My name is Jim, and I‘m a writer, DJ, presenter and activist based in Sydney.
This is a blog about culture and politics — a home for my ideas and for my writing that’s not published elsewhere. I write primarily about film and music, with some forays into TV, popular fiction and comic books. But I’m also a socialist and an avid reader of history and politics. The social and the political is integral to everything I write about.
I’m originally from the U.S.; I was raised in Oregon, graduated from high school in Georgia, attended the University of Southern California, and then lived in New York City for most of my adult life before moving to Sydney in 2009.
I studied cinema/TV at USC. I‘ve worked as a club DJ, an organic farm worker, a produce manager, a freelance writer & journalist and a film publications editor, among many other things. My resume is checkered to say the least.
My writing on film, music and politics has been published by the Guardian, SBS Australia, Jacobin Magazine, Junkee, and Overland Literary Journal, to name a few, along with a bunch of websites that have since been taken down.
I host Classic Album Sundays Sydney, a monthly all-vinyl hi-fi listening party.
I’m a passionate music fan and record collector. When I play out I usually play house, techno and disco; but I’m also way into indie, postpunk, electronica & ambient, country, soul, reggae, quality pop, and so much more. Though I’m 50 I usually prefer new music to old; I’m young at heart and suspicious of nostalgia.
I studied film production, and I enjoy making the odd experimental short, but I always had more of a feel for film theory and criticism. My tastes in film are what I would call “highbrow/lowbrow.” I love social realism, slow and experimental cinema; and I love genre pictures — fantasy, sci-fi, horror and action. I love Jafar Panahi and Kelly Reichardt as much as I love Star Wars and kung-fu flicks and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I’m a dad and a househusband. Parenting is central to my life and also informs my politics, shaping my views on social reproduction and feminism. I haven’t written about parenting very much but I plan to do so at some point soon.
I was diagnosed with autism two years ago. It’s been immensely rewarding, but also challenging and a bit scary, to come to terms with that in middle age — to find out (late, but better than never) that there’s an explanation for why everything always seemed so hard, why I’ve never fit in anywhere in this society, and why I’m such an obsessive weirdo. The politics of neurodiversity and disability have become very important to me very suddenly. Again, I haven’t written about it much, but you can expect that I will.
As I said, I’m a socialist, and more specifically I’m a Marxist, and my politics are of a revolutionary nature. I may or may not write at length about Marxism here, but Marxism informs everything for me.
As you can see I have a lot of seemingly divergent interests, and you may wonder how they all come together. I don’t know how to explain it myself. Why is it that I might review Black Widow one week, My Bloody Valentine the next, and a graphic novel about Rosa Luxemburg the next? All I can say is the connections become more clear to me at lucid moments, like when I read about how important art was to the Paris Commune; or when it hits me how much the history of house music was shaped by the Stonewall uprising; or when I remember that George Lucas based his fictional Rebellion on the Viet Cong.
Also, I don’t know how to be anything but myself (that’s an autistic trait as I’ve discovered!), and these are the things that made me.
Some other things I love: organic gardening, baseball, boats, Jane Austen.
The title of this blog, Under the Paving Stones, is taken from graffiti that appeared during the revolutionary upheaval in France in May of ’68: “Under the paving stones, the beach!“ It means there’s a new, more beautiful world waiting for us if we dismantle this world (i.e. capitalism). It’s probably my favorite revolutionary slogan ever. I love mass revolt and I love the beach.