies the arts, listens to music and knows a band or two).

Everyone loves a rockstar…or this is what a good music review is from my years of exposure to various aspects of the music industry and studying popular culture… a lot. Music is an art form that you tell people who can’t listen to what you’re hearing and why it’s worth their time. It sounds easy right? We all have an opinion. Musicians don’t have the edge over the general radio listener and if you want an in their own words experience, interview them or ask them for feature quote if they are accessible!

What does make a good review? You want to capture what it is about the artist and the song that makes it worthy of your recommendation. Today I looked at a review that was barely adequate by a musician for a local band and nothing about it made me want to go and see the band or buy the song despite listening to the band, watching an interview and researching the band whose live sound is very different to their studio project.

First and foremost you are endorsing this band and you should justify why you think other people would enjoy their music. You are putting your name and reputation to something in a review and you should be creating the choice that your reader has to check out this band or at least you make enough of an impression so that your audience remembers them.

A good starting place is that you want to provide a context for the artist or band, this the creates relevance and situates them such as “local boys” or “ an upcoming chanteuse”, so ask yourself where are they in the music industry and career? What other angle makes them interesting? If you can’t answer the latter, research it.

When you are documenting a musical experience, research and preparation are just as important as conveying your enthusiasm or you come off like a “fangirl/boy/drone/content scraper” or someone who isn’t really into the band and is just doing this for [reasons dubious and mysterious].

Next, ask yourself what musical genre is this, what is their aesthetic and who is the audience? Consider how you might label something and how the normal listening population would label your artist. So that if you were a grunge rocker, what does “easy listening” suggest to a general audience? I know I personally I’d think smooth jazz or pop music of a balladic temperament and I’d be pissed off that I ended up at a band sounding more like the progeny Nirvana and early Foo Fighters if I was planning a relaxing night out. I’d complain and ask for my money back. Then the band is faced to refund an angry customer and they find out who called the Silver Chair tribute show an easy listening experience in reviews.

Good ways to end a career in music and pop culture journalism before you’ve even hit as a blogger…Artists, their management and very angry punters have long memories, when you put your name to something like a review, you are essentially creating a brand relationship with the artist, even passively. Long memories, like elephants, rookie mistake I made in my first year as the Lonely Archaeologist.

Who and what does your band sound like? Those are your audience and who you are writing to convince to get out and buy the album/song! And I do mean buy it because musicians endure a lot to get to the stage they have multiple albums and have played more hours to almost empty rooms than…drifted off there. How do you describe the song or sound of the artist? A description like “scratchy vocals” over “big guitars” clearly indicates it is not easy listening! That firmly could be could said to be rock. Know your band, keep in mind your audience and their audience.

The way you describe a band should be poetic but economically descriptive prose anything is using filler vocabulary – a good writer doesn’t need to use generic adjectives like calling the band “mind blowing” or “epic”. A test I use is that is what I’m describing useful to someone who is yet to listen to this song/album? You can quite easily say it has “chunky guitars, brother” and it reads like an analysis by an unimaginative year 12 student doing rudimentary musicology. Like a song, you have to find a hook in 2 ways, song content and song sound.

Content is what the song is saying and why you think it is relevant for your intended audience. “I really loved it!” is not helpful to someone- always looks the “because” that should have featured in place of the exclamation – who might get a kick knowing it’s a kiss off anthem that captures the angst of Kurt Cobain but the lyrics have the drama of a Taylor Swift song. What a weird love child that had to be!

Then there is the sound, “mind blowing”* and other effusive praise again it doesn’t tell me why I should listen and keep reading your review and then possibly listen to a good but not great song by a promising act beyond the first uncomfortable riff …because it hurt my ears. That is literally what happened today, it seems like a lame response but science has found humans have short attention spans. Then I read a review and went back on advice and listened to the whole the song really- it just has an inaccessible beginning. So be specific!

Are they a big band reimagining of classic pop and rock hits – say a la PMJ or a string quartet of album of Brit rockers, The Killers, featured on hit tv show, XYZ*.

…sideways divergence…And don’t scrape pictures from their Facebook page without asking the photographer, not the people in them. You may be treading on another artist or worse and end up with a copyright issue. You can google what happens with those…have a media policy and develop some ethics if you intend to write a lot of reviews. You can use a picture of an album cover under fair use for review. Your reputation is only as good as your integrity…

Back on track. You really need to get people past the intro of a song and into the first chorus so they’ll commit to the full song and album. A good description should be like: “They have a classic rock sound with clear grunge influences like Other Bands* and when heard live, their sound for Previous Album was pared back to a raw, emotional state that only a black hearted bitch from the underworld of Asgard couldn’t love*.

Fans are in for a pleasant surprise with This Album* – it’s so different beast to the live sound of BlahBlah*! This is their second outing in the Australian music scene, act two is different and sophisticated mix compared to their debut, First Album Recorded In A Garage By the Drummers Dad!*

Well known for the hit ‘I’m seeing Thor tonight*’, this record is a juicy, polished reimagining of Ask!Me!* They have grown up with a more full, refined sound with trademark catchy big guitar riffs in ‘Love This Song’*. It is an anthem for an army of the living dead and a giant wolf.*

Clearly the year touring the nine realms* and new bassist, Almost Loki* and have created a textured edgy version of ‘Love Hit Song’* also appearing on This New Album* with ‘Also Love That New Song’* .

It’s really a new hiphop swing rockabilly jamming with spoons and dubstep sound for BlahBlah* and an interesting change of direction artistically, it’s a great option for those who are new to the AskMe* music scene or devoted fans that enjoyed their live numbers or That Famous Garage Album*!”

Finally, ethically don’t ask a band member, their management or a family/friend of the band, to review a band and expect an uncritical and helpful review. Always disclose your relationship to the band if it’s more than catching the bus with the bassist. If you want in their words, quote them or write an interview. Many local to medium acts are more than happy to answer email interviews or even meet for coffee (the expectation is that you buy).

A great strategy I picked up from my friend Matt is that if you really do want to interview/review a band, make it relevant to them and your review’s intended audience. And then buy the song/album/a ticket to see them if you possibly can and make the relationship reciprocal artistically. Musicians gotta eat, instruments need maintenance and power doesn’t pay for itself.

Tell Facebook it was mind blowing with that blurry stage shot you took. Sell the band to the world (or at least me) with your review.

*Names are fictional and yes I saw Thor 3. I’m giving people until the weekend to write my how to write a film review film review, only this time using a real film! review. Stay tuned.

Clara Santilli, 2017, this is article may be reused under fair use. Please buy always music and remember to attribute artists!

Texting yes and the right to privacy: carving out space in the age of social media.

I’ve got a million thoughts in my head as I’m walking to the cafe this morning. I have 4 or 5 dialogues across social media going on. I’m working out how to use my realestate agency’s maintenance app to describe plumbing issues I don’t have the vocabulary for and I’ve been reading forums to try and work out if the issue needs a plumber or me turning the tap clockwise. Which way is it again?

I get to the cafe, order and sit down. This is my morning ritual, to go get breakfast after having some medication with awful side effects and then quietly enjoying my tea and toast as I put my phone away. The cafe is busy, and then we segue three ways. The first time, it’s an elderly gentleman from somewhere more exotic than Radelaide and he wants to sit down. The cafe is busy and with no tables free, I smile weakly and offer him some of the table when asked. He wants to sit right beside me, close, and I find that uncomfortable, my first nope red flag. I definitely don’t want him in my personal space. I suggest he sits the other side and then he starts trying to engage me in conversation and interrupting my meal to the point where I want to move – I see another table is free. I have to move the entire tea set and myself and get dirty looks from my unwanted companion.

I thought we were just sharing a table and I used enough soft no indications before noping across the cafe to indicate that I was not wanting contact. I am perturbed as I drink my drink, because hot tea is required while I try to silence my thoughts and I find I automatically pull out my phone. Why doesn’t life have a do not disturb function?

The second and third time at the cafe are identical- two older women come in alone. I’m alone too. I quietly go about my ritual of my three cups of a pot of tea- too milky and sweet for some but it’s just what I need on a stomach full of prescribed sanity. The morning medication hasn’t kicked in yet despite my breakfast veering into lunch territory because I slept late again- the new drug for my fibromyalgia is making me very drowsy at night when I take it and it rolls heavily into the burden of waking after slow release antipsychotics. In the morning they take a few hours to clear my head so I sleep late and then start fretting for the day and go to breakfast where I’m one with the caffeine. Jittery and unsettled despite trying to find peace of mind with my phone in my bag. In easy reach.

The women aren’t getting much attention as the cafe owner is busy though he tries to be personable with every customer (what a good public face game he has cultivated as the caring local cafe owner of Glenelg) and they seem to need the human contact ordering something meagre at a cafe brings. They make some remark to no one in particular and I find myself replying to the hanging remark inadvertently. This empty space where the comment hovers precariously is almost where these women seem to be socially. It’s meagre words.

I’m also a single woman dining alone and I reach across the space and make small talk even though I’m an introvert today. The strangest bit of the encounters for me though, is the end, where the women thank me for actually talking to them. It wasn’t that hard to step across and make a place for her in my day. I hope someone will do it for me when I’m older and then remember the SBS post I made on social media about saying hello (that I forgot to read). I try to post about mental health yet sometimes I get distracted…

It’s another day and ruminating over my tea, I think about the first encounter with Mr Not-My-Surgeon and what was my discomfort with the first man. Initially I thought he was my surgeon for my upcoming brain transplant and was only there to pick something up as it’s close to his surgery (which I can see from my flat if we are creepy and all Rear Window) then I worry that if it is my surgeon to be, that I’ve jeopardised my chances of getting all the help I can within my price range. I call my mother and fret because the truth is, I find faces hard to remember.

I find it extremely hard outside my cultural group though it isn’t kosher to admit that in the humanities and I spent a good ten minutes comparing the nosy man to the photon of the surgeon. I think they are different in the ears and my mother assures me that the surgeon would have ethical boundaries and if he had sat down, it wouldn’t have been beside me. I realise that he is intruding on my time away from being constantly accessible online and disconnecting so I can mindfully eat my breakfast.

Breakfast. It’s my space away from social media: it’s called privacy and a lesson I learned from a stark genius that it’s alright to be accountable in your public face but your privacy is a space to guard. Yet with face to face contact there is no block feature or a mute button…The second and third encounters in my musing make me realise there’s a generational gap into the idea of social spaces we occupy and how people who have spent a lot of time online socially seem to (not unreasonably) want to disconnect after the furious dance of eyes and fingers duelling, waltzing across the touch screen with 23 tabs open in the browser and 3 different apps to manage banking, bills and how you’ll get the tram to Victoria Square in time for poetry in the pub and the featured poet is Calamity, who is he again? Checks Facebook. We are friends, when did this happen again?

Over my tea, I think I’ve sent enough social cues I don’t want to engage every morning and that’s why the first encounter unsettled me. The man was demanding my attention, acting entitled to my personal space quite literally when he wanted to sit close to me, maybe share my tea?! I read about an SMS sent by some of Yes marriage equality campaigners and how many people feel it’s a violation of their personal space. I understand this sensation my space has been violated in a way I can’t articulate, despite the sharpest mind I know telling people that it’s just an SMS that took a few seconds to read and delete it.

Pragmatic me knows she’s absolutely right but another part of me recognises that social media – texts, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and messenger apps just to pose a few for my definition of what it is to occupy e-space – has become an extension of their actual self identifying space in reality (or meatspace!) And when I think about how I rely on my phone probably too much but it has become an extension I use to enable my dis/Abilities. I’m so invested in my technological microcosm, that my e-space occupation is an unavoidable consequence of communicating mostly by social media, I understand why we can’t articulate that sense of being violated because the definition of contact has changed.

It’s why I was bothered by my *gentleman friend* because he couldn’t read my body language. It’s a cultural shift in symbols like headphones but no music or a news paper to peruse. And because we spend so much time connected, we want to disconnect and don’t give this desire for peace of mind it’s own physical embodiment.

Sadly this doesn’t go well when people occupying small parts of society want to connect. In another Clara-needs-more-therapy story that probably should be in Thought Catalogue: last year, I was cyber stalked by another student wanting me to do her work. A lot of her work. I reported it, I was told I responded appropriately but if she was told to back off, it was confidential so it felt like she’d gotten away something at my expense. I just couldn’t put my finger on it exactly it my body reacted as if she was an imminent threat.

The problem was that she creeped out of e-space in my mind and creeped into my meatspace & started to set off ptsd reactions despite there being no physical danger. And this is how I imagine a ‘vote yes text’ feels to someone very caught up without the sensible divide between ‘online’ you using social media and meatspace you that occupies a distinct physical and social space. Reality isn’t the lens you are looking through when you react like that to a veiled threat, you aren’t responding with a considered approach. Instead there are overwhelming feelings that create a cognitive dissonance so reality and your reaction aren’t congruent.

The text probably felt like some stranger had walked into your bedroom and sat on your bed and started preaching the Yes campaign. I once had two old women come into my house when I first was living alone and forgot to lock the door; I remember then making themselves at home while I was in a daze and I still doubt the memory but it was a real event and they were there in my house and I don’t know why. I honestly don’t remember inviting them in but I definitely remember asking them to leave. I suppose unsolicited texts leave you with the same vague anxiety, but thing about anxiety is that it’s not logical or rational. My cyber stalker elicited the same hypervigilance and anxiety as her physical presence would have if she’d shown up in my home.

I was asked to work with the cyber stalker on an assignment and with her persistent demands on me, I couldn’t do the group work and so she sought to punish me when I wouldn’t hand over my material I’d gathered for my own essay. The lecturer insisted on my participation in the group work (despite her asking me to do her work for her) as it was a vital part of his teaching pedagogy; despite him being advised to let me present alone as an accomodation. Later when discussing my participation (or non), he called me arrogant when I was confident in my abilities (after 15 years of university I bloody better well be) when a male student trying to occupy the space I’m taking would not have been criticised. The equal opportunity officer was the one to write my fee remission and retrospective withdrawal letter so I definitely had a case. I told The cyberstalker never to contact me again and unfortunately I probably won’t be able to take that class again. I don’t fit into the teaching space.

So people reacting to the Yes vote text are stressed out and instead of responding to it like Yes literature in the mail, as their sane reaction to simply throwing it out, the SMS has become a spectre and the objection is that the Yes campaign felt entitled to invade their social space. If this had been the No for marriage equality campaign, it would have been a scandal and no voters would be further demonised. What ever way you choose to vote, you should feel that you have privacy and dignity over your choice. The Yes vote SMS violated that autonomy we expect in an individualistic society and this is why reasonable people are reacting unreasonably. They are worried by the access to their e-space identity in a way that they can’t control and fear nefarious purposes or exploitation. Some of this is about fear, some of it is about saving face, with yourself for having an illogical visceral reaction to an unwanted text message. I get that anxiety when I get phone calls from blocked or unidentifiable numbers.

We live in a world of privacy settings, networking, trigger and content warnings. Our social space has neat labels and functions defined with a purpose or commonality, we create perfect bubbles and cultivate our echo chambers, we get comfortable and share how lonely we are waiting for Cthulhu. Meatspace however and living in society are dissonant and is not congruent with e-spaces. It doesn’t have privacy settings that translate into a unanimous culturally recognised language because we live in the era of multitasking (badly) and read a paper and chat, do 5 things on the phone at once, talk on the phone in the toilet. So I guess we react mentally to that perception of a vague threat to the extended self in the virtual reality of social media and people we haven’t granted access to our self. To friend has become an adverb as well as an adjectives showing how we control and grant access to ourself – friend and it’s opposite. So when people try to reach across the social divide (like the Yes vote encouraging people speak beyond their bubble as the unfortunate text demonstrates a poor attempt at) and/or invade our autonomy, we will react as if attacked because the other, unknown, hasn’t been or become labeled a friendly.

Clara, 24/09/2017

Look what you made me do: for something different, understanding the narrative and agency of Taylor Swift through a close reading of her latest song.

Look what you made me write…

In 2016, Vice’s website for women, Broadly, wrote a click bait piece on on Taylor Swift as an Aryan icon worshipped by Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, KKK, Tom Hiddleston…wait forget the last one. In light of the events coming out of Charlottesville, Virginia, the issue of fascism is everywhere and people are talking. So inside my bubble, I got to read ‘Can’t Shake It Off: How Taylor Swift Became a Nazi Idol’ by Mitchell Sunderland. I’m refusing to link to the piece because I refuse to give such a flimsy article the traffic on moral principles alone and have decided while I’m preparing for invasive tests tomorrow and feeling particularly anal attentive, to breakdown how Taylor Swift has reclaimed her own iconography after famously asking to be excluded from the narrative.

Sunderland’s evidence of Nazis having appropriated Taylor’s image as a symbol was the fact back in probably 2013, Emily Pattinson, a teenage girl decided to pin Hitler quotes on images of Swift. This apparently was adopted by various fascist organisations internationally. What prompted me to write this article was that the source for the Aryan worshipping weirdos claims Taylor is a covert Nazi.

In the comments on Facebook where I found this particularly innovative piece of critical thinking, is that because Taylor Swift didn’t deny being a Nazi, her silence must be tacitly approving them. Obviously I was the only one that read where Pattinson was approached by Taylor’s legal team and told despite both Swift and Hitler definitely being people of public interest, these were damaging and for Emily to cease and desist. Then she dropped Look What You Made Me Do, the first single of her 2017 album, Reputation. And instead of excluding herself from the narrative, T-Swift tore the whole damn thing down. Let’s take a closer look on how she’s redefining herself in this new single.

First Swift wiped her social media accounts clean and removed herself from music streaming services last year (though she’s back now I’m suitably informed). Then she won a highly contentious court settlement where she was awarded the princely sum of $1 after suing a former body guard for sexual assault and was hailed as a victory for women in Hollywood setting a precedent for future cases. Then she released the song that proclaims “Here Lies The Reputation of Taylor Swift” with a zombie version of Taylor’s Out of the Woods crawling out of a graveyard. There’s a lot of shade thrown at Taylor’s known nemeses and controversies that’s not worth the salacious gossip other writers no doubt have analysed to death in light of this single. And the crawled out of the cemetery…

What I want to focus on here is two scenes in Look What You Made Me Do in particular. The scene where our songstress volunteers to become the actress of our nightmares in front of a giant T with a sweater emblazoned ‘Rep’ where 2017 Taylor Swift is on a mountain of Taylor-Swifts-Christmases Past and a stinger, at the end of the song, where the various incarnations of Taylor are standing in front of the jet (yet another Taylor had scrawled REPUTATION in red paint on), they are parroting the commentary around the various icons of each Swift career phase. Bickering among themselves, the only time the Taylor Swifts idols were in any sort of harmony is when that when circa 2009 VMAs Swift, holding her Moonman, announces she would “very much like to be excluded from this narrative”, they all tell her to SHUT UP. This Taylor Swift circa 2017 is using a power of free speech that most people forget exists, the power of silence. The one power of free speech people forget they have also have, is the power to SHUT UP.

So the reasoning of behind that Taylor Swift must be the Aryan Mistress Of Nazis because she chose not to dignify the Nazi accusations with any sort of response – which is very typical of the Taylor Swift branding I might add – falls flat. She’s always remained politically neutral even if her personal life has spilled into the gossip columns and the other burdens of being a star seem to be very public, like the inevitable commentary that comes with living in and cultivating a celebrity presence. We’ve seen Swift at times, actually relish and acknowledge it actively as with Bad Blood and the girl squad or famously with Dear John and John Mayer.

However at the end of this clip, an older and wiser Taylor is alone and in by removing herself as the subject of discussion, she’s become an object of agency and then in redefining herself, she’s actually attempting to take control of narrative rather than reacting and this is where saying nothing is her super power. In Australia, we do not have the American 5th amendment right to silence, especially if it is something that could incriminate themselves. Taylor Swift by shutting up is doing just that, responding with a considered reply rather than reacting to the innuendo, rumours and gossip. It’s not a coincidence that this is the Taylor (2009) that zombie Taylor inters back in the cemetery right at the beginning and that 2017 Taylor is the Rep.

Clara Santilli, 2017.

There’s no money in poetry…Supporting local arts and tourism from burlesque to the spoken word…

So it's been awhile readers and I've unfortunately been too ill to blog or adventure much. The last events I attended as the Lonely Archaeologist were all at the Nexus Arts Centre including the Deco Dolls and World Gin Day, Once Upon A Teaser (both curated by the talented Miss Viola Verve) and Club Gotham by the JustAss League in late June (all pictures below are from the various events mentioned).

I intended to do a feature blog on each of these events but illness is a time consuming hobby and I've largely been regulated to questionable viewing habits formed on Netflix while resting & testing goes on and disturbing my therapy animals with my ideas of home entertainment! Part of that of that is the pursuit of spoken word and the pub poetry scene (as both a performer, audience member and writer), it's actually influenced my documentary research project that I'm making as part of my screen and media studies as my archaeology masters elective. This has changed my viewpoint on being artist myself as you'll see below.

Once Upon A Teaser, Nexus Arts, June 2017.

Once Upon A Teaser, Nexus Arts, June 2017.

Gin tasting platter on World Gin Day, Nexus Arts, June 2017.

As much as I enjoyed attending the events as an audience member, my perspective really began to change as I got more and more involved as a novice poet in Adelaide's underground spoken word scene. From my own fledging endeavours since late last year, I appreciate the work that goes into creating a performance let alone curating an entire show. For me, thankfully, it's a reasonably cheap art form to practice and rehearse since I'm a *collector* of notebooks and pens are affordable and my writing group are generous with their time. Plus a huge thanks to the people who organise open mic events like Soul Lounge and Dithyrambia plus Spoken Word SA that have created environments that nurture poets and other wordsmiths as well as featuring local and Australian talent regularly. They are all volunteers with projects, lives and day jobs of their own and you'll find that with many of the amateur acts in SA's cultural scene.

I really realised the cost of time that now goes into then making your performance the best it possibly can be after seeing Charlie Brooks, Alison Bennett and Matcho Cassidy workshop and choreograph their show, URI: To Burn, performed last week at the Jade as part of State Variable, which was free in spite of months of work going into it. So tonight, I was pretty upset to see one of the upcoming lights of the Adelaide burlesque scene explaining on social media that performers were being compensated less than $30.00 per show. That's the average price per ticket of a medium sized Fringe show according to my *research* (shows I went to see last year or tried to but I was really perfecting the art of ill timing literally). We joke in the spoken word scene that there's no money in poetry (apart from the Slams which I'll write about next week), but the other creative performing arts are not cheap pursuits even just as a hobby (I spent a lot of money on music and dance lessons first hand growing up) and if you are paying money to be an audience member in a show that a performer is good enough to be paid for, they've got the right to be compensated fairly like any other employed work.

Often people will ask them for free art or gigs because they'll "get the exposure" and think this is fair payment when they don't realise the hours of practice, years of lessons, time taken away for rehearsals from other things including better paid employment, travel costs to venues, make-up and costumes, equipment such as sound and lights along with someone to operate those sound and lights, refreshments and bar staff if the venue is catered or the cost of up fronting catering with no guarantee they'll make it even let alone profitable and then there's legal & insurance…

Why am I ranting about this when, as Tink, I'm only a poetic novice who hasn't released a book or been a featured poet (yet) and as an archaeology student, I don't perform for a non-academic audience? I write this blog for free and the reason is that, rarely does it contain my original work or ideas, it's usually blogging about someone else's achievements in the arts and tourism products that I've consumed. I do it for free but I know the value of what I see on my lonely adventures, I pay full price for my tickets because I value the arts culture and as an unpaid reviewer, I do it because I love what I see, but know I need to pay for its consumption like I need to pay at restaurants, because it wasn't MY hard work. The wonderful people who agreed to be interviewed here do it because they care about their art. Not for exposure.

We need to encourage local arts production and entertainment tourism in SA because it is good for other local industries such as hospitality, other tourism sectors like heritage, sport and ecotourism and things you wouldn't even necessarily like education. We are actually lucky to have musicians of Slava Grigoryan's calibre involved in teaching guitar students in South Australia! (Learned that at last year's Guitar festival!) If we don't pay our local performers properly for their work and in a timely manner, we lose them to other bigger arts festivals such as Edinburgh or Perth when they gain recognition and fame.

Not long ago, I wrote about how local and medium sized acts were being driven from last year's Fringe Festival, that the smaller official venues were having trouble retaining acts and staging performances through poor ticket sales and smaller-medium sized performers being ousted from free tickets and better publicised productions – not made in SA. They were lost in a sea of larger international marquee shows like notorious touring comedians, because the much smaller shows were less attended and less well advertised and not due to lack of program quality.

Beers About Songs by Ryan Adam Wells (of Sound and Fury fame) was run here 2 years ago and now is getting international acclaim at Fringe festivals all over the Northern Hemisphere. Many international former Fringe acts of that quality aren't coming back because they were running at too much of a loss to make money, not having enough people attend to have a guaranteed audience at every show to make performances worth doing and to offset the financial and artistic costs of being in SA in high Australian tourism season, in short making being their being here less worthwhile. Their loss hurts the local economy as well as South Australia's because Mad March is when we as a destination see our highest income from out of state visitors who come for the combination of high and popular arts, culture, sports and heritage tourism unique to SA. So we need to really encourage and throw in with local cultural industry creators, artists and venues NOW. Not just during the Fringe or Cabaret Festival or the Tour DownUnder.

As a cultural hub, Adelaide has been compared to cities with reputations in the creative industries like Portland in that various arts festivals are on here all year round – currently SALA and Guitars in Bars are running as I write this and it's also National Science Week, I believe – but if we drive out the producers of culture industry content, we are removing a huge source of revenue for the state. We have the potential it has been argued to be Oz's cultural capital all year around in the Guardian – but we can't do it at the expense of not paying smaller acts to develop into recognised medium productions and then into performers of the calibre to have international recognition -that brands SA as cultural and artistic haven- is as the case with the internationally acclaimed, Anya Anastasia (currently getting positive reviews in Edinburgh! You go, lady in red!). Former interviewees Anya Anastasia like Sapphire Snow, and names from 2017 to watch such as Viola Verve and Diana D'Vine (to name a few brilliant local women) curate quality shows all year round in the city (and last year Anya in the Hills) that have nurture new and upcoming talent, show cases local stars as well as bringing in headline quality performers all year around and exposes venues to new audiences.

Many larger independent acts bypass Adelaide on tours because have gained the reputation we don't pay for tickets until the last minute and try to get the best deal, not actually what the performance and performers deserve to be compensated. Adelaide this is not a good look for the state. It was by demand last year, that Post Modern Jukebox and 2Cellos, even came here at all on tour to sold out shows. We won't be able to sustain larger state arts institutions like the ASO and bringing in international quality shows like the David Bowie tribute collaboration that visited Adelaide with them in January this year at the Festival Centre, if we also don't fund local arts and it's creators & producers.

The cream rises to the top as my friend Kami says, but if we remove the smaller ponds for the fish to grow in, middle sized lakes for them to be seen and an ocean of creativity to release them into, we are never going to sustain an arts and creative industry in Adelaide that encourages local talent to stay, grow and mentor in fellow generations of new artists. If we want to create a viable cultural industry and enjoy the thriving performing arts culture of a capital city, we need to put our money where our mouths are. You need milk churning to be able to get to the cream.

Clara Rose Santill, all photos copyright, 2017. Thanks to Nexus Arts, the artists and interviewees past and present that continue to inspire this blogger!

The future of archaeology’s heritage and the antipodean myopia in accessibility for all. 

Indiana Don’t!

Welcome to tonight’s actual accessibility archaeology post from me as the Lonely Archaeologist. I started this blog because I thought there was something fundamentally wrong with the way archaeology was practiced in Australia. There’s a cognitive dissonance going on in modern archaeology that to be an archaeologist, that you need to have a degree of mythic superhumanness, I call it “the Indiana Jones syndrome”. You must possess an endurance above the average human being’s limitations and have the sort of intellect that puts Stephen Hawking to shame. Most archaeologists are simply normal specimens of homo sapien but we do enjoy basking in the glow of the legendary tiki torches in the Temple of Doom.

If you aren’t*normal* (and I have significant challenges to overcome but I see my tenacity and persistence as character traits a good archaeologist needs), I was told that I couldn’t be archaeologist. I’ve stuck it out over the last few stressful years, becoming something of a farce in the eyes of the other students, but I have endured. So alongside developing my communication skills to better explain to a diverse public and community what we are doing as archaeologists with scientific communication, I’m trying to carve a space where somebody different can come up behind me without the same resistance I’ve met. There is room for everyone.

Don’t get mad, write a blog post.

So I started this blog as a way of practicing those skills in a heritage appropriate and adjacent area for a disabled archaeologist in documentary and film making. The current system of culture heritage management in Australia wants an archaeologist who can do everything, because I need accomodations out of the ordinary, I’m seen as broken goods. Let’s not pretend I’ve been denied field work opportunities because of my *situation* like the one time I applied to be a normal executive club member but was Othered because I had the audacity to criticise a club. I found some smaller demonstrations and presentation work on my own but I’m unable to regularly find places as a volunteer to excavate or do survey work. I can’t dive medically or even participate in a conservation field school in Australia last year because I wasn’t physically able enough. I can’t get work as tour guide at a library, local museum or any other state institutions I applied to — despite doing extra training and being in the leadership program run by Flinders careers called the Horizon Award. That’s me with the head of the SAM at a Night Lab event in 2016, one I volunteered less than half a week after being hit by a tram so let’s not say that I haven’t met the superhuman endurance expected of an archaeologist!

Curious Beasts Night Lab event, 2016.

I spoke up on this little blog about my difficulties in finding acceptance at Flinders by other archaeologists & students. As a result, Enabled found me, a dis/Abled and Enabled community of archaeologists and students from a wide international context and I learned about a model of archaeology that aims to be inclusive and accessible for all in so many ways across so many branches that is a whole lecture in itself. I’ll explain about them more if I can get my ten minutes of fame at Flinders.

If you’ve been reading this blog at all, you know I’m a gigantic academic fan of Doctor Who and time travel in general. In fact last year I almost had a chapter published based on queer attitudes in archaeology and in science fiction in Beyond Indy and Lara (but missed out due to my university’s inaction to remove a stalker from a group project in an elective subject and unsupportive lecturer (whose teaching pedagogy was incompatible with advice given disability service’s advice and my right not to be stalked because I wouldn’t do her work for her), it aggravated my newly diagnosed but not managed, fibromyalgia.

That is me on a ghost hunt at the Old Gaol trying to get review experiences of Haunted Horizon’s award winning tour proving I can get around a heritage site safety except for the ghosts. Those guys just loved me so much I got a stigmata friendship bracelet…

The thing is, when I was studying Doctor Who’s vision of archaeology in the future, I was encouraged because the most well known archaeologist, River Song, was a psychopath (with Time Lord DNA making her as different from neurotypical like me). There was also Jack Harkness, a pansexual time agent who was pretty close to Lara Croft in attitude towards black market antiquities, deviated from the Indiana Jones stereotype and of rugged Howard Carter manly adventuring tomb raiding mythology (even poor Lara had to be more macho than the men and was prey to toxic masculinity). Here are some famous British examples of archaeology of the speculative future and neither of them are like the models we have in Australia. Here we get the Man From Snowy River…River Song had fought against her mental illness/injury all her augmented life span and Jack’s inventive approaches to illegal artefact acquisition and selling were anything but conventional archaeology. He did less damage than Lara and Indy combined! I like to see the innovation they came up with as the spirit of enabling people to do archaeology, give us the tools and opportunities to succeed, we tend to succeed.

We can all change.

These two characters with the addition of Berenice Summerfield (from the Big Finish extended Whovian universe), are holding space quite literally for diverse Enabled archaeologists like me in popular culture. The EAF starting in Britain is a part of this gradual shifting in position of accessibility in archaeology and expanding the experiences and diversity in the heritage discipline. Some of the archaeology establishment don’t have the foresight to see this how times are changing.

I’ll post more on eventually on this and how it all relates to a book with the title “Time travelling and the future of the past” by Professor Cornelius Holtorf and how my ideas were received in conversation around the visit to Flinders about these changes happening all over the world. I imagine after looking through Holtorf’s book that lived experience and the futurism of archaeology is going to be a fascinating conversation.

Time agent, Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who.

Clara Santill, 2017 (edited 15/04/2018)

In case of a mental health emergency, someone is watching, caring and available to you! 

Sharing this here, please spread it widely it if you were intending to spread the “Someone is always watching and cares!” memes. I do care 💚.

This has updated and comprehensive information on managing a mental health crisis including depression, anxiety, self harming, disturbing thoughts and suicidal feelings IN AUSTRALIA.  Many of these services also include chat features but you need to visit the websites to find out. It is okay not to be okay! It is even better to find help and access your options because talking about depression, PTSD, anxiety and panic attacks, self harming, suicidal thoughts and other disturbing ideas doesn’t mean you’re more likely to act on them. It actually gives you the power to start a dialogue and access your options. Wellness and recovery are possible with the right combination of help and support. Sending you 💛. 
In Australia, for a mental health crisis emergency the first number you call is 000 (or 112) and ask for an ambulance. Or go to the Emergency Department of your nearest hospital. The Mental health acute care team is available at 131 465 is also available day or night. I’ve used them myself. 
In Australia, the number for the free counselling service at Lifeline is 13 11 14, any time, night or day. 
There is also the Suicide Callback Service has a 24/7 hotline that can be reached at 1300 659 467. They also have a website at: https://www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au/

A concerned friend or family can call the police for a welfare check on someone (no matter how long or little time they have been missing despite what TV tells you, 24 hours is not necessary for asking for help) on 131 444. If you are worried about their health, state of mind, haven’t heard from them or they are behaving out of character, the police these days are trained to be first responders to this. I’ve even been taken for an assessment based on a worried phone operator and the worst outcome is you waste a bit of your time at the emergency department but get medically accessed. It’s better to go and not need it! 
The next best personal option if you feel mentally unwell, is to contact your family or a personal GP or the local community health centre (or a walk in medical centre if you don’t have a doctor). They can write you a referral you to appropriately qualified professionals and often free resources, though there can be a demand on them so if it’s an emergency or you feel urgently unwell, please got to the ER. They will have the doctors on hand. 
If you have a bit more luxury of time with yoor condition if you feel unwell but are not in immediate danger, generally living in a place like a city or regional centre, there is private help or hospital outpatient programs. These have access to qualified professionals like psychiatrists, counsellors, mental health nurses, social workers, NGO case workers and psychologists. If you see a GP, you can usually see them under a mental health plan for 10 sessions a year or have them put you in a program to help you change your life for the better for minimal cost. I use a psychologist and psychiatrist who work with my GP. 

A lot of bigger employment groups have EAP (employees assistance schemes) you can access mental health care with and some places like universities or TAFEs have their own counselling and medical services for students. 
Other web resources for Australian mental health and suicide awareness include:
•The Black Dog Institute: https://blackdoginstitute.org.au/

•Beyondblue: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

•RU Okay: https://www.ruok.org.au

•Sane Australia: https://www.sane.org

•Mind Australia: https://www.mindaustralia.org.au

•Kids helpline: https://kidshelpline.com.au

•Project Semicolon: https://projectsemicolon.com

Clara Santilli, 2017.