If you look too long you see… angry, lost young men

graf wall
[Eyes Open – SUPERHYDRATED, 2000]
It’s hard to hear this song without hearing the squealing wheels of trains; feeling the languid heat of the Australian summer; and catching the disconcerting other-worldy echo of the suburban malaise I grew up in. But the song centres around the eight years I taught English and Drama at Birrong Boys’ High School – a tough school in Sydney’s southwest – working with Nick Danta, collaborating with Tim Carroll and the BYDS network and creating several large scale drama projects framed as responses to violence.

And if you look too long you see too much
And it’s hard sometimes, just keeping your eyes open

During this time there were more than a few tragic student deaths, and these stories weave their way through the track. The train announcer’s megaphone voice is particularly piquant – one young man was killed tagging a carriage; a few years later disaster arguably avoided when an alert train guard spotted a year eight boy showing his friends a gun on the platform shortly before school – enabling authorities to find it on him during class. Too many stories to list.
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