Canary Press Issue 10

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3, 2016 by Eric Yoshiaki Dando

 

 

 

 

 

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Issue 10 of Canary Press featuring new stories by Etgar Keret, Jennifer Mills, Chloe Smith, Eric Yoshiaki Dando & more.

Launching 6 May at Wetlands studio. 623 Sydney Rd, Brunswick from 7pm.

or pre-order a copy here: thecanarypress.com

 

Bullen’s African Lion Safari was not in Bulleen though. It was actually in Rockbank

Posted in Uncategorized on January 19, 2016 by Eric Yoshiaki Dando

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jesus

 

howie drives his new car over. it is a rusty holden and he has carefully painted ‘driving for jesus’ on the roof in big green letters. he says, ‘this is so god can look down and show mercy in road accidents and heavy traffic.’ on the back window is a collection of rainforest slogan stickers. it is an unusual combination.

 

howie has started to look a little bit like jesus, with his hair all long and his attempted beard and his hippy shirt. i plan to paint ‘jesus is driving’ on the bonnet in big green letters.

 

he tells mary and i that ashton’s circus is on tonight in daylesford and why don’t we all just drive there and why don’t we all chip in and buy some alcohol for the journey?

 

our local hotel is full of animals. we’ve never been inside, we just believe what we see through the windows. we buy island coolers form the drive-in bottle shop, so we don’t have to get out of the car. we can roll the windows up if we need to, howie says that it’s like driving through the bulleen african lion safari.

 

save the bush

 

we are passing through bulleen past the actual ghost of the old bulleen african lion sufari park, you can still see the zebra stripes on the public tiolets. my parents took us there on trips to melbourne. you just drove your car in there and lions would jump on it.

 

howie keeps leaning out the window and screaming the botanical names of trees we pass along the highway. it is very unsettling for me and mary. ‘look, exocarpos cupressiformis,’ he jabbers wildly as i grab the wheel.

 

he starts complaining about the rainforest action group, saying that they are only ever interested in new-age hippy bullshit: rainforests and dolphins. he has since realised that he has never swum with a dolphin, never walked in a rainforest. ‘fuck the rainforests,’ he says. ‘they get heaps of media attention. what about the endangered species all around us? we’re in brunswick and the rainforests are in brisbane. what about the long-neck tortoise? the blue devil? kangaroo grass? we should go and chain ourselves to the trees along merri creek.’

 

he has been getting into indigenous plants, taking up their cause with a religious fervour. he has joined a group of volunteers that protects the grasslands along the merri creek and volunteers at the victorian indigenous nursery cooperative at the brunswick community farm, he studies the noxious environmental weed list in the flora of melbourne. he talks about a big privet hedge he knows in glen iris. he spits out venom about the evil weeds invading the whole countryside, pointing at them out the window: christmas trees, blackberries, agapanthus, sweet vernal grass, paterson’s curse…

 

a metaphor for me and howie

 

exocarpos cuppressiformis is a native cypress with edible fruits. it has been called the nigger plum or native cherry. the wood has a nice, tight grain and is used by aboriginal people for making woomeras. it has a parasitic relationship with another tree—it doesn’t harm the host. the host just says, ‘here, have one of my roots, man.’

 

the more howie learns about the bush, the more he discovers what is wrong with it. he realises that the world is completely fucked. that merri creek is only one vein in the country’s circulatory system and it is dying.

 

the thing about bush regeneration is that it is like a religion to some people. it attracts mad extremists, environmental terrorists. martyrs for the cause.

 

he rips open his second island cooler. ‘we used to buy a four-pack of these and drink till we threw up and that was a good night, remember?’ he says between swallows. ‘it’s a good name for it, island cooler. it’s like drinking sea water. it gives you that sort of shipwrecked feeling in the morning, it’s like drowning it tastes to bad.’

 

he is becoming weary, heavy-eyed, his voice breaking off at the end of each sentence. one more island cooler and we will wind up burned beyond recognition, twisted around some tree that howie knows the botanical name of.

 

mary is getting scared. she grips my arm urgently. ‘i need to have a piss!’ she says loudly. ‘i want to stop off at woodend for fish ‘n’ chips.’ this sounds good to howie. he composes himself a little and steadies the car on the road. then he clears his throat and starts again. ‘they’re about to build a factory on the last remaining patch of urban grassland. grasslands have as much biodiversity as rainforests.’ he holds up an index finger. ‘did you know that?’

 

i am extremely alert, ready to grab the wheel at any time.

 

‘if the merri creek was a rainforest, we would have no worries. no worries at all. you’d have feral hippies camped out for miles. there would be arguments about who was going to roll under the bulldozer.’

 

circus

 

there’s a shitface selling hot dogs and all the clowns are smiling and there are no mondays here. everything is big top, everything is saturday. there’s popcorn, fairyfloss, fat lady on a stool. a lion jumps through a hoop of fire, three rings and a high wire. mary eats her doughnut and says it’s really terrible what they make those lions do and howie looks at the hoops of fire and the cogs are whirring and the wheels are spinning and he says that it’s really terrible too.

 

and it’s a three-ring show and the lion-tamer cracks his whip and they snarl their teeth, and he’s yelling, ‘up titan, up samson’ and he’s cracking that whip and waving his gun. finally the show is over. howie says he’s going off to have a piss and we say we’ll meet him at the exit. we have to wait for ages and mary says that he must be having a shit then. she hits me over the side of the head. she says that howie is an extremely dangerous driver. ‘i’m not going back in the car if howie is driving,’ she says, but she can’t drive, i’m too drunk to drive and it’s freezing. howie suddenly comes running out from behind a tent flap and says, ‘let’s go.’

 

we follow him out the exit and jump into his car and then the lion-tamer comes running out into the carpark like he’s looking for something. he’s holding his whip and bending it in the middle like he wants to kill someone.

 

howie starts his engine and we roar away.

 

we speed down the highway with all the windows open. i have hidden all the island coolers. howie looks extremely pleased with himself. he obviously has something to tell us. ‘the lion, i let her go. i let her go, she growled her goodbyes to me and bounded off into the bush.’

 

‘howie, you idiot,’ i yell at him. we are travelling at a tremendous speed. ‘you let it bound into the bush? it’ll bound into fucking ballarat and some yobbo bastard with a gun will shoot it.’

 

‘it might not go into the towns, it might live out int he bush.’

 

‘it will walk into a caravan park and eat a baby.’

 

but howie is righteous, triumphant. he points his finger up at the sky, stamps his foot on the accelerator. ‘orders from above,’ he says in a high, toffy voice. all debate is drowned by his preaching. he looks over at mary for some approval but her face is dead tight and she is all hunched up against the door. she slowly repeats, ‘slow down, howie. just keep your eyes on the road, howie.’ she shakes her head like she can’t believe she is letting this lunatic drive us home. she’s not talking to anybody, she is not listening to howie’s sermon about a magical universe.

 

the hedgeburner

 

the hedgeburning continues. it’s in the newspapers, neighbourhood watch is in uproar, residents are living in fear. the television has turned the hedgeburner into a sort of folk hero. someone has put out a hedgeburner t-shirt. now we thrill to the sight of a smouldering hedge, as if we have caught sight of elvis or jesus christ. this is only the beginning. soon there will be a whole range of paraphernalia: teatowels, board games, hedgeburner cordial.

 

the newspapers have suggested, with the help of psychologists, that the hedgeburner probably masturbates in the bushes while watching his hedges burn. albert goldman will write his biography.

 

new tattoos

 

howie has new tattoos: a lion and some japanese letters. he says that the letters mean ‘luck’ or something. i tell him that the letters could just about mean anything. i tell him that they probably mean ‘get fucked’, and one day a gang of japanese exchange students will attack him with a meat cleaver.

 

‘the lion is nothing,’ he says. ‘i’m going to get a huge one on my chest of alby mangels and crocodile dundee.’ he gives me the thumbs-up, says, ‘you beauty, mate.’

 

he stares at the lion on his chest, touches it. ‘no,’ he says. ‘this is important, this means something.’

 

(from snail, Penguin Books, 1996)

Sleepers Almanac X

Posted in Uncategorized on September 22, 2015 by Eric Yoshiaki Dando

Come and celebrate the Sleepers Almanac X

Thursday October 1, 2015: Trades Hall, Bella Union

with readings from Eric Yoshiaki Dando, Julie Koh, Melissa Howard and Stephanie Barham.

Featuring Oslo Davis.

Really excited (but also a bit sad) about this last short story anthology from Sleepers Publishing. It just wont be the same without the Sleepers Almanac.

My new story Space Monkeys Drink Tang! will be my seventh piece of fiction they have published over the years.

Here is a small taste:

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Hang

Sometimes we would just go and hang in the little cafe opposite Camberwell Market and there would be these little terrariums on each table and we would stare at the miniature figures inside while we waited for our coffee.

Inside each microcosm the little people would be frozen in perfect moments — like running towards each other while deeply in love or fixing a tyre together on a tiny bicycle in a terrible fog or climbing up a mossy hill to have a romantic picnic on the other side in the beautiful sunshine with nobody else around for miles and miles.

I stared deep into the glass and before long I saw the future, and I forgot what we were talking about.

I was a world away.

When I looked up she was staring at me blankly.

I wasn’t sure if she had asked me a question or not.

‘That’s easy,’ I said, pointing at the terrarium. ‘I can do that. All I have to do is find out where they get all these little people from.’

Newstead Short Story Tattoo

Posted in Uncategorized on April 23, 2015 by Eric Yoshiaki Dando

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Performing some stories for Going Down Swinging at the Newstead Short Story Tattoo on May 2nd.

http://newsteadtattoo.org/program201/

A Shortage of Santas on Radio National

Posted in Uncategorized on December 20, 2014 by Eric Yoshiaki Dando

I decided to work as a Shopping Centre Santa because I needed something to write about. I had abandoned one novel and started another and I needed a writing project that I could finish quickly.

I did not feel like a writer anymore. I was working in Red Hill digging holes and restumping a house. I made a lot more money doing this than they were paying me to be Santa, but I had already written a story about restumping a house in Red Hill.

I remember being really scared about the Santa job and feeling a great responsibility to do it properly.

I wrote the story very quickly, over a weekend, from notes I had written in my journal. I really enjoyed writing this story because it just seemed to write itself. I had it finished by the time I went back to work digging holes and when I gave it to my boss to read I saw him laughing.

I imagined that I could get it published in The Age Good Weekend Christmas edition. I sent it to them a few times, but then it was published by The Sleepers Almanac and I was happy with that.

The photo was taken with my camera by the photographer who was bossing me around for the day.

It’s quite out of focus so I look more like Santa than I actually did on the day.

S/W Ver: 85.97.F1P

Last year I was asked to record my Santa story at Radio National with the good people at Paper Radio.

It will be broadcast this Sunday 21st December at 3pm on Radiotonic, Radio National.

or just click on the link here to hear it right now:

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/radiotonic/a-shortage-of-santas/5971384

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Launch of Canary Press Issue #5

Posted in Uncategorized on August 30, 2014 by Eric Yoshiaki Dando

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So happy to have my new story about a vegetarian butcher called “Coop” in the new edition of Canary Press #5.

 

 

Mr Potato

Miss Beardall was shaped like an apple and smelled of Lux soap and talcum powder. I couldn’t get enough of her. I followed her around when she had yard duty. At lunchtime I would watch her through the window of the staff room smoking cigarettes with another teacher who was pear shaped.

Miss Beardall was the only person who appreciated how much I liked potatoes. Everything I learnt from her had a vague reference to potatoes.

She made a point of introducing me to other vegetables. She brought a whole bunch of them in a basket every week. Everybody got to sample a fruit or a vegetable they had never tried before. I remember the first time I tasted my first mango , and my taste buds just went bonkers. I had mango all over my face.

‘You are a fruit,’ she said.

 

Why not subscribe to Canary Press?

http://thecanarypress.com/product/one-year-subscription/

 

Archaeology

Posted in Uncategorized on June 25, 2014 by Eric Yoshiaki Dando

micronaught

I find a Japanese toy from the 70’s when I am digging under my dad’s house. Just three parts of a magnetic robot bird. We used to call it a Micronaught. You can put the head of a bird on the body of a man. You can take the arms off the magnetic robot man and attach the wings of the magnetic robot bird to make a magnetic robot bird man. The possibilities are endless depending on how many Micronaughts you have. All you have to do is keep all the bits and pieces in the same place at the same time.

Our toys were stored under the house before our dad took them all to the tip in 1983. It was true we hadn’t played with them for a long time. If I had all those toys now, I could buy a house and a horse and a boat.

Bjorn

I crawl around under my dad’s house like a slater, or an earwig or a daddy long legs looking for the missing parts of the magnetic robot bird. All I find is an Abba card. And, even though it is quite damaged, I put it up on eBay straight away and get $17 paid straight into my PayPal account.

I dig for other missing parts on eBay. I get hundreds of hits for Micronaughts, but none of them have any relation to my particular magnetic robot bird I was given by a Japanese judo player in the early seventies.

I am not sure if I can make this bird whole again. Once a part of something is lost it is hard to get it all back together again. All I can do is assemble the parts that I have and imagine what it looked like way back then.

drums_AUST

Thud, thud, thud like giant mutant monsters destroying Tokyo

What is that constant thud? Oh that is coming from the dojo in our back yard. That is the heavy thud of bodies hitting the tatami. Thud. Thud.

Whenever the Japanese judo players visit we get presents – Micronaughts and kimonos and salted fish and salted plums. Seaweed. We run all of the multicoloured fish kites up the flag pole to flap flap flap in the breeze.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

yoshiaki

I still have a pair of his pyjamas

One time I was given a little plastic robot toy man by my dad’s sensei, Yoshiaki Shinojima. He treated me like a prince. He bought me a lot of lollies at the milk bar and attempted to give me serious advice about respecting my parents. He smoked a lot of menthol cigarettes and I still remember the smell of his pyjamas. He fought in some serious battles against Australia and New Zealand in New Guinea when he served in the Japanese army in World War II. And he owned two actual tigers that he kept back in his house in Japan. One of his tigers was called Tora, as in Tora, Tora, Tora.

I can’t remember what his other tiger’s name was. I do remember that Tora was on a Japanese stamp. I know my mother still has three of those stamps on a strip glued into an album in a box marked JAPAN 1970 stored in the roof of her house.

yuki

Mr Stinky

Mr Shinojima is visiting our house with a couple of his students from Japan. They are training with my father in the dojo for serious judo business. They spend a lot of time throwing each other to the ground with a loud thud. There is always the occasional audible groan or scream or yell in the morning or dead of night. Thud, thud, thud. They shake the foundations. They disrupt the reception of the TV each time they hit the tatami.

Nearly all of our toys are Japanese and we have no idea what they are or what they do or what they are called. We can’t read the instructions.

I ask one of the judo students about the little plastic robot man and Yukihiro says he is called Mr Stinky. The special power of Mr Stinky is stinking out his enemies.

Then Yukihiro sniffs at my t-shirt and holds his nose.

‘You are Mr Stinky,’ he says, handing Mr Stinky back to me in disgust.

bag

Then later, at a Barbeque with all the Judo Boys from Bendigo and Nunawading,

Mr Shinojima is drinking Fosters with my dad and Yukihiro and I am playing with Mr Stinky.

Mr Shinojima asks me if I like his present and I say oh yes and my dad says –

‘What is it? What is it called?’

And I notice Yukihiro suddenly panic stricken, turning blood red in front of my dad and Mr Shinojima.

‘This is Mr Stinky.’ I say.

‘Mr Stinky?’ says Mr Shinojima, turning to Yukihiro.

‘No,’ says Yukihiro. ‘Not Mr Stinky. This is Ultraman.’

Mr Shinojima is saying something Japanese to Yukihiro under his breath and Yukihiro is looking deep down into his shoes.

And from the dojo the thud thud of heavy human beings like drums.

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First published in Under the Stilts, 2013 http://underthestilts.com/journal/