'How to Never Ever Ride A Goat' by Dan Hogan

To all whom it may concern: I died in 1934. But not before painting 18 images of anthropomorphised dogs for a series of advertisements.

To all whom it may concern: be it known that I have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Processes for Taking Photographs; and do hereby declare that the following is a full, clear, and exact description thereof, reference being had to the accompanying drawings and to the letters of reference marked thereon, making a part of this specification.

How do you find something when you don’t know what it’s called?

They are designed to procure photographic memories as visitors poke their heads through the empty faces. A window with a comic foreground.

The dogs were engaged in the following activities:

  • Dogs reading the mail and smoking cigars
  • Dogs playing poker and smoking cigars
  • Dogs testifying in court and smoking cigars
  • Dogs fixing their broken car and smoking cigars
  • Dogs camping and smoking cigars
  • Dogs playing baseball and smoking cigars
  • Dogs ballroom dancing and smoking cigars
  • A blindfolded dog riding a goat as part of a free mason initiation ceremony while a crowd of masonic dogs look on, smoking cigars

Faceless wooden cut-outs of nineteenth century white children have disappeared from the Goose Lake Prairie State Park.

I am aware that a process for ornamenting the circle or halo of a picture or photograph by the employment of a diaphragm provided with a central opening, through which the person or subject is represented to the camera, when said opening is surrounded by ornament or embellishment for producing a portrait or picture with an ornamental or embellished border, is not new; hence, I disclaim such as being any part of my invention.


Cassius Marcellus Coolidge?

Face cut-outs?

Photo cut-out boards?

Head through the hole photo booths? I mean, how do you find something when you don’t know what it’s called?

Those things you stick your head through and it is like your head is on a different person or an animal. The French call these wooden cut-out fixtures passe-têtes.

The process described, of producing caricature photographic pictures by means of a board or card of stiff material having a miniature body or other design thereon, the same being held up close to the person or subject to be photographed, arranged so as to present a complete, although disproportioned, figure on the negative, as herein set forth. In testimony that I claim the foregoing I have here unto set my hand this 22d day of December, 1873. Signed, CASSIUS M. COOLIDGE.

On Saturday 27 July 2002, Grundy County Crime Stoppers offers a $1000 reward for information leading to an arrest related to the theft of the faceless cut-outs.

I was born at an early age?

A wooden cut-out of a faceless family? A passe-tête presenting reproduction as an organic and vital tenant of a morally thriving community? Poke your head through?

The burgeoning root of an old gidgee tree (referred to locally as the ‘stinking wattle’) ruptured the concrete and the passe-tête of a faceless family fell over. Behind the cut-out, a large homogenous blob oozed neoliberalism, revealing reproduction as the replication of labour for the purpose of ensuring the survival of the free market. ‘To raise kids is to raise the productivity index and procure jobs and growth, jobs and faces in holes, and so on and so forth,’ the blob hissed before trickling into the cracks in the concrete.

The website DogsPlayingPoker.org offers a quote from an ‘Unknown Mason’ whom offers their perspective on Coolidge’s painting of the anthropomorphised dogs engaged in a freemason ceremony.

I think I might be a digger of holes in the land of holes? How do you find something when you don’t know what it’s called?

Skeeter Maudrell collected rocks. During his time as caretaker of a property 70 kilometres south of Cunnanulla in western Queensland, he collected hundreds of geological specimens.

In the image, a blindfolded dog is forced by a bipedal pipe-smoking dog clad in a cape and conical hat to ride a goat. The scene is framed around what appears to be either a court proceeding or an unnerving depiction of institutionalised bastardisation. An ‘Unknown Mason’ offers the following commentary:

The Cassius Coolidge dog picture of ‘Riding the Goat’ is Masonic in nature and yes it is sometimes used as a joke between members and potential members. It depicts one of the first three principal degrees of Freemasonry.
 The dog riding the goat is wearing a blindfold. The blindfold is an important part of the first three degrees of Freemasonry and has a specific and symbolic meaning in each degree. The rope around his neck is called a cable toe and it too has a particular, significant and symbolic meaning in the particular degree this picture represents.
 The three dogs sitting to the left at the desk indicate the three principal officers of any Masonic Lodge and on the necklace type collars they are wearing are the jewels of their office (each jewel being of a different shape and having it own significant meaning).
 The dog to the right of the three at the desk is wearing a red cap. In Scottish Rite Masonry this cap is the emblem of a KCCH mason. A couple of the dogs are wearing blue caps. This too has a particular meaning in Scottish Rite Masonry. It is symbol that represents a fifty-year mason (meaning he was initiated fifty or more years ago). So as you can see, there are things in the picture that any Mason can clearly see.

For every church in San Remo there was a roundabout. And for every roundabout there was a doctor. This all to say there was no doctors in San Remo. Statistically, San Remo had the highest population in the state living without local access to a GP. My hometown of San Remo is a working class suburb defined by lack. It is the kind of place middle and upper class people would refer to as ‘bogan’.

On Friday 20 November 2015 at 1320 hours, Liz Abram of Little Mountain, Queensland, found a rock behind the couch. Cupping the rock in her hands, the rock felt unusually warm. Looking up at the ceiling, Liz was surprised to see the sky. A meteorite had torn a portal through the roof before crashing into the floor, shattering a tile. Abram’s landlord later sought possession of the space rock. Under Queensland’s mineral and fossicking laws, meteorites are not defined as objects. The landlord did not pursue custody of the meteorite upon learning there was no case to be made unless the lease agreement specifically contained a clause relating to celestial bodies that show up on the property and enter the possession of tenants. The landlord, however, was found responsible for paying the damages, coughing up repairs for the shredded colorbond, insulation, plasterboard ceiling, and damaged tile.

That’s when the forgetting begins. The achievable numbness. Clinking glasses with oblivion in the severe hope that a bit of well-intentioned self-destruction will also destroy the internalised passe-tête.

Throughout the eight-month court process, Maudrell feared the stony object would be replaced with a replica. ‘Our little town is dying ... if I can give something to the town that I was born and bred in, why not give it to them?’ he said.

What do you call an escapism that is almost mocking its own invitation for interaction?

Purple C-54. If you were in Narrabeen RSL Club on Saturday 23 December 1967 and holding raffle ticket purple C-54 you would be my nan. The club was raffling off what it called ‘jumbo-size’ turkeys. The raffle was popular amongst the working class families of the area and my nan’s number had come up. She had six mouths to feed and a jumbo-size Christmas turkey was going to do the trick. When my mum retells the story at Christmas, she extends her arms to proclaim the bird was ‘as big as the entire inside of the oven’. Just before New Year ’s Eve 1967, a Narrabeen fisherman was arrested for poaching pelicans. He had been plucking, preparing, and packing the enormous birds like poultry and selling them to local RSL Clubs to raffle off.

A spiritually exhausted working class commands submissive obedience without the act of submission. It is a shortcut. A window of opportunity.

In hospital, the doctors had to use a miniature crane-like device to lift me from the bed so they could change the sheets. My back was broken in four places. One nurse particularly had it in for me. To him, I was just another bogan from San Remo who got injured while doing bogan things. ‘No brain, no pain’ he said to another nurse as they exited the room.

Proximity to threat is where the common Australian cicada places its song. The bugs’ choral is optimised to rage in the face of Exeirus, a ground-dwelling wasp also known as The Australian Cicada Killer. We might call this organisation of community a severe optimisation of hope. We might also call it an unnerving and unrelenting projection of an auditory passe-tête designed to deflect the exeirus’ hunt.

The court heard Skeeter Maudrell was using the meteorite as a doorstop when he was arrested and the extraterrestrial stone was seized by police.

Specification forming part of Letters Patent No. 49,724, dated April 14, 1874; application filed January 12, 1874.


Attribution: Attribution: Cassius Marcellus Coolidge,
1874, Patent US149724A [Public domain]

‘I'm not driving out to Cunnamulla for a rock,’ said Frank Heath on being forced to travel to Cunnamulla Magistrates Court for legal proceedings relating to a meteorite found by someone else on his jointly-owned land, which he claims is rightfully his property. The court is located 839 kilometres west of Brisbane, Queensland.

Every morning Mr Rafferty strode through our handball game, announcing himself as ‘interference’. He always smelled of grass clippings as he came to school straight from mowing lawns to supplement his teaching income. Despite Mr Rafferty’s constant disruption, I felt warm towards his eccentricities as my dad mowed lawns for a living. Mr Rafferty carried his eyes in his head like an impact crater might carry a meteorite; burned up and buried deep, small but dense with a rusty twinkle suggestive of a high iron and strangeness. Mr Rafferty also noticed my eyes. Stopping our handball game one day to comment that my eyes looked ‘glassy’. He made a hand signal indicative of smoking a bong. I called ‘interference’ and he went away. Later that day, during PE, he asked the class to separate into boys and girls. I instinctively walked over to the girl’s line. Mr Rafferty called ‘interference’ and asked what I was doing in the wrong line. Not realising I was supposed to be in the ‘boys’ line, I shot back with ‘too many bongs, sir’ and everyone laughed. My nickname for the remainder of the game was ‘interference’. I mean, how do you find something when you don’t know what it’s called?

When moving in circles outside of San Remo you learn to betray yourself in small myriad ways—you learn to avoid being perceived as a ‘bogan’. You better fake it ‘til you make it. You put on a different voice, avoid certain words. Wear different clothes. Nod along approvingly, pretend, pretend, pretend, or else be on the wrong side of the bourgeoisie’s similarity bias.

In the accompanying drawing, A represents the head, and B the body of the person whose picture is to be taken. C represents a sketch or drawing of a miniature body of any desired form or shape, and with or without any additions. This sketch or drawing is held up in front of the person in proper position, so that when the picture is taken the head A will appear as forming part of or belonging to the miniature body, the large head and small body being taken at one time.

The meteorite was escorted in and out of the courtroom by police officers throughout legal proceedings. During recesses the rock would be stored in a secret location known only to authorities. Stationed in the centre of the court, the 25 kilogram space rock never strayed from the watchful eyes of several police sergeants whom were commissioned for extra security at Cunnamulla Magistrates Court.

On this day 3.8 billion years ago, a blob in the ocean was the first living thing to react to light. Thank you, blob. You were cool.

I was working as a human answering machine. It was a voicemail service offered by one of the big Australian telecom companies. In lieu of callers being directed to a recording, the service offered a live human being reading your desired message to the missed caller. A call would drop in my ear, the client’s desired missed call message would pop-up on the computer screen, I’d read it into the phone, and then the person the other end would usually say something like ‘am I talking to a real person or a recording?’ I would then transcribe word-for-word what the caller said and send it to the client in a text message.

The accumulative impact of codeswitching manifests a kind of internalised faceless cut-out. Like my hometown of San Remo, my sense of identity was defined by lack, absence, instability at an early age. How do you find something when you don’t know what it’s called?

Sometime in November 2009, Skeeter Maudrell stopped for a rest in the shade of a gidgee tree while out inspecting a grazing paddock. It was here, nestled between the exposed roots of a gidgee tree that Maudrell set eyes on the strangest rock he’d ever seen. Suffering a bad back, Maudrell called in help from some mates who lifted the heavy stone onto their ute and transported the rock to Maudrell’s home.

Just how many years the greengrocer (the Australian cicada, Cyclochila australasiae) remains underground is unknown.

During my time as a human answering machine, I took over 10,000 calls. During the day shift, there wasn’t so much as a second downtime between calls. Night shift was different. It was paid better and the calls were infrequent. Sometimes an email would circulate in the afternoon offering a night shift and I’d always take it.

How do you find something when you don’t know what it’s called? Pray for meteorites and UFOs? When I was a kid I’d sit at my bedroom window at night and pray for a hail of spack rocks and extraterrestrial vehicles to crash land in San Remo. Interplay between the physical and non-physical situatedness of memory is a fertile site for remembering, re-remembering, misremembering, and re-misremembering. A fallible depository in which material is subject to replication, appropriation, aberration, non-linear progeny; an ecosystem of fluid artifice that moves and mutates, constantly. Send me meteorites, a prayer for an un-identity.

I’m profoundly uninterested in supernatural events as a matter of realness or unrealness. What’s real is resistance as the desire to witness something not of this world—the ultimate craving for an un-identity and the unravelling of class. The bourgeoisie passe-tête falling over like a vending machine in an earthquake. A prayer for meteorites.

The nightshift team were a delight. I’d struck up a friendship with a middle-aged man named Owen who had an uncanny resemblance to my dad. We chatted about some of the strangest calls we had received. Turned out Owen had been transcribing calls from the serial caller known amongst day shifters as ‘Daphne the time traveller’ for years. Daphne the time traveller called at all hours and her message was always the same, word-for-word, and included the GPS coordinates for Perth.

As the electricity rolls out of its antennae, the cicada closes its eyes and thinks only of loud noises.

Been sent back 50 years by the United Nations. 33.8688 degrees south, 151.2093 degrees east. Being sent back another 50. Call back. Back burning is starting early this year. 31.9505 degrees south, 115.8605 degrees east. Daphne.

How do you find something when you don’t know what it’s called? When I resisted codeswitching or stopped performing the gender I was assigned at birth, my inner passe-tête collapsed. I got sick.

The desire to fully materialise but only as the result of an astronomical reconfiguration?

Is this what hope looks like when it is severely optimised?

I learned of Owen’s murder from reading the news while on my way to working day shift.

I would always finish my prayer for meteorites by opening my bedroom window to let in the cicada song. On these nights I always slept without dreams.

The faceless wooden cut-outs of nineteenth century white children that were stolen from Goose Park were never recovered. While police have ceased the search, the case still remains open. Replicas of the original passe-têtes have since been installed at the site.

Maudrell was let go from Cunnamulla police station without charge. However, the suspected meteorite remained in custody. A complex property dispute had broken out. Skeeter Maudrell claimed he owned the space rock because ‘finders keepers’; the drivers of the ute who removed the stone from the gidgee tree and transported it in their ute also claimed they had a right to owning it. The arrest was provoked by Frank Heath, the owner of the property where the rock was found. However, the Lawrence family were launching counter-action against Heath to take possession of the rock as they were midway in the process of obtaining the property’s assets from Heath in a mutual agreement. The Queensland Museum also joined the legal pile-on arguing the rock should go to them due to its scientific significance.

For the cicada, to exist is to scream. The loud bugs assemble in the garden to soundtrack Summer, screaming in unison all night every night until the heat fades. Their unabating wail, as if my magic or malfunction, is a performance designed to scare predators.

For what San Remo lacked, it made up for in makeshift time capsules made from children’s lunchboxes and entombing discarded cicada exoskeletons.

On Monday 8 June 2010 at 1210 hours, two men used a rock to steal another rock. The thieves used a terrestrial stone to smash a window belonging to the Crystal Caves museum in far north Queensland. Within minutes they had stolen a meteorite. The object was donated by a collector who had found the 4 billion year-old space rock in a 300,000 year-old crater at Wolfe Creek in Western Australia. The museum’s director urged people with information to come forward in a timely manner as he feared it wouldn’t take long for the meteorite to be broken into pieces and circulated on the black market. He told the Sunshine Coast Daily that while he couldn’t prove the existence of such an underworld economy, he was positive it existed as the meteorite came ‘from a place between Mars and Jupiter and if you ever wanted a pristine piece of a planet like the earth, this is where you go.’

How do you find something when you don’t know what it’s called? Healing is not a soft thing. One day in my late 20s, and without ceremony, I found a blog about non-binary identities and bodies. I was able to finally materialise as a non-binary agender bogan. My absence of gender identity was not the result of a personal fault, it was normal. The passe-tête fell over in the tall grass.

The greengrocer cicada raises a turret before emerging from the ground en masse. Detecting safety, they infiltrating nearby foliage. The bugs scream as they freeze themselves to leaves and branches to begin the moulting process. First a split peels open lengthways down the cicada’s back. The cicada’s face hardens and becomes translucent like a mask while another head emerges within the cranial cavity. The bug works at widening the split, pushing and pulling and squirming. The bug emerges in its final form: winged, wet, and louder than ever.

On Thursday 17 June 2010 magistrate Greg Strofield ruled that Frank and Elle Heath possess lawful ownership of the meteorite. Maudrell conceded, but asserted his wish for the rock to find its place in a museum in Cunnamulla. Researchers from Queensland Museum expressed interest in obtaining the stone as they hoped to unlock the secrets of how the Earth was formed from mergers of molten rock 4 billion years ago. Frank Heath said he was unsure what to do with the intergalactic doorstop. ‘The family is going to look at it and then we will decide,’ he said.

In primary school we used to go around collecting the googly-eyed exoskeletons of cicadas we found stuck to tree trunks. We stored the hollow monsters in secret lunchboxes under a demountable classroom at the edge of the playground. When one lunchbox was filled, we started on another. It would take a good month to fill one up. This went on for at least three years. Our collective gained operatives with every passing Summer. At some point in 1998 our parents started putting our lunch in plastic bags, effectively ending our operation. We redirected our efforts to playing handball instead. Beneath the classroom is where the lunchboxes remained, hidden and hurtling toward the new millennium.

Dan Hogan is a writer and teacher from San Remo. More of Dan’s work can be found at www.2dan2hogan.com. They tweet @packetofchips. Dan is the director of Subbed In.