Monday, August 31, 2009

"I don't want the world, I just want your half"

They Might Be Giants will drink your blood, unless you do the dance!

Well comrades, I’m back. Miss me?

One of the joys about holidaying alone at home is that I can listen to all the music the Mrs and The Boy have, for various reasons, put the kibosh on.

Thus, on Sunday morning I spent many enjoyable moments listen to “Lincoln” from They Might Be Giants, playing air piano accordion and doing the They Might Be Giants dance*.

TMBG are best known for their quirky lyrics and general zaniness but they’re also fine and knowing musicians as well. Witness, for example, the rockin’ xylophone solo on “Cowtown”, the infectious banjo picking on “Stand on your own head” or the string quartet on “Kiss Me, Son of God”.

And what’s that? You say you’ve heard a more poignant line than this one from “I’ve Got a Match”?

I’m going to die if you touch me one more time,
Well I guess that I’m going to die no matter what

I put it to you, sir and/or madam, that you are a lying liar who lies.

And very few of their pieces go a lick beyond three minutes – the perfect length for a pop song.

It’s impossible to listen to “Lincoln” without smiling and breaking into the They Might Be Giants dance.

* A modified fox-trot, if you must know.

Heavy discussion for Monday

Ok, I have a moral dilemma question for you. Hypothetical, but one I recently had a discussion about with a friend of mine, and I wanted to get some other viewpoints.

Anyway, the situation is this. Say you and your partner are trying to have a child, but not desperately. You fall pregnant (or your partner does, whichever), and you have all the usual tests done to see if the baby is ok. Nothing is picked up. The child is born and is severely disabled to the point where he or she will require 24 hour care for the rest of their life and will never be able to do anything of their own volition, even with assistance. One of you (either you or your partner) knows they are not the sort of person to be able to deal with this situation, and knows they will just end up resenting the child and completely snapping in 10 years and smothering it with a pillow because you're/they're so frustrated at having to care for it 24 hours a day and having no life. There is also the argument that such a life is no real life for a child.

Is it wrong and completey selfish to give it up for adoption, knowing there are other people out there far better equipped to deal with such a child than you, but also knowing there is a very great possibility the child will never be adopted?

Alternatively, if the tests did find out the child was going to be disabled severely, is it awfully wrong to terminate it and try again (assuming abortion is legal in your state)?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Walking Around

Our dog was named after this poet but random people at the park ask me if he was named after the coffee. The philistines! Not the poet, nor the artist, but the instant coffee. And what bad instant coffee it was (NESCAFÉ Espresso is heaps better)

Even though this poem is about being a man (and they have it EASY, yes they do), it transcends all that. When it says 'the smell of barber shops makes me sob out loud' I know that feeling without getting a short back and sides or whatever it is that men do in barber shops

Anyway, I think it is a lovely lovely poem

It happens that I am tired of being a man.
It happens that I go into the tailor's shops and the movies
all shrivelled up, impenetrable, like a felt swan
navigating on a water of origin and ash.

The smell of barber shops makes me sob out loud.
I want nothing but the repose either of stone or of wool.
I want to see no more establishments, no more gardens,
nor merchandise, nor glasses, nor elevators.

It happens that I am tired of my feet and my nails
and my hair and my shadow.
It happens that I am tired of being a man.

Just the same it would be delicious
to scare a notary with a cut lily
or knock a nun stone dead with one blow of an ear.

It would be beautiful
to go through the streets with a green knife
shouting until I died of cold.

I do not want to go on being a root in the dark,
hesitating, stretched out, shivering with dreams,
downwards, in the wet tripe of the earth,
soaking it up and thinking, eating every day.

I do not want to be the inheritor of so many misfortunes.
I do not want to continue as a root and as a tomb,
as a solitary tunnel, as a cellar full of corpses,
stiff with cold, dying with pain.

For this reason Monday burns like oil
at the sight of me arriving with my jail-face,
and it howls in passing like a wounded wheel,
and its footsteps towards nightfall are filled with hot blood.

And it shoves me along to certain corners, to certain damp houses,
to hospitals where the bones come out of the windows,
to certain cobbler's shops smelling of vinegar,
to streets horrendous as crevices.

There are birds the colour of sulphur, and horrible intestines
hanging from the doors of the houses which I hate,
there are forgotten sets of teeth in a coffee-pot,
there are mirrors
which should have wept with shame and horror,
there are umbrellas all over the place, and poisons, and navels.

I stride along with calm, with eyes, with shoes,
with fury, with forgetfuless,
I pass, I cross offices and stores full of orthopaedic appliances,
and courtyards hung with clothes on wires,
underpants, towels and shirts which weep
slow dirty tears.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Oyills! Oyills! Oyills!

As a teenager in the 80's, growing up at Generic High in Melbourne's middle-eastern suburbs, I loved Midnight Oil. They were the first band I artistically devoured. I remember sitting around with Lewd Bob at the time, me with my Oils fanatacism, him with his keen interest in The Police, sharing our music interests for hours and hours (when we weren't playing footy or cricket in the street).

"10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1" came out in 1982 - I was in Year 8, and by mid Year 9 I knew every word to every song, plus all the words to all the songs in their entire back catalogue where I found some songs that to this day I would put up near the top Australian Songs of all time ('Stand In Line' from the album 'Head Injuries' in particular). The thing is, though I knew the words, I didn't really, you know, take them in, as such. I was singing and dancing enthusiastically to songs about Maralinga, US imperialism, Afghanistan, homelessness, alienation, commodification... but jeez, I was 15 years old, what did I care? It was the energy and the music I tapped into, not the message. I saw them live a couple of times at their peak, and they were fucking AWESOME. Rock? You bet.

Red Sails In The Sunset came out in about my Year 11, and it was saying what just about every other rock band was saying at the time - we were all going to die in a nuclear war. Kurt Cobain said something along those lines when Nirvana hit. I paraphrase Kurt: "I grew up believing I was going to die in a nuclear war, because that's what every song and film seemed to be saying." I agree with Kurt in that some (not all, but some) of the Gen X nihilism came from that mass-art messaging that was proliferated in the mid 80's. But, at about the same time Red Sails came out, I was starting to move into different musical circles. I liked the album, but my sister had got me into The Doors, friends had steered me into the direction of Nick Cave and I had found Jesus and Mary Chain by myself. Suddenly, my focus was inward, not outward, and the Oils became a delightful reminisce of my early teenage years rather than a serious artistic interest.

But the delightful reminisce still resonates today, and as such, I cannot help but jump to this man's defence:

I am getting sick of the 'sellout' calls coming from the left, the right, the centre, the south, the abstract plain... everyone wants to call him a sellout.

I have this to say: Firstly, whether or not the songs did anything, at least he bothered to sing about the issues in the first place. He is in a position to 'sell out' because he, unlike his naysayers, actually did something to elevate himself(joined a rock band).

Secondly, has he really sold out? I don't think so. He's joined the democratic process. Unlike the sooks at Socialist Alliance, for instance, or the angry bogans who claim to be ostracised, or the wealthy yuppies who rest on their own nestbeds worrying about not much more than the figures, or the chattering classes who drink chardonnay at Leunig book launches, or the... oh you know who I mean... everyone with an opinion or a complaint who really does nothing about it... unlike all of them, he did something. First, he was in a band, now, he's in Parliament.

Yesterday, Peter Garrett approved a thing called The Gorgon Project, which is liquefied gas project originating on Barrow Island (though it sounds like a Dr. Evil armageddon-type world destruction plan).

"Sell out" they cry. But, fuck off. That's soft. It's so easy to yell that. "Sell out!" It's like Pavlov's dog. You see Garrett's bald head walk into a room and cry "sell out!"

But, when we read further into it, we see that his approval came only when the mining companies agreed to 28 environmental conditions, many of which referred to the safety of some of the island's fauna, such as the flatback turtle.

Yeah, it's still a fucked up mining company that will pollute the air. Yeah, it would be nicer if we didn't use gas at all. But, 6000 jobs are being created, and the flatback turtle will be safe from the probing genitals of crazed mining executives.

Herein lies my argument: By protecting the flatback turtle, Garrett is doing as much as he can. The alternative is that a less scrupulous government would give a mining company carte-blanche to do as they please as long as it generates wealth for the elite few. Garrett, by bringing to the table 28 environmental conditions, is at least doing something.

That is not selling out. It's compromising.

My defence of Garrett may have a lot to do with my teenage appreciation of his band, but, what the fuck. We grow old with our prejudices, and cling to them like kids with lollypops.

Now if you'll all excuse me, I'm going to play 'Powderworks' at full volume.

Flatback Turtle - safe, for now.

And here, my fvaourite Oils song: 'Stand In Line'.

"Malcolm Fraser: Get Fucked"... gold.

This version is fucking awesome as well:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Details

I went to the Dali exhibition on Sunday with the Missus and the Kid. The queue was very long but we bypassed this frustrating occupation thanks to my son's ability to whinge at the right moment. A compassionate security guard (yes, they exist) allowed us to use the members' queue. Lovely.

It was interesting, particularly his earlier works which were prima facie unrelated to his more famous surrealist stuff. You know, the melting clocks and so on.

What I found most interesting was my four year old son's reaction to the paintings. I'd been apprehensive. Would he be interested? Would he last the distance as I did the slow, plodding, gallery shuffle? Boy, he loved it. He didn't want to look at every painting - who did? - but chose those that caught his attention such as the self portrait pictured above entitled The Sick Child.

My son saw things, details, that at first I hadn't seen. For example in The Sick Child the first thing he saw were the long fingers. He questioned me about it. Fortunately he's still at the age where he believes everything I say and thinks I know everything (one day he'll be shattered but for now I'm happy to ride that wave) and so I blabbed something obscure which he accepted. Standing before another painting he noticed that the subject had 'pooed his pants'.

"I don't think so," I said, staring closer at the brown mess below the arse of the man on the rocks.

"I think he has Daddy."

"Maybe you're right. Maybe he has pooed his pants."

"He has!"

"Jesus Christ, he has too!"

"I told you."

"Yes but I was looking at the bigger picture."

"I was looking at the poo. Look! He's bleeding from his head."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. Look!"

"He is too."

"You're silly Daddy."

Quite. I was looking at the forest. He was looking at the trees.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Art Appreciation

I thought I'd add a discussion of famous paintings to the TSFKA cultural line up. On my recent travels, I had the pleasure of wandering through two of the best art museums in continental Europe – the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain, and the Louvre in Paris, France. Although the Louvre was impressive in size and the volume of works it contained, I preferred the Prado. I felt it had a good range of works by a large range of artists over a long period, and it was also just the right size. It was large enough to spend most of a day in, but small enough that you weren't entirely exhausted after the first floor. In fact, although I can say I have been to the Louvre, I can't say I actually saw everything. My feet were so sore after the ground level and Level 1, that I skipped the French sculpture section and went straight upstairs to the section fitted out as the palace it once was. I then met up with some Canadians I had met the day before at the Catacombs, and since they had already seen Level 2 (the "good" level), we went up to Level 3 for a quick look. They then left to find some food, and I went back to Level 2. However, by this stage, my feet and I were both utterly exhausted, and so I went on a mad rush through Level 2, stopping only to admire the paintings I recognised, fighting my way through to see the Mona Lisa, and then returning to my apartment across the road. So the next time I'm in Paris, I will go to the Louvre and start with Level 2 and then work out from there, and I encourage you to do the same!

Anyway, enough of that. This painting is one I saw at the Museo del Prado. It is by Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599 - 1660), and was painted in 1656. Las Meninas is considered Velázquez' masterpiece, and anticipated the invention of the camera with its unusual effect of capturing a moment in time. The presence of what appears to be a mirror in the background with a reflection of the King and Queen of Spain seems to suggest the viewer is one of the royal couple, having their portrait painted while their daughter, the Infanta Margarita, is looking on. The fact that most of the eyes in the painting are focused towards the viewer give further credence to this theory, as everyone in the room would be paying the proper attention to the King and Queen.

Velázquez gave his painting even more reality by choosing to paint the main subject, the Infanta Margarita, slightly off centre (both horizontally and vertically), and with the orthogonals (or vanishing point of the perspective) converging in the doorway behind her, rather than on top of her head (as, for instance, in Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper, where all the lines converge to a point on Jesus' head). This gives the painting an air of spontaneity and informality.

Interestingly, this painting contains the only known double portrait of the royal couple painted by Velázquez, who was court painter for King Philip IV. Further, it is said the King himself painted the red cross of the Order of Santiago on Velazquez's breast after his death, as he didn't attain this honour until 3 years after Las Meninas was completed. The painting was damaged in a fire in 1734, and then court painter de Miranda restored it and cut it down on both the left and right sides.

In 1957, Picasso painted a series of interpretations of Las Meninas and its subjects. Of the 58 paintings, this one is arguably the closest to the original:

This is another which is quite interesting:

I also quite like this interpretation of the Infanta:

You might also be interested to know that Velázquez had a thing for painting dwarves! The presence of the dwarf in Las Meninas suggests they held positions in the Spanish royal court. Other notable paintings of dwarves include The Dwarf Sebastian de Morra (at the Prado), and The Dwarf Francisco Lezcano, called "El Nino de Vallecas" (also at the Prado).

Any opinions on the pieces?

Sore Loser

God I hate losing to the Mother Country. If Sri Lanka, NZ or the Windies beat us, I really don't mind, and if it's India, Pakistan or South Africa beating us, I feel a little pain, but not much. But losing The Ashes? Oh, the pain, the pain... especially when that smug fucking cunt Flintoff does that arms in the air thing he does when he gets a wicket, or when that sunglass-wearing get-a-haircut noob Swann takes them.

If the Queen knights the English team again (which she did in 2005) I'll seriously have to reconsider my monarchist leanings.

I sat up late in my pyjamas with a hot milo and a purring cat by my side, hoping to watch the most incredible comeback in cricket history... what I got was the fucking ten stooges. Punter was looking great, but Hussey called him through on a risky single, and Flintoff, of all people, smashed down the stumps and Punter was out by foot. It was a rotten call from Hussey, and the commentators joked that at the lunch break, Hussey would do well to avoid Punter in the dressing room. If I was Punter I would have waited til Hussey had finished his cucumber and egg sandwich and then applied a solid mandible claw.

Once Punter was out, it was all over for another two years.

You know what we needed last night? Andrew McDonald and Andrew Symonds. Why weren't they in the team? Why? Why?


Smug cunt.


(Psycho Bitch update - the next day she told her boyfriend that my neighbour Paulie tried to have sex with her, and so the boyfriend started making death threats to poor Paulie. Paulie asked me to stick up for him, because I was a witness to the real story, but that meant approaching the psycho boyfriend, which made me nervous. Fortunately, the cops got involved, and like a good old Western, the psycho couple were told to be 'on a bus by Monday'... Small town justice. I love it here.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Psycho Bitch plus PSF Update

As I have mentioned before, I don't lock any of my doors at home. I live in Lorne, and there is no real crime here... certainly no burglaries that I know of. Oh, maybe at the height of summer when this town of 950 swells to 25,000 one might take some extra precautions, but really, it's a quiet town and we all know each other. Especially this time of year. The only danger is the pub on a Saturday night when bogans from Colac come down looking for trouble...

But last night, this happened: I came home from a dinner function in Torquay at about 9.45pm. I pulled up in my car space from where I can see into my house. I had left the lights on in the house and so I could see in. I saw a woman in my house, wandering around my kitchen. At first this didn't bother me because I have a few friends locally that know they can come into my house any time, but, I suddenly saw this woman stumbling a little, then, peering with more concentration, I realised I didn't know who it was.

I got out of the car and stood there. Just next to my kitchen is an alcove where I have two laptops... was I being burgled? How many were in there? I was suddenly angry that I was being burgled, and marched towards the house. The sensor light came on in my back yard and the woman noticed and saw me coming down the path. She came out my back door and we met in my yard. She was mid-20's, blonde, attractive, but swaying, as if drunk.

"Who are you?" she asked me, slurring her words.

"Who am I? Who the fuck are you? Why are you in my house?" I said sternly.

She looked confused, then laughed.

"Oh man," she said, "You're not Paulie!"

"No, I'm not Paulie. Paulie lives next door. Who are you?"

"Oops!" she said, laughing, "Wrong house!"

She started to move past me. She was carrying three bottles of wine, and I looked at them. They were mine... expensive wines.

"That's my wine," I said.

"Oh, yeah, sorry man..." she said, and handed them back to me. Then she laughed again and said, "Calm down, you look really tense. It was a mistake."

"I don't know who you are, and you were in my house. Yeah, I'm tense."

I grabbed the wine off her and walked into my house, all the while she was laughing and yelling out, "Oh come on, don't be like that..." and words to that effect.

I figured it was a friend of my neighbour Paulie who was just really drunk, and, after checking that nothing else had been stolen, I decided to calm down. I went out the backyard for a cigarette, and could hear her at Paulie's back door.

"Let me in Paulie!" she yelled.

"No! Fuck off! You're a psycho bitch! I want nothing to do with you!" I could hear Paulie yelling from inside his house.

"I'll suck your dick, come on, let me in," she was yelling, and banging on his back door.

"Fuck off!" he yelled.

"I just want half a gram of weed Paulie. I'll suck your dick..."

"I don't even smoke pot you psycho. Fuck. Off!" he was yelling.

I ran back inside. I didn't want her to see me in case she came back in.

I could hear some more yelling, then it went quiet.

Then my phone rang. It was Paulie from next door.

"Mate, lock your doors. There's a psycho on the loose," he said.

"I know. I caught her in my house. Who is she?" I asked.

"Mate, she's the girlfriend of Steve Hawthorn, a local guy who has a drug problem. He's been in Melboure for the last few years so you might not know him. Anyway, he met this chick at The Melbourne Clinic, and she's a junkie. She tried to stab him last week when he was sleeping. His arm's all cut up, and the cops took her, but then he dropped the charges or whatever, but now she's lost the plot again. He kicked her out of the house yesterday and she's just loose in Lorne... she wanted to suck my cock!"

"I know, I heard her. I often dream of a good looking woman turning up to my house willing to indulge in sex... but in my fantasy, it's not a crazy junkie**."

"Yeah," said Paulie, "It's been ages since I've had sex. Nine months, and remember, I told you, the last time I scored a chick I accidentally vomited on her, so, you know, I thought about letting her in... but it's not worth a headjob if you're also risking being stabbed when you fall asleep later... is it?"

"No..." I said.

Paulie went silent. He was thinking. Then, he came to his decision.

"No, it's not. Oh... but.. no, it's not worth it."

"No, Paulie. You did the right thing."

"Cheers mate," he said, and we ended the call.

I put the kettle on and turned on the cricket.

And locked all the doors.

Somewhere in my town, there is a psycho on the loose.


** In my fantasies, it's not a blonde either.

By the way, no real names were used.


In other news, Mark Latham has called Julia Gillard a 'sell-out'. Why do the media even bother to report what he says, ever?



Well, nobody else is doing Poetry Slam Friday, so I will...

And how appropriate is this? Here is the opening lines of Dylan Thomas's 'Under Milk Wood' which is about the odd goings-on of the inhabitants of a small seaside town. Given what happened last night, I can think of nothing more appropriate to post.

But wait, there's even more appropriateness! My former internet girlfriend Puss in Boots sent me 'Under Milk Wood' - a 1952 print in good condition - as a belated present for my 40th, which came in the mail yesterday.

It all falls into place...

To begin at the beginning:

It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless
and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched,
courters'-and-rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the
sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboatbobbing sea.
The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine to-night
in the snouting, velvet dingles) or blind as Captain Cat
there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock,
the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows' weeds.
And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are
sleeping now.

Hush, the babies are sleeping, the farmers, the fishers,
the tradesmen and pensioners, cobbler, schoolteacher,
postman and publican, the undertaker and the fancy woman,
drunkard, dressmaker, preacher, policeman, the webfoot
cocklewomen and the tidy wives. Young girls lie bedded soft
or glide in their dreams, with rings and trousseaux,
bridesmaided by glowworms down the aisles of the
organplaying wood. The boys are dreaming wicked or of the
bucking ranches of the night and the jollyrodgered sea. And
the anthracite statues of the horses sleep in the fields,
and the cows in the byres, and the dogs in the wetnosed
yards; and the cats nap in the slant corners or lope sly,
streaking and needling, on the one cloud of the roofs.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cultural Thursday

I may love a diet of goth-punk, but I also love my opera. Yes, opera. Bite me.

When the world ponders who are the greatest singers of the modern era (an era which I choose to define as the period between the first performance of Sibelius's Lemminkäinen Suite and the release of Oops, I Did It Again by Britney Spears) two names continually surface: Pavarotti, and Maria Callas, and for good reason. Both had voices that can rip a human in two.

There have been many great opera singers over the time, but these two stood out because they could do something the others could not... they could bring emotion into the arias. See, it's one thing to hit a note, but it's a whole other thing to hit the note and bring agony / joy / longing / pathos or whatever into it as well as be technically perfect. In fact, it is often said of Maria Callas that she wasn't techically perfect at all - there were other singers that hit the notes more powerfully or perfectly - but she could bring such a range of emotion to the works that her vocal limitations became irrelevant. To a purist, she is flawed, but to the rest of us, like, 99.9999% of the world who are not operatic purists, she's da shiz, because we can identify with her voice.

She had an interesting life. Her mum made her sing to German occupiers in Athens (which caused problems in post-war Greece), she got married young and fat, fame hit her before she was ready, she had eating and drug problems, had a dismal affair with Aristotle Onassis (he dumped her for Jacqui Kennedy) and she died in New York, mostly washed up, as a result of prescription drug abuse. Her last words were, "I need a coffee."

I met her sister when I lived in Athens. I had read her book about her famous sister and in it she mentioned she went to the same place for breakfast every morning, so I went there and had a quick chat. She must've been 80 or so when I met her, but looking into her eyes you could see some of her sister's beauty. Or rather, spunk. Callas was sex, and sass, and spunk... not so much 'beauty.

But more than anything, she had the voice. Oh god, that voice. The Gods made Pandora and failed, but their next experiment, Callas, was a success. They built her to sing one song.

Down below is Callas singing 'One Fine Day' from Madame Butterfly (sorry, a fan put it together, there's no real footage). It is, I think, the greatest operatic combination in history - Callas singing this song, as if she was born just to sing it. It's a fine song anyway, but nobody before or after Callas can do it justice.

The song is sung by the character Butterfly. See, her lover, a sailor, has left her and he promised to come back. Here, she sings that 'one fine day' she'll see his ship and he'll come back to her. Seems basic enough, but ay, here's the rub: When it's sung by anyone else, it is what it is. A song about a woman waiting for her lover to come back. But when Callas sings it, it turns on its head, because she brings the agony, and when we hear her sing it we know that Butterfly knows he's never coming back.

When she hits that big note at the end, I die a little every time. Along with that snare stab that opens 'Like A Rolling Stone', her tragic wail near the end is one of those split-second musical moments that can inspire a world.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What I have done on my holidays - so far.

One of the many famous people who have never holidayed in Preston

As some of you may know, I've been holidaying in the beautiful People's Republic of Preston this year.

Preston is home to a great many man-made and natural wonders including, but not limited to;
* Desci,
* me
* hipsters wearing black,
* junkies,
* Greek grandmothers wearing black,
* Desci.

Holiday activities thus far include;
* reading,
* drinking,
* staring thoughtfully at the garden,
* annoying the cat,
* catching up with old friends for drinks,
* more drinking.

Time well spent, I'm sure you'll agree.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Know Your Genre Product!

I've had a hard fortnight. Nothing I couldn't handle, but it was very... full. Family medical emergencies, lots and lots of work, a talkative sister staying with me for ten days, a cold, plus my band finally starting to rehearse again after a nine month layoff (our much awaited* comeback tour** starts mid September) all put together left not a minute to spare, and it was exhausting.

But on Saturday night there was a window of opportunity to let my short hair down. A bandmate had been invited to a birthday party at a nightclub called DV8 and the invitation was open to the whole band. Three of us went - cashed, liquored, narcotic'd and goth'd up.

DV8 is a 'goth/metal/punk' nightclub, and I had actually been there twice before. Once on its opening night (early to mid 90's, somewhere) and once a few months ago when Melbourne ska legends Commissioner Gordon did a one-off reunion gig, on a midweek night, but both times I was just a one-hour pop in visitor. I hate nightclubs, but if I'm forced to go to one I prefer something like DV8 because, really, what other nightclub will play Motorhead's 'Ace Of Spades'?

But I worry for the next generation of goths.

When I was in my early 20's, us goth-punk hybrids knew our music, and, we also knew how to behave. We were nerds... we were kind to each other. It's not exactly like that anymore. There at Melbourne's premier goth nightclub I detected a certain, I dunno, urgency. I also noticed a lot of beer. Beer? You're goths! Goths don't drink VB! Also, goths shouldn't be on ice, or speed. But some people there were... you can just tell. Yes, we had an ecstacy pill but that's goth-friendly narcotics, it's a happy pill, not an edgy ticking time bomb.

But it wasn't just the sense of agro in the air, it was also the music. There were three levels in the nightclub and I heard a lot of great music, but, I also heard a lot of music that made me despair for my goth-punk sub-genre. Bon Jovi's 'Living On A Prayer'! No joke. One hundred young goths on the dance floor singing this at full volume, with not even a hint of irony! What the fuck? And a pool table? What happened to my genre?

I'm getting old. The genres I knew as a young'un have blurred. Goths are listening to bogan music, bogans now drive expensive cars and collect art, yuppies drink Crownies and I haven't seen a Nazi skinhead in years.

But at least a few things hadn't changed. Goth girls still show a lot of cleavage, and they still all smoke cigarettes. Goth bars are still drastically understaffed, and you have to wait about twenty minutes to get a drink. Science students still seem to be the majority. Goth sexual mores are still very liberal. There are still many, many nerdy pleasant goths around. At least on those levels I felt at home... and I managed to pick up and score a root, so, all in all, I ain't complaining too much.

* Not much awaited.

** By 'tour' I mean we're doing a series of pub gigs that we'll get about fifty bucks for.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Yeah, what is he building in there?

What's he building in there?
What the hell is he building in there?

He has subscriptions to those magazines.
He never waves when he goes by.
He's hiding something from the rest of us.
He's all to himself. I think I know why.

He took down the tire swing from the pepper tree.
He has no children of his own, you see.
He has no dog. He has no friends.
His lawn is dying.
What are all those packages he sends?

What's he building in there?

That hooklight on the stairs.
What's he building in there?

I'll tell you one thing. He's not building a playhouse for the children.
What's he building in there?

And what's that sound from underneath the door?
He's pounding nails into a hardwood floor.
I swear to god, I heard someone moaning, low.
And I keep seeing the blue light of a TV show.
He has a router. And a table saw.
And you won't believe what Mr. Stitches saw.
There's poison underneath the sink, of course.
There's also enough formaldehyde to choke a horse.

What's he building in there?
What the hell is he building in there?

I heard he has an ex-wife in someplace called Mayor's Income, Tennessee.
And he used to have a consulting business in Indonesia.

But what's he building in there?

He has no friends. But he gets a lot of mail.
I'll bet he spent a little time in jail.
I heard he was up on the roof last night, signalling with a flashlight.
And what's that tune he's always whistling?

What's he building in there?
What's he building in there?

We have a right to know.

By-the-by, I’m off for two weeks holiday from Monday.

I might pop in now and again to be obscure at you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Swoosh 'n' Sweat

There's been a lot of talk about dirty and dangerous Asian factories over the years - sweatshops if you like. You know the ones, where the employees are overworked, underpaid and generally exploited for their labour. Nike, in particular, and their brands such as Converse, seem to cop the heat over the sweatshop issue. Are they paying their employees too little? It would seem so. Are they working in unacceptable conditions? Almost certainly. Are the fat cat industrialists and controlling capitalists making disgusting amounts of money from these operations? To be sure.

There is an argument, however, that sweatshops aren't all bad, after all, the people working in these factories are being paid more than many other workers in their homeland. And this is certainly true in some cases. I've seen several Chinese factories firsthand. The people work hard and they are paid little, but the general consensus amongst the workers was that they were happy to have jobs that could help support their families. The jobs are sought after. At the start of each year, thousands of kids come streaming into the big cities of China from the country, to hopefully gain employment in one of these places. They queue out the front. They're desperate to get in.

I would say, however, that just because others work for less, or don't work at all, or that these jobs are relatively attractive (relative to hauling human shit in buckets in some poverty-stricken village in west China) doesn't make it right to exploit workers. These factories are dangerous. I've seen 16 year old girls work at huge, dirty, loud and dangerous grinding machines which could take off hands rather easily, wearing no gloves and no eye or ear protection. I've seen old women lugging around heavy metal doors on their backs. There is no OH&S, no safety officers, no safety gear, few breaks, long hours and little hope of aspiring to anything else. It is drudgery. And then they have to breathe that air and drink that water.

But why does Nike get singled out? Isn't everything made in China? The vast majority of clothing, footwear, toys and hardware - just to name a few - are made there, in equally poor conditions, let me tell you. Is it just cos Nike got caught?

Kids, don't try this at home!

Petrograd, 24th October 1917.

Russia is in chaos as the Provisional Government, formed after the February Revolution and the abdication of the Tsar*, tries to stop the German military machine with a rapidly disintegrating army and the Women’s Battalion of Total Death**.

The central committee of the Russian Social Democratic Party (Bolshevik) are meeting in a clandestine location, planning for the final push against the Kerensky Government when there’s a screeching of car tyres, followed by a squealing of adolescent girls.

Nikolai Bukharin stirs. “Trotsky’s arrived.”

Josif Vissarionovich Stalin is less than impressed

“Oh, fuckin’ great. Trotsky’s here. Whoop-de-fuckin-do, Trotsky’s here. I mean, why are we hiding here in this God-forsaken shithole when all the police have to do is look for the swarm of girls who follow Trotsky around? Jesus!”

Lenin tries to smooth things over.

“You shouldn’t let these things bother you, Josif Vissarionovich. It’s the beard. Chicks dig beards.”

Stalin takes a closer look at Lenin’s beard and grunts – unconvinced.

“It’s not just that Vladimir Ilyich. He keeps calling me ‘sweetie’. I mean, what sort of Marxist calls people ‘sweetie’?”

The door to the room bangs open and Lev Davidovich Trotsky himself bursts in, looking astonishingly like Johnny Depp, and starts glad-handing the assembled revolutionaries.

“Comrades, comrades, what a splendid day to overthrow a corrupt bourgeois republic. Grigorii Ovseyevish Zinoviev, how’s it going? Have you finished that letter yet? Josif Vissarionovich! Sweetie! How’s the new pseudonym going – it’s ‘Stallin’, isn’t it?”

Stalin grunts again.

“It’s Stalin, Lev Davidovich. You know it’s Stalin. And don’t fuckin’ call me ‘sweetie’.”

“Whatever, whatever. Anyway, I can’t hang around here, I’ve got governments to overthrow” and with that he’s gone.

In the silence that follows, Stalin mutters “if he calls me sweetie again, he’s fuckin’ dead”.

* And possibly the Czar as well.

** I’m not making this up.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Physiognomy for Beginners

Last week, I was amazed by the uncanny similarity between Tony and Pinbacker

Above: one is Shadow Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and one is the insane captain of a spaceship full of corpses. Which man would you give your last rolo to?

Like Himmler glasses and so-called Great Depression Chic, Physiognomy is enjoying a resurgence. In February, New Scientist pointed out that Canadian ice hockey players with wide faces were more violent than Canadian ice hockey players with gaunt countenances

Can you really judge a book by its a cover? Let's find out!!

Tell me whether each person below is Liberal or Labor

The first person to get them all right or the most right will win this incredible prize: a *Charles Darwin badge, a custom badge of any person you want, and two hair buttons made by squirrels.











* As you may know, Darwin nearly didn't get a passage on the Beagle because according to physiognomy, his nose made him look lethargic. But in the end, his brow made up for this shortfall

Friday, August 7, 2009

This should get rid of those Nazi zombies, Squib.

Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school-boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

Thy beams so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long.
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and to-morrow late tell me,
Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou left'st them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, "All here in one bed lay."

She's all states, and all princes I;
Nothing else is;
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world's contracted thus;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Could Tarantino do this, huh, huh?

Crikey, Nazi zombies! This doesn't bode well!

In an earlier post, I got into a wild-swinging, free-for-all with Perseus, Melba and sundry others about the virtues (or otherwise) of filmmaker Quentin Tarantino.

Now, I’m not one to carry a grudge…

Oh, hang on a minute, I am.


In the course of prosecuting said grudge, I present Dead Snow, a Norwegian horror film yet to be released here.

Dead Snow includes;
* Norwegians!
* Nazi zombies!
* Snow!
* Beheadings!
* More Nazi zombies!!

Could Quentin Tarantino present such a delightful mixture? I think not.*

Mind you, the Man-bull is looking more and more like the walking dead these days

*Well, yes, yes he could, but he couldn’t do it in Norwegian – which is the point.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

We seem to be living in interesting times.

Breaking news that various state and federal police have launched a series of raids on house across Melbourne.

In an absolute cracker of a yarn, the Australian newspaper had the details this morning as the raids were being carried out.

A plot by Islamic extremists in Melbourne to launch a suicide attack on an Australian Army base has been uncovered by national security agencies.

Federal and state police, armed with search warrants, swooped on members of the suspected terror cell this morning, as they seek to arrest Australian nationals of Somali and Lebanese background in what will be the second-largest counter-terrorism operation in the nation's history.

About 400 police raided homes in the northern Melbourne suburbs of Glenroy, Meadow Heights, Roxburgh Park, Broadmeadows, Westmeadows, Preston and Epping. They also raided homes at Carlton in inner Melbourne and Colac in southwestern Victoria.

Now, nobody has been convicted of anything and I’m not too sure mentioning that the accused were “Australian nationals of Somali and Lebanese background” is really necessary but a couple of things should perhaps be said.

Even now, the brains trust over at Socialist Alliance is grinding up their campaign to “free the Roxburgh Park whatever” and condemning the “Guantánamo Bay conditions in which these people are being held”. The problem being of course is that those held at Guantánamo Bay were detained for years without charge, while four people in this instance have charged already.

The other point is that some people will say “oh, well of course desperate people will take up violence as a last resource and really it’s all the fault of the west anyway for invading Afghanistan”.

Well, bollocks to that.

It’s narcissistic in the extreme to imagine the rest of the world just jumps in reaction to what the west does, that millions of people are essentially puppets.

What has come to be known as “Islamist” thinking grew out of Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the battle against the Soviets in Afghanistan. It’s violently opposed to the west, not because of our vices but for our virtues; the notion of a secular, pluralist democracy is anathema to these dickheads.

I’m also a bit cross because these clerico-fascists would be rather keen on killing me and my family.

Godwin Grech Explained

I don't like my next door neighbour, Kevin. I just don't like him. One day, I found an empty XXXX stubby in my backyard and because Kevin is a dickhead from Queensland, I believed it must have been him that threw it. It musta! I stewed over it for a few days, and then went to my neighbour on the other side, Mal, who's a top bloke with ample riches and a gnarly surfboard, and said, "Mal, get this... Kevin threw an empty beer bottle into my yard."

Mal said, "Oh, What a cunt. I've always hated that Kevin bloke. He's smug and fraternises with undesirables. I've always suspected he throws empty beer bottles. Listen, you seem like a nice kid, let me help you out. I'm mates with the coppers and I'll get them to arrest him for throwing the beer bottle. Do you have proof he did it?"

"I think so," I said.

"You think so?"

"Yes," I said, "I have a video of it."

"Oh bonzer!" said Mal, and ran to the cops and dobbed Kevin in, as well as the Lorne Gazette, a fine A4 photocopied leaflet that comes out monthly, and they ran with it as their leading article, right next to the one about should dogs be on leashes at the beach during summer (an article which, by the way, is in EVERY edition of the Lorne gazette).

"Kev Throws Empty Beer Bottle Into Neigbour's Yard" the headline read!

Next thing I knew, the coppers were around asking to see the video of Kev piffing the stubby. I said to them, "No worries... it's just, I'm cleaning up the house and it's temporarily lost, so I'll look through my boxes and bring it to you tomorrow."

"Nurries," the copper said, and went to the pub to arrest a 21 year old man from Colac (this also happens weekly).

Later that night, the town held a testimonial for my good neighbour Mal, who was proclaimed a hero for sticking up for me.

I didn't attend. Instead, I altered the time and date of my video camera, set it to record, put on a Kevin wig, snuck into his yard, and chucked a fourex stubby into my own yard. I felt no guilt, none, because I was sure Kev had done it in the first place anyway.

I took the video to the cops the next day and said, "Here is irrefutable proof that Kevin threw a stubby into my yard. As you can see, the clock states it is last week, and that's not me in a wig, that is clearly Kevin, and there is him throwing a stubby into my yard."

The cop looked at me and said, "But, it's a full moon in this video. The full moon was last night. And by the way, Kevin is a foot shorter than the the man in this video."

I was then locked up in a psychiatric ward, Mal was forced to shout the bar, and Kevin went to dinner at Penny Wong's joint where they thrashed out some emmission trading concepts.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Lesbian vampire cricket players ahoy!

Useless, fat idiot goes out cheaply. Again.

After much analysis and consideration, I’ve finally worked out why England is giving us such a whipping in the cricket.

They’ve employed lesbian vampire cricket players as their new coaches.

Clearly the unholy powers of the undead give the Poms an unfair advantage; such as the power to mesmerise Australian batsman and the ability to fly (see above).

I call on the International Cricket Association to take action now to stop this foul and unnatural practice.

And how exciting is this series turning out to be?