‘SPASE INC.’

March 20, 2013

Presenting a compile of music video clips of DJ Spase. All the video’s were filmed and edited by myself in Los Angeles. ENJOY!!!

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Justin B. O'Brien & DJ Spase

Justin B. O’Brien & DJ Spase


‘GUILTY’

November 8, 2011

Multimedia journalist Justin O’Brien reports from outside the Los Angeles Criminal Court House on the Doctor Conrad Murray guilty verdict. Dr Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of pop star Michael Jackson in 2009.

Reported, filmed, written and edited by Justin O’Brien.


‘LATIGO @ 158 bpm’

August 21, 2011

Turning 40 is a mile stone birthday we’re told to celebrate and celebrate big.

For my 40th, I decided to spend a week with my best mates in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, my old ‘home’. A week of eating, drinking – did I mention drinking? And riding.

My birthday present to myself was an accent of Latigo Canyon. A 9.2-mile mountain climb I’d ridden many times over the years with my buddies Johnny Smelzer, Michael Kelley and David Lee.

We are all united through a passion or self-torture for road cycling. Hours spent on two wheels, sitting on a pole,peddling, duelling with cars, legs shaved and 40 mile per hour descents protected by an armour of Lycra!

'The Boys' - Johnny Smelzer, David Lee, Justin O'Brien, Michael Kelley

There is something ‘mentally satisfying’ even ‘mystical’ about climbing Latigo Canyon. So on the day of my birthday Johnny and I rolled out with a group of cyclists and set off up the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) towards Malibu and 40 minutes to the Latigo turn off.

“9.2 miles of just sheer hell”, is how Michael Kelley describes Latigo.

Michael is the ‘fastest’ out of the four of us – followed closely by David Lee. “It is a great climb, it’s like a Tour de France climb .. Minus the French crowds lining the road, spitting on you!”, says Michael cracking a smile.

I’ll never compete in the Tour de France, but climbing Latigo makes you dream you could. It’s steep, alternating from 4.7% and 12% to the summit.

David Lee, who I first met in a spinning studio is a successful working actor and the funniest of our bunch. “It’s a bit of a ball breaker if I must be honest .. It brings out the honest man in you”, David says describing Latigo.

A view of Latigo Canyon, Malibu. California USA

“The first summit is a bit of an illusion because you get up there .. you think you’re there, then you pop around the corner and then there is suddenly another five miles to go and it’s kind of a little disheartening because it kicks up a little bit”, says David.

Most cyclists take between 35 minutes to an hour to climb to Latigo’s second summit. Johnny and I are part of that latter group!

My speedo is a heart rate monitor, the title of this story. 158 bpm – 158 beats per minute. There is no cheating on the road. I know I can push/peddle 158 bpm for an hour, increase it to 170 and I’ll throw up!

After 30 minutes zig zaging our way up Latigo’s bends, Johnny and I climb through the California coastal ‘June Gloom’ and into sunshine. We pass the time chatting, putting-shit-on each other.

A climbing graph of Latigo Canyon, Malibu. California USA

“What ring are ya in Johnny?”, I ask him. “The easiest one I got”, he replies.

“How about you?”

I quickly reply, “I got one gear left.”

“Ah…. You do not!”, Johnny fires back! I laugh and we peddle on.

15 minutes later we’re at Latigo’s second summit sharing a chocolate bar and jam sandwich before the 12 minute descent back to the PCH, then dinner and margarita’s.

It was the great birthday and I wouldn’t have spent it doing anything else!


    


‘CHEAP CHARLIE’

April 30, 2010

‘Uc dai loi, Cheap Charlie .. He no buy me Saigon tea ..’ is the first verse of a song sang in Vietnam by Australian soldiers and bar girls going about their trade.‘.. Saigon tea costs many

'Long Tan Memorial'

'Long Tan Memorial Cross'

many P … Uc dai loi he Cheap Charlie ..’. It was with this song running around in my head, that I made my own‘Cheap Charlie’ dash from Vung Tau to the site of the Australian war time base at Nui Dat and the memorial cross at Long Tan.

Long Tan – two words etched into ANZAC folk law alongside names like Gallipoli, Fromelle, Changi and Kokoda.

I visited Gallipoli in 1997 and being in Ho Chi Minh City earlier this month, I felt the same attraction to see Long Tan – the site of our bloodiest battle during the Vietnam War.

It was a ‘Cheap Charlie’ trip because I didn’t want to take the official $48US Long Tan tour. (Four hours departing at eight o’clock, air-conditioned coach, lunch included along with a collectors edition embroided hat!!!) It wasn’t the money, I just wanted to see and experience Long Tan at my pace. I’d read online that the Long Tan Memorial was on a private property and access is granted only with an official guide. But, I thought: “..this is Vietnam, I’ll take my chances”.

So, arriving in Vung Tau by hydrofoil from Ho Chi Minh City I first rented a motorbike for 200,000 Dong ($11US) and enquired with the taxi drivers about Long Tan? Immediately a guy said Australian soldier’s, then a moto-taxi driver named Trin said he knew where it was and in two minutes we’d negotiated a private tour for 300,000 Dong ($16US). Then we were off … on a ‘Cheap Charlie’ run, without the limited edition hat and no time limits.

Site of the former Australian Army Base at Nui Dat, Vietnam

'Nui Dat' - site of the 1st Australian Task Force base

Thumping along at 50 to 60 kilometres an hour, passing the scenery not too unlike the diggers would have seen minus the paved roads and satellite dishes, in around 45 minutes we’d covered the 30 kilometres to Nui Dat. Now open fields and rubber plantations, there isn’t much to see. Two brown brick columns mark the entrance to the old Australian base. Buried in rubber trees are a couple of brick bunkers and gun emplacements. Trin said later, a cement company called ‘Long Dat Cement’ now owns the area. He says the plan is to remove the soil and gravel to manufacture cement.

Several kilometres away is the Long Tan battlefield.

Riding on, navigating the dirt tracks .. crossing the former base and 20 minutes later a large sign appears in the distance – ‘THAP TU GIA LONG TAN’ – with an arrow pointing to the left it says ‘Long Tan Cross’. The area is rubber plantation country – trees as far as the eye can see. A few minutes along another dirt road and Trin pulls over – pointing into the trees he says: ‘there .. there it is’. 150 metres from the road, is a lone white cross standing tall protected by a metal chain barrier, concrete wall and gate – surrounded by thousands of rubber trees.

Once the bikes are turned off – deep in the middle of the rubber plantation it’s dead quite and in an odd way peaceful. Trin, in broken English says: ‘.. many fighters .. Long Tan fighters .. many were Nui Dat and then Long Tan here .. VC here and ‘Uc dai lam’ (Australian) Army over there .. fighting you know .. boom boom boom .. very very sad .. before .. very sad’. I invite Trin to join us at the memorial, but he declines. Either he’d seen it one time to many or it just wasn’t his thing, it’s a memorial to foreign soldiers.

'Long Tan On Two Wheels'

'Long Tan On Two Wheels'

Walking the short distance from the road, my mind began to think about what the men on both sides went through that afternoon in August 1966. Where did they hide? Did they cover behind that tree or in that ditch? Officially, 108 diggers including three New Zealander’s from D Company 6RAR repelled attack after attack of between 700 and 1500 Viet Cong soldiers. For five hours, frightened, staring death down a gun barrel – they fought for their lives until reinforcements arrived from Nui Dat as night fell on the battlefield.

18 Australian’s were killed during the battle – all between 19 and 22 years old. 40 diggers were wounded. Three of the dead were married, the rest single, seven were National Servicemen called up for duty and the 11 other men were volunteers. Estimates to the number of Viet Cong dead range between 47 to 245, the official number. This higher number is disputed by Terry Burstall, a Private who survived the battle. Burstall claims only 47 VC were killed and around 700 North Vietnamese soldiers took part in the battle, half the official account.

But, do the numbers really matter? Saying we killed 29 or 227 more Vietnamese than Australian’s, does it make the victory more palatable or justified? People were killed – men who had lovers, wives, kids, families, friends and parents. There is one constant is all the battlefields I’ve visited and the same goes for Long Tan too. Years after the fighting’s ended, I always end up asking myself; What was so important about this ground that cost so many lives? Was it worth it?

Trin - Freelance Moto Guide

'Trin' - the freelance moto guide

On the way back to Vung Tau – we stop and grab a ‘café su-nap’ (Vietnamese coffee). I learn Trin is 48, a father of two grown boys and a girl. We talk about life. He tells me how good things are now compared to during the War. ‘We had very little to eat ..’ He says his father was killed by a mortar or bomb, leaving him to fend for himself with his mother. Never given the opportunity to go to school, Trin is now happy – his children are working and studying in Ho Chi Minh City, he tells me. I ask if he has an email address, ‘No’ he replies, ‘but I’ll give you my son’s ..’ . He writes it down and I promise to email his son a few photos and this story.

I saw Long Tan the way I wanted to see it – the wind in my face surrounded by the smells and noises of South Vietnam. Meeting Trin was a bonus. But as I said goodbye and rode off I could almost hear him hymning – ‘Uc dai loi, Cheap Charlie ..’ at the 100,000 Dong tip I’d given him!

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This article first appeared on Ninemsn:      http://travel.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=1043483 

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TRAVEL ADVICE – VUNG TAU AND LONG TAN

In Ho Chi Minh City, board the hydrofoil to Vung Tau. Cost is 180,000 Dong ($10US), trip takes one an a half hours. If you plan to return that afternoon to Ho Chi Minh City, it’s worthwhile for peace of mind to buy the return ticket at the same time.

In Vung Tau, you’ll be offered a motorbike to rent by moto-taxi riders as you walk out of the port arrivals building.

Motorbike rental is around 200,000 Dong ($11US) per day.

Enquire with the rental guy or the moto-taxi riders across the road about Long Tan, ask for directions and then offer to pay for someone to guide you there.

It is worth paying the 300,000 Dong ($16US) for a guide. Then you can ride along enjoying the sights without the worry of getting lost!

The old Australian Army base at Nui Dat is approximately 30 kilometres from Vung Tau, less than 45 minutes on a motorbike. The Long Tan Memorial is a few kilometres further on from the base. Allow between three to four hours for the Nui Dat-Long Tan tour. Wear a helmet and don’t be a ‘Cheap Charlie’ , make sure you have travel insurance!

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The multi-media video clip ‘Long Tan on two wheels’ was filmed with a Olympus 6 megapixels stills camera using the movie mode.

The photographs and movie clips were first imported into a folder on the desktop and then the folder was imported into Final Cut Express 4.

‘Long Tan On Two Wheels’ was edited in Final Cut Express 4. A sepia effect was added to the finished timeline to compensate for the washed out quality of the original video images, as well as to create a 1960’s era feel to the multi-media clip.

Road To Long Tan

'dirt road enroute to Long Tan Battlefield' Site of the Battle of Long Tan, 16th of August 1966

 

 

Site of the Battle of Long Tan, 16th of August 1966

Site of the Battle of Long Tan, 16th of August 1966

 

Long Tan rubber plantation

'milking a rubber tree'

 

'Long Tan Memorial Cross'

'Long Tan Memorial Cross'

 

Poppies at the Long Tan Memorial Cross

Poppies at the 'Long Tan Memorial Cross'

 

Directions to the Long Tan Memorial Cross

'Sign directing visitors to the Long Tan Memorial Cross'

 

Trin - Freelance Moto Guide

'Trin' - the freelance moto guide


‘THE BOAT DRIVERS’

March 18, 2010
PEOPLE SMUGGLER - BOAT CREW

Illegal Boat Crew - Photo Courtesy Channel Nine

22 alleged people smuggles were flown by a charted plane from Christmas Island to Darwin last night, arriving just after midnight.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans spokesperson Simon Dowding denied the men were being move to the Darwin Immigration Detention Centre to relieve overcrowding at the Christmas Island facility.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship responed with a statement saying – “No, Christmas Island has not reached capacity. Crew transfers to the mainland are normal procedure and happen as needed.”

The men who said the were from Indonesia were escorted by five minders as they walked from the Customs arrivals area at Darwin Airport to a coach parked near a side exit.

Questioned about the conditions at the Christmas Island Detention Centre – one of the alleged people smuggles said .. “It’s pretty good, it’s very good .. (where are you from?) .. From Indonesia.”

The men, believed aged in their late teens to mid-30’s were driven from Darwin Airport to the Darwin Immigration Detention Centre at around 1:30am.

Australia Federal Police will interview the men to determine if they have committed people smuggling offences under Australian law.

According to the AFP website, 118 people have been charged with people smuggling since September 2008.

The offence carried a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and/or a $220,000 fine.


‘THE LONG GRASSERS’

February 21, 2010

As a 17 year old college student – I signed up for a major in American Literature. The two classroom novels were ‘Slaughter House Five’ by Kurt Vonnegut and John Steinbeck’s, ‘The

'The Homeless Camp'

'Home Sweet Home'

Grapes of Wrath’.

I mention this because at 619 pages in length – ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ is a heavy read. It wasn’t John Steinbeck’s story about Tom Joad and his family’s fight to survive the Great Depression that concerned me, but the six hundred odd pages which lay ahead. So, I put my head down and got through it.

Last week, wandering through an illegal Aboriginal tent camp near the centre of Darwin – I could see similarities between the Joad’s and the ‘Long Grassers’ who called the camp home.

‘The word for Long Grasser mean we homeless people – homeless … but we like to use the word Long Grasser’ – is how 45 year old Bob Gallagher describes himself and the dozen Aborigines who live there.

Like the Joad’s – the men and women have no permanent place to stay. Fast forward eighty years since the Great Depression and home for these people is anywhere there is a vacant patch of ground to put up a tent.

However, the ‘Long Grassers’ have money. The Joad’s were penniless when they were driven off their Oklahoma farm by drought – while the ‘Long Grassers’ have access to regular payments from the Federal Government.

LORD MAYOR WITH LONG GRASSER

'VISITING THE LONG GRASSERS'

This ‘sit down money’ has bred a generation of first Australians – who fairly or unfairly, the majority do not contribute to society. At the Darwin camp, the ‘Long Grassers’ play cards, gambling with the ‘federal cash’. The winner does what the ‘Long Grassers’ call – ‘the rabbit run’, it’s his or her job to walk to the bottle shop and purchase more grog.

Lord Mayor Graeme Sawyer believes the influx of hundreds of ‘Long Grassers’ to Darwin is an unanticipated outcome from the 2007 Federal Intervention into Aboriginal Communities. Major General David Chalmers who headed up the Federal Response disagrees – telling me at the recent Bombing of Darwin Ceremony: “People were already on the move .. people are transient .. you can’t blame the Intervention for people wanting to move to the City”.

Shoot the messenger or do something about the problem.

The Lord Mayor wants to build camps with showers and toilets at locations around Darwin, where ‘Long Grassers’ like Bob Gallagher and his friends can live. According to Sawyer: “The various levels of Government need to get together and provide some space where these sorts of camps can be facilitated”.

Known for his passion to defeat cane toads – Graeme Sawyer is willing to stake his reputation to solve the ‘Long Grassers’ problem: “We have the same problem with backpacker’s when the dry season comes” – the Lord Mayor says, continuing: “Pretending it’s not happening is not a solution .. the reality is the system we’ve got at the moment is just creating more and more problems”.       

Northern Territory Police, Darwin City Council and the Aboriginal ‘First Patrol’ know the illegal camp exists. However, with the backdrop of Darwin’s housing shortage and skyrocketing rents – everyone allows the campers to stay.

The camp can only be described as basic – rough living, there is no running water and the toilet or bathroom is the tall grass surrounding the tents. Bob enjoys a drink, is a diabetic and he recently had his left big toe amputated. He worries he’ll get sick if he continues to live rough.

AMPUTATED BIG TOE - A LONG GRASSER

'MISSING LEFT BIG TOE'

“I’ve got to go to the hospital for a check up, because I’m living in the bush .. It’s not a nice place to stay, we put in for a house last year and we’re still waiting” – Bob says as he holds a plastic measuring cup filled with ‘watered down’ Port.

Australia is often referred to as the lucky country – I don’t think Bob considers himself lucky.

Maybe one day – the ‘Long Grassers’ will find a home or society will persuade these modern day ‘Okies’ to change. It’s not going to be easy. As someone once said to me, if you can read you can cook. My reply was, try reading ‘The Grapes of Wrath’.


‘IRISH BACKBACKER’S STOLE MY CAR’

November 23, 2009
Cenotaph grass damaged by hoon

'SKID MARKS'

An 18 year old man has told Northern Territory Police – two Irish Backpacker’s stole his Toyota Hilux Ute and then crashed it at the site of Darwin’s War Memorial.

The teenager reported the theft at the Darwin City Police Station just after mid-night. According to Superintendent John Emeny, the man told Officers: “Whilst he got out to have a cigarette  … two Irish backpackers jumped into his vehicle and drove off causing it to roll.”

But under further questioning by Officers at the scene of the crash, the teenager admitted he had made the story up. He told Police the crash occurred while he was doing donuts on the grassy area in-front of the Cenotaph, at the Eastern end of Darwin’s Esplanade. The right-hand side front wheels dug into the dirt at one stage and a shift in weight caused the Ute to roll onto its side.

Cenotaph - 'Hoon'

'FILLING THE GAPS'

Darwin City Council workers spent several hours repairing the damage to the grass, filling in ‘wheel-rut’ marks left by the speeding car. 40 metres from the Cenotaph, the grassy area is used to seat the thousands of people who attended the Bombing of Darwin, ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day Celebrations each year.

Darwin Lord Mayor Graeme Sawyer believes the damage to the Cenotaph was limited because the ground is still hard, just weeks away from the wet season. But Mr Sawyer is appalled by the behaviour of the teenager, considering the significance of the area. “You’d have to be pretty stupid wouldn’t ya … obviously alcohol played a part. But just the attitude of someone who’d do something like this”.. The Lord Mayor said.

 The 18 year old recorded a blood alcohol level of one point six three – more than three times the legal limit. Police have also impounded the teenager’s Ute for 48 hours, using new Northern Territory anti-hooning legislation.  

'THE HOON VEHICLE'

'THE HOON VEHICLE'