There are times when people worthy of recognition can be overlooked. This page is devoted to the people whose paths I have been fortunate to cross and who deserve to be thanked. They to me, are some of the beautiful people of this planet.
Daniel Wright and I both loved motorcycles and sweet Vietnamese drinks with a good tofu and vegetable dish.
I mentored Daniel as part of his Doctor of Laws at Melbourne University, Leaving a bend in the road near Warrandyte on his way to visit some beautiful Australian trees took Daniel's life from him much earlier than the world deserved. Daniel is a good person and at the wake I attended for Daniel at the Victorian State Library, I saw in his friends and family where he found some of his gifts. Having farewelled Daniel too casually, as we often do when we expect to see someone we like soon again I hadn't told Daniel how good he appeared to me. I wrote this so he might know.
We don't always get it done.
But we go. We do. We make a difference.
Being is good. Being good is good.
You are good. Were good.
Look after us.
Frank, my friend, died. Expectedly, but early than I expected. Frank, a cyclist impatient for the cycling of our modern consciousness was diagnosed with an illness in 2011 which he knew more than many would kill him. I had planned
Frank, a pioneer for environmentalism developed an impatience for achieving better things allowed him to be an inconvenient grit for the pearls of understanding that some less magnanimous people developed.
I had plans to make a series of podcasts with Frank, which my delays meant didn't happen. Frank died earlier than I thought he would for reasons contributed to by events other than those that threatened him earlier.
Frank's gift of a Danish reflector on my bicycle follows me wherever my two wheels go. So does Frank, way ahead of me.
Frank, I am sorry you are gone. I would like so say more and will do so in the future.
Thank you …
Carolynne, my partner.
Rosa the beautiful German Shepherd.
Rosa the Policy Watchdog, Rosa Claus (aka Santa Rosa) and Rosa the City Girl - with love.
Rosa, my most beautiful friend, has died. I miss her terribly. She has brought so much joy to this world in her short ten years. She developed cancer that overcame her strength and has taken her away much earlier than I can bear.
Rosa, thank you so much for all that you are.
For being gold and black. For having innate enthusiasm for all that you love in the world. For continuing to walk whenever and wherever you could, on older legs that weren't as sure. For the boundless stick work, ring work and ball work you carolled the unsuspecting visitors into once you’d made their measure. For being my good friend, however deserved or not. For keeping a distance to survey all was OK. To countless times walking with us down Swanston St in defence of rights you didn’t know existed. For loving driving and giving me reason to be with you. For being able to look out my right rear vision mirror and seeing your muzzle enjoying the wind in the way it can be. For welcoming me on many nights when a larger world was less so. For anything I can think of. For not living forever but allowing me to think you would. For letting me cry about my things and being what you are. For accepting that life is more than one crowded hour. It is a life of doing what we can. For helping me believe animals are a window. For letting me impose you on the world and without betraying that trust. For walking city streets and never once being mean to those less generous or fearful. For having a beautifully soft nose that with the passing of the years you let me stroke and kiss as you sat by me. For so many things that words are not enough for. For being the best Melbourne City Council Policy Watchdog the world has seen, and for doing your best as Chairdog of the Senate Oversight Committee in the face of a cynical expression of politics in the 2004 federal election.
As a large German Shepherd, you often faced a prejudice that judged your more severely than your golden heart deserved. I am sorry for that.
Without a belief that we travel beyond our deaths what we are and do can be very important. Is very important. What we appear may craft how we share with our world.
Thank you little one for sharing so much of your life, even when my preoccupations with a world beyond you let me give you less than everything you deserved. That all the people and animals in the world deserve. Love and fairness and family and friends.
Rosa, the world is better for you. Much better. Thank you.
Forever with love, your friend, David.
Dr. Ian Hughes, for being a great nugget of honesty to so many students.
Dr. Andrew McNaughtan, my friend of 15 years and tireless human rights activist, who died in his sleep at the early age of 50.
I first met Andrew in Managua, Nicaragua in 1988. Andrew had travelled to Nicaragua to offer his medical services to the people of Nicaragua during the war between the Sandanistas and US Government backed Contras. With the Contras habit of raiding villages and smashing doors down as they did, Andrew was instead put to work replacing doors in villages after they had been raided.
Andrew, my friend Phil Darmody and I first met Andrew at El Chapito's in Managua, but later met by accident in Quito, Ecuador. As Andrew tells it, he had been confronted late at night in the streets of Quito by a group of people with a knife, and by luck and some good thinking, made it back to the hotel. When he heard two Aussie voices the next morning, he decided to hitch up with us. Our travels over the next few months involved many moments that have radiated through my life ever since. Some of them included travelling to stay with a tribe in the Amazon (interspersed by much discussion on political economy) with Andrew being absolutely overawed as he handed out by then stale bread to a frenzy of activity; a monkey jumping on Andrew's back with me trying to lever it off using a big knife between the monkey and Andrew's back amidst Andrew's deep voice momentarily converted to high pitched screeches of 'Get if off, get if off!"; being threatened by guerillas including having a gun put to my head and the trigger pulled; by a stroke of luck, grabbing Andrew by the collar as he fell forward off the front of a truck during a 24+ hour trip across the Andes on the top of a truck; watching Andrew, six foot plus in a country of shorter people, almost knocking himself out as he ran cross-legged to the toilet during a particularly bad bout of the trots in the mountains in Peru; being threatened by an armed drunk policeman because we wouldn't share his wickedly strong home-made spirits; treating a donkey for serious saddle blisters in the middle of nowhere on a trek to a lost city in the Andes; arguing about socialism and sharing when Andrew took my 8 cent block of chocolate without asking; drinking a touch too much Ouzo during the Carnivale celebrations in Rio de Janeiro resulting in us ending up in a Rio ghetto and the police moving us into another nearby ghetto so that, as they explained 'if we get killed it wasn't on their territory'; having police trying to smash our fingers with long sticks as we held onto a fence to try to see the Carnivale dancing to the cheers of tens of people watching the 'crazy gringos', and ultimately sneaking into the Carnivale and dancing our way into nirvana through the stadium with the dancers.
After spending three months negotiating with Fretilin in Darwin to meet with Xanana Gusmao in late 1989, I travelled to East Timor. That good fortune led Andrew and my paths to cross again. Andrew was uncomfortable with the injustice and the Australian and US sanctioned Indonesian invasion of East Timor lit a flame of energy in Andrew that lasted for many years. Between living in Sydney, Darwin and East Timor, Andrew worked tirelessly on helping East Timor move towards independence. Andrew effectively devoted his energies full-time to East Timor and gave his Sydney home as a media base for the cause. While I in no way diminish the efforts of the countless East Timorese and other people who gave so much to the cause of East Timorese independence, I strongly believe that without Andrew's tireless work in Australia, the independence of East Timor might not have occurred. History often writes out the individual catalysts of change as a way of avoiding embarrassment for those of us who favour wilful blindness in the face of injustice. Andrew and I talked about this, and not long after Australia did its policy backflip on East Timor, it was apparent that this process was writing out the inconvenience of Andrew's and other political activism in the face of nearly 30 years of political opportunism.
Andrew was also instrumental in bringing justice to Jo Gersten, as far as I know, the only person to seek political asylum from the USA. Jo Gersten was a Florida politician who ran fowl of powerful people, and was ultimately charged on very questionable grounds with a number of alleged crimes including trumped-up charges of murder against Jo. Andrew spent months in the USA at his own expense investigating the claims, that resulted in a US Congressional report strongly hinting at a very serious abuse of governmental power at a very high level. An explanation of Andrew's involvement in Jo's case is online at: The Trial of Joseph G.
After Andrew approached me some years ago about standing for the Greens, I encouraged him in his candidacy for the NSW Greens preselection. Andrew did very well, and would have made an excellent Greens Senator if time had been kinder in allowing him to pursue his ambition for a fairer Australia.
I'll really miss you Andrew. I can't believe that you are dead. I keep seeing your wide smile that escapes from you as you say something cheeky in the course of working out how the world might be a little better. I will miss sitting on your balcony on a warm night, and going down to the beach for a swim. Thank you for the simple things that your life's efforts have made more possible for countless people.
Thank you Andrew for being what you are, what you have done, and for all that you hoped for. Others have noticed and all of us have gained: David Risstrom.
My mate Doug Morey's ashes now grace the waters of the Murray and Darling rivers. A true scholar and a gent, Doug represented many criminals that others might not risk giving the benefit of the doubt. A lover of the drink and dry humour, Doug gave more than he took, especially in the St. Kilda community within which he wandered. A regular giver of advice, Doug practised law until his 86th year became his last. Thanks Doug for being such a bloody good person and for seeing good and bad in things in what many chose not even to see.