Streets On Fire

“The stars are aligned and the path is colliding

The plan is arriving and she’s out there smiling

The fear is upon us, the skies tried to warn us

Your parents are goners, no children to mourn us

It’s driving me crazy, this war is my lady

The bombs are our babies and God is amazing

The tick of the timer, the slip of the rhyme

Of the pimp and the rise of your fall’s

Where you’ll find her..”


There’s one image in my mind that I absolutely love. It’s a scene and a life that I don’t know but want to, that I can feel but haven’t really experienced. Anything that resembles it always appeals to me and I can’t even explain it properly. It’s one of those things that if you get it, you get it, and if you don’t, well there’s no way to describe it to you. I don’t even know how I came across it, but I think if I had to choose a place to describe the workings of my mind and what it looked like, that would be it.

This song comes pretty close to depicting it. It’s by Lupe Fiasco and was written about the AIDS virus, but told through the story of the Streets, a female essence that controls all life in the city. She’s the hustlers and the drugs, she gives you the luck and she takes it from you, she brings the warm breeze across your skin or the rain on your back, she lets you die or live, and she chooses your fate.

When you listen to that, you might be able to see what I see. It’s Tokyo, in the rain. Its summertime, so it’s hot. Neon lights are flashing at me and surrounding me. It’s an urban setting, with graffiti on the walls that makes it street and gives it that feeling of rebellion, but there is still a sense of something ethereal and natural, something bigger than the city and everything in it. It makes the city pulse, it makes it alive. It makes love exist and the meaning go beyond the simplicity of live to buy, buy to live, where the rich should control it all. But they can’t because life belongs to the Streets.

It’s a love story as well, behind the words. It’s in the music. Its two people searching for each other, and when they finally connect in the city it all comes to a crescendo, and the battle becomes their fight together against it all. It could be Hong Kong or Seoul, under siege, troops scouring the city for the enemies, fires burning from barrels, and two people trying to escape and save each other. They’re part of the rebellion, or maybe just civillians, but with the population all but evacuated, the city belongs to them. And the Streets are on their side. But whether they survive or not is beyond them, it’s up to her.

“Believe some say the neon signs

Might allow speakers repeating

And everything is fine

A subtle silence

Could demolish the troubled conscious

Of a compass with no knowledge

And every freedom denied..”


There’s something in the song that calms me, its like despite the rush of the city and the frantic struggle to make it, there’s something around us always that’s soothing and has been here long before we have, and will be here long after we’re gone. You can see it in the rainbow shining from the oil in a puddle on the tar, or in the reflection of the lights on the night sky. We might not make it, but we’re in it, so all we can do is live.

I don’t know if you can see it, or if you’ve seen it before in other things, other songs. I see it in anime, in warm rainy nights, in neon cities, in Lupe Fiasco’s album The Cool, in graffiti, in the style of the Melbourne fashion kids, in hot weather, in gyaru girls, in anything that glows in the dark, in clouds that look like they could hide angels.. It’s just a feeling I get. It’s my favourite feeling. I once tried to describe it in a piece called The Tokyo Slum, but I failed. Maybe you understood it, or maybe you didn’t. Anyway, that’s my mind. I live there. Let me know if you can see it too.


“The sadness, the madness, the bad shit, the lavish

The fastness to clashes, the ashes to ashes

Everything intertwined

My femme fatale my darling fraudulent angel

Once caught her changing her batteries in her halo

Receipt for her wings and everything that she paid for

And the address to the factory where they made those

The scientist says she’s all inside my mind

The little boy said “What happened to all the girls?”

The preacher man says she gonna kill off the souls

The dope boy said it’s the whole wide world..”


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18 Responses to “Streets On Fire”

  1. Reuben Says:

    Tokyo in the wintertime sounds more attractive to me – not least because anything above 23 degrees is enough to turn me into a vacuous moron, but also because it’s more atmospheric, more romantic…and possibly just more brilliant. πŸ™‚

    Incidentally, all Japanese alleyways are perfect places for filming (I should know, since I’ve photographed one….which doesn’t really make me qualified, but I’m always trying to sound erudite…so I might as well say that).

  2. Domino Says:

    Maybe you should move to New York. I dunno, I kinda got lost with your thoughts…But apparently New York is the biggest experience to live in. I was talking to this chick a while ago and she used to live there and she said that the life experience you gain from living there is unbelievable. And I’m pretty sure the streets rule New York lol

  3. LuLi Says:

    Reuben – I love the warm weather too much to want to go in winter, but being there at all would be awesome. I think urban Japanese scenery is beautiful too, and if you’ve photographed one you’re a better authority than me!

    Domino – I guess I can be kind of confusing with my thoughts, its hard to pin them down enough to make sense, just trying to capture the vibe of it all. I’d love to go to New York, that would be amazing.

  4. Reuben Says:

    “Reuben – I love the warm weather too much to want to go in winter”

    Sounds as though you’re more adapted for global warming than I am.

  5. LuLi Says:

    lol thats probably true, but I don’t go well when its so hot you’re melting, so I’m hoping the effects don’t kick in properly till after I’m gone.

  6. Reuben Says:

    Depends on what temperature it takes for you to melt; it takes me a good 23.00054 degrees to make me completely helpless.

  7. Marty Says:

    This is eclectic and I really like it. I feel it in your writing but I don’t feel it in a general sense. But, if I ever do I’ll let you know.

  8. Marty Says:

    By the way the dude above was right, you feel it in New York. But I would dissuade against hypothetically living there (not that I’ve spent more than a week there) unless you really wanted to put yourself to the test. “If you can live in New York you can live anywhere… but if you can live anywhere, why the hell would you choose to live in New York?” (Not my words.)

  9. This Devil's Workday Says:

    I’m pretty sure I get what you’re saying. There’s no way for me to explain it without using the words you did. Either way it kind of reminds me of Blade Runner, and of a particular episode of Alias, except I think she was in Hong Kong. Not sure.

  10. LuLi Says:

    Reuben – I can handle up to around 36 sometimes even 40 (if I’m in water!)

    Marty – Thanks, I’m glad you kinda get it. I don’t think I would live in New York, but I’d definitely visit for a while, its one of those places you have to go in your life. To live I’d probably need somewhere with more nature to chill in.

    TDW – Oh you get it? Thats awesome. I haven’t seen Blade Runner, but now I’m going to have to. Hong Kong is kind of the same vibe to me, I think. Welcome back, are you back? Or are you slinking off into the darkness again πŸ˜›

  11. Reuben Says:

    I can too…assuming the water I’m in has just drowned me.

  12. This Devil's Workday Says:

    Don’t buy the Director’s Cut!!!! The shops have been trying to sell them for about 10 to 20 bucks for the past five years, don’t buy it! There are several slightly different versions of the movie. You have to buy the “Final Cut”, which is the REAL director’s cut, that came out at the end of last year. The Director’s Cut was a rush job.

    And I’m still in the darkness. Unfortunately I’m a big mouth and can’t help myself from commenting on things. I’ll probably be back completely later this week or next week because I have too much to say.

  13. LuLi Says:

    You seem very passionate about this Final Cut so I suppose I’ll have to get it! I hate it when they wreck the movies with bad directors cuts too. Commenting isn’t really blogging so maybe thats okay. It’s still a rest from the full time job that is blogging, just less mysterious πŸ™‚

  14. This Devil's Workday Says:

    Wasn’t so much having a break, as preventing myself from saying stupid things. I noticed I wrote a few posts I was kind of proud of (as in I liked them), and then I’d write a bunch of pathetic ones. Given that I’d just finished exams and had a lot of free time on my hand, I figured it was best to just tie some tape to my mouth before I say a whole tonne of meaningless things that I’d regret or renege on later. Sounds dumb, but it would’ve happened. “I’m going to travel around Australia”, “I’m going to join a band”, “I’m going to conquer the world”, etc. etc. Better to step back, take a breather and just absorb everyone elses writing for a while.

  15. LuLi Says:

    Ohhh, none of your posts were pathetic TDW! I didn’t notice any drop in quality.. Plus it doesn’t always have to be award winning stuff, its good to mix it up with a bit of regular conversational stuff. But yeah sometimes its good to take a breather and might even give improvement (although I think practice makes perfect!).

  16. This Devil's Workday Says:


  17. Beth Says:

    this post is all old now and i don’t even know how i got to this page but i get it! i get it! i so get it, i was so happy to read this. i was like OMG YES I KNOW!

    i go nuts for this romantic shadowy urban neon noir dream i’ve had since wayyyy back when i was tiny in a tiny town pretending the lights from the paper mill were the lights of my big dangerous city. i’m always looking for it like it’s an actual other dimension i could find right around every concrete corner. dude i am so glad i found this post, i feel so validated and nostalgic and inspired now thinking about it outright.

    this comment sucks because it’s so hard to articulate what it is i think you mean, but we’re so on the same page i say. great blog!

  18. LuLi Says:

    Beth when i wrote this it seemed like a mess, but I’m glad you get what I’m saying! I know its a place that exists, I plan to find it some day. It was an awesome comment, finding out that people understand make writing worth it. Cheers for ur reply πŸ™‚

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