2016-05-26 Latest Polyester Update
Well quite a bit has gone down since that previous post.
Yes the Polyester store at 330 Brunswick St has closed. When asked by customers for an explanation during those sombre last weeks, I found it difficult to coherently verbalise the reasoning behind the shop's demise, finding it easier to spout the same sentences, phrases, grunts and sighs that had become somewhat of a script, delivered with an air of resignation and melancholy.
So forget the script. Here's what happened. I realise no-one will read this, I am documenting it for my own benefit.
2015 was not kind to Polyester. I myself have certainly had better years as well. As 2016 dawned, the writing was on the wall for our beloved little shop at 330 Brunswick Street. Despite the best efforts of Jo, Jules and myself we were staring down the barrel of extinction. After spending 2015 desperately keeping the business afloat with whatever funds I could scrape together from my 'regular' job, when 2016 began and the May lease expiry date loomed large on the horizon, the outcome we had previously refused to abide had become stark, brutal reality. To sign another 4 year lease would have been an act akin to suicide.
In late January Jo's father, who lives in Sydney, was diagnosed with Lymphoma. As far as cancers go, you can do a lot worse than Lymphoma. But at the age of 84 and with a brutal 3-month course of chemotherapy ahead of him, Jo did what all good daughters do and she went to be by his side through the ordeal.
So with Jo gone for a minimum of 3 months this virtually assured that the heart and soul of Polyester would take no further hands-on part in its day to day running. We had 3 more rental payments to make and no-one to operate the business. The only card left in our hand to play was the 6 weeks in annual leave I had built up from my full-time job. The objective for those 6 weeks was simple yet daunting at the same time: Sell off everything in the shop, make enough cash to pay out the remaining 3 months rent, then close the doors and run down the clock till May.
So that was pretty much what we did - thanks to a minor social media storm, a major old media storm, the hard work of our employee/talisman Jules and my heroic step-daughter Jamie who stepped into the breach, the magnificent response of our customers, old and new, and of course the many and varied research chemicals I consumed over the 6-week period.
By my estimates, the Closing Down Sale managed to offload about 95% of our stock of books and magazines. We sold off posters that had graced the walls for over a decade, shop fittings and fixtures, Jo's beloved stepladder/chair (sorry Jo!) and the jewel in the crown - the 1.5m tall Bob Dobbs neon sign that had so benevolently stood watch over the comings and goings at Polyester for over 20 years.
We donated to the State Library of Victoria the collection of artwork that was submitted as part of a design competition to protest the infamous raid on Polyester by the Office of Film and Literature Classification in 1999. I'm extremely grateful to the State Library for accepting these pieces so willingly, and thus ensuring that this slice of Polyester's history will now be preserved among the important historical artefacts of this city.
The flurry of activity that characterised those last 6 weeks was punctuated by so many moments of personal reflection I shared with customers. I soon realised that Polyester Books was indeed much more than a mere small business enterprise. It was a touchstone for anyone who dared to look for something else in life, who sought their own independent worldview. Stigmatised by those whose beliefs and ideology they renounced, at Polyester they found the information to help them continue on their own path, and were welcomed and accepted for doing so.
But the story didn't quite end the way we had envisaged. During those final 6 weeks the ghost of Polyester Past returned - with a deal I just couldn't refuse. Polyester's founder, Paul Elliott offered to sub-let the now vacant shop so he could sell off his vast treasure trove of books and records that he had amassed over a couple of decades running Dizzy Spinners record store and then Polyester Books. And so for the last 2 months on the lease, the shop seemed to have been transported back in time, before gentrification, before million-dollar house prices, the internet, smartphones, globalization and the surveillance state, a time when art, music and culture were valued, when kids rode bikes without helmets and heroin junkies roamed the streets.
It was a fitting end, really.
So on May 18, 2016 after another final flurry of activity to clear out the shop and clean in places that hadn't been cleaned in 30 years, I handed a fistful of keys to the landlord's son, walked to my car and drove away. I didn't look back.
Jo's father completed his course of chemotherapy last week and according to his doctors he is now holding the disease at bay. Jo has now decided to remain with her father in his Bondi apartment indefinitely.
I just want to express my sincere and heartfelt thanks to all those who made Polyester what it was - the hardcore, true believers who embraced the shop and everything it stood for. I love you crazy fucks!
2014-11-09 Koraly Dimitriadis vs Ben John Smith
with great pleasure that I can announce the fourth installment of
Melbourne's favourite poetry smackdown instore at Polyester Books on
Friday 21 November 7pm.
If you missed the last battle, Ben scored a knockout blow with one of the finest moments in spoken word performance - check this out
So get your ass down to Polyester on the 21st for raw, honest poetry delivered with passion and intensity.
Oh yeah, and it's free. Totally fucking free. But get here early, it's gonna be standing room only.
ATO announces Bitcoin ruling
Has anyone noticed that since Tony Abbott and his merry band
of morons was installed in the seat of power, Australia has experienced a
dramatic slide backwards in technological innovation when compared to other
countries around the globe? It feels like we are living in a modern-day version
of the Dark Ages, which is appropriate given the PM is a devout adherent to the
institution wholly responsible for the original 1000-year blot on the history
of human civilization.
I'm sure Australia has been seen (at least by some) to be an
above-average contributor to human progress in the not-too-distant past. Well
that all seems to be changing and all it took was one year of backward-thinking
idealogues in charge of the joint.
When it comes to modernisation, countries that many
Australians think as being a couple of rungs off the 'top level' are already
well ahead of us and the gap is widening.
This government's stubborn inaction on climate change is a
perfect example. China is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and
while a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, unlike Australia it is under no
obligation to reduce emissions under the agreement. In spite of this, China has
taken decisive action and has both implemented an emissions trading scheme and
become the world's largest investor in renewable energy technology. India, with
a decidedly half-assed approach is still far ahead of Australia with renewable
energy targets enshrined in law.
A recent ranking by the Climate Action Network Europe,
notwithstanding a probable bias in favour of European countries, placed
Australia 55th out of 58 countries for action on climate change. Only Saudi
Arabia, Kazakhstan and Iran ranked lower. Go Team Australia!
Add to this national embarrassment our short-sighted
compromise on the National Broadband Network (NBN). Obviously the LNP consider
the scope and utility of internet communications has peaked and there is no
need to invest for future advancements in this area. Meanwhile, they are happy
to commit obscene amounts of money replacing people's homes and scarce
inner-city parkland with toll roads. Maybe they see automobile transport as an
emerging technology? Or, more likely, they simply prefer to provide their rich
mates with guaranteed revenue streams into the future, rather than invest in an
egalitarian technology that can benefit everyone.
And so we come to the recent ATO 'guidance' and rulings on Bitcoin.
Now I realise that the ATO merely enforces the laws as
decreed by governments so to tie this in with the litany of shameful
decision-making by the Abbott government is a little disingenuous. But what the
fuck, I'm going to anyway. I can argue that the caustic culture of 'unreason'
that has taken hold in the corridors of power has filtered down to government
bureaucracies like the ATO. They certainly seemed to have a lot of trouble
thinking outside the box on the issue of Bitcoin.
After many other countries had moved swiftly to embrace (or
in some cases shun) virtual currencies, once again Australia (in the form of
the ATO) limped over the line, exhausted and wondering where the rest of the
field went. And whilst the ATO can't really be blamed for their narrow-minded,
insular response (they are only trying to judge Bitcoin under the existing
legislative framework), I'm not sure why such a simplistic view took so long
for them to formulate.
So what was their view? Well basically they view Bitcoin as
a personal use asset. This definition is applied to stuff like bottles of wine
for example. You can personally use (ie. drink) the wine - it has a meaningful
use for people. You can also treat it as an asset - maybe buy some wine, chuck
it in a cellar for a few years and it might appreciate in value. So even though
you never 'use' it yourself, you can still derive some revenue out of it.
But Bitcoin is not like this. They have no intrinsic value
to people. Like cash, they cannot be 'used' for anything other than as a unit
of currency. In fact they're even worse than cash - banknotes can at least be
used to snort cocaine.
The taxation implications of classifying bitcoins in this
way are pretty simple, but ultimately catastrophic for the future of the
currency in Australia.
Hereís how itís supposed to work according to the ATO. Iíve
replaced bitcoins with a bottle of wine for some strange reason. Maybe itís for
clarity or something.
A customer comes into Polyester and wants to buy a book. The
book costs AUD$50 in regular ('fiat') currency.
The customer says "Hey, I don't have any cash but I
have this pretty sweet bottle of wine. I got it valued by a reputable
wine-valuer and she said it's worth AUD$50 on the open market. Can I trade you
for the book?"
Now I don't generally drink wine (but I could drink it Ė unlike Bitcoins which have no independent use),
but I'm keen to make this sale so I say sure, why not? The transaction is
completed. The customer has the book. I have the wine.
At this point I owe the ATO 5 bucks GST for the book that I
just sold. That's cool - I'm used to paying this tax (even though it is a
burden on small businesses and totally unfair for the less well-off).
But what am I going to do with the bottle of wine? I don't
want to drink it and the ATO want their 5 bucks and do not accept wine as
payment. So it's gotta be converted to AUD. Should be fine, right? The customer
said it's definitely worth $50. I can just sell it, pay the ATO their lousy $5
and I'll have $45 left, the same as if he paid in cash, right?
WRONG. Because the wine is treated as a 'good', it is
subject to GST. So I find a buyer for the wine at the price of $50 and complete
the transaction. According to the ATO ruling, because I am a registered
business, I now owe them another $5 GST on the sale of the wine (plus whatever
fine I receive for selling wine without a liquor licence). So now I have $50
cash but owe $10 in GST instead of $5. Accepting wine as payment has cost me
10% of the revenue I receive for any book I sell.
So what to do? Well I have 2 options if I want to keep
accepting wine as payment - jack up the price of books for those who wish to
pay with wine (big disincentive for the consumer), or eat the 10% cut in
revenue for these transactions (big disincentive for the merchant).
Retail is tough in this country (outside of criminal
organisations like Coles and Woolworths). There's no way either of these
options is feasible. Accepting Bitcoin has gone from being a 'no-brainer' to
being the financial version of seppuku (look it up - it's gross).
But all hope is not lost. Back in February, the UK reversed
a similar decision: http://www.coindesk.com/top-uk-tax-agency-eliminate-20-levy-bitcoin-trading/
The ATO have also indicated that they are open to
consultation, so with any luck this ruling may go the same way it did in the UK.
But Iím a cynic. I canít see the ATO changing this ruling.
Laws will need to change. Good luck with that while we have the current bunch
of troglodytes in power.
I just realised I haven't updated this page for ages
"News pages are boring, no-one fucking reads them." - Me to myself, just now.
"Well when they aren't updated for 5 months, then yeah they are boring, dickhead!" - Myself to me, just after the first quote.
if web pages are not updated there's less chance of them being listed
by Google Search Engine. But I reckon that could be bullshit because I
once updated one of the pages of this site 250 times in a 2-hour period,
and when I did a Google Search a little later for 'How to Kill Tony
Abbott and his entire cabinet', my detailed webpage that I'd
painstakingly updated on just that topic was a measly 28,576th in order
of the search results. So that was 2 hours I'll never get back. When the
Federal Police arrived to arrest me I told them they should arrest the
first 28,575 people before me. I mean, don't they know anything about
law enforcement in the digital age? Well, when the officer eventually
removed his boot from my neck, he explained that he was here to arrest
me for joining ISIS and waging holy war against the infidels and that he
wasn't going to concern himself with people who post violent and
inflammatory content to the web. As far as he was aware, that's not even
a crime. Anyway 10,000 of those pages were created by him. And why
would he arrest himself? What is he, an idiot? Well he certainly knows
more about Google's PageRank algorithm than me, that's for sure.
Fuck! Now I can't remember what I was going to write here for actual news.
The Bennies headline Polyester benefit gig
gone, daylight saving is officially over (causing me to turn up for
work an hour early today) - good weather to curl up with a good book :)
Tuesday week (15/04) is the date for the Polyester Books Benefit Gig,
featuring none other than The Bennies, supported by Apart From This,
Regrets and the Lucy Wilson Band. It's at the Bendigo Hotel in Johnston
Times are tough and they are not made
any easier by people stealing books from under our noses. What the fuck
is wrong with these cunts who think they're so fucking special that they
deserve stuff for free, donated to them by me against my will? FUCK
YOU! If you think you're such a hard-ass why don't you steal from Coles
or Woolworths whose obscene profits can take the hit? Anyway I know who
you are dumb fuck and if you show your dopey face in Brunswick Street
again I will bury the hitting end of a five-iron deep into your vacant
Well at last Adam
has somehow got his shit together and updated the website. We now host a
range of titles that pretty much mirrors our stock in-store.
attending the BitcoinMelb meetup during the week, and after accepting
Bitcoin transactions in store for the last month or so, we've become
spurred into action to start accepting Bitcoin transactions online. At
the moment you will need to just select the 'Other' payment method
during checkout and we will email you with the price in BTC. Yeah it's a
bit clunky but it will do the trick until we get a more integrated
We are also in the process of changing our
email address - after reading about how Google stores every email we
have ever sent through Gmail they can now go and fuck themselves.
Our new email address is firstname.lastname@example.org