the gospel according to frey

23 08 2011

James Frey:  Reformed addict, fraudster, or just a damned good writer?

I’m going with the latter. Ever since his startling debut novel  A Million Little Pieces  was ‘exposed’ as a work of fiction rather than the memoir of a recovering crack addict, the American writer has been lumped with the label of con-man.

Except that, for my money, it simply makes AMLP all the stronger. What sort of wonderfully twisted and creative mind could come up with such a story?

The guy is one helluva fiction writer, even if his ‘memoir’ falls short. Plus, the fact that Oprah and her minions were among those pointing the finger made me feel the deception was just a whole lot of hot air [and ratings??].

Since then, Frey has gone onto pen My Friend Leonard, plus Bright Shiny Morning .

The first, a sequel to AMLP, deals with life after rehab and the protagonist’s relationship with his gangster buddy.

Bright Shiny Morning however, brings us a slice of LA life, a set of unrelated, ordinary lives unfolding as people go about their business of surviving. Except that it is completely engrossing.

Even on a second viewing, I put aside everything else to burn through it, captivated by tales of the Mexican maid with big thighs for example, or the bum who refuses to drink anything except Chablis.

And now he’s done it again.

The Final Testament of the Holy Bible is his latest. He certainly knows how to stir trouble. It’s a pretty amazing read.

The novel deals with the appearance of a man many believe to be Jesus. Certainly, this bloke claims to speak to (some) god and has a message to deliver, but it’s not necessarily what the people want to hear.

Frey raises one of my favourite religious themes here, one that has cropped up previously in the film Stigmata and even The Da Vinci Code, namely that you don’t need organized religion to be a decent person —  ‘God’ or whomever is up there, just wants you to be a good person. Be nice. Love each other.  Have fun.

This new messiah, named Ben in the book (!!), has a fine time taking religious leaders to task over their ridiculous notion of living by the Word of God.

The world is a different place now…What’s crazy is living your life according to some book written by someone who couldn’t imagine what your life would be like.”

Priest: “Worship makes one’s life better.

Ben: “Love and laughter and fucking make one’s life better. Worship is just the passing of time.”


Go get yourself a copy.

Action Week

2 08 2011

Last week a friend from NZ came to visit.

A snowboarder from the ruined city of Christchurch, this young lady was no stranger to adventure, so I took it upon myself to organize some kind of Super Itinerary, positively bursting with desirable destinations and outdoorsy pursuits.

This had the dual benefits of showing Erin a few choice pieces of WA real estate, while providing me the chance to piss off from work and have some holiday-style fun myself.

I think we did ok.

In just  two weeks we cycled the Swan River, toured Freo, found a BYO jazz bar, watched The Nextmen at Villa, cruised to Rottnest and back, hit Margaret River, spent three days in the forest around Walpole, played volleyball, attended a festival in Perth and went mountain biking in the Ferguson Valley. All while consuming our body weight in red wine.

Maybe I should be a tour guide. We sure had a ball. Check some pics.

near gas bay, margs

oh my, the brakes have failed...

karri tree carry on



walpole farmhouse still life

cottesloe beachfront

breakin' bones

elephant rocks, denmark

joni sternbach’s tintype photograpy

1 08 2011

Who needs a digital camera when you could be processing your portraits right there on the beach, with the subjects looking on?

This is the approach taken by Joni Sternbach with her ‘Surfland’ series, using a technique unchanged since the 19th century.

Sternbach’s tintype photos are made with a large format camera using wet plates developed on location, resulting in unpredictable, timeless images of surfers and locals.

Landscapes look equally haunting using the wet plate collodion technique and the process just seems to slow time – to capture a slice of history more effectively than any SLR could ever hope to.

the surf art of wolfgang bloch

1 08 2011

There’s no question I’ve spent more time looking for waves than riding them.

Apparently, that’s part of the fun.

I’m not so sure, but it is pretty special stumbling onto a good one after driving half the day.

Wolfgang Bloch also knows that moment; when you crest another dusty ridge and first glimpse distant, windswept perfection.

His palette of rocky browns and stormy greys bookend perfect pointbreaks, reeling off unridden in some faraway place.

It’s the sort of art that encourages you to get off the couch and hit the road and that’s very cool.


the tropical north

1 08 2011

Cape Range behind our campsite

One of the very best things about living in Western Australia is the rugged, warm north of the state, a lazy 15 hour drive from Perth.

Even the most bleak winter is quickly forgotten when you cross the 26th parallel and enter the tropics proper, where red desert meets teeming blue ocean.

And there’s so much damn wildlife up there. You almost expect David Attenborough to bimble into shot, explaining why echidnas love crossing the highway at around 5pm.

Around our camp at Yardie Homestead, there were countless roos, emus, wedgetail eagles, wild horses, goats, goannas and yes, echidnas.

In the water was equally startling. As well as the fish we regularly hauled in, there were turtles popping up everywhere, huge sea snakes, sharks chasing our tuna, rays in the shallows. One day, I’d love to see a dugong.

These shots are from a couple months back when we travelled to Exmouth for a friend’s wedding and even looking now, makes me feel wistful.

Hope you feel similarly inspired.

My favourite left in the world. Mike would disagree.

a very Australian wedding scene

on the way

the author and friend

pretty, deserted beaches? check.

A girl caught the biggest fish. A GIRL!?!

fishing, beer and sunsets. a lot to like.