Here & Now #24

Here & Now 24 pic

Image S Sorrensen


S Sorrensen

Nimbin. Monday, 8am

There seems to be a new rule in Nimbin.

I find this disturbing because Nimbin doesn’t really do rules – not since the Aquarius Festival anyway. In the 1970s, even clothes were optional.

This morning, everyone on the street is clothed. Being clothed is not the new rule. It’s just a bit cool this morning, that’s all. And Nimbin’s population is ageing. Both good reasons to keep your clothes on.

Despite today’s being a public holiday, one young fellow is working the street. A businessman. He asks me if I want some weed. I say no.

The Rainbow Cafe is open and people are sitting at the long wooden tables out front, soaking up the sun and rolling cigarettes.

There seems to be a new rule in Nimbin.

It isn’t one declared by a government safeguarding corporate drug-dealing interests, or a council protecting itself from insurance companies. It’s a local, organically grown rule: If you’re an older man, you must wear camouflage shorts. Oh dear.

Coffee aroma tickles my nose, heralding its arrival. The waitress is a pretty woman with very pale skin and a colourful tattoo on her arm. She nods to a passing older man with a white beard, a white dog and camouflage shorts that have faded through the washes. Perfect for hiding your lower torso in a drought-affected forest.

Plenty of people have tried to force their rules on Nimbin over the years. Some of those people were in government declaring that drugs are bad, very bad. Of course, dropping bombs on families in Iraq is cool, but drugs are bad, very bad. Oh, CSG mining is good, very good.

And climate change?

What climate change?

Apparently, climate change is an opportunity for business. The Russian energy corporation Gazprom is drilling for oil in the conveniently melting Arctic, disregarding the urgent global imperative to keep oil, coal and gas in the ground.

The young businessman here on the street could also appreciate the increased drug sales when people seek chemical escape as social systems crack under climate-change stress.

But Nimbin doesn’t fall for corporate lies.

It knows that those Greenpeace protesters in Russia, who peacefully demonstrated against Gazprom’s crime against humanity and are now facing a decade in prison, are heroes. When the rules are unjust, you are obliged to defy them. Ask Gandhi or Luther King.

A bloke in a wheelchair at the next table calls my name.


Or at least, I think he called my name. He may have just answered ‘yes’ to a question from his friend who sits next to him. His friend has brand-new, unfaded, camouflage shorts that look like lush tropical forest.

‘What’s that, mate?’ I say to the wheelchair bloke.

‘… have stored all our DNA maps in Norway, you know, and now they’re collecting our fingerprints through the new phones…’

‘Yeah, cool,’ I say, confused.

‘Is he talking to me?’ the wheelchair bloke asks his friend, but looking at me as he asks. Or appears to be. One of his eyes is wayward.

‘What?’ I say.

‘He’s talking to me,’ his friend says, looking at me and pulling a pack of roll-your-own from a pocket of rainforest.

‘Oh,’ I say.

A man with camouflage shorts and no shirt walks up to the young businessman and gives him coffee, and a hug.

Nimbin is a freer town in a shackled state. It doesn’t do what it’s told because it respects human-ness, not capital. Nimbin is a messy, noisy, barely regulated protest against the non-human. It’s Christ chucking out the moneylenders; it’s Henry Thoreau advocating civil disobedience.

Unfortunately though, Nimbin is also – against all good taste – older men wearing camouflage shorts. Ugh.

That’s a rule worth defying.

3 responses to “Here & Now #24”

  1. Aksel says:

    Well written and funny to boot! More like this please.
    (Please forgive any errors, I’m come from the land of ice and snow, and DNA maps)

  2. rainer says:

    hey sssss !
    – got a wheelchair; where can i get camouflage shorts ???

    • S Sorrensen says:

      Rainer, I went looking for the camouflage shop – but couldn’t find it.
      Which is for the best. You’re too hip for camo shorts. You’re more of a Thai fisherman pants sort of bloke.

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