‘The big change for me was that I lost my dad. It was over two years ago. He was a doctor and he’d been in the same community for over 30 years. He did quite well for himself and he had a lot of stuff and all the things that come with that.

‘But when it was all said and done, the thing that made the biggest impact on me was they had a big memorial for him and they had the biggest hall in our small suburb in Newcastle. I turned up and there were just crowds of people in the streets out the front who couldn’t fit inside.

‘I realised that that’s the only thing you’ve got is the impact you’ve had on other people’s lives. It’s not about all the money that you earned and all those successes and that was just a huge change for me. From that day, I went down this path.

‘Looking at what I’m seeing today shows to me that there is definitely the interest out there for people to be able to come together for many different reasons to express themselves. I just like to bring a little bit of happiness to people’s lives in some way, help the community and be part of it. I hope that then creates a domino effect of people helping each other. Something I’ve always lived by is to be the change in the world you want to see.’

COMMUNE founder, Sam Ali.

These two were grooving away at the South King Block Party today. This little guy wanted me to take his photo and then asked to look at the shots I’d taken on the back of the camera. When I showed him a few, he said, ‘No, show me the ones with my moves.’


‘For me it’s like a form of meditation. Sometimes my mind can become so chaotic so I just need to do it to clear my mind.

‘You have to be completely aware of yourself. You constantly need to be thinking ahead and be 100% aware of your body.’

‘Life is meant for laughing and joking and things like that. Not for worrying and being serious about things. And if you feel like dancing and singing, go ahead. Life is for joy – not for miseries. Here on the Earth is a wonderful place. We should be looking after it a lot more than we do.

‘I’m proud to be an old coot. On the 22nd of September, I shall be 90 years old. I’m no longer a dashing young chap. I used to dread old age but now I’ve learnt all these things about how to maintain my health.

‘Avoid all synthetic food – like margarine. The other thing to avoid is Aspartame – it is quite a poison. Also, there are five exercises called ‘The Five Rites of Rejuvenation’. These are the most interesting things I have learnt. I’ll demo the first one. You’ve heard of prana and you’ve heard of chi and George Lucas tells us about the force. It’s all around us. There is a way of scooping it in. This is the basic one – now stand back. What you do is you’re scooping it up with this hand and with the other hand you’re flinging it away.

‘I do that every morning. I learned this at 60 years old. I still get up half an hour earlier every day to do this. People are flattering – they tell me I don’t look a day over 60. Well, 60 was a long time ago!’

‘One of the more interesting jobs I’ve attended was carrying a 220kg naked man out of a brothel. We had to take him out of the window because they couldn’t manoeuvre him around.

‘We also get calls for cats in trees and snakes in gardens. We got called to someone who had a parrot up a tree and thought we could get it down. It obviously had just flown off. We also get calls for various drug labs on fire. Only about 10% of our calls now are to actual fires.

‘The first sign we did coincided with Mardi Gras and was very successful. Shortly after that, we had the buffalo incident. People started paying attention to what we were putting up so we’ve been trying to maintain it ever since.

‘We can get away with having a bit of fun with our signs because of the local demographic here in Newtown. One other station tried it but it’s a different audience. They don’t have the buffaloes to start with!

‘I think it’s all due to frustration. I see that show Madmen when they come up with slogans and I think maybe that’s what I really wanted to do in life. It’s a missed calling!’

‘A few years ago I completely stopped watching TV and stuffing my brain with all this stuff I don’t need to worry about and stuff the media throws at you. After I completely stopped watching TV, reading newspapers and everything, just every day I’ll go home and it will be quiet. I’ll maybe put on a bit of music and I’ll pick up a pencil or some clay and start doing something rather than being brain dead in front of a TV. I’ve found in the last few years I’ve really opened creatively. I made a glass bridge last week with a mirror underneath it so it looks like you’re standing on infinity. It’s crazy. I like playing with stuff and illusions and things sort of optically – brain fuckery! A little bit of brain fuckery never goes astray!’