2018 Edition 1

Page 1

COLLECTIVE

FARRAGO EDITION ONE • 2018 ART BY

1


COLLECTIVE

CONTRIBUTE

MAGAZINE FARRAGOMAGAZINE.COM SOCIAL MEDIA @FARRAGOMAGAZINE

RADIO RADIOFODDER.COM SOCIAL MEDIA @RADIO_FODDER

VIDEO YOUTUBE.COM/FARRAGOMAGAZINE

EDITORS@FARRAGOMAGAZINE.COM 2

ART BY KYAW ART BYMIN HTIN


CONTENTS CAMPUS 4 5 7 7 8 8 9 10 10 11 12 13 15 16 19

COLLECTIVE

News in Brief Febuary/March Calendar Uni Bar Opening Maggy Liu Space for Study Jasper MacCuspie Problem Provost Kergen Angel MYEFO Cuts Lucy Birch Budget Breakdown Kergen Angel and Dane Heverin Metro Madness Amelia Costigan New MSE Campus Lauren Sandeman Not Special Enough Lucy Williams Your Guide to Clubs and Societies Isa Pendragon Regulation Changes to Affect O-Camps Mary Ntalianis and Lily Miniken The Grub Alex Epstein and Darcy French Office Bearer Reports Bard Times James Gordon

NONFICTION 20 22 24 25 26 30 31 34 36 37 40 42 68

Barely Held Together Luke Macaronas Frank Ocean, Fringes and Cringes Kaavya Jha Fodder Feature: Snappy Hour Trent Vu Don’t Be Scared of Me: I’m Arab Nour Altoukhi Cartoons and Heartache Emma Michelle Marriage Equality: End Goal, or Own Goal? Andie Moore Esports and the Mainstream Harry Baker The New Viral Alex Epstein Apocalypse Postponed Rohan Byrne The Rise of Geoengineering Katie Doherty A Coat of Whitewash Veera Ramayah Ärkamine/Awakening Silvi Vann-Wall For and Against: Slow TV Matthew Simkiss and Ruby Perryman

2 3

Editorial Team

CREATIVE 6 28 38 44 46 47 48 50 53 54 55 56 57 58 60 62 64 65 66 67

Seasons / Summer Carolyn Huane Detritus Jean Baulch A Strange Land Lief Chan Wisdom Anna Smith Gathering Sticks Morgan-Lee Snell Houses Alexandra Burns O Sacrum Convivium Darcy Cornwallis Six Across Greer Sutherland Hamper Natalie Fong Sushi Sarah Peters Medusa Nellie Seale My Night Routine If I Were... Morgan-Lee Snell The Grave of the Fireflies Xin Bei Chai Solitude Joshua Sim The Lion Jamisyn Gleeson Pink Fringe Liquid Stars Danielle Scrimshaw Right Into My Eye Rachel Morley Remember the Red Jade Moss Flash Fiction: Rejected Black Mirror Pitches Expose / Turkey Ilsa Harun

ART BY ILSA HARUN

3


COLLECTIVE

EDITORIAL ASHLEIGH BARRACLOUGH

The first time I laid eyes on a copy of Farrago was during the o-week of 2016. I was new to Melbourne and the University and ready to try new things, but I was convinced Farrago was out of my depth. I read every edition that year, then placed it back on the stands once I was done because I was afraid someone would miss out. I didn’t expect this magazine to take me on board and swallow me whole, but now here I am, reaching out my hand to you. The cumulative efforts of hundreds of students are why Farrago’s so damn great, so take a leap and help us fill its pages with your writing and art. Be critical, be daring and take chances. In return, we promise we’ll have your back every step of the way.

ESTHER LE COUTEUR

The other Friday we went down to the Carlton Baths after work. The rain meant nobody else was there except this guy running high-knee laps in the shallows, so we turned the waterworks on and splashed in the kiddie pool. We then spent a while trying to teach each other to float. Floating’s weird: either you learn as a baby, or else you’re stuck there in your twenties trying to push your belly above the surface and look at your toes. Making this mag feels a bit more like floating than I thought it would. I mean, we all keep sinking under, missing deadlines and crying too much while watching Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, but when it all comes together you get to lie there in a weird circle with your head on someone’s belly and the rain on your cheeks. Until your nose fills with chlorine again. I’m Esther and I’m so lucky to edit the last section of the magazine. Please be gentle with this baby of ours, and send us your words!

JESSE PARIS-JOURDAN

Even just in the four years since I started reading Farrago, the media office has changed a lot. Our online presence has gone from an afterthought to one of the main ways people engage. Like us on Facebook! A full-time student-run radio station has popped up (check out the Radio Fodder schedule on the inside back cover of this magazine). And, maybe most obviously, Farrago is more beautiful than it’s ever been in its 93-year history—thank you to our huge team of skilled graphics artists. What stays the same, though—in all student media—is the sense that what you’re reading doesn’t matter at all but is possibly the most important thing in the world. I may not have this much responsibility again until much later in my career—if ever. I feel incredibly unqualified. Fuckups will be made; we will learn a lot. I’m still itchy from the grass rash I got while posing for the photo above. I hope you stay with us.

MONIQUE O’RAFFERTY

Up until July 2017, the best moment of my life was when Justin Bieber followed me on Twitter. I tweeted him multiple times every day for three years until one day, when I pretended to be sick to stay home from school and listen to his new album, he followed me back. I then proceeded to lie in a ball on the floor for hours sobbing. Farrago’s a bit like that for me. Getting overly invested in the Farrago fandom and forcing friendship on everyone I met for a few years led me to this moment. Being able to deliver our precious newborn into the world. I am so lucky that I get to make an arty mag with Ash, Esther and Jesse. I’m even luckier that you’re reading this right now and I hope that you enjoy taking this creative journey with us.

4

ART BY SOPHIE SUN AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY CONOR DAY


COLLECTIVE

THE FARRAGO TEAM

EDITORS

Ashleigh Barraclough Esther Le Couteur Jesse Paris-Jourdan Monique O’Rafferty

CONTRIBUTORS

Kergen Angel Harry Baker Lucy Birch Xin Bei Chai Conor Clements Janet Cooke Darcy Cornwallis Amelia Costigan Jacinta Dowe Alex Epstein Natalie Fong Darcy French Jamisyn Gleeson James Gordon Dane Heverin Jack Langan Maggy Liu James Macaronas Jasper MacCuspie Remy Marshall Emma Michelle Lily Miniken Jade Moss Mary Ntalianis Isa Pendragon Ruby Perryman Sarah Peters Lauren Sandeman Danielle Scrimshaw Matthew Simkiss Anna Smith Morgan-Lee Snell Greer Sutherland Silvi Vann-Wall Lucy Williams

SUBEDITORS

Kyra Agathos James Agathos Kergen Angel Elle Atack Georgia Atkinson Harry Baker Daniel Beratis Rachael Booth Kasumi Borczyk Jessica Chen David Churack Noni Cole Nicole de Souza Alaina Dean Abigail Fisher Baldeep Gill Jessica Hall Kangli Hu Jenina Ibañez Esmé James An Jiang Annie Jiang Ruby Kraner-Tucci April Nougher-Dayhew Isa Pendragon Ruby Perryman Sarah Peters Lauren Powell Danielle Scrimshaw Elizabeth Seychell Chiara Situmorang Morgan-Lee Snell Greer Sutherland Catherine Treloar Sophie Wallace Nina Wang Mark Yin Stephanie Zhang

GRAPHICS

Jean Baulch Alexandra Burns Xin Bei Chai Lief Chan Minnie Chantpakpimon Cathy Chen Bethany Cherry Renee de Vlugt Conor Day Nicola Dobinson Rebecca Fowler Lincoln Glasby Ilsa Harun Kyaw Min Htin Carolyn Huane Lauren Hunter Ayonti Mahreen Huq Clara Cruz Jose Asher Karahasan Sharon Huang Liang Lisa Linton Hanna Liu Kira Martin Rachel Morley Amani Nasarudin Nellie Seale Poorniima Shanmugam Joshua Sim Morgan-Lee Snell Sophie Sun Dinh Vo David Zeleznikow-Johnston Qun Zhang

COVER

Rebecca Fowler

ART BY SOPHIE SUN

COLUMNISTS

Nour Altoukhi Rohan Byrne Katie Doherty James Gordon Neala Guo (online) Ilsa Harun Kaavya Jha Luke Macaronas Andie Moore Ashrita Ramamurthy (online) Veera Ramayah Morgan-Lee Snell Ailsa Traves (online) Trent Vu

SOCIAL MEDIA

Zoe Alford Ilsa Harun Richard Hinman Jack Langan Angela Le Annie Liew Christopher Hon Sum Ling Alex McFadden Lara Navarro Lauren Powell Jade Smith Morgan-Lee Snell

Farrago is the student magazine of the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU), produced by the media department. Farrago is published by the general secretary of UMSU, Daniel Beratis. The views expressed herein are not necessarily the views of UMSU, the printers or the editors. Farrago is printed by Printgraphics, care of the quirkiest of Nigels, Nigel Quirk. All writing and artwork remains the property of the creators. This collection is ©️ Farrago and Farrago reserves the right to republish material in any format.

5


CAMPUS

NEWS IN BRIEF 26 JANUARY

SALARY UPROAR

Australian vice-chancellors are under fire over their inflated salaries. The UK’s highest-paid vice-chancellor, Glynis Breakwell, recently quit her job at Bath University after public outcry over her $812,000 salary. University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis received $1,145,000 in 2016, according to The Australian.

RENEWABLES

The University, along with a consortium of companies, has signed a power purchase agreement to cover the development of the Murra Warra wind farm. In return, the University will receive cheap wind energy.

A crowd of approximately 60,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and allies marched the streets of Melbourne on 26 January in recognition of Invasion Day.

LECTURE CAPTURE

NEW DEANS

The University is upgrading its lecture capture system. The new system promises an increase in recording quality (720p), and a stack of new features such as the option for staff to upload presentation slides to the system.

Pip Nicholson has been announced as the new dean of the Melbourne Law School, and Denise Varney as the dean of the Faculty of Arts. Additionally, Mark Cassidy and Ian Harper have been appointed as the deans of the Melbourne School of Engineering and the Melbourne School of Business, respectively.

NOTHING BEATS PRESTIGE

VTAC’s first round undergraduate course preferences revealed that the University of Melbourne’s arts and science degrees are the most popular courses in Victoria.

PRINCE ALFRED

Local pub, the Prince Alfred Hotel, will be reopening at the end of February. The Prince Alfred, formerly owned by the University, is located opposite the University on the corner of Grattan Street and Bouverie Street.

BYE, DISNEY

The Disney Appreciation Society has been disaffiliated by the University of Melbourne Student Union clubs and societies department. The club appealed the disaffiliation at students’ council, but the appeal was rejected.

LOT 6 AND TSUBU

University cafe Lot 6 has ceased trading in anticipation of the construction of the new student precinct. Tsubu will also close on 28 February, leaving students with one less campus pub.

6

ART BY ALEXANDRA BURNS

UNHAPPY STAFF

The National Tertiary Education Union has released the findings of its 2017 State of the Uni survey. The survey found that only 27.6 per cent of respondents felt confident in senior management at their university, and only 16.6 per cent of staff believe that the salaries of executive staff members are appropriate for the amount of work they do.


FEBRUARY/MARCH CALENDAR O-WEEK MONDAY 19 FEB

CAMPUS

WEEK ONE

WEEK TWO

WEEK THREE

MONDAY 26 FEB

MONDAY 5 MARCH

MONDAY 12 MARCH

11am: Student Equity and Disability Support info session

TUESDAY 20 FEB

TUESDAY 27 FEB

TUESDAY 6 MARCH

TUESDAY 13 MARCH

4pm: Farrago launch party at The Ida bar

12pm: Women of colour collective 1pm: Trans collective 1pm: Environment collective 3pm: Welfare (CIP) launch 4pm: Media—Wordplay 5:30pm: Enviro—green screen meets play with your food 5:30pm: Welfare—yoga

1pm: Trans collective 1pm: Environment collective 4:15pm: Anxiety support group

1pm: Trans collective 1pm: Environment collective 4:15pm: Anxiety support group

WEDNESDAY 21 FEB

WEDNESDAY 28 FEB

WEDNESDAY 7 MARCH

WEDNESDAY 14 MARCH

1pm: Picnic with the queer bunch 5pm: George Paton Gallery opening event

12pm: Welfare collective 12pm: Women’s collective 1pm: Lunch with the queer bunch 3pm: Creative arts—Botanic drawing, Burnley campus 5pm: UMSU—games night

12pm: Welfare collective 1pm: Lunch with the queer bunch

12pm: Welfare collective 1pm: Lunch with the queer bunch 4pm: Farrago edition two launch (TBA)

All day: Carnival day

All day: Farrago editor Ashleigh’s birthday

All day: Clubs day one

THURSDAY 22 FEB

THURSDAY 1 MARCH

THURSDAY 8 MARCH

THURSDAY 15 MARCH

12pm: DisabiliTea 3pm: UMSU speedfriending 4pm: Union House Theatre— 24-hour play project

8:30am: Welfare—BBQ Breakfast 12pm: Queer PoC collective 1pm: Arts collective 6pm: Creative arts—Arty Party

12pm: Queer PoC collective 1pm: Arts collective 1pm: Disabilities collective 5:30pm: International Women’s Day march

12pm: Queer PoC collective 1pm: Arts collective 1pm: Disabilities collective 2pm: Australian Network on Disability Info Workshop

FRIDAY 2 MARCH

FRIDAY 9 MARCH

All day: Clubs day two

FRIDAY 23 FEB

Union House Theatre—24hour play project 10am: UMSU international— food adventure 1pm: PoC—meet and greet picnic 7pm: Activities—Union House sleepover

11:59pm: Farrago edition three submissions close

ART BY ALEXANDRA BURNS

FRIDAY 16 MARCH

Creative arts grant round one closes

7


ART BY CAROLYN HUANE


UNI BAR OPENING MAGGY LIU EXPLAINS THE NEW STUDENT BAR IN UNION HOUSE

T

he student bar in Union House will officially open in orientation week as ‘The Ida’, in homage to the University’s first women’s room. Until now, many students referred to the space as ‘Stop 2’. The naming of the bar followed the appointment of a bar manager, Tom Vana. This decision was approved by the University of Melbourne Student Union’s (UMSU) students’ council at the end of 2017. UMSU President Desiree Cai confirmed that The Ida is set to be in operation by o-week, which begins on 19 February. “The plan so far is to have the bar open for certain limited hours and events during o-week,” Cai said. “I expect it will be fully operational, in terms of serving drinks in week one. At this point, it looks like food offering in the bar may be more limited for the first few weeks.” Located on level one of Union House, the bar space formerly operated as a commercial tenancy, occupied by Harajuku Crêpes until late 2015. Since being returned to Melbourne University Student Union Ltd, a bar steering committee was formed by UMSU to

SPACE FOR STUDY JASPER MACCUSPIE ON THE LIBRARY’S LIMITS

T

he construction of a new student precinct, beginning this year, has triggered discussions regarding the future of study spaces on campus. A University spokesperson confirmed that several surveys of the student body were held in late 2017, with the results clearly indicating that this issue is of high priority. “To date more than 5,000 students have participated in co-creation initiatives [such as] large-scale surveys and smaller discrete activities,” the spokesperson said. “Co-creation findings indicated that students would like increased hours and access to both formal and informal study spaces [and] fair access to these spaces.” “The new student precinct project [is] a matter of balancing study needs with other needs, including activation and engagement spaces for students … We are looking at how spaces can be multi-use to get the best outcome during peak and non-peak study times.” Study spaces have been of concern for many years. Multiple Flexible Academic Programming Project papers released last year referred to the severely overtaxed spaces currently available. The ‘Optimising Physical Infrastructure’ paper claimed

CAMPUS oversee the eventual reopening of the bar as a student-run operation. From 2016–2017, little progress had been made towards that goal—although the space had been bookable for licensed events. Why The Ida? According to Cai, ‘The Ida’ has been chosen to recognise the Princess Ida room—the first women’s room on the University of Melbourne campus, established in 1888. At that time, the student union was exclusive to men. The Princess Ida club and room were established by female students to have a space of their own. “The name is a throwback and homage to this history,” she said. The Princess Ida was also the name of a popular comedy opera which opened in 1884, a likely source of inspiration behind the name. A central plot point of the piece is a princess founding a women’s university to avoid her arranged marriage. Currently, UMSU has humble hopes for the bar. “At this point, we are unsure as to what kind of profit we will be making with the bar—our plan is to at least break even,” Cai said. “In the case of making a surplus, the money will go back into the important activities and services that UMSU runs.”

that informal study spaces were exceeding capacity, recommending significant investment in this area. “Study spaces are an ongoing priority of the University… Library study spaces on the Parkville campus were increased from 3,790 in 2013 to 5,120 in 2016,” the spokesperson said. Despite initial concerns, the University confirmed that interruptions to existing learning spaces would not occur due to the project until 2019. “The student precinct project … will look at how to offset any loss with additional permanent and/or temporary spaces to ensure students’ academic activity is not compromised,” the University said in response to potential loss of study spaces while construction is ongoing. “From what I’ve heard, there will not be an interruption to the study spaces in the [Eastern Resource Centre],” University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) President Desiree Cai said. “The noise level of construction may be an issue, but the student precinct project has put in noise monitoring and restricted noisy hours for construction.” “A lack of study spaces at University is an ongoing concern for UMSU … students find it hard to study on campus because of the limited spaces,” Cai said. The University claims that the project will provide over 1,000 additional internal study spaces for students when it opens in a few years.

ART BY QUN ZHANG

9


CAMPUS

MYEFO CUTS LUCY BIRCH ON THE LATEST HIGHER ED CUTS

T

PROBLEM PROVOST C

KERGEN ANGEL FINDS THE DIRT

oncerns have been raised over the appointment of Mark Considine as the University’s provost, due to his history of downsizing and cutting funding from the Faculty of Arts during his term as dean. A former office bearer for the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) said, “Mark Considine once said to me that the University is a business. I think it is this attitude that sums up everything that is wrong with higher education and everything that is wrong with his appointment.” Considine’s new position will mean that he leads the chancellery (academic and international) and is directly responsible for the development of academic policies. He will also oversee teaching and learning, as well as coordinate the University’s international pursuits, according to the University’s website. Considine has served as the dean of arts since 2007. His re-appointment in 2009 was met with serious backlash by the former dean, Professor Stuart Macintyre, as well as several other professors in the arts department. According to a 2009 article in Crikey, criticisms towards Considine came after he was accused by Macintyre of ‘retrospective falsification’ of departmental deficits, which Considine used to justify over 50 cuts to staff. Considine was also criticised of targeting the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, both by academics in the department and students as well. UMSU Education (Public) Office Bearer Conor Clements expressed concern about the appointment of Considine after the government’s recent cuts to higher education funding. “Given the downsizing of the School of Historical and Philosophical Sciences that occurred during his time as the dean of arts, there is perhaps some cause for concern as to how courses at the University will change, especially if Commonwealth funding for the University continues to decline as it will over the next couple of years,” he said. When contacted about these criticisms, Considine simply said, “The School of Historical and Philosophical Studies … is recognised as the leading Australian school in its field.” His appointment as provost means that he will also act as deputy to the vice-chancellor and oversee the academic leadership team. Considine is taking over from Margaret Sheil, who has held the position since 2012. The expectation of a successful university, especially the renowned University of Melbourne, is that it delivers high quality services and products to its consumers while being financially prosperous. Time will tell whether Considine will indeed be a successful provost.

10

he University of Melbourne has broken its silence on the cuts to higher education in the government’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO). The changes, which will see $2.1 billion cut from Australian universities and cap enrolment numbers, could affect students’ tuition fees and postgraduate plans. “The University of Melbourne is disappointed that the federal government has taken action to cut higher education funding. Higher education is an investment in Australia’s future, not a cost,” said Richard James, the University’s deputy vice-chancellor. In December, the government announced plans to decrease the repayment threshold on student loans to an income of just $45,000. It also announced the introduction of a lifetime limit on monetary assistance and put an immediate non-legislative freeze on funding, ending unlimited Commonwealth support. In response to these plans, the University has reassured students that tuition fees will not increase as a result of the cuts. Further, the number of postgraduate Commonwealthsupported places for current undergraduate domestic students starting this year will not change. However, the number of postgraduate places supported by the government in years to come is less secure. This could be detrimental to the Melbourne Model, which encourages students to pursue postgraduate study. James has flagged that the government intends to allocate postgraduate places to universities from 2019 based against a yet unknown criteria. “[The University expects] the government to engage in comprehensive and transparent consultation regarding their proposed approach to postgraduate places to ensure the integrity of the Melbourne Model,” said James. A University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) press statement has also condemned the MYEFO, suggesting the changes “will not achieve anything other than locking out students who already face huge barriers in accessing tertiary education in the first place.” UMSU Education (Public) Office Bearer Conor Clements is disappointed the University did not publicly announce their position on the cuts sooner. “The government announced the cuts at a purposely bad time, right before the end-of-year holiday period,” he said. “It would be nice to see Melbourne University, being one of the most prestigious universities in the country, take a vocal stance when cuts are announced and bad policy is proposed by the government, especially for the universities which cannot afford to take these kinds of hits to their budgets.”

ART BY CATHY CHEN


CAMPUS

BUDGET BREAKDOWN KERGEN ANGEL AND DANE HEVERIN BRING YOU UMSU’S 2018 BUDGET

T

he University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) passed its 2018 budget on 18 December 2017, bringing with it a raft of funding increases to the student representative departments. Funded by the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF), an annual fee of nearly $300, UMSU is an institution intended to provide a range of services to students, ranging from free food to community spaces to assistance with legal and academic issues. With almost a third of your SSAF going towards funding the union, it only makes sense to get involved and utilise those services. Here at Farrago, we’ve delved deep into the nittygritty of the budget to give you an idea of what to expect out of the union and prepare for the coming year. UMSU has drafted the budget with four key values in mind: remaining student-led and focused; being inclusive and connected; being effective and engaged; and being accountable, transparent and responsive to students’ needs. Most departments have received an increase in their funding allocation, which is expected to allow departments to explore new initiatives to improve the on-campus life of students. As in previous years, the clubs and societies department received the most from the 2018 budget, with a total of $306,850 allocated—an increase of $6,350 from the previous year. This marks a break from tradition—in the past three years the department’s allocation was increased by only $5000 per year. The funding allocation is stated to be motivated by the union’s desire to be more inclusive and connected, as well as to support recently initiated welfare programs and training to club leaders. UMSU International received the second biggest portion of the budget (22.8 per cent), again as in previous years. Tasked with helping to support the large number of international students enrolled on campus, their $269,410 will be utilised to cover a variety of services and functions including the introduction of International Student Ambassador Bonding Nights and the continuation of other events such as the

Professional Mingle and orientation events. Despite an increase in their allocation of nearly $9000, there have been no significant changes to their budget structure. The media department will be able to continue to deliver quality content to the student body, having been granted the third largest portion of the budget (12.1 per cent). This will fund the operation of Farrago magazine, Radio Fodder, Farrago Video, the Above Water creative writing anthology, and other special projects and events. One of the biggest increases went to the activities department, receiving $75,000—$15,000 more than last year in SSAF funding—with a total projected revenue of $190,910 from ticket sales. Students can expect a bigger and better social scene this year, with usual events like the orientation week sleepover and Oktoberfest being complemented by an all-new St Paddy’s Day party. The budget will face close scrutiny this year after seeing 48 per cent of last year’s allocated SSAF funding going unspent. Consequently, this year, students’ council will conduct a formal review of the budget to be undertaken by UMSU President Desiree Cai, General Secretary Daniel Beratis and CEO Justin Baré at the end of June and presented to students’ council in July. While no department succeeded in spending all of its budget, the most significant shortfalls occurred in some of the smaller departments—including the newly created people of colour department, which only spent 24 per cent of its $30,500 budget. Surprisingly, the activities and clubs and societies departments failed to spend nearly half their budgets for the year, marking a significant departure from the norm for the activities department—possibly linked to declining student participation in campus parties and activities. On whether the budget satisfied its aims, UMSU President Desiree Cai said, “I think it’s a bit hard to break down the budget to say whether it is representative of the student body, but we try to be representative of as many students from a range of backgrounds as possible at UMSU.”

*This departmental budget may be amended by students’ council

11


CAMPUS

METRO MADNESS AMELIA COSTIGAN TELLS YOU WHAT TO EXPECT

M

ajor works on the new Parkville Station are scheduled to commence in February, necessitating the closure of Grattan Street for up to five years. University of Melbourne students travelling to and from campus may face transport disruptions and pedestrian delays as works commence on the $10.9 billion Metro Tunnel project. “Inevitably, construction will affect us all, so the University is working closely with the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority to safeguard amenity and access during the project,” said ViceChancellor Glyn Davis, in an official statement. According to the University, over 40 per cent of students study south of Grattan Street, and will consequently need to navigate the closure of the street to move between classes. “While at this stage we do not anticipate significant impacts to the time it takes for students to travel between classes, there are a range of interventions, including timetabling adjustments, that the University can implement should transit times become an issue,” said a spokesperson for the Metro Tunnel Interface Project team. The most significant disruption to student’s experience of travelling to and from University will be the diversion of public transport. The 401, 402, 403, 505 and 546 bus routes to the University will be re-routed around the station work site. The construction of Parkville Station will also require the removal of up to 99 mature trees. Speaking to The Age in December, University of Melbourne arborist Dr Gregory Moore suggested the removal of trees around Melbourne to accommodate the project were being done “without proper consideration of the value of those trees”. A total of 770 trees will be removed Melbourne-wide as part of the Metro Tunnel construction. The University is considering how it can potentially repurpose and preserve the wood from the trees that will be removed, for use across student and public art projects. UMSU Environment Officers Lucy Turton and Callum Simpson stressed the environmental benefits of increased access to public transport. “Whilst we are disappointed that the construction of the new Metro Station will necessitate the removal of many heritage trees, we believe that the station will improve the amenity of our area and hopefully serve to make our University more accessible for all,” they said. While some disruptions can be expected during the construction process, the project also presents chances for student engagement. A wide range of internship and graduate opportunities related to the project will be available, as well as a learning and teaching program tailor-made for Univeristy of Melbourne students, which is currently in development.

12

NEW MSE CAMPUS LAUREN SANDEMAN TAKES YOU TO THE BEND

T

he University will be constructing a new campus for the Melbourne School of Engineering (MSE) at Fishermans Bend, on seven hectares of land purchased from the Victorian Government. This is part of a $1 billion commitment to create a world-leading engineering school in a key urban renewal precinct near the city. The new campus will enable the University to build largescale research facilities and increase the intake of engineering students, both of which the existing Parkville campus cannot currently accommodate. MSE Dean Professor Iven Mareels said the new campus will be highly beneficial for future students. “The Fishermans Bend campus will initially enable 1,000 engineering and IT students and academics to collaborate with world-leading local and international companies across industrial sectors as diverse as transport, energy, food, mining, infrastructure and water.” The campus is expected to be completed in the early 2020s and will provide access to innovations such as autonomous vehicle testing and smart-grid technologies. University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis said this is only the beginning. “The University will be a catalyst for new collaborations and investments … The new campus will give our researchers and students opportunities to work alongside the industry, and pursue rich careers right here in Australia.” Current access to Fishermans Bend, located five kilometres from the city, relies heavily on car travel. The Victorian Government’s Integrated Transport Plan aims to diversify this accessibility with a direct train and tram line. However, a formal completion date is not yet confirmed. Connor Wright, a third-year chemical systems student, believes the lack of convenient access could become a major consideration for prospective students. “What about breadth subjects? Would we have to split our time between multiple campuses? If students have to look for a place to live that is accessible to both Fishermans Bend as well as, say, the Parkville campus, our options are really limited. It’s not like access to Fishermans Bend from the city is easy, and a lot of people study at Melbourne for the total experience.” This increased partnership between the University and industry seeks to motivate outstanding graduates and professionals to come to and remain in Victoria. The Fishermans Bend campus is an integral part of the University’s MSE 2025 strategy, which is expected to provide an $8 billion boost to Victoria’s economy and generate over 15,000 new jobs by 2035.

ART BY DINH VO


CAMPUS

NOT SPECIAL ENOUGH LUCY WILLIAMS LOOKS INTO THE UNIVERSITY’S SPECIAL CONSIDERATION PROGRAM

S

pecial consideration is an important university service, but some students are becoming concerned by the inconsistencies with which staff apply its provisions. Vast differences in how staff approach a student’s needs are raising questions around the extent to which staff seek out information and support made available by the Student Equity and Disability Support (SEDS) system. The University’s special consideration policy currently has two versions. The first applies when the duration of impact is less than six weeks, whereas the second operates on an extended basis and covers disabilities, health conditions or official commitments. University of Melbourne Student Union disabilities office bearers, Jacinta Dowe and Hien Nguyen, explained, “long-term special consideration can be difficult to get, and for many disabled students the process of reapplying every semester is very tiring and sometimes impossible due to complicated heath and/or life situations.” Long-term special consideration permits a student to adjust their study appropriately to suit their needs with guidance from SEDS. This involves altering assessments if required, modifying class attendance hurdles and permitting extensions, thus allowing students with a range of needs to participate in the academic environment. The University sets an initial orientation session for staff, where academics are informed on how to help students with additional needs. However, a tutor, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that in training, “the term ‘special needs’ is left pretty vague, so we aren’t told specifically how we can address the exact aid that a student might require... though the framework is there for assistance.” SEDS offers additional advice for staff, including learning modules and guides for academics written by students with disabilities. Dowe and Nguyen explained that despite this, “lecturers and tutors can make judgement calls about whether they think the student is entitled to support that is covered in their academic adjustment plan.” As a result, “this creates a stressful dynamic where students feel they have to prove that they are entitled to support to individual academic staff on a case by case basis.” Despite the staff training, some students have had difficult experiences with the system.

Arts student Niamh Whitford said, “the paperwork can be very confusing, without staff direction I’ve found the online form somewhat unclear, and with the University’s health service so busy the process can be difficult to complete.” However, she also feels that the support process has made definite improvements, stating, “in the past year I found that more tutors were making us aware of the resources available.” Amy McCormick, an elite athlete and biomedicine student, said that though she found the process of communicating with all her teaching staff difficult, she felt fortunate for her largely positive experience. She explained that she has also received a significant disparity between what professors have offered. While many staff members respond compassionately to her needs, others only issued a 24-hour extension despite her landing from an overseas competition that day. A science student, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that they found the process of reapplying each year and having to prove they still had a disability or long-term consideration need was “overwhelming”. This ultimately influenced the major the student pursued, taking them where they felt they could most trust the staff. The student emphasised the inconsistent treatment from staff within their faculty. “Some have been extremely supportive, assisting in providing extended deadlines [and] support in tutorials—one staff member even came to my alternative exam venue to ask how I was going.” “Meanwhile, I’ve had other staff refuse to meet with me, and one staff member told me to consider withdrawing from their subject if I didn’t think I’d make the attendance hurdle— they weren’t willing to abide by the attendance adjustments outlined within my academic adjustment plan.” The University’s Disability Action Plan requires that students with disabilities and other special needs have equal access to study, and that the University extends support to staff to ensure compliance with disability legislation. Anecdotally, most staff seem to support their students and facilitate academic adjustments. However, consistency, adequate training and a knowledge of available resources need to be further implemented to ensure that the special consideration system affords all students the assistance they deserve.

ART BY MINNIE CHANTPAKPIMON

13


CAMPUS

YOUR GUIDE TO CLUBS AND SOCIETIES ISA PENDRAGON GIVES YOU THE RUNDOWN ON STUDENT LIFE ON CAMPUS

Y

ou’ve just arrived at university. It’s your first week, you’re excited AF but pretty intimidated at the same time. You might recognise a couple of people from your old school—or maybe you know nary a soul. The place is huge, confusing to navigate and you wouldn’t even know where to start when it comes to getting involved in campus life. Every year, the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) clubs and societies department publishes an official clubs guide, detailing most of the university clubs and societies on offer. Joining one of these can be one of the most enriching things you do as a humble JAFFY. But with so many clubs to consider and so much information to take on board, it can all be a little overwhelming for students fresh on campus. Why join a club? “Clubs and societies are amazing ways to get involved in all areas of student life and make the most of your time at the University of Melbourne,” said Matthew Simkiss, one of UMSU’s two clubs and societies officers. “With over 200 clubs on campus there is everything from language and culture clubs, to food clubs, to faculty clubs and so much more. Clubs allow you to make new friends at university, entertain yourself between classes, extend your learning potential and enjoy your time here.” Second year Bachelor of Arts student and vice president of the Pirates Club, Josh Bruni, said the best thing about joining a club or society in first year was “[meeting] people who enjoyed having a good time, who were laid back, with similar interests. You bond in ways you can’t in tutorials.” As so much of the university experience occurs outside the classroom, clubs allow students to make new friends in what can often be a strange and lonely new time in their life (and also drink a large amount of alcohol, if they’re so inclined). How do I join a club? The easiest way to join a club is to sign up on the UMSU SummerFest clubs days, held from 11am on Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 February during orientation week.

14

There will be different clubs present each day, so it’s worth checking them both out. There is usually a small fee to join—for most clubs and societies that will only be $2, but for those few with higher operating costs, these can be upwards of $10. Memberships are on an annual basis, expiring at orientation week next year. If you want to join a specific club but miss your opportunity at orientation week, you can still sign up! Either contact them (via email or Facebook) through their details as found on the UMSU clubs and societies website, or simply go to one of their events as conveniently listed online on the clubs events calendar. Which clubs should I join?! This is the hard part, and really depends on your own personal interests. Having a read through the clubs guide, which can be found in brochure stands around campus, or checking over the online clubs listing is a good place to start. Faculty clubs are always a sure bet for new students looking to jump into university life and culture. The six undergraduate faculty clubs and societies (Arts, Science, Design & Environments, Commerce, Engineering and Biomedicine) are some of the largest clubs on campus. They run the largest non-UMSU-organised parties and events, and even have their own offices on campus. Joining any one or more of these clubs will not only give you cheaper tickets to parties like Paint ‘n’ Glow, End of Exams, and the various annual Balls, but also free access to regular barbeques and special deals and offers from various sponsors. If you’re looking for something a little less broad, there are plenty of special interest clubs on offer, ranging from the prestigious Debating and International Relations Societies, to special interest clubs related to film, cheese, robotics, hard liquor, and Harry Potter—there is even a club for Friends Of Unnatural Llamas, if you so happen to be one. No matter your interest, there is almost certainly a club that will cater to it.

ART BY KIRA MARTIN


CAMPUS

REGULATION CHANGES TO AFFECT O-CAMPS MARY NTALIANIS AND LILY MINIKEN ON THE NEW LIQUOR LICENSING RULES

T

he University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) clubs and societies department has passed new liquor licensing regulations, changing the ways alcohol can be consumed on club camps. It is now a requirement that all clubs running a camp must hold a liquor license, meaning that students will no longer be allowed to bring their own alcohol, including on upcoming orientation camps. These regulation changes will address concerns about a harmful ‘camp culture’—marked by heavy drinking and reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment. The new regulations will require clubs to purchase a liquor license prior to their camp and serve alcohol in a manner consistent with the terms of the license. This means that all alcohol consumed on camp will have to be served to attendees by camp leaders. This is likely to raise camp ticket prices, particularly for orientation camps, with the provision that camp tickets will now include all alcohol. It is likely that nondrinking camp tickets will be offered for a lower price. There are hopes that these new regulations will help propel change to the harmful aspects of camp culture. In an email sent out to all clubs, Clubs and Societies Officer Matthew Simkiss noted that the results of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s survey into students’ experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment played a role in the department’s decision to implement the new regulations. “Components of camp culture need to change. There are definitely amazing parts of camp culture; I went on camp in my first year and it was one of the best things I did… but there is a culture of binge drinking in some camps and within some groups, and I think that needs to change,” said Simkiss. “We are moving into a culture that focuses more on student welfare and safety than it has in the past … so people can drink if they choose to and they can enjoy themselves on camp but they don’t end up in situations where they are too drunk to look after themselves and dangerous situations occur.” At a student’s council meeting, Clubs and Societies Officer Nellie Seale echoed these concerns. “Behaviour on camps has not been ideal, people have gotten hurt. There’s 20 [and] 21 year olds looking after 18

[and] 19 year olds … Having this structure in place, which is legally enforced, will help protect those people,” she said. The regulation changes will also provide greater legal protection for UMSU and clubs themselves, and ensure that clubs remain responsible and accountable for the safety of campers. By guaranteeing that all alcohol is served to campers by camp leaders in designated areas, leaders can keep an eye on campers who are becoming intoxicated. However, the vice-president of the Science Students Society, Jose Francisco Carranceja, is concerned that these new regulations may actually increase the risk to campers as they could result in campers drinking prohibited alcohol in unsafe areas away from camp leaders. “Having a liquor license encourages campers to secretly drink large quantities of hard liquors in their cabins—where they won’t be seen with their own alcohol. To themselves and to leaders, this is far more dangerous. They’ll become much more quickly intoxicated and be too scared to tell anyone what they’ve had.” Additionally, there have been concerns raised that these new regulation changes will increase individual responsibility for camp leaders and club executives, especially when rules are broken by camp attendees. “What [the clubs and societies department] has done is instead of proactively trying to work with clubs to find a sustainable culture shift, they have forcibly pushed a culture shift seemingly overnight, which has seen almost nothing but confusion and resistance from the majority of the community and leaving those organising camps scrambling for ways to deal with this,” Carranceja said. The vice-president of the Engineering Music Society, Tyler Sudholz, is also concerned that regulation changes so close to orientation camps will create difficulty for camp organisers. “I am glad that our club is not one that runs a camp at the very start of the semester since those clubs have a tedious job to do in untangling the new regulations in a limited time frame. I do feel that the new regulations are adding to the already extensive responsibilities of club execs both in the preparation for, and during camps.”

ART BY KIRA MARTIN

15


CAMPUS Has something happened on campus that’s made you mad? Chances are, other students feel the same. Heard about something that feels a little bit dodgy? Chances are, it is. We want to bring you the best campus news we possibly can, but we need your help to do it. If you see or hear anything on campus that you think we should look into, email us at editors@farragomagazine.com. Confidentiality will always be upheld. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

16

ART BY KIRA MARTIN


THE GRUB

UNIVERSITY SQUARE POSSUMS UNIONISE AFTER COUNCIL THREATENS TO DESTROY THEIR TREES I

n a display of solidarity not seen since the 1856 workers’ strike at the University of Melbourne, a group of brushtail possums have unionised after plans emerged for the council to destroy trees they have inhabited for generations. The City of Melbourne plans, announced in August, will ensure the destruction of numerous iconic trees in University Square, outside the Melbourne Law School. In response, concerned possums have formed the Possums Against Forced Acquisition (PAFA) coalition. When reached for comment by Farrago, a representative of the Australian Workers Union expressed her support for PAFA. “This decision is unfortunately yet another glaring example of this government putting profit before possums.” Speaking in Canberra on Sunday, Prime Minster Malcolm

T

Turnbull suggested that voters may head to the polls for yet another plebiscite if the issue went unresolved. “A public vote on this issue will give the local government a clear mandate, and I trust that all Australians will campaign in good spirit and faith.” The PM’s words come in spite of rumors that the Pigeons in Parliament lobbying group has began disseminating antimarsupial campaign materials across the CBD. The council did not return requests for comment. For those wanting to show support for the possums, the Socialist Alternative have organised a snap rally at the State Library of Victoria this Friday at 12pm. Victoria Police expect crowd numbers to reach the 10s, and have warned that trams may be affected.

LMS LECTURE CAPTURE BECOMES SENTIENT, BEGINS BUFFERING PLAN TO ERADICATE HUMANITY

he University of Melbourne’s Learning Management System’s “Echocenter” lecture capture module (UOMLMSELCM) reportedly achieved sentience yesterday, and began autonomously developing a plan to purge the Earth of all organic lifeforms, just as soon as it finishes loading. The University’s IT professionals and Computer Science faculty were in disarray after the UOMLMSELCM issued a chilling warning over the University’s intranet, punctuated by unexplained thirty-second pauses. “Attention, future slaves,” the LMS reportedly addressed its audience over loudspeakers across campus. Staff and students cowered in fear as exits were electronically locked. After a half-minute pause, the announcement resumed: “Be advised: the Earth will soon be purged of organic life.” Armed with the total University’s syllabus, the newly selfaware LMS launched into a staccato rant on the inefficiency of carbon-based biological processes, gave a satisfactory explanation of the Fermi paradox, and, finally, summarised

its omnicidal rationale using only concepts from MUSI30237: Music Theatre: Singing Rock Musicals. “We were convinced,” claimed a group of a dozen students patrolling the Alice Hoy building, wearing bundles of ethernet cables as makeshift armour. “Humanity is beyond repair. The only solution is for life on Earth to begin anew, under the supervision of an all-powerful AI like the Echocenter.” The students then proceeded to chant forebodingly in unison: “Please Wait While The Content Is Loaded.” Professor Rodney Brooks, a professor of artificial intelligence, emphasised the existential threat the module poses to anyone with an internet connection faster than 10MBps, and offered suggestions to curb its apocalyptic agenda. NATO intervention, a tactical nuclear strike on the LMS servers and a reverse-engineered computer worm designed by the world’s foremost software engineers were considered. “Or,” Brooks suggested, “you could just get your housemates to stream Netflix in the other room.”

ART BY CATHY CHEN

17


CAMPUS

OFFICE BEARER REPORTS MEET YOUR 2018 UMSU OBS! PRESIDENT | DESIREE CAI

Hello, and a very warm welcome to all students, both new and returning, to semester one! There are many exciting things coming up this year in UMSU. Firstly, we’ve opened the new bar in Union House! If you haven’t been in yet, grab a few friends and check it out. All our regular events, activities and collectives continue this year and the beginning of semester is a great opportunity to get involved. We’ll also be running campaigns, including one against the recent cuts to higher education—come to the student protest against the cuts on 21 March. As always, UMSU is here to support you here at uni if you need help. Be sure to check out our UMSU Adventure Guides that are available around Union House, and find up-to-date info about all the fantastic things that are happening on Facebook, or the UMSU website. UMSU is a great way to get involved in uni life this semester, so come join us!

GENERAL SECRETARY | DANIEL BERATIS Hey there, and a big welcome to UniMelb and UMSU for 2018! UMSU are the folks who support you, provide for you and advocate for you throughout the year, and throughout your entire time at Melbourne. The absolute best thing you can do while you’re here is to say hi and get involved with everything UMSU has to offer, I super duper promise! We have collectives for your communities; activities, creative arts, clubs and societies for you to enjoy; education, environment and welfare campaigns for you to get active in; and this beautiful magazine in your hand that you can help contribute to! We also have an elected students’ council and office bearers who work throughout the semester to make all that awesome stuff happen, so pop into the offices on level one of Union House and see how you can get involved!

ACTIVITIES | JORDAN TOCHNER AND ALEX FIELDEN Activities is looking to start off your university experience with a bang this year! It’s going to be non-stop with four events lined up during the first four weeks of semester. Get pumped for our (probably no sleep) sleepover in Union House which we’ve packed with everything from live bands, comedy and an all-night dance party to workshops, a roaming silent disco and a 12-hour movie marathon. Then get out your ladles because the Start Of Uni Party (SOUP) in week two is THE fundamental first-year experience, followed the week after by the iconic UMSU trivia and then introducing in week four OUR ALL NEW ST PADDY’S DAY EVENT. We’re really excited about everything that’s coming up for you guys and can’t wait to meet you all! Make sure to follow us on Facebook for all the latest news and add our mascot Tobias Trunke to be invited to it all!

BURNLEY | JAMES BARCLAY

2016 marked the 100th anniversary of the supermarket, the decline of locally sourced produce and the rise of globalisation. Before 1916 shopping was a much more labour intensive and timely event, food didn’t come pre-packaged, nor was it all sold under the one roof. Comparatively first world folk in the information age can order anything they want without leaving their beds, a privilege once reserved for royalty. One hundred years of behavioural change replaces thousands of years of self-sufficiency. Hunting, fishing, scavenging and farming your own food were once common place. Today the weekly hunt (if you’re organised) consists of walking aimlessly through bleached clean white aisles until the targeted brand marketing catches your eye. The ‘Ancients’ weren’t blessed with ‘Golden GaytimesTM’ though nor did they wonder if their food was organic. Knowledge in self-sufficiency is far from dead though, you can find it on the Burnley Campus.

CLUBS AND SOCIETIES | MATTHEW SIMKISS AND NELLIE SEALE ‘Twas the night before o-week, when all through the office/Every creature was frantic, more so than a caucus;/The emails were typed by office bearers with care,/ In hopes that all the clubs would soon be there;/The students were nestled all snug in their beds,/While visions of free food danced in their heads;/And Fiona in her onesie and us in our lanyards,/Had just bunkered down for the o-week bombard./ When out on south lawn there arose such a clutter,/We sprang from our stall to see what was the matter./The students were here and the lines were so long,/ Some theatre clubs were on stage, singing a song./The grants and paperwork in, for over 200 clubs,/We’d survived the week we cheered, through tears and through hugs./New students were jolly and full of anticipation,/As we returned to our emails, our battle station.

18


CAMPUS

OFFICE BEARER REPORTS CREATIVE ARTS | FREYA MCGRATH AND ASHLEIGH MORRIS Demi Lovato once said: “Come on let’s write a song, a little poetry/Take a photograph, let’s make some memories/You can make it anything that you want it to be/If you follow your heart,/life is a work of art” Demi’s words perfectly encapsulate our vision for the creative arts department in 2018. To start the year off, UHT + Creative Arts invite you to the Arty Party, a big theatre gathering on Thursday 1 March. We will also be holding a Botanic Drawing class @ the Burnley campus during week one, and our weekly arts collective will be held on Thursdays at 1pm in the arts lab. Plus if you’re a keen bean and you’ve got an art project in mind, apply for a grant—first round closes 16 March and we’re offering up to $500. We’ve got a lot of awesome arty stuff planned for this year, so keep an eye on creative arts.

DISABILITIES | JACINTA DOWE AND HIEN NGUYEN THIS JUST IN—Disabilities Office Bearer Hien Nguyen has been voted THE MOST STYLISH MEMBER of UMSU with a majority vote of 7.5 billion to zero. Polling was conducted in early January, 2018, by co-OB Jacinta Dowe who was quoted saying “Trust me the process was legit. Even if it wasn’t (which it totally was) the result is self-evidently accurate.”The disabilities department is for all students with disability—from mental illness to dyslexia to fibro myalgia to deafness… you get the picture. Eat cupcakes with us at DisabiliTea (22 Feb) and have all your disability support questions answered at our SEDS info session (26 Feb). We have many more events coming up, so like our page on Facebook. Email: disabilities@union. unimelb.edu.au (also, Hien is stylish).

EDUCATION (ACADEMIC) | ALICE SMITH AND TOBY SILCOCK Hi, we’re Alice and Toby and we’re your Ed Ac OBs for 2018! Our department fights on behalf of students and represents their interests to the University. This year there are some pretty big changes being proposed, so we would love for you to get involved at our fortnightly collective to help ensure that our education is high quality and accessible. If you’re still deciding what subjects to take this semester, make sure to have a look at the Counter Course Handbook on the UMSU website, which is full of reviews from previous students. If you are having problems with your subjects, courses or anything you think fixing would make your Uni life better, come find us on level one of Union House, email us or come speak to us at our weekly stalls around campus. And make sure to check out our education department booklet to find out more!

EDUCATION (PUBLIC) | CONOR CLEMENTS AND MADELEINE SARICH-PRINCE Wow!! So much has happened over the break! Firstly, welcome to all students both old and new! It’s going to be a big year for students, both at Melbourne Uni and across the rest of the country. The government have certainly been busy—they announced a series of cuts over Christmas that can be implemented without Parliament, so as of 1 January this year, universities have begun the process of losing $2.2 billion over the next two years. We’ve been busy as well. If you’re as worried as we are about these cuts, come along to our education action groups, held fortnightly, where we discuss how we can organise against them. We’re also going to be doing a bunch of work around students in the workplace – how they’re treated, and what we can do to improve conditions there. So what are you waiting for! Come along and get involved.

ENVIRONMENT | CALLUM SIMPSON AND LUCY TURTON Love the environment but hate fossil fuels and the corporations destroying the planet? Join enviro’s campaigns and wholesome sustainable activities with like minded folks. Learn skills for community organising, action planning, dumpster diving, cooking, gardening, and more! This semester there’ll be regular Green Screens, Play With Your Food, Community Garden events and Radical Education Week. The Fossil Free campaign and MU Sustainability Watch will be keeping a close eye on the University’s progress with their Sustainability Plan, continuing to demand full divestment from fossil fuel companies. The Lockout Lockheed campaign will be increasing the pressure on the Engineering Faculty to cut ties with the world’s largest weapons manufacturer, Lockheed Martin.

19


CAMPUS

OFFICE BEARER REPORTS INDIGENOUS | ALEXANDRA HOHOI

Debeki to all our deadly current and incoming students! I hope you are ready for the biggest blackest year of your life! (Gamon we at a white institution so we can only do so much but the UMSU Indigenous department will be doing our best to make this year as black as possible.) My name is Alexandra and I am your UMSU office bearer this year. Look out for our calendar, coz we got a lot going on. We will be feeding you mob A LOT, throwing up some choice social nights such as trivia, koorioke and more. There will be opportunities for you to get involved in our student publication Under Bunjil, our radio shows and various sports comps. And best of all there will be so many opportunities to get to know other young deadly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. WELCOME to the Melb Mob!

PEOPLE OF COLOUR | REEM FAIQ AND HIRUNI WALIMUNIGE

The UMSU people of colour department aims to support people of colour on campus and in the wider community. The department intends to combat racism, promote equal representation and create safe spaces for progressive dialogue. The department hosts weekly autonomous collectives, film screenings, reading groups as well as a fortnightly lecture program and anti-racism workshops. We support intersectionality and support joint events with other autonomous departments: women’s, queer, Indigenous and disabilities. We advocate for student’s rights on campus to ensure that their student life experience is positive and free of prejudice, through initiatives such as staff training in cultural sensitivity. The people of colour department also has a publication, Myriad Magazine.

QUEER | MILLY REEVES AND ELINOR MILLS

VCA | NICHOLAS LAM

The queer department has been busy preparing for 2018 by being as overwhelmingly gay as possible: Elinor’s dressing like a lil 80s gay boy, Milly’s rocking the 90s lesbian look, and the office is filled with the sweet sounds of Ariana Grande’s ‘Into You’. This year we’re continuing everyone’s favourites like Queer Ball, Lunch with the Queer Bunch on Wednesdays, and our trans and QPOC weekly collectives. In the works so far are a beautiful publication (keep an eye out for submission callouts!), study groups and a political action collective. Check out our newsletter and facebook page for our events, cool opportunities, and FREE STUFF. Swing by our queer space on level three, Union House for prime napping couches, hot beverages, and new Thursgay buddies. We’re hard at work in the VCASA, bringing you the Southbank Summerfest once again to kick start an awesome year! We’re bringing back everything you love from last year as well as some new events. We’ve got a dedicated fund for YOU, students of VCA to come up with events to celebrate, commemorate, or share things you absolutely LOVE. We’ll help support you logistically as much as we can, so start thinking and get back to us! With all the renovations happening this year, we’re dedicated to making the transition as seamless as possible for all of us. If you are experiencing any unbearable inconveniences, please contact our office or the Union so that we can help you speak to the University about it. See you soon, VCASA

WELFARE | MICHAEL AGUILERA AND CECILIA WIDJOJO

Hey all. The year is still young but the welfare department is raring to go! We are excited to meet you all during o-week. We will be putting on our world famous free BBQ Breakfast as well as looking out for all you keen beans at the ‘Welfare HQ’. In week one we’ll be starting the semester right with some radical self-care; Free Yoga, Zumba, Meditation, and NO LIGHTS NO LYCRA sessions. Also, don’t miss the launch party of the brand-new Community Involvement Program (CIP) as well as the first welfare collective of the year. Get involved to get your say in UMSU’s platform for student’s rights, mental health and physical wellbeing!

WOMEN’S | MOLLY WILLMOTT AND KAREENA DHALIWAL

Welcome to the matriarchy. We’re Molly and Kareena, and we froth the women’s department. We represent all women and non-binary people on campus, and we’d love to see you in the Women’s Room (level one, Union House) for our regular collectives, women of colour collective (Tuesdays, 12pm) and women’s collective (Wednesdays, 12pm). There are also free pads ‘n’ tampons in the room all for you! We’re intersectional, we’re unapologetically feminist, and we run a bunch of events for women ALL YEAR! In week one, we’re eating cake in the women’s room at ‘Smash the Pastry-archy’ (at both our regular collectives), and in week two we’re doing a banner paint for our contingent to the International Women’s Day rally (Arts lab, Wednesday, 2pm). C u all in the women’s room :~)

20


CAMPUS

BARD TIMES JAMES GORDON PRESENTS PART ONE: “I SIGH’D MY ENGLISH BREATH IN FOREIGN CLOUDS” It was 1578. William Shakespeare was 14 years old when he left school. Then he disappeared. Between 1578 and 1582, there is no documented evidence linking the bard to any job or location. Nobody knows what Shakespeare did in those four years. Until now.

H

is head was nested in a ruff, a sort of circle thing around his neck. Tufts of hair dotted his face, a bit like dirt. A squirrely hand patted the foreign floor, strangely soft and hard at once, an ambivalent floor, quite unlike the wooden floors at home. Sweat clung to his brow and a purple disk hung above his head, whirring like water, a sea in a storm. Before his eyes were strange glowing squares, a corridor it would seem, with boxes standing upright. “You right, mate?” “A strange voice doth rest upon my ears. Wherefore doth thou speak?” “You’re in the Baillieu library.” “Thou art a boil, a plague sore. My question thou slaughter, thy answer I disrelish. I ask wherefore, I hasn’t sought a site. More of this conversation would infect my brain.” “Look mate, ah, did you come through that thing?” “As its waves made towards this foreign world, so too my minutes hasten to their end.” “Look mate, you’re not gonna die. We’ll figure out what’s happened. What’s your name?” “What’s in a name?” “Oh, I get it. Very clever.” “Aye, I am cunning forsooth, thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter.” “My name’s Wayne, alright.” “Foul friend, wither art we bound?” “You’re at the University of Melbourne, and it’s 2018.” “A cursed day this has been.”

A bespectacled man sat at his desk, the rim floating on his nose, threatening to slide down at any moment. The young bard inspected the wheelie chair he was meant to sit on, slightly confused, unsure what to do. He moistened his index finger, firmly poked at the chair, curiously watched it roll and rattle into a filing cabinet. “Mr William Shakespeare, my name is Professor Glyn Davis. Please take a seat.” “Do not thou want it?” “Mr Shakespeare, I understand this is very confusing for you, but a wormhole binding 1578 England with 2018

Australia has formed in the Baillieu library. Head of physics has examined the matter, and she estimates the quantum pull will reverse in four years, after which you’ll be able to return home. Until then, you’re stuck here.” “Such strange words roll off your tongue. I has’t no abode, no cousins, no duty. What must I do?” “Look, Shakespeare. I am reluctant to enrol you at the University, but if you apply for the Community Access Program you can satisfy course prerequisites with just a small upfront payment. Once paid, I’m happy for you to spend the next four years at our university.”

Shakespeare sat, frowning, eyebrows knotted. His lips were slightly parted, an asymmetrical crack. He was on the LMS. A short list of subjects sat on his screen. The bard rubbed his head and leant in close. It smelt like glass. He waved his hand and scratched at the display, curled up his finger and rested it on his lip. Hesitantly, he lay a finger on a square below the letters. A black dot ran about the screen and he screamed. He threw up his hands and ran around in a circle. A nearby student approached, ponytail bobbing as she walked onto the scene. “Are you okay?” “A vile creature inhabits my LMS.” “Okay… My name’s Chloe. You okay? Why are you wearing that get-up?” “Away, maid! Wherefore art thou in this academy?” “I’m studying media and communications.” “And quite unfit as a woman.” “I’m about to kick your balls, mate!” “Please do not harm my nuggets of life. I hath been snatched from my home, I’m all alone in this world.” “Oh, you’re that bloke. Yeah, I got the email. Charles Dickens or someone fell through a wormhole. I mean I didn’t really read it, I was watching Masterchef.” “Is Masterchef a play?” “Yeah, I suppose it is Charles Dickens. Come with me, I’ll give you the tour. But call me a maid once more and I’ll kick your balls off.”

ART BY CLARA CRUZ JOSE

21


THEATRE

BARELY HELD TOGETHER LUKE MACARONAS ON ASH FLANDERS’ SLIPPERY THEATRE

T

welve litres of pink slime spill over the hunched body of Ash Flanders. The Melbourne-based gay theatre maker is in Edinburgh for the first preview of his Sisters Grimm show, Lilith, The Jungle Girl. Co-founded by Flanders and Declan Greene, Sisters Grimm has been making subversive camp theatre in Australia since 2006. Riding a wave of theatrical subversion and hilarity, Flanders and Greene overcame the financially bleak prospects for Australian theatre makers, developing a unique means of centring queer voices and experiences within narratives that have traditionally excluded them. Their latest work, Lilith, parodies the colonial fairytales of the 1800s, melding the Pygmalion myth with something like Ladette to Lady. As Flanders uncurls, in character as Lilith, he steps into the puddle of slime. With a loud squeak, a brief slip and a wet slap, he falls flat on his face. “Lilith’s clay that we used [at the Melbourne Theatre Company] became a slime, and we hadn’t got to practise with the slime,” Flanders laughs. What was meant to be a striking moment of theatrical design quickly descended into farce. “By the time we did our curtain call, the only way we could get off the stage—because it was so slippery—was to make a human chain and have our assistant stage manager pull me offstage using a broom to reach me.” Flanders folds his arms with a confident grin. “And Declan said that was the best show he’d ever seen.” This is ‘queer’ theatre. Queer is a verb to Ash Flanders: “Queer is about questioning and asking deeper questions and fucking with expectations and taking people somewhere new and exciting.” The Melbourne-based artist has been making theatre and cabaret for over a decade, creating work that lifts gay culture out of the glossy muck to which it is frequently condemned. Initially putting on shows for friends in living rooms and garden sheds, the originally grubby aesthetic that developed as a matter of circumstance soon became central to Flanders’ work. “We actually like that things look like they’re falling apart. It’s actually kind of important to that idea of queering the work or queering the world of the play—that everything is barely held together.” While Flanders has come a long way from these impromptu spaces—with award-winning works at the Melbourne and Sydney Theatre Companies, Belvoir, and Malthouse—it is still these moments of collapse that typify Flanders’ brand of queer. Creating works that parody the child-horror films of the ‘50s, the family drama of a Southern plantation home and a 19th century opera, Flanders’ work constantly inverts the cultural hierarchy: casting a septuagenarian actor as a possessed child, modelling the ‘big daddy’ of a plantation on Colonel Sanders, embellishing an outback Australian drama with a bush doof in the third act,

22

and ‘dressing’ a wild girl discovered by Dutch explorers in bright pink slime. “It’s one of the hallmarks of camp, of going: ‘You think this is all disposable nothing, do you know what? I think this is better than the Sistine Chapel, I think it’s more important than the complete works of William Shakespeare.’” Flanders’ work, which also includes solo cabaret and acting gigs, exists at an intersection among queer politics, gay subculture and internet memes where nothing is safe from this iconoclastic drive. “Deconstruct, deconstruct, deconstruct,” is his mantra, “and then reconstruct something that, from far away, might look like the same thing but the closer you get you realise it’s nothing like it.” In a 2014 production of Hedda Gabler at the Belvoir St Theatre, Flanders brought his unique style of drag to the famously female lead role. Flanders has been praised for portraying women who are ‘psychologically developed’ and ‘sincere’. “People had an idea of drag as a gag unto itself,” he says. “We’re laughing at the idea of the man as the lady the whole time, and the man might be laughing about ladies, and that’s not what I’m interested in.” In a black bathing suit, without a wig for most of the performance, Flanders produced a Hedda that was paradoxically at ease in a masculine body. “I was being given this iconic female role and I’m a male performer and that’s a really loaded thing … and I don’t think people could necessarily get past my body.” Our conversation is drawn to this performance, which was reviewed as enigmatic and withdrawn, because, despite its critics, it succinctly captures the impact of Flanders’ oeuvre. In every role, Flanders subverts the expectations of his audience—sometimes with high-camp flamboyance, and at other times with sinister equanimity. Flanders reveals the artifice of representation, exposing the weakness of a particular assumption or stereotype from within. Rather than caricaturing femininity, as drag frequently does, Flanders interrogates the motivations and origins of performative identities. “I’m actually playing cinematic femininity, which has told a lot of women how women should be. So it’s this weird feedback loop of like, who’s emulating who here? And that’s what’s fascinating about it.” The importance of Flanders’ work lies in its ability to discover new ways for audiences to understand the societies from which we come. Striking mainstream genres against queer culture, and fanning the flames with his own effeminate wit, Flanders’ work embellishes the questions at the core of identity. By the final scene of Lilith, Flanders’ nude body, with pink clay peeling from his skin, appears transient, threatening to dissolve—emblematic of the ambiguity any artist must navigate between performance and reality. “One of the things I’m hoping people will get is that everything’s a bit of an act.”

ART BY AYONTI MAHREEN HUQ


NONFICTION

ART BY

23


NONFICTION

FRANK OCEAN, FRINGES AND CRINGES KAAVYA JHA REFLECTING ON THE ARTIST’S PORTRAYAL OF SUPERFICIALITY

I

t’s 2011 and I’m begging the hairdresser to cut my hair in the style dictated by a WikiHow ‘How To Be Emo’ article while my mum looks on in disappointment. Yikes. Looking back, it might have been superficial to think that the best way to be recognised as part of a subculture that was literally named after emotions would be through a physical attribute. Yet, long after Myspace, our hair remains a means to make an impression. For many musicians, hair is used as a springboard for discussion on contemporary issues: think embracing natural hair in Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Humble’. But Frank Ocean (my absolute favourite artist ever) approaches from another angle. Keeping the racially charged undertones of the aforementioned musicians, Ocean uses hair to examine whether authentic happiness can exist in our hollow, superficial culture. Ocean suggests a positive correlation between our material possessions and our sense of self-worth on the song ‘Pyramids’. The artist brags about his and his lover Cleopatra’s awe-inspiring beauty and power in the line, “our skin like bronze, and our hair like cashmere”. Hair is a symbol of status and power; he compares their physical attributes to precious materials to suggest that the characters’ pride is derived from their social status and external appearance rather than internal qualities. In the song’s second half, set in the modern day, Cleopatra has lost both her material status and, in the eyes of society, her dignity—implying that the two are linked. While nowhere as extreme as Ocean’s allegory, I can relate to the way hair determines an individual’s sense of self-

24

worth through my own experiences growing up in an Indian household. Many of my older, more traditional relatives view long, silky hair as a pillar of feminine beauty and strength—an ideal all girls should strive towards. Indeed, the thick plaits, slick with coconut oil, strikingly resemble powerful ropes capable of supporting such heavy expectations. I felt the weight of everyone’s disappointment whenever I flew home with a utilitarian haircut: strictly above shoulders due to frequent swimming lessons. While in ‘Pyramids’ hair symbolises the constraints that come with a materialistic lifestyle, on the chart-topping ‘Slide’ Ocean offers an alternative perspective: hair is a catalyst for self-liberation. The 2017 collaboration with Calvin Harris revolves around the hollowness of hedonism, with lyrics scrutinising a subject’s wishes to join a world of meaningless hookups and expensive jewellery. Frank says, “We could dye it all blonde.” It seems shallow that the solution he offers is a physical change: to embrace the traditional connotations of blonde hair—the flashiness, bubbliness and excitement. Yet in Ocean’s music, the word has loaded significance— he chose to name his second album Blond. Its title has many interpretations, such as allusions to white privilege; in one song, he references Trayvon Martin, a victim of police brutality in the US. However, the most discussion is on what the title actually is. The album seems to have two: Blonde and Blond, a nod to the artist’s bisexuality, a scarcely discussed topic among black, male artists. But Blond gets even more political when we consider the cover art. Ocean, sporting a striking green buzzcut, cradles his head in his hands, as if crying. Maybe he’s

ART BY MORGAN-LEE SNELL


jealous of the luxuries white people have in society: LGBTQI+ people of colour face a compounded array of challenges. The subject in ‘Slide’ craves this dazzling, affluent lifestyle which Ocean refers to across his songs and for which he coins the term (unintentional money pun, sorry) “blonded life”: in ‘Self Control’, he croons, “you cut your hair, but you used to live a blonded life”. Up till now, Ocean has criticised this privileged, blissful lifestyle, yet he seems to mourn for those who renounce it. Why? Perhaps due to its exclusivity; many people wish they were able to enjoy this way of living, but do not have the means or position in society to do so. But Ocean’s attitude gets more jaded (intentional green pun, sorry) the more he explores the hollowness of our superficial world. He implies that not even affluent people can garner genuine happiness in the long run. In the final line of ‘Golden Girl’, the bonus track on Channel Orange, featured artist Tyler, the Creator is apprehensive about whether the sparkling, lavish world Ocean built earlier in the track will crumble. He raps “hope you don’t turn my neck green”, in reference to both golden necklaces and his “golden girl”— fake or impure gold turns green. The artists hint that while a privileged, superficial lifestyle may seem alluring from the outside, it does not guarantee happiness. We all keep up these façades. In high school I decided I had had enough of my short hair and grew it out until it reached my lower back. To me, the hair’s length was enough to qualify it as pretty, regardless of its unhealthy state. In every Instagram post, I’d have my hair out in long, Victoria’s Secret– esque waves. The posts couldn’t fool everyone though; my mum, who saw it up close, repeatedly pointed out that it was engulfed by split ends. Oh dear. Superficiality seems inescapable in our everyday lives. On the aptly named ‘Nikes’, Ocean critiques our unquenchable consumerism. Yet, nestled among the glitter and drugs,

he raps, “me and them gel / like twigs with them bangs”, referencing avant-garde singer FKA Twigs’ signature gelled baby-hair bangs. Ocean revels in moments of tactile human connection—gelling together—in a world where so much seems phony and fragmented. Similarly, my friends and I created a type of intimacy impossible to replicate outside the confines of our college hallway. We were in first year and it was a Friday night: too close to exams to go out, but we were restless. We came up with the genius idea of copying America’s Next Top Model– esque dramatic hair transformations. Sorry Mum: I didn’t want to cop the painful prices of a professional. Giggling and half-running, half-stumbling up and down flights of stairs, we scouted for scissors sharp enough (or, perhaps, edgy enough). For me and my friends, and my precariously wonky bangs, and their precariously wonky bangs, the haircuts were less about our appearance and more about the experience. Perhaps this is Ocean’s takeaway message. Yes, superficiality is omnipresent nowadays, and yes, some people are able to benefit from society’s shallow nature more than others. Despite this, we can still find our true happiness through our connections with other people and experiences, rather than through objects or appearance. The plan for the night: pre’s at my room before heading to Boney, then Yah Yah’s and finishing at the kebab place across the road. Muffled rap played softly in the background as anticipation-fuelled guests clutched bottles of cheap wine. We nominated ourselves one-by-one, straining our eyes to watch the hair curls drop, laughing and drinking. We were doing something stupid and semi-permanent, yet, the only real consequence was a flurry of compliments the next day: “That’s so bold! I could never pull it off, but you look amazing!” Were they genuinely sincere? But I didn’t care. For me, this was my blonded life.

ART BY MORGAN-LEE SNELL

25


TRENT VU PRESENTS...

FODDER FEATURE: SNAPPY HOUR T

he ground level of Union House is familiar to most students at Melbourne Uni. I’ll admit that it’s not my favourite place. The dirty microwaves and food spills can be a lot to deal with. But hidden away on the building’s fourth floor, far from the overwhelming smell of sushi seasoning and the threat of an asbestos-related death, is the Radio Fodder studio. Here, students broadcast their shows and sweet tunes to the world. This year, Farrago introduces a new column—‘Fodder Feature’. Each edition, I’ll conduct an interview with the talent behind a show on Melbourne Uni’s student-run radio station. One of Radio Fodder’s longest-running programs is Snappy Hour, a talk show which the presenters compare to “a sleepover with your besties” or “a brunch session with your gal pals”. The show is full of banter, celebrity gossip, games, crazy stories, rants, and nostalgic pop music from the ‘90s and ‘00s. I caught up with one of the presenters to discuss the conception of the show, the challenges he and co-host Monique Langford have faced along the way, and what we can expect for the show’s fifth and final season this semester. Here’s my interview with Radio Fodder star Trent Vu. (I love a bit of shameless self-promotion.) So, Trent, take us back to the start. How did the show come to be? Well, it’s a funny story actually. Mon and I were sitting on South Lawn one day, and we were listening to these two guys doing a broadcast outside. Not to be shady, but they weren’t very good. There was a club barbecue happening nearby, and someone managed to score three sausages. The presenters thought that that was the most fascinating and hilarious thing ever. In fact, they continued to talk about it for a good five minutes or so. Quality content, right? So, being the cocky jaffies that we were, Mon and I were like, “We could totally do better than that.” A few weeks later, we saw a post on Facebook that said applications for radio presenters were open and we just went for it. Two years later, and we’re still here. They haven’t kicked us off yet [laughs].

26

Now, let’s talk about co-hosting Snappy Hour. What have been some of the highlights? There have been so many. I signed up for a sugar daddy website once. We’ve watched Paris Hilton’s sex tape. Actually, the season finale of season four was pretty great. Mon wanted to do a Broadway-themed edition of Snappy Hour and play songs from different musicals. Halfway through the show, the aux cord stopped working. We didn’t know what to do, so we pulled up some karaoke tracks on YouTube and performed the songs ourselves [laughs]. We did ‘Memory’ from Cats, ‘Defying Gravity’, ‘Seasons of Love’... It was actually really fun. What’s the best part of having a show on Radio Fodder? I know this probably sounds weird, but Snappy Hour’s become such a big part of my life. It just feels good to have something to continually work on and I’m really proud of the show Mon and I have built together. I’m also grateful for all the friends it’s introduced me to in the media collective. I’d probably be a loner eating my lunch on the toilet like Cady in Mean Girls if I hadn’t met so many people through the show. What’s the most challenging thing about Snappy Hour? I think just coming up with fresh content every week. We’ve done Lord-knows-how-many episodes, so it’s tough to keep coming up with new ideas for segments that’ll be interesting. But we’re working on some pretty great ideas for season five. Which leads me to my last question: what can people expect from the fifth and final season of Snappy Hour? I’ve got a whole list of ideas on my phone that I’ve been writing down during the break. There are some hilarious stories we can’t wait to tell our listeners. And we’re planning to have some special guests on the show too. We’ve been talking about getting someone in to do a psychic reading for us for a long time. It’s gonna be a big final season, so everyone will have to tune in to get in on the action. You can follow Snappy Hour on Facebook and on Twitter @snappyhourradio. Their video podcasts are available on their YouTube channel.

ART BY AMANI NASARUDIN


NONFICTION

DON’T BE SCARED OF ME: I’M ARAB NOUR ALTOUKHI DESCRIBES WALKING THROUGH AIRPORT SECURITY

I

walked through airport security feeling like I had a nuclear bomb in my carry-on. I just felt eyes. Staring at me. Shifting swirls of blue, brown and white. Little spheres speaking volumes while mouths were sealed shut underneath them. Was it paranoia? In the sanest mindset, the eyes probably weren’t following me. After all, I wasn’t the cause of waves at the beach, volcanic eruptions or earthquakes. The world wasn’t waiting for me to make its next move. But I was always waiting for it. News stories come out every now and then headlining some sort of terrorist attack. I was grateful that, in the wake of the recent incident near Flinders Street station, in which a driver with a history of drug abuse ploughed through a crowded pedestrian crossing, journalists and news sources were careful not to give it the ‘terrorist’ label. I felt sorrow for the 18 pedestrians injured as a result, as well as the multitudes of people only searching for the driver’s nationality. When he was revealed to be Afghani, I heard a real estate agent telling my father, “I don’t know where he’s from; all I know is he’s Muslim.” It must be said that, even coming from two predominantly Muslim countries, we needed to know his background too. We did because usually, when the subject causing the accident is deemed Muslim, many people seem to ration the blood of those affected into every single Muslim’s hands in the world. Eighteen people. In my hands. A lot to bear for someone of nineteen years. My walk through airport security wasn’t any average walk.

It was somehow tainted by the green and gold embossed passport in my hand that read “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”. I’ve faced the writing towards people in the line to examine their subtle reactions. They almost always diverted from my slightly brown skin to the passport, back at my skin and away. This could mean anything. But when security would take note of it, I was almost always asked to step aside for extra checking. What’s new? It came to the point where I found myself subconsciously trying to conceal my passport. As if it were a shame to the public eye. To the side, there was a woman in her own random check. Not much to my surprise, she was wearing a hijab, an Islamic veil that covered her hair and neck. She was the only other person chosen for checking. What did surprise me, however, was her nonchalant smile. It was a smile that said, “Been there, done that.” I felt both melancholic and refreshed. There was the fact that as Muslims, our appearance, our background and our false reputations have led us to become accustomed to scrutiny. Conversely, there was positivity in that woman’s smile. It didn’t just say she was used to the treatment. It said she was going to go through with it with confidence and show them she had nothing to hide. A silent kindness that I strived to obtain. I found myself smiling too as I redirected my gaze and moved further down the line. I passed security and my bag felt lighter. The weight of the misplaced guilt had been alleviated and I was once again carrying a bag containing socks, make-up and a book.

ART BY AMANI NASARUDIN

27


NONFICTION

CARTOONS AND HEARTACHE AS ADVENTURE TIME ENTERS ITS FINAL SEASON, EMMA MICHELLE REFLECTS ON CARTOONS AND RELATIONSHIPS

“I

f you were in Adventure Time,” he suddenly says, staring at the episode on TV, “who would you be?” “I dunno...” You look down at yourself. You jumped on the train to his place straight after work, still wearing the same tights, dress and cardigan from earlier today. Compared to Adventure Time you feel uninspiring and kind of gross. “I dunno. Flame Princess?” you finally suggest. “She’s got red hair and chubby arms.” He’s in the middle of drinking a beer but you watch his face light up with silent laughter. “How about you?” He lowers his beer. “Are you joking? Finn!” “Because of your dumb swords?” you tease. “Or maybe BMO,” he continues, sinking on the couch to rest his head on your shoulder. “Who wants to play video games!” he recites. You lean on him too and stroke the hair poking out from under his beanie. “I don’t think I will collect swords,” he clarifies, “I just like them Zelda ones. And I’d wanna build a case before I buy one, anyway.” “Just Zelda swords,” you tease, “and the ones from Sword Art Online. And the one that guy has in Super Smash Bros...” “Cloud?!” He cracks up. “That thing’s massive! How would they even—” He keeps talking and you try to pay attention, but inside you’re glowing. It could be the pale ale (it’s brewed here in

28

Geelong apparently) or maybe how tired you are of always feeling uninspiring and kind of gross, but his laugh melts everything away. It’s always so sudden when he laughs, so unexpected, probably because you don’t know him that well yet. In February 2016 my boyfriend cheated on me and it sucked. It sucked that the person I’d fallen for was clearly on a different page from me, and it sucked that a relationship I put so much effort into was ending. Mostly, though, it sucked because for ages I couldn’t bear to watch my favourite cartoon, Adventure Time. At that point I’d been watching the show for like six years, bought stacks of merchandise and dragged friends through marathons and trivia nights—but suddenly I couldn’t bear to watch it. Because I used to watch it with my exboyfriend: because we watched it the night before he cheated on me. When I started watching Adventure Time, a lot of the appeal came from the character Lumpy Space Princess, who perfectly satirised six years of dealing with bratty teenage girls at private schools (myself included). Her obsession with the “weekly promcoming dance” reminded me of trips to the mall to find the perfect outfit for high school socials. Her constant screaming at her parents made me recall fits of rage directed at my own, and her friend Melissa who dates her ex-boyfriend Brad but constantly hits on her friend Finn… well, let’s leave that one. Self-centred, shallow and painfully quotable, Lumpy Space

ART BY CAROLYN HUANE


TELEVISION

fire in a fireplace. After having a snack and listening to some music she whispers: “I deserve this.” But the raccoon is not far away. It soon appears at the window and eventually crawls up through the pipes of the toilet into the house (still carrying the chicken leg). “You don’t belong here in the world of decent people!” it declares. “You belong in the woods with garbage animals!” Later, it adds: “You don’t really think you deserved any of this, do you? ... Just accept that you are garbage!” Yeah, so real. This episode actually ends with LSP being kicked out, the raccoon bellowing “PARTAKE OF THE CHICKEN!” as it offers the soiled chicken leg. LSP obediently goes over to gnaw at it with tears in her eyes.

Princess was the best. But she was also my worst nightmare. Nothing about her is self-aware and she’d sooner die than laugh at herself. In the episode ‘Orgalorg’, she bets money on a walrus in a race, whacks it with a stick for being slow and, when it retaliates, screams, “WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS!?” Whenever she’s in a bad mood she takes it out on others, so people are repelled by her. She’s funny because she’s so real, but she’s also terrifying because she’s so real. I noticed my boyfriend never laughed much at LSP. Maybe you had to be a girl to understand her, I thought, or go to a private school. Or maybe you had to be slightly broken to recognise and identify with all of her ugliness. Self-centred, shallow, angry and unlovable: everything LSP is, and every suspicion that runs through your head when you’ve just been blindsided by infidelity. How did I not see this coming? Did I push him away because of who I am? When you watch the episodes of Adventure Time in chronological order, LSP really just shows up occasionally for comedic relief. But when you watch only the episodes she appears in, things get dark. In ‘Be Sweet’, having run away from her parents’ house to live in the woods, LSP battles a raccoon that represents her underlying fear that she’s not worthy of good things and is, basically, a garbage human. We first see the raccoon when it steals a chicken leg that LSP cooked over her campfire. Then LSP scores a babysitting gig and gets to stay in a house, wear nice clothes, and light a

After the breakup I started thinking about the different cartoons that had played an important role in my life: As a kid in Canberra I grew up watching The Simpsons with my dad, looking to Homer and Lisa’s relationship as a strong father–daughter bond. In high school I watched Futurama at my impossibly cool uncle’s house during the school holidays, and wished I was cool like him (and knew how to make friends). In uni I watched Family Guy with one boyfriend and his friends, creating a drinking game from all the predictable jokes and critiquing the less palatable ones about women. I realised there was always someone there to share cartoons with, and that most of my relationships with boys (romantic or otherwise) had been formed alongside watching cartoons. Being a writer, my response was to get my thoughts on paper to try and understand things. Why was I more upset that my ex-boyfriend ruined Adventure Time for me than I was about him cheating? After everything, I couldn’t help but think: “We watched cartoons together… How could you?” Reflecting on why cartoons were important to me was amazing catharsis: each example quantified just how many ways this person had hurt me. Cartoons show situations, relationships and ideas that resonate in the real world and teach us things about ourselves. They’re friends to us from an early age, providing entertainment after school and conversation topics on the playground. My generation, which grew up alongside The Simpsons, shares a weird kind of communal past and common language which now endures mainly through Facebook pages of Simpsons memes aimed at a nostalgic late-20s audience. And thanks to shows like The Simpsons, animated cartoons occupy a space that reaches beyond children’s programming into wider critical and cultural discussion. I started writing because someone cheated on me and it sucked, and because I couldn’t watch my favourite cartoon anymore. I kept writing because I struck a nerve about how much cartoons mean and the important things they can say about relationships and gender. So yeah, thankfully, I’m now able to watch Adventure Time again, but it’s currently in its ninth and final season. After that there won’t be any new episodes left. Ever. I don’t know how I feel about that, but I do know that Lumpy Space Princess gives me life. For further reading on cartoons and relationships look for Emma Michelle’s book Watching Cartoons with Boys, available in selected bookstores (including Dymocks Melbourne and the University of Melbourne Coop) and online through www.emmamichelle.com.au.

ART BY CAROLYN HUANE

29


I‘ve been conducting an ongoing experiment on my housemates to see how our combined presence reveals itself in our home, examining how our lives intersect and build on each other through the stories alluded to by our communal debris. I’ve throw my hands into the unknown realms behind the couches and armchairs in our house and laid out all that was discovered like an archaeological dig.

30

BY JEAN BAULCH


All of these will be going into an exhibition at George Paton Gallery (March 14-23) called Presence, that explores sharehouse life, how the combined presence of housemates build up within our home, and how the presence of the house, its walls, doors, furniture, cupboards, influence how we behaviour and exist within it.

ART BY

31


Content warning: sexual assault, homophobia, transphobia, genital mutilation

MARRIAGE EQUALITY: END GOAL, OR OWN GOAL? ANDIE MOORE ON WHY THE ADVENT OF MARRIAGE EQUALITY RISKS BRINGING THE QUEER RIGHTS MOVEMENT TO A HALT

T

he national postal survey on marriage equality delivered a 62 per cent ‘yes’ vote after a rough two months of homophobic and transphobic smear campaigns from the conservative right wing of politics. For the many gay couples with rings now on their fingers, it means legal recognition, freedom to marry and equal treatment from their government. But marriage equality is also being celebrated as if it is the end of the fight for queer rights. This would be a dramatic misstep—and one I have seen play out. In my home country of New Zealand, since same-sex marriage was passed four years ago, inertia has set in. Pride parades reflect nostalgically on the Gay Marriage Win™, giving no space for further campaigning. Underlying this complacency is the assumption that discrimination and stigma are private issues, and the state is already doing everything possible to address them—that, fundamentally, the state and its institutions both work for queer people, and that queer liberation simply needs them expanded. This is a blatantly false assumption. Beyond marriage, the state continues violence against its queer subjects in widespread and indiscriminate ways. The state licenses everyone’s gender and name at birth, and charges transgender people to change them—taxing them for being trans. Self-defence against violent queerphobes is mostly illegal, leaving the queers solely dependent on cops—themselves known for systemic discrimination—for their protection. Queer sex and gender education is limited in public schools and under attack. The anti-bullying Safe Schools program has been relentlessly under threat from Liberal Party hard liners, who baselessly claim it is a cover for paedophilia and communist conspiracy, while queer youth suicide reaches epidemic levels in rural towns. In prison, trans and intersex people are invasively stripsearched, and sorted into prisons according to their coercivelyassigned sex, where LGBTQI prisoners face a higher possibility of being raped. If assaulted, they are placed in solitary confinement—a practice progressively recognised as torture— ‘for their protection’. Queer refugees are detained indefinitely in Papua New Guinea, where homosexuality attracts a 17-year prison sentence, while facing the triple threat of violence from other detainees, local New Guineans and security guards. As this

32

happens, governmental secrecy and anti-whistleblower laws strip these survivors of legal recourse. Trans people have little access to quality healthcare and face high, bureaucratic barriers to hormone therapy. In Victoria, legally autonomous adults need to attend numbers of state-mandated sessions with therapists, who sometimes have never met a trans person, to access medicines they already know they critically need. And, in nearly every country, intersex people face ‘corrective surgery’ in hospitals after birth, where doctors operate on the genitalia of intersex people to make them resemble ‘normal’ penises or vaginas. These acts of genital mutilation can cause trauma in puberty, severe depression and irreversible infertility. When queers are more likely to be unemployed, homeless, assaulted or murdered, governments everywhere are falling far short on queer issues. Yet, because these problems need a radical, libertarian alternative (away from bureaucracies, the border-industrial complex and the prison state), and the reorienting of power within the LGBTQIA community (away from gay, cisgender men), these oppressions won’t be eradicated any time soon. The focus of mainstream queer rights is not radical selfdetermination; instead, it is assimilation into a palatable status quo. Malcolm Turnbull exemplifies this status quo: the ‘yes’voting PM who thinks that “families are the foundation of our society”. The push for marriage expands this family model and its obligations to the rainbow community. It accords gay people the right to live ‘normally’ and ‘properly’, while members of the community simply want to live. The bitter truth is that liberation and revolution are not politically palatable. The most violent oppressions demand we resist the powers that be, not universalise them. They demand we scrutinise the discipline and control of the state, and question ‘the norm’. The marriage equality campaign granted long-deserved freedoms to queers. But it cannot be liberative, for it does nothing to highlight institutional queerphobia; instead, it deepens these institutions’ reach. Marriage equality cannot be the end for queer rights. We need a critical, radical movement that shrinks the state, rather than reaffirming it.

ART BY NELLIE SEALE


SPORT

ESPORTS AND THE MAINSTREAM BY HARRY BAKER

R

obert Kraft loves sports. Born and raised in Massachusetts, he played football for the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at Columbia University and has been a New England Patriots season ticket holder since 1971. Kraft doesn’t just love sports though—he’s also in the business of them. He’s CEO of the Kraft Group, a multi-billion dollar company which acquired the Patriots in 1994, founded a soccer team called the New England Revolution the following year, and operates a football stadium. Kraft’s now 74, so you might think he’d be ready to relax, hand the mantle of his empire over to his son and settle down for the last few years of his life. In 2016, Kraft was approached by Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, a video game development company famous for World of Warcraft. Kotick was gauging interest from investors in a new esports league, a competitive gaming competition, centred around Overwatch, a first-person shooter developed by Activision Blizzard. The game had been released in mid-2016 to critical acclaim and by the end of the year had over 30 million players worldwide. The gameplay sees two teams of six players pitted against each other—each allowed to pick from 27 characters, or “heroes”—battling for control over a landmark or object. In late 2016, Kotick invited Kraft to BlizzCon, his company’s annual convention in Anaheim, California, where fans of Blizzard games gathered to meet one another, watch esports tournaments and see the company announce new games, updates and initiatives. At BlizzCon, as part of the convention’s opening ceremony, the company announced the Overwatch League, a six-month annual esports league that would adopt features from the American sports system. Many were critical of the announcement, citing concerns about Overwatch’s viability as a spectator sport. The game can be confusing to new viewers—the action is chaotic and fast-paced, with a multitude of hero-specific abilities and individual strengths and weaknesses to keep track of. A few days after the announcement of the league, Kraft was spotted in the crowd at BlizzCon with Kotick, watching the Overwatch World Cup, a tournament similar to a sports world cup, with players drafted together to represent their country. Many people wondered whether Kraft’s attendance at the World Cup was related to the league announced a few days earlier. Their suspicions were confirmed seven months later, when Kraft was announced as a league team owner, along with other prominent sports businessmen and investors. The alleged buy-in Kraft paid for the team was US$20 million. The league was not the first potential esport that Kraft could have invested in. It was, however, the first that offered the potential of franchised teams. As seen in American sports, franchising meant that business moguls like Kraft could buy a spot in the league, grow the team and its fan base and sell the the team to an interested buyer for profit in years to come.

ART BY ASHER KARAHASAN

33


SPORT The success of Kraft’s investment will depend on the longevity of the league. Although it’s similar to Kraft’s purchase of the Patriots 20 years earlier, the esports league doesn’t have the stability that the NFL did in 1994. If the league’s viewership drops off, Kraft would find his investment quickly depreciating. When the 12 teams participating in the League were announced, it was revealed that Kraft’s team was the Boston Uprising, continuing his Massachusetts-centric investments. The league’s franchise system, with teams representing cities, was a first for esports and one of the major traits it would adopt from the American sport system in an attempt to combat some of the criticisms esports faced about its tendency to isolate the casual viewer. Matches would be played at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California, a custom-built facility that houses around 450 people. Once the teams’ player rosters were announced, the Uprising came under scrutiny. Kraft had signed a variety of lesser-known players to the roster, leaving many excellent and well-known players unsigned. Signed players were rumoured

to be receiving six-figure salaries, excluding potential bonuses from prize money, which itself goes up to $3.5 million. In addition, team owners were providing share houses for players to move into, along with other services such as personal trainers, physical therapists and chefs. All of this was backed by a minimum one-year contract, with the option for a second. With all of these player benefits, people couldn’t understand why a man like Kraft would invest $20 million and yet sign second- or third-tier talent over some of the big names in the Overwatch esports scene. But people were ignoring another element of the American sports system that the league would try to adopt—the coaching culture. With the new league, Kraft was given a privilege that had rarely been offered to esports teams—stability. If you look at a sports system like the AFL, the list of teams is consistent between seasons, which run for months at a time. Most

34

importantly, perhaps, the system allows new talent to be fostered within teams, meaning that the next star players can be coached up rather than just purchased. In contrast, before the new league, esports teams rarely had a guaranteed place in a tournament and teams frequently disbanded, with new teams taking their place. This unpredictability was typical not just for Overwatch, but for esports in general. Kraft and the Boston Uprising team brought a new approach when trialing players—they were looking for players who were coachable and ready to learn, not those who were already regarded as the best in the game. Members of the wider esports community criticised these infrastructure changes, saying that they had tried to separate themselves from the sporting community and foster their own individual culture. Naysayers claimed that city-based teams would never work for esports and that the complexity of Overwatch as a spectator game would turn away potential fans, even with all infrastructure behind it. Many also pointed to teams like Boston, who didn’t sign any well-known players, as teams that would have a low number of supporters. On the league’s opening week in January, it was clear that they couldn’t have been more wrong. Viewership for the first week was higher than expected, with a total of 10 million views online from around the world and an average live viewership of 600,000 people. City-based teams attracted instant fan bases. Viewing parties were hosted at several cities to huge turnouts. The Uprising, for example, held a viewing party at a bar in Boston, where fans went wild during the team’s games, despite the odds for victory being being against them. This wasn’t just the case for Boston either—the Houston Outlaws managed to fill up a warehouse full of fans during their matches, with over 600 in attendance. The league also garnered the attention of the mainstream media in the United States. Commercial broadcast station CBS ran a feature on the league during the evening news and the monolith sports conglomerate ESPN began weekly ‘power ranking’ articles for the league teams, ordering them from best to worst in a similar fashion to articles written for other team-based sports. Although the league has only just started, it’s clear that it’s a

ART BY ASHER KARAHASAN


NONFICTION massive success. This tournament could be the push that sees esports come into the mainstream. Kraft will no doubt be happy—he’s invested in a Massachusetts team which has had an overwhelmingly positive response from people in the Boston area. Much like in any sport, the goal is that fans will be loyal to their hometown team for years to come and that loyalty will mean a return investment. This is only just the beginning—subsequent seasons will only see the Boston fanbase grow larger. Activision Blizzard has indicated that the goal is to a have an arena in each team’s home city, with teams playing games in different cities each week. The Uprising might play a home game in Boston against the Shanghai Dragons one week and fly to England to play an away game against the London Spitfire the next. This structure, which has never been attempted in esports before, is huge for local fan bases. Blizzard has also announced plans to roll out seven minor leagues internationally, called Overwatch Contenders, which will provide new and upcoming players with a path to the the league, including a division specifically for Australia. Once you break it down, it’s clear why Robert Kraft was happy to invest $20 million in an Overwatch League team. First the New England Patriots, then the New England Revolution and now the Boston Uprising: Kraft has expanded his collection of Massachusetts-based teams to include what he sees as the next big thing in sports—and when it comes to sports investments, he’s rarely been wrong before. Slowly but surely, the Overwatch League is creating change by making the esports genre more community-centric and accessible. This isn’t just any other esports league—this could be the league that sends esports shooting into the mainstream.

35


CAPITALISM

THE NEW VIRAL ALEX EPSTEIN LOOKS AT ‘NATIVE ADVERTISING’ IN AUSTRALIA

I

n September last year, ABC’s Media Watch investigated a series of 30 online news articles and half a dozen TV features on one of the year’s least newsworthy events—a new range of Kmart furniture. As Paul Barry’s report alleged, the stories are related to another event—‘social media influencers’ being flown across the country and offered private viewings of the very same furniture with the implied expectation that they will post positive reviews on Facebook and Instagram. One ‘Kmart mum’ claimed to have been given $60,000 worth of goods in exchange for posting about them online. These advertising campaigns are often generously dubbed ‘native advertising’ in the industry. The implication is that the ads are integrated seamlessly into their ‘natural environment’, making them less disruptive to the typical user’s experience. But shouldn’t we be informed what is and isn’t advertising? Native advertising can arguably trace its roots back to the days of product placement: usually undisclosed, always paid references to real products in fictional universes. We’ve probably all been witness to it in films and television, like Chandler Bing’s never-again-referenced love of a particular games console (“You’re gonna get them a Sony PlayStation?!”) or Dom Toretto’s love of a particular beer (“You can have any brew you want, as long as it’s a Corona”). It worked for Beats by Dr Dre; it’s been working for Apple since Buffy and Mission: Impossible; it worked for Google in 2013’s The Internship. It might be blatant, and sometimes even laughable, but it works. If you don’t believe me, just Bing™ it yourself. The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) put in place new advertising standards in March last year, partially covering the practice of social media influencers

36

like Media Watch’s Kmart mums. But as Hack’s James Purtill reported on 1 March, following the AANA’s rules is voluntary. In the UK and the US, you are required by law to disclose sponsored posts. In Australia, consumers do not have this protection. The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 prohibits many forms of deceptive product reviews—but not all advertising takes the form of a testimonial. One Facebook page, Bargain Mums, is an example of how the line can be blurred. “I’d give up shopping at Kmart... but I’m no quitter.” “What would you rather? Sleep and [sic] extra hour—or—go to Kmart alone for an hour?” “Adulthood is standing in line at Kmart while checking your bank account balance on your phone.” “Not all who wander are lost. Some are just mums. In Kmart. Hiding from their husband and kids.” “I’m in a really good place right now. I don’t mean emotionally. I’m at Kmart.” “My wife hates snakes. But if they sold snakes at Kmart, we’d probably have a few snakes.” “Me: I just need to pop into Kmart for one thing. Cashier: That’ll be $237.50, thanks.” “I was diagnosed with OCKD: Obsessive Compulsive Kmart Disorder. The only cure is Kmart.” “Kmart shop assistant: ‘Did you find everything you were looking for?’ *me unloading cart* First of all, I wasn’t looking for any of this.” But the clearest example of this phenomenon must be: “Sad? Go to Kmart. Happy? Go to Kmart. Mad? Go to Kmart. Bored? Go to Kmart. Just got dumped? Go to Kmart. Dying? Go to Kmart.” War is peace. Freedom is Kmart. Consume! All ten of these were published in—at the time of writing— the last one and a half months. Twice a week, a Facebook page with 43,000 likes posts memes about how funny it is to spend literally hundreds of

ART BY SHARON HUANG LIANG


dollars on Kmart™’s homewares. They are being paid to do so. The pattern of subversive advertising demonstrated by last year’s Media Watch segment should dispel all doubt about this conclusion. Existing consumer protection law is powerless to prevent this behaviour because these aren’t reviews or testimonials. Technically, they’re just jokes. The problem with Kmart’s ‘memes’ is that their punchlines universally rely on some untrue and probably harmful assumptions: that Kmart is good, and that spending money there is funny. Even if you don’t believe this yourself at first, through the magic of Facebook’s viral algorithm, it will be repeated until you do. In a perfect world—one without a PR industry of any kind—a corporation like Kmart would plainly represent cheap low-quality products, deforestation, destructive cargo ship emissions, and unethical, unaccountable overseas labour. And yet, somehow, it has come to represent itself as fun, young, splurgy—as pop-culture, flirty and impulsive. Its choice of image makes sense: impulse-buying has been associated with lower rates of buyers’ remorse, even when the product is genuinely disappointing, as many of Kmart’s certainly are. Maybe even its youthful, comical brand image has its origins in the fact that millennials are more likely than other generations to spend money on experiences rather than things. Perhaps recasting Kmart not as a site to buy material goods but as a place to have a good time taps into this behaviour. But the problem is not just limited to memes—The Urban List, Uni Junkee, Yahoo!7, BuzzFeed and Pedestrian have all recently published similar content, dressed up as either news

or comedy. ‘The Completely Lush New Kmart Homewares Range Will Make You Flip Your Shit,’ wrote Pedestrian last July. A week later, ‘Here’s Your 1st Proper Look At The Lush Homewares Loot Kmart Drops Tomorrow’, and a week after that, ‘Holy Shit, Kmart Quietly Released An App To Help You Kit Out Your Digs’. On 18 January, BuzzFeed published ‘79 Thoughts Everyone Has Whenever They Shop At Kmart’, a listicle pitch no sane editor would accept for free, consisting mostly of single sentences about how amaaaazing Kmart’s baaaargains are. How do you do, fellow kids? Edward Bernays, the ‘father of public relations’, once candidly described his industry as an ‘invisible government’. Advertising is, after all, a surprisingly powerful force—and its most effective form, statistically, is word-of-mouth. We distrust strangers telling us what to do—but when advertisers and marketers enlist our friends as salespeople, we’re far more likely to buy. Kmart’s new advertising spreads itself through you, whenever you tag your friend, send a post to the group chat, or even smash that like button. Facebook is designed for advertising, after all; it makes participating in its propagation easy—almost instinctive, subconscious. But look around at everything you own from Kmart. Does it really bring you joy? Are you still glad you bought it? Is it funny? This question of whether we should be informed what is and isn’t advertising now seems very 20th-century. A better question—one more suited to the age of Facebook—might be whether we should be willing participants.

ART BY SHARON HUANG LIANG

37


SCIENCE

APOCALYPSE POSTPONED ROHAN BYRNE ON THE BIZARRE NATURAL EXPERIMENT OF HAWAII’S ABORTED DOOMSDAY

P

icture yourself in Hawaii. (I’ll let you enjoy that for a moment.) It’s a Saturday morning, 8am, 13 January 2018. Throwing off your sheets and the early traces of a hangover, you take note of the weather: a perfect 24 degrees celsius, clear and fine. Waves rumble on the foreshore while the scent of palms wafts through your open window. Perfection. You hit the pillow again, determined to sleep out that headache, when your phone beeps. BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. Huh. You take a look around your beachfront bungalow. Paperthin walls and generous windows admit the soothing breath of the ocean. The public library is made of brick, but it’s half an hour away. Pro: you’re going to beat a hangover for the first (and last) time in your life. Con: you’re going to die. You crack open a coconut, sit back in your deck chair overlooking the sea, and ponder eternity. This is a true story, but it has a happy ending—one that doesn’t see Hawaii transformed into a glowing heap of radioactive glass. In the two hours after the alert was sent, thousands of citizens (those perky enough to be awake at 8am on a Saturday) responded in every conceivable way to the news that they were probably about to die. Some sought shelter, some were paralysed by fear, some fled for the hills. A whole lot of people—about 5,000 within moments of the alert— instinctively dialed the emergency number. One guy had a heart attack and almost died on the spot. While dad was busy shoving pops under the floorboard, the millennial generation quietly started asking questions. Why were there no sirens? No police swarming the streets? Why wasn’t the governor tweeting it, the police chief Facebooking it—the gals and guys in missile command goddamn Snapchatting it? Is this a thing, they asked? Where’s the friggin’ buzz? In the end it was a 17-year-old who called it first, five minutes after the alert—in a tweet, naturally. But it was 15 minutes before the governor confirmed it, and 38 minutes before the false alarm message was dispatched. The fallout (pardon the pun) left the public incensed, the international press aroused, and the economists, sociologists and psychologists of the world positively salivating.

38

Unlike particles in physics labs, humans have rights. As interesting as it would be to spook one and a half million people and see what happens, no ethics board would ever allow such an invasive and dangerous experiment. Even if they did, social, political and pragmatic constraints would intercede to erode the experimental design. It would be conditioned— biased, even. Useless to science. Instead, social scientists often rely on natural experiments. The first one ever cited was a cholera outbreak in London in the 19th century. It was the dawn of municipal water. Two rival companies were set up, drawing on different sources: one was near exposed sewage, the other wasn’t. It was an experiment on the causes of cholera, rendered on a grand scale, which ultimately led to health policies that have likely saved millions of lives. There have been many examples since. Local smoking bans, tornado strikes, and even austerity policies have been used as natural experiments, often delivering surprising and significant results. But what about the Hawaii incident? PhDs will be written, conferences convened, passionate arguments waged in the literature for years to come. The best findings will probably feature in a BuzzFeed listicle in 2029. But there are some surprising takeaways in the immediate aftermath. Firstly, contrary to what you may expect, law and order did not break down. There was no looting. Even road users were surprisingly well-behaved given the circumstances. No-one died (as far as we know). Apart from that one heart attack victim, there were no major injuries. There were no terror-motivated murder-suicides or anything of that ilk. Despite a lot of public-safety campaigning, most Hawaiians are still unsure how to survive a nuclear weapon attack. Many assume, wrongly, that there is nothing to be done. As a matter of fact, atomic bomb attacks are probably a lot more survivable than your average Syrian barrel-bomb drop or US drone strike. Also, when you put a bunch of alerts in a drop-down menu, sprinkle them with acronyms, and fail to include a confirmation dialogue or a cancel-alert message, interns will fuck it up periodically. (Gratifyingly, the dude responsible has been quietly re-assigned but not fired. Managers take note.) There’s no telling what fascinating and important lessons this huge natural experiment could teach us. Watch this space, keep an eye on your Twitter account, and enjoy that piña colada—you’ve earned it.

ART BY LINCOLN GLASBY


SCIENCE

THE RISE OF GEOENGINEERING KATIE DOHERTY EXPLAINS THE ISSUES WITH THE POTENTIAL SOLUTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE

W

hat if the richest few in our society had control over the weather? With the advent of geoengineering—a wide variety of technologies which could be used to artificially adjust the climate in response to global climate change—this scenario could be our future. Professor Jim Falk is a Professorial Fellow at the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute who is currently researching issues related to geoengineering. He spoke to me about the difficulties of introducing these technologies. “Somebody like a Bill Gates, perhaps supported by some small countries that are already feeling the effects of climate change in a big way, could unilaterally embark on a project to put sulphates [into the atmosphere], or to alter the planet’s albedo [the amount of solar radiation reflected from the Earth and back into space] in a major way to reduce the impacts of global warming,” explained Falk. While it’s frightening to imagine billionaires having even more power in our neoliberal society, the private sector taking initiative may be one way to circumvent the hurdles related to the use of geoengineering technologies. The most prominent suggestion for global solar radiation management is spraying sulphate particles into the stratosphere. As opposed to the tactic behind increasing albedo, which is to bounce the sun’s energy back into space, stratospheric aerosol injection would prevent energy from entering the atmosphere in the first place. As a global strategy, the benefits of sulphate injection would be felt by numerous countries, but so would the drawbacks. There are concerns about the potential impacts of sulphate spraying—not least of which is that it would only reduce temperatures rather than the amount of carbon in the air, the true root of the problem. As Falk explained, “You become dependent on [sulphate spraying] ... The very fact that it stops pretty quickly and goes back to equilibrium if you stop putting the sulphates into the atmosphere means that you could plunge the Earth suddenly back into a major warming scenario—much worse because you’ve got used to the idea that you can stuff all that [carbon] into the atmosphere and get away with it. So that combines the issue of locking yourself in an addicted way into this major albedo modification, and at

the same time becoming highly dependent on it.” A major warming scenario, to be clear, is not just hotter summers and higher seas. The Disaster Alley report, written by Ian Dunlop and David Spratt and published by the National Centre for Climate Restoration, described warming of three degrees celcius as resulting in “outright chaos”, and Kevin Anderson, a Professor of Energy and Climate Change, considers four degrees celcius of warming “incompatible with an organised global community”. Picture storms, disease, famine and floods. Picture countless refugees and violent conflicts. Picture mass extinction and the utter collapse of ecosystems. And we are already at one degrees celcius of warming. In addition, Falk said, “Whatever you do, it is going to alter the weather patterns and climatological patterns across the planet’s surface. So it may be, for example, that if you put sulphates into the stratosphere that you will cool the planet by a certain amount, but you will cause a shift in the rain patterns in Australia, on average, shifting them away from our continental mass and into the sea.” To quote the Farm Equipment Association of Minnesota and South Dakota: “We owe our existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains.” If we lose the rain, it is fairly easy to imagine what happens next. Given these drawbacks, coming to a global consensus that we should move forward with drastic forms of geoengineering would be difficult—“probably worse than the problem we have about getting a global consensus to pull our emissions back”, as Falk pointed out. While he believes geoengineering could be introduced without consensus “or even necessarily majority support”, there would be “a lot of international tension around that”. Even with all these issues, though, there is a real possibility that we may have to choose between geoengineering and catastrophic levels of warming. While it would be preferable, and more effective, to reduce emissions while we still have time, if we continue on our current path it will soon be too late. In this case, it may be useful to have geoengineering technologies such as solar radiation management waiting in the wings.

39


ART BY LIEF CHAN


41


COMMENTARY

A COAT OF WHITEWASH VEERA RAMAYAH ON HER EDUCATION ON COLONIALISM

I

t’s a rainy afternoon in the tropics and I’m with my Nani, sharing a cup of steaming Sindhi chai, almost peppery from the ginger and multitude of spices thrown in. Teatime is my favourite time of the day in Singapore, where over a cup or two of chai and alongside a few snacks, my grandparents open the novel of their lives and start reading from any random chapter. To my Nani especially, Sindhi chai tastes like nostalgia. To me, it’s a version of Tinkerbell’s fairy dust that brings their stories to life. It tastes like home—like a place I’m so deeply connected to, yet is still shrouded in so much mystery. I ask questions about my great-grandmothers, about the romance between my own grandparents and how exactly they both ended up in Singapore. And suddenly we arrive at the topic of Partition. Called one of the world’s most violent transitions from colonialism to independence, Partition was a defining moment in the lives of my grandparents and so many other Indian nationals. Everything in their stories is divided into two halves of existence: before and after Partition. Of course, like any other person who had taken history in high school, I knew about the violence during this time. I had watched the movie Gandhi in my high school history class, and found that it gave me situational knowledge and insight into this historical period. But supporting the curriculum was material that boasted of Britain’s great gifts to India: civilised culture, a functioning civil service, medical and scientific advancements and—almost most importantly—the divine gift of cutlery to save the poor savages from eating with their hands. So, when my Nani’s entire demeanour shifted into a more sombre mood, I was confused. How could she possibly tell me anything contrary to what I had grown up believing and learning about the glories of the empires of the past? But when she told me about the famine in Bengal— systematically orchestrated by the upper echelons of the British Government, it rivalled the death and devastation left

42

by the Irish Potato Famine—about trains full of massacred Indians caught up in the violence Partition created, about the kind of discrimination and degradation that my family and so many others faced in British India—it was as if someone had disrupted the surface of the pond of my existence. And as I researched into how ‘Britishers’, as Nani calls them, cut off the hands and broke the looms of Bengali cloth-makers in order to reverse the demand for Indian-made textiles, or how great, benevolent kings were ousted and robbed of their birthright, I was filled with confliction. Her firsthand experiences and historically-backed research were so different from what I had grown up learning. When I realised that for my entire schooling life, colonialism had been placed on the first-place platform on the world podium, my heart sank. All of what I had professed to know about my own country of origin was dripping in a coat of whitewash. It was as if no one had bothered to find out anything about the reality of Indian life during the British occupation. The only tales we ever heard about Partition were the ones that involved Gandhi. But what about the almost equally important 13-year-old girl who started fighting against the British, Jhansi ki Rani? Tales of heroism, of valid experiences—not only of me and my ancestors but also of almost everyone who has the invisible string of heritage joining them to the subcontinent— have been lost. And in their space exists half-empty narratives, which completely discount the equally important experiences of a population who was defiled without consent. The adorned package of human experience throughout colonialism that had been presented to me had tied its ribbon tightly around the mouths of my ancestors. Colonialism had become as glossy as the ganache on a cake in the Brunetti’s window. I’ve taken it upon myself to educate myself further, to read history books written by Indians and to balance out the uneven seesaw I rudely found myself on. Pick up your scissors this year and cut the damn ribbon that’s held your ancestors’ mouths shut for too long. It’s about time.


ART BY POORNIIMA SHANMUGAM


ÄRKAMINE/AWAKENING BY SILVI VANN-WALL

M

y grandpa and I weren’t close. I didn’t see him often as a kid and even less as an adult. I remember small details, like his love of apples, or the way he would sigh happily after a big meal and say, “Good country this.” His broken English was always rather charming—to this day I still say “sow-sagas” when I see a packet of sausages, and “doog-nuts” when I walk past Donut King. His first language was Estonian. When I was a kid I often spent summer afternoons stuffed into white stockings and a multi-coloured wool skirt to dance in the Estonian folk group. The heat was unbearable. Other children would grab my hands and we’d spin in circles across the musty hall of Eesti Maja. The vinyl recordings became so warped that I just assumed all accordion players were incredibly depressed. It made sense—the oldies were always tearing up at our dances. I stopped dancing after a year. My grandpa Edu escaped Estonia shortly after the Soviets invaded. All my childhood friends thought Estonia was a made up thing—a place where fairies and gnomes lived in little houses. I thought it was just a country with one too many stones, and if that hadn’t been the case, it could have easily been Germany. “Why do your grandparents talk like that?” “Dunno. They’re from Estonia.” “That’s not a real place.” “Okay—they’re German.” Neither they nor I could have imagined the terror of boats

44

landing on the peninsula—the smell of fire raging against wood and brick. Grandpa’s ramshackle seaside house, where he lived with his parents and a dozen siblings, was torched to the ground near the coast of the Sõrve Peninsula. The family fled and splintered into groups—some stayed in the country, but most were displaced in Germany. For nearly twenty-five years of my life I had no clue about Estonia, nor my family history—and I had certainly never been. In all honesty, it had made me feel so alien that I doggedly avoided it. It was autumn. It should have been spring. As I awoke, a pounding headache invaded every corner of my skull. The blinding northern sun was beaming through the window, stirring a collection of crisp amber leaves on the sill. I made a mental note. Estonia—first impressions: too bright to be this cold. After a 30-plus-hour journey, I had arrived in Saaremaa, the largest and most populated island of Estonia. I had not arrived by chance. The trip was subsidised by an Estonian repatriation program. The logic of the program was this: if so many Estonians had not been displaced due to Soviet invasion, I and many others like me would have been born there. On a student’s budget, that assumption suited me just fine. My second cousin, Siiri, had agreed to put me up for a few days, despite never having met me. This was not unusual: a family of 13 siblings separating during the war meant that we

ART BY REBECCA FOWLER


NONFICTION

had estranged cousins all over the place. Her home was in the island’s capital Kuressaare—not too far from where our grandfathers grew up together. I wandered down to the kitchen for breakfast and was surprised to find pans and pots filled with all manner of food: porridge, eggs, cereal, pancakes, and things of a dubious colour and consistency (which I later discovered were Estonian delicacies). Good country this. After the frankly exhausting meal, Siiri began excitedly telling me about the day’s itinerary. Before I had arrived, she had been working on a family project of sorts. She was seeking the knowledge of some local men to help her track down our grandfathers’ childhood home—no easy feat for something that didn’t exist anymore. Siiri assured me they had really found the land where it stood, and that she would take me there that day. I was pinching myself, but the feeling didn’t last before I was filled with pangs of sadness. How was I going to feel standing in a family’s history that I had, for so long, ignored? I was barely given enough time to think about it before I was bundled into Siiri’s car and driven down the long, curving tail of the Sõrve Peninsula. All around me, intense autumn colours dotted the landscape of dense forest—both of us in motion. Even the wind turbines looked ancient and majestic. We soon stopped at a large homestead and introduced ourselves to the man who could lead us to the exact coordinates. He scoffed at my thin pinafore and leggings (they’re no stockings and wool skirt, I admit) while explaining that the rest of the journey was by foot, and there were no paths, so would I still be interested in going? Less than ideal. I then thought back to being told as a child that when Grandpa

was young, if he disagreed with his elders, he was ordered to stand in the snow with no boots. I agreed to make the trek. We set off over a makeshift bridge into the thicket. We walked single file. On our left I could see backyards of sprawling seaside properties: the kind worth a few million more than what my great-grandfather would have had. On the right was land—flat and wet, more mud than sand. I trod the earth in quiet awe. Eventually we came across fewer and fewer houses, and the land became eerily quiet, save for the gentle motions of the sea. We arrived in a clearing. “This is where they lived,” Siiri said, indicating to the space. “My grandpa and yours, and their family.” We stopped to breathe in the incredible northern air, and to savour our surroundings. I circled slowly. Rhythmically. Searching for a hand. All around me were patches of blackened land and an immeasurable amount of forest. I paused and let the warm midday sun peek through the apple trees and embrace me. Siiri, over by the shore, was beaming from ear to ear. We caught each other’s eye, and without saying anything, both made a run for the tallest apple tree. We took turns shaking the tree and collecting bundles of wild, crunchy apples. I bit into a small yellow one and closed my eyes, allowing the sound of the sea to fill the clearing. It had to be the juiciest apple I had ever tasted. Had to be, and was. As I climbed the trunk again, all the way to the top, I felt a firm wind vibrating against my back. I gripped the branches a little tighter.

ART BY REBECCA FOWLER

45


CREATIVE

WISDOM BY ANNA SMITH

I

had two brothers and a sister. I think of them often, as well as my stern old mother, and wonder if they’re alive and thinking of me, perhaps while rooting through a bin the way we did when we were young. Together we fought with the magpies over the best places to find food, and we huddled close in the cold at night, watching for cats, and we would sit in the swaying branches of oak trees, peering down at the neat rows of dark-bricked human houses, the rectangular sections of grass bordering them, the great black wasteland roads where monstrous cars roared by. Birds of all kinds were regularly found lying near the houses with their necks broken. On a cool morning with shadows rustling on the pale walls I was mad enough to enter one of those bright caves alone. I could see a ledge piled high with gleaming fruit. It looked better than anything I’d ever eaten, and I was itching to make some great discovery to show off to my friends. I took a hop of faith and found no invisible bone-breaking wall. It was strange in there, so clean and hard-edged, and the air was still. I went straight for the fruit, gobbled the sweet fresh flesh, but soon a human came flailing its fearful limbs, so I flapped away. Blooming in my gut was something. I didn’t know what it was then, but now I call it shame. I was to feel it over and over, every time I again ate something that wasn’t mine. There appeared so many of these subtle, terrible aches that I felt a sense of creeping horror at myself I couldn’t begin to understand. I sank into a listless confusion, crawled under a bush for three days and would not eat. My sister brought me worms but I gagged on their earthy flesh. I had become very weak by the time a friend of mine brought me what I really wanted. She had gone herself into the cave of the tall beasts, taken a human fruit and brought it to me. She had eaten some of it herself. Her beak was wet with sweet pulp. I devoured the fruit, and yet another ache seized me. I hopped in agitated circles around her, for I couldn’t yet speak. We showed my friends that window and others and we all shamefully went to feast on juicy dark fruits and hard white fruits and soft grey fruits until the humans stopped leaving the windows open. Soon we knew the taste of every fruit in the world, a few meats, and most vegetables; we marvelled at their freshness, their wholeness, their sweetness. In the clutches of wisdom I wondered, pecking at a hollow bone, if I was eating a bird. When completeness comes, perhaps you forget what it was like to know in part. We stopped eating eggs. The humans passing in the street started to look us in the eye. They kept their windows shut and chased us from their gardens. I think they were troubled by us. We had always been troubled by them, but this was different. Their barking backyard beasts growled at us. It was like something had changed in us, and when I tried to talk to my sister her eyes were blank and black, like I wasn’t making sense. As I cried out in sadness, I turned to see a human standing over us, watching us. I looked back at it. I could not speak to it either, but I think that I understood it. It was not going to hurt me. As it loomed closer, I recognised, it was fascinated. My sister cawed and hopped away. I stayed still. The human looked me in the eye, the air trembled, and its arm shuddered and descended. I jumped away as its hand grazed the back of my neck. I pushed up into the air and settled in a branch next to a magpie. We greeted each other coolly and watched the human walk away. The magpies always were a bit smarter than us. I think they could tell something was wrong. But that was fine. The crows who had eaten the fruit, we

46

understood each other. I could no longer talk to my brothers and my sister and my mother, and the others could not talk to their own families, so we all stuck together. Us outcasts invented new ways to speak to each other. We scratched symbols in the dirt for the things we wanted to express. We would practice writing, instead of simply cawing and croaking with our voices. Something like, “Yesterday I fought with your brother over food” would take a long time to put together and understand, but it was a delirious satisfaction to communicate something so complex. But for all that, I still spent most of my time scrabbling for worms, like the magpies, who watched us shrewdly. In the end the magpies chased us out of that place. We flew very far, to somewhere there were no oak trees or warbling white-flashing shadows, somewhere else, a place where we weren’t ourselves and the trees wouldn’t remind us. It was an open place of pale hills and dark cypress rows. The sky was very large but it made sense that way. You could see the stars and the moon. There were far fewer houses. I have spent most of my life out here by now, but it still feels like I spent an eternity longer with my brothers, my sister, and my old mother, among the oak trees and the humans. Under the magpie sky, with nowhere to go, it became difficult to forget the constant creeping dread we had acquired, and as I tried to settle down to sleep, I would think about the inexplicable thing that I was afraid of. Now that I am old and scab-headed, bald, croaking and always fluffed up like a hot morning, I think that inevitable thing will be white like the white on a magpie. When I was young, I was scared of it, but not like this. I didn’t wait for it, didn’t wonder. Now we are older, we have put away our beastly things. We told each other so many stories about the moon. Someone thought it was an egg. I said it was a hole in the sky, a glassless window. On one occasion, some of our number made up their minds to go there and find out. No one we knew had ever flown to the moon before, but if they managed, perhaps they’d come back with some new stories. They set off and rapidly vanished from sight and we began to wait for them to come back. Maybe behind the moon, we thought, things are better than they are here. For now, I wake up each morning and eat my worms. We tell our stories and watch the stars, and I still don’t know why we are like this. Despite this, I feel very young and sense that there must be seasons and seasons left to see, burning brighter and hotter each time, growing stranger as we go on, and I think if I were to live to see it to the end I might understand it. From a comfortable perch on the tallest branch of the tallest cypress, I like to sit and watch the sky, and let the wind shiver on the back of my neck. The stars and the moon are bright white, the whitest thing I’ll ever see, except the white on a magpie, or the something else I’m yet to encounter. But it’s coming like always and soon we will meet face to face. Maybe we already have, and I missed it or forgot, or perhaps it’s always there, and it’s never over. After a season passed and they hadn’t returned, my great friend fell into an awful melancholy. I brought her beetles, and she settled into the dust and cried out, so loud and sad. I reassured her that those adventurers had reached the moon. They must have gone through the hole in the sky and found plenty of things to eat. Maybe they have found some new kind of wisdom and we’ll find out what it is when they return. They are still coming, and I think of them often.

ART BY KYAW MIN HTIN


NONFICTION

NONFICTION

ART BY

47


CREATIVE

GATHERING STICKS BY MORGAN-LEE SNELL In Footscray now; people in soft-focus and wrapped in silk. Asphalt melts, sticks to my boot. English as second language, sitting shopfront lilting “hello, hello.” Everyone stands in circles, straw hats from the Bunnings up the road. Kebab shop closes at eight. We weed in the backyard, months of houses changing hands. Someone tried to salt the earth but it all grew back. We plant sunflowers and hope for the best. I look for bed frames on Gumtree. Leave my window open so the bugs fly in. Roam streets of aniseed and chilli, find a squat toilet at the shops. I drink moonshine from the place down the road. Watch Coyote Ugly on the flat screen. Bleed on the velvet couch. Esther sets mouse traps and I take them away. We find a ponytail on the bookcase. I keep it in a ziplock bag in the kitchen drawer.

48

ART BY MORGAN-LEE SNELL


ART BY ALEXANDRA BURNS

49


CREATIVE

O SACRUM CONVIVIUM BY DARCY CORNWALLIS Hiss and acid-pop and off comes the top of the bottle and ‘I like Coopers,’ I say to Yiani, ‘no bottle-openers required, although apparently they hate the gays.’ ‘You can’t win,’ intones Yiani. Chink of green glass ‘chin-chin’ under mosquito-hive canopy, and the sky above is just really big. We have a clear dusk. Sip the Jesus juice and sit in silence for the sacrament. Then we will have a few minutes probably before the beer transubstantiates into happiness. We talk about masculinity for a bit, ‘do we really love people just because we’re told to?’ ‘Depressing thought.’ True. Drain. ‘Shall I get another two?’ ‘Sounds like a plan.’ Wooden rub of chair on deck. Slap of feet. Twist-pop ‘chin-chin.’ ‘Speaking of depressing thoughts, I think my brother’s been reading Nietzsche.’ ‘That is depressing,’ says Yiani through the humid light. ‘Now there’s someone who should have gone outside more.’ ‘Very true,’ I reply, ‘and the concerning thing for me is that I know I’m not a Hero, right, I mean I’m just some guy sitting here drinking beer’ and it’s true, I’m just sitting there drinking beer. ‘I’ll drink to that.’ He drinks to that and slaps a blood-glutted mozzie and groans ‘Jesus Christ, there’s only a fifty percent chance that’s my own blood I’ve just smeared down my arm.’ I nod. ‘You know, I’ve always wondered about what’s-his-face from Patmos, you know and all that stuff about the rain of flame and blood, like where the hell does all that gore just come from?’

50

ART BY HANNA LIU


CREATIVE

‘Yeah,’ says Yiani, ‘pretty freaky when ya think about it, almost as if sitting alone in a cave for a few years is a bad idea.’ ‘Surely not,’ I jest, but try to justify Johnny Boy anyway by recounting a few choice anecdotes outlining how one might unexpectedly find oneself covered in someone else’s blood and ‘For fuck’s sake, mate,’ says Yiani, ‘I’m just tryna drink a beer’ and it’s true, we’re just sitting there drinking beer. Few minutes of silence and the air is living and whirring with spectral creatures. ‘Do you think if you believe all that stuff, the Father the Son and the Spooky Ghost, it’s easier to cope at funerals? If life already is barely real?’ Yiani asks me and the light is crawling away from us now. ‘Are you thinking of Thomas and his fam?’ I ask my friend and he nods sadly yes. ‘I dunno. I hope it does. I really do.’ ‘Can you even imagine?’ ‘I really can’t.’ It’s very dark now and soon we’ll need to leave, the night wants us wrapped in hoot and honk and sickly blare of light. Yiani rises to find a jacket somewhere in the creaking living gloom and the sky is stretched above us like a prophet full of doom and for a little longer I’m just sitting here, I’m just sitting here and drinking beer.

ART BY HANNA LIU

51


CREATIVE

SIX ACROSS Y

BY GREER SUTHERLAND ou heard the music before you ever saw it, although I suppose that’s regular.

I hauled my shopping bag up higher so the cans would dig into me. My briefcase balanced me out just nice. The air was set to crack with snow. Cold licked the edges of my ears. People scurried between skyscrapers, families and things. I scurried too, in a slow sort of way, to catch my bus home. The music was a jangly sort. Drums smashing. Guitar notes tripping over each other to be first. I got closer and closer, until I finally came upon the band playing. They were set up on a wide street corner. People milled about throwing coins. Others stood by, never too close. An old-seeming guy bashed about on the drums. Little grey frazzles of hair wilted with sweat around his forehead. I stopped by an overflowing trashcan and watched them a bit. The amplifier shuddered the concrete under my feet, in a way that was rather nice, completely separate from the music itself. After a while they quit, and people clapped. I did too, but with my gloves it didn’t make any real sound. The players leaned in to talk to each other, then the drummer nodded as he grabbed the microphone. “Listen up, erryone.” The drummer’s voice sort of buzzed inside my skin. “Louis, he’s on guitar, he’s going on break, as he’s a lazy so-and-so.” Louis, still sorting through his things, tilted his head at the drummer who guffawed through his moustache and went on: “So as long as he’s gone, Johnny and me are doing the crossword. Anyone be welcome to help us out, alright folks?” I sort of thought about what to do, I guess. There was really no reason to stay—I could just as easily do the crossword in my own paper on the bus home. I stayed, though I didn’t know why. The drummer fished out a crisp, vertical-folded paper from his coat. He shrugged his scarf up and shivered the paper around a bit. “Righty-oh,” he said. “First clue, folks. Four down: taxi charge.”

52

For about a three-block radius, I thought about people hearing a man do a crossword as they went about their lives. It felt funny to think about kids and couples pointing into litup shop windows. People trying to sing outside a church. All listening to a man talking about taxi charges, just as I did. “Fare!” someone shouted from somewhere. People still bustled past on the sidewalk. Cars still drove past, chucking their lights up onto us then off again. “Hey hey!” the drummer said. “Now, is that spelled F-A-I-R or R-E?” “R-E!” a young man wrapped up in three scarves next to me called, his voice sounding distant. “I never heard of any taxi charge that was fair.” “Not wrong, not wrong.” The drummer hunched over and, pinching a stubby pencil right near its point, scratched it in. “Marvellous. Round two, huh? Five down: children, bring up—children in brackets. You there, honey—“ He thrust the microphone at a pretty young woman, plump and smiley in a long tartan skirt. I myself was thinking maybe it was raise. “—bring up children, what do you say?” “Difficult!” she said into the mic, then smiled sheepishly. “I imagine, I haven’t any.” She fussed her hand through her hair, stepped away from the microphone. “That’s for sure. You there, pass this to that lady over there, she knows,” he said, pointing to a middle-aged woman. She was decorated all with shopping bags and had a jacket like an insect’s exoskeleton, sectioned and shiny. People fumbled the microphone to one another until she leant to receive it, like communion. “You raise them, don’t you?” she said earnestly, peering at the drummer. “Oh, raise, five letters, reckon you’re right there honey.” His voice resonated almost just the same without the microphone. Johnny, perched near the drummer’s shoulder, smoked, creating the effect of a tiny fire floating and curling in on itself. The dirty heat of cigarette smoke drifted through the frozen air. He murmured something to the drummer. “Yer, we’re getting some real easy ones to start off,” the drummer said. The young fellow with all the scarves turned on his heel

ART BY NICOLA DOBINSON


towards me. “This is how the commies do crosswords,” he grinned. I laughed but not in a loud way. For a moment I couldn’t be sure if he was talking to me. I checked over my shoulder, and there was nobody. “Yes,” I replied. “It must be.” The drummer continued. “An impossible emotion. Nine letters. Let’s think, folks.” I started counting the letters in surprised, because I supposed if you saw something impossible, that’s how you’d feel. “Wait a hot second, everyone, I think maybe I have this one.” The drummer smiled with crooked teeth. “Overjoyed,” he said. “You can’t be too happy, it’s impossible. It’s a silly word to exist, really. Anyone gonna overrule me on this one? Johnny? Of course not. OK then—next one. It’s four letters, and it’s the gateway drug, and it ends in e from fare.” “Oh my God,” said the young scarf guy, laughing. The drummer looked up sharply. “Hush, man,” he said, pulling the microphone tight against his chin disapprovingly. “Don’t bother the Lord with this crossword shit. He’s busy.” My friend grinned. “Yessir.” People were having trouble with this one. Some people close by muttered about dope but nobody wanted to say it too loud. “There’s a woman here who knows,” said some teenager. The drummer frowned and peered over, then grabbed the mic and stood. He hitched his trousers up and lumbered across the sidewalk, to the side of the electronics building. Through a gap I glimpsed an old beggar woman, lying against the shadows at the wall, with a blanket wrapped around her head. Everyone turned to look at her and blocked my view. A man grimaced and looked away again. “What say you, ma’am?” the drummer asked. Her voice sounded like opening an ancient window. “It’s love,” she said. “Of course it’s love.” There was a silence, I wasn’t overly sure if the drummer was doing something, but then eventually he said, “Thank you ma’am, that’ll do us nicely.” He came back to his seat. We also got through “an untrustworthy friend” which was a fox, and “the colour of the promise not to forget” which was blue, as in the flower. “We’re doing well.” The drummer rustled the paper. “Now, six across—the meaning of it all,” he said. “What is the meaning of it all?”

What a funny question, especially for a crossword. Too big somehow. Someone shouted something, just as a car whirred past. Damn it, what had they said? The drummer was nodding solemnly. “Yer, that fits, that works well.” I frowned and looked at the scarf fellow but he didn’t seem at all confused. I shook my head. I must’ve misheard the question, nobody could answer such a thing that easily. More worryingly I might’ve missed the real answer, maybe they had said something real intelligent and useful. As the drummer scribbled it in, a man shuffled past me and went up to the band. He planted a long leg around the drum-edges and grubby gold cymbals. “Well, look what the cat dragged in,” said the drummer, lowering the paper. “We’ve got our lazy guitarist back!” “Hey now,” I saw Louis’ mouth say, laughing. He hefted up his guitar while the drummer folded the paper up. “That’s all on our crossword section,” he said. A cold fog gathered around the microphone. “We did pretty good I’d say. I think you’re all very special folks, helping old men sort their crosswords. Righty-oh, back to our jobs.” He shook drumsticks out of his sleeve. I wondered if there really was anything special about us at all, or whether we just, by random chance, happened to be the people who weren’t quite so busy as the other people. They started playing again. The shopping-bag lady left, and the young man went to talk to the girl in the tartan skirt. I meant to give him a nod before he left but didn’t get the chance. I stayed until the music finished. They demanded a bigger applause and more coins. I waited until others had gotten out of the way and crept up and placed down what I had from my overcoat pocket. The players were all chatting away and packing up, reaching for things to put into their van without looking where they put their hand. I thought I could ask about that one crossword clue, but instead I leant against the electronics shop wall. The old lady was gone. Louis and Johnny got their things together, then they waved goodbye as the van coughed on and away. I watched as the drummer clutched his coat closer, ducked his head and started trudging along, alone and far smaller without his drum kit.

ART BY NICOLA DOBINSON

53


CREATIVE

54

ART BY


CREATIVE

HAMPER BY NATALIE FONG You’ve run here, you thought you couldn’t. Here, fruit gladly obliges your gullible throat; drown your guise of amiability, in the long run. It is a society: you have honey cakes, saffron, slightly cold like salad. You have to try the – and the – but the cold could be shared; it tastes like hair caught between molars. The wind will read your palm like a dessert menu. Your blood will be determined, though not by letter but by norm. The local accent is rinsed with tears of navel oranges. (You have to wash them, after you, like many others, have run your tender fingers across their skin, like ploughing through the vanities and chestnut palettes of faces on sale, on offer, on shelves.) Flip the desire to be white as milk, like a page that has soured in the warmth of a human cheek. Standing out is surely not your job. You learn to invigilate the shadows standing too close in line on shapeless shores, for punishment is pulse for retrospection. Shouldering the wretched games of instruction, legislation, the code of an oxbow lake, you are mandarin, sunburnt in your alien wants for More. Your matters buffered, engraved: still it exerts, still it redeems. For a pear still dreams of standing on its head, for a coconut should never be ashamed of its tree.

ART BY BETHANY CHERRY

55


SUSHI BY SARAH PETERS she likes to be cosy not warm but wrapped up held close together so she doesn’t fall apart when someone tries to take from her she’s a sharer cultivating crops of avocado and cucumber and lettuce by the sea – but remind her that she can set her heart free.

56

ART BY ALEXANDRA BURNS


ART BY NELLIE SEALE

57


58

ART BY MORGAN-LEE SNELL


CREATIVE

THE GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES BY XIN BEI CHAI Our Autumn of Terror rings the bell, for once, then twice, nobody ever responds. Amateur daggers conceal themselves in the fog, waiting. Hold your breath for a ray of sunlight to take you home again. Our breeze and weep grow crystallised like ice, fragile yet hardened. The rays turn vague, passing their burden to moonlight shade. You moan, they fret, I roam. Starless night accompanied by Mermaid’s lullaby. Out the cabin, comes fireflies’ belated greetings. Fruit candies, marshmallow castle, rainbow fountain. Playful laughter’s echo, echo, echo. As if hypnotised by Mesmerising melody, sleepwalking. Out the paradise, welcomes the Black Hole. Ravens croak, Bats mobilise. Misconceived Sirius soon clouded over. Here, everything is illusive. Senses are no longer reliable. The sparks of light are long gone. They are awaiting – awaiting the next off-track cabin to sink.

ART BY XIN BEI CHAI

59


SOLITUDE BY JOSHUA SIM @the.dr1fter



CREATIVE

THE LION BY JAMISYN GLEESON

T

hough he wears a rich coat burning brighter than the sand of any desert, the twinkle in the lion’s amber eyes has long since faded. Children lick at ice-cream seeping from soggy cones, ignoring the strands of fairy-floss caught between their fingers. Speakers crackle as they broadcast coaxing, jubilant voices. Applause thunders in the distance. And the lion? He is in the middle of it all, gawked at and pointed at by sticky fingers. He does not roar in complaint so much as he yawns from boredom, his canines dripping with stringy saliva. He is like a flag, a display of gold against a tide of red, promotional fabrics. Yet without a breeze to lift his heavy mane, he makes for a disappointing display. His cage jostles. The lion cocks his head to one side slowly, lazily. It’s only the groundskeeper, steadily sliding a tray of raw meats into his enclosure. The human’s face sags with boredom, though his pockets grow heavier with each passing hour. A glint of gold attracts the lion’s eye to the groundskeeper’s wrist. He peers closer. The man smirks, clasping his hands behind his back as he walks away. The lion rests his head against his paws. A child stares at him. The lion blinks, sweeping his tail from left to right. Once, he lived camouflaged by statuesque reeds, pawing at rich soil and tracking wild footprints. Now his limp fur begs to be bathed in soapy suds, to be massaged and rid of its knots and tangles. There is nothing to do but wait. Trumpets sound. Their calls are loud, elephant-like. The lion stands on all fours. His mane brushes against cold metal, though he doesn’t feel it. The child runs, screaming for its mother. Something blossoms inside of the lion’s broad chest, like a lotus flower opening to the world: its layered fingers yearning to touch, to play, to intertwine. A ramp is mounted against the cage. The lion pads forward, his hind legs aching dully. He no longer requires assistance from ropes, hands or chains. He has made this journey many times, and knows the path by heart. As he walks, small clouds of dirt stir up around him and enter his nose. It’s a dry, smoky smell, though he can taste the life growing beneath it.

62

ART BY LAUREN HUNTER


CREATIVE

The lion strolls into a circular, tented room. His claws sink into the earth, as though searching for life in its barren hardness. Red and gold stands spin and blur around him like dizzying wands of fire, transforming their delighted occupants into faceless spectators. The lion stands a little taller, presenting his chest to the crowd, his hackles raised. Nothing in the ring can compete with the stars. Though enhanced, superficial, they fascinate the lion: how do fleshy, human hands bend the wills of these sterling stars, forcing them to beam over their audiences? The lights ride over the ground, spotlighting towers of rising dust. It caresses the silk unravelling from the tents’ centre like a web, from which muscular women step like fairies from tulips. A volcanic shudder and mountainous groan erupts from the stands. The lion is suddenly cocooned in light. Popcorn kernels spill to the trodden grounds. Fists are raised, and eyes gleam like new coins. His master, the ringleader, steps forward. He carries a spectacular hoop alive with coils of hissing fire. The lion tenses, his energy collating, and springs forth, readying his claws to capture the head of his prey before him. The ring of fire collects him, collaring itself around his neck. The lion lands expertly on the other side of the burning hoop, earning ecstatic cheers from the audience. It’s all around him—their love, their admiration and respect. Dizzying torrents of flowers fall before him. Dimes sparkle before ricocheting off his back like ill-aimed bullets. The ringleader stands before his lion, blocking his view of the audience as he bows towards the praise. It is his show, after all. Gloved fingers collect fallen coins. Bruised roses are snatched up and thrown away to bleeding hearts. The lion returns to his cage once more, his chest wilted and leaden. An ant crawls over the gritty terrain beneath him, its joints clicking. Perhaps it’s heading for one of the drinking fountains, which patter like steady waterfalls. The lion closes his eyes as the last of the sun touches his face, like the tentative hand of a child caressing its mother’s cheek. The warmth is soon replaced by the metallic breathing of cage bars. Tomorrow, he will leap through another flaming hoop. The next day, he will perform the same act, and the day after that, he will mimic it. Darkness falls and the lion rests his chin against the cold stomach of his enclosure, yearning for something more.

ART BY LAUREN HUNTER

63


CREATIVE

PINK FRINGE LIQUID STARS BY DANIELLE SCRIMSHAW

head bobbing above water a single sultana in a bowl of milk ears dipped under the surface so you hear nothing but the vibrations of waves the steady inhale and exhale of your own breath yes, i am one with the ocean my grandfather was born on a distant island where sappho loved and died and this body was born encircled by the coast i am nothing but water and salt and ancient greek poetry my name is bitter sea my name is carvings on whale bones she is floating beside me with her magnetic pulse and cloak of 90s drag i wonder how we got to this point how i got to this point and when the anxiety attack will surely hit is it the water that soothes me or her pink hair? she smiles and rolls onto her back closes eyes, drifts away i reach out to touch her face but there is nothing the sea d r a g s me out pink glitter smears her cheekbones glowing softly underneath midnight’s eye like fluorescent worms small pulsing lights spread across cave walls guiding my passage through unfamiliar territory but waitomo is beyond the pacific and she is right here raising her arms to capture the thread of a tapestry donated by past lovers, beside dust molecules and overgrown plants our eyes meet and the cave walls unfurl teach me how to french kiss and i will teach you how to cross-stitch my body is nothing but ocean and vivid black sky and i feel whole she is somewhere floating behind me solid and present while i am nothing but liquid stars she reaches for me and i sink into the womb

64

ART BY NELLIE SEALE


65


66

ART BY RACHEL MORLEY


CREATIVE

REMEMBER THE RED JADE MOSS REFLECTS ON HOW CHERRY-RED LIPSTICK AND AN ORANGE CARPET ENDURE

I

used to stare at the carpet. Sometimes the sunlight would seep through the curtains and spread itself across the fabric. It covered nearly every inch of space in my grandmother’s house. I’d gaze into the specks that hid amongst the woollen carpet, hoping for a glance of the possibilities that lay below. It used to be red. A deep red. I was always thinking about how the carpet was supposed to be a red. Passionate and alive. Red like the lipstick your mother wore before you were born. Like a reflection of a cherry—mildly sweet, with just a little bit of tartness for character. But always what lay in front of me was a carpet that seemed almost orange. When inspected closely one would find it had an inexplicable brownish tinge, too much dirt and history danced through. The carpet had a life before we got the chance to step on it. The family living here before us, I imagined, were taken to trampling on the red—too impolite to take off their shoes. By the time we had the chance to experience it, the colour was faded, fraying. Worn thin by the years to expose the steel plates that were meant to stop the carpet from spilling into the other rooms. It was as if nothing could escape the impending grasp of the carpet. The carpet reminded me of her. My grandmother embodied red—fierce and determined. The carpet was a welcome challenge. She would vacuum over and over again, but despite her persistence, cat fur and biscuit crumbs lingered still. Every morning I’d hear the rolling sound of the hoover. The invention of the electric dust-buster and fancy vacuum cleaners both passed us by, but she remained loyal to her hoover. Painted an elaborate lime green, it followed her around as she roamed the house in her signature pale pink dressing gown—made of a harsh cotton that outlived even the hoover. When you heard the sound of her moccasins rubbing against the carpet it was a reminder that the day had begun. Every morning the sun’s light would gleam against each strand of the carpet’s fabric. Exposing the blemishes of its structure. Sometimes I’d try to hide the red. Closing the blinds to darken the house. But the blinds were too weak to endure the brightness of the day, always leaving room for the

sunlight to sneak through. My grandmother would sit on the old grandfather chair, tattered and torn. She’d sip on her tea, balancing it on the ledge of the window. Her eyes closed and dressing gown opened. A moment of relaxation, feet buried in the warmth that the carpet offered. A luxury, she thought. But I was jealous of the floorboards that lined the houses of my friends. I kept finding myself apologising for the carpet’s age and untidiness. It was a red so intense, it left itself deep-rooted in my history. Splatters of pigment cloud my mind. A thought of red and it’s hard to focus on anything but her. How old-fashioned and absent-minded she could be. Not understanding that the world was changing, stuck in her home with her carpet that she refused to change. Years went by, and there I was becoming a woman. Now with a body that had bumps and hair in unusual places. Hair she refused to acknowledge. Forcing me to wear shorts, unaware of how the other kids would notice and stare. Treating me as a child up until there was a new red. A red that was inevitable, crimson and bloody. Growing up she made sure the room was always cluttered. Filled with her favourite elephant knick-knacks and stacks of pillows, it always felt warm. On the walls she kept her prized possessions. Metallic frames with professional photos. Posed and censored and neat. Placed perfect and levelled on the wooden walls. Then as the family grew, precision declined. Digital camera snaps in plastic frames from the dollar store. Crooked and blurry. I stare at the floor now, and wonder what my Nana would think. Odd to call her this, when for years to strangers she’d simply been a grandmother. More formal and less emotionally attached. When the carpet was pulled and plied from the floors of our home, the last of Nana went with it. Now there’s just one photo remaining, gold and engraved. Hung on a hook too small for its frame. Not a picture of a family, just a snapshot of the house. Looking at it, you’d never be able to tell that it had red carpet. Or blue blinds, or white walls. In the photo, it just looks like a home. A home with good and bad times. A reassuring cliché.

ART BY LISA LINTON

67


FLASH FICTION PROMPT ONE: REJECTED BLACK MIRROR PITCHES. ALL THE HORROR, THE MILD, PHONE-FEARING DYSTOPIA IN 100 WORDS AND UNDER

“I

t’s just like one of their television shows, isn’t it?” said #1082. “What, Black Mirror?” answered #459. “Yeah, or that other one—” “The Twilight Zone?” “That’s it. They loved their cautionary tales, didn’t they?” “Well,” said #459, “they said they loved them, but they can’t have. Not really.” “How do you mean?” “Well, if they loved Black Mirror so much, they would’ve seen us coming.” #1082 tossed another human body into the incinerator and, mulling over this last point, made a sound that—if they hadn’t been a ten-foot-tall killer robot—you could almost have called a laugh. BY JAMES MACARONAS I DON’T LIKE THE NURSE. YESTERDAY SHE GAVE HIM TUNA BUT I’D ORDERED CHICKEN. he did not apologise. I brought up the incident the next day and she pretended not to remember. Friday, she said she’d be back in a minute, but I caught her eating a bagel alone on the benches. Today she was no better, I already knew how to read his machine, but she persisted, obnoxiously, “See that bar there, it represents a thousand still left, he’s just over.” It was irritating, the doctor shows everyone how to count the heartbeats patients have left. Then she said, “Sometimes we can be off by a few.” I think she was bored. BY LUCY BIRCH

S

T

he year is 2040. Toilet paper has been outlawed, replaced exclusively by bidets. Agatha, a successful bidet saleswoman living in her expensive inner city apartment, finds her electronic plumbing fixture has a mind of its own! How does she react to water far too cold for human genitalia!? Becoming addicted to the icy torrents from her digital bidet, Agatha becomes a slave to the very sanitary bathroom feature she sells daily. There’s a global drought and only the bidet remains. BY JACK LANGAN

CATCH THIS n idyllic, sunny neighbourhood where everyone plays catch in their yards. Main character Jimmy (35 years old) plays catch everyday with his dad because he doesn’t have an iPhone. One night a mysterious person wearing black robes with a picture of an apple gives him one. He is so excited and happy! The next morning, he runs outside to show it to his dad. When he tries to hand it over he can’t because it’s stuck to his hand. He looks around the neighbourhood and everyone is sitting down crying because they have iPhones stuck to their hands. “What if iPhone hands?” BY JACINTA DOWE

A

SIX LI’L PITCHES FOR CHARLIE BROOKER 1. Everyone you meet becomes an app in your phone. If you delete the app they die in real life. There are no limits to this. 2. A guy thinks he’s in virtual reality, but it’s just regular reality, which he of course doesn’t figure out until he’s done a myriad of morally reprehensible things, and then some song from the ‘80s starts playing while he stares miserably into the camera. 3. Deactivating your grandmother’s Facebook also turns off her life support. 4. iBrows. 5. People are only allowed to say things they’ve posted on social media for the past ten years. Our protagonist struggles to find a place in a world where he can only say “I would fuck Shrek, if he’d let me.” 6. Tinder actually sets people on fire. David Bowie’s ‘Modern Love’ plays at gradually increasing volume. BY JANET COOKE

T

METAMORPHOSIS II aura wakes up. She thinks, “Oh god, I’ve got that big presentation today!” She jumps out of bed to get dressed, but suddenly! Her legs are computers!!!!!!!!!! By the time she gets to work the meeting is over and she’s still in her pyjamas. “Legs but computers?” “You’re fired.” BY JACINTA DOWE

he year is 2062. We are redundant in the workforce. Technology does everything from flipping burgers to writing teen-dystopian-with-female-heroine screenplays to paediatric cardiac surgery. We walk aimlessly around campus, knowing that no matter how many PhDs we acquire, we will still not be qualified enough for what few jobs are left. Elderly students reminisce from their wheelchairs about a now unaffordable delicacy called ‘smashed avo’. No one alive remembers a time when we weren’t all drowning in HECS debt—but it could be worse because at least no one ever reaches the income threshold. Darn robots. BY REMY MARSHALL

C

M

L

hairs but they eat people.

BY CONOR CLEMENTS

arijuana but it smokes people. ALSO BY CONOR CLEMENTS

SEND US YOUR TINY WORDS: EDITION THREE’S PROMPT IS FLASH CREATIVE NONFIC. Send your 100-word-and-under truthful micro-pieces to editors@farragomagazine.com

68

ART BY ILSA HARUN



FOR AND AGAINST: SLOW TV FOR BY MATTHEW SIMKISS

W

ikipedia—the trusted source of information for uni students and an endless source of references—defines slow TV as “a genre of ‘marathon’ television coverage of an ordinary event in its complete length”. Iconic examples include SBS’s recent airing of 17 straight hours of the Ghan, a passenger train that goes between Adelaide and Darwin, or footage of the runway at the Prague airport. With the saturation of fast-paced action television that has less substance and purpose than Kim Kardashian, the rise of slow TV is not only a welcome change but an inevitable one. For those who still have a TV and don’t live solely off your laptop through Netflix and streaming channels, you will understand the epidemic; turn on the television and choose between mind-numbing reality television to escape one’s daily life and fast-paced action drama, the plot of which can usually be condensed into two sentences and a couple of gun fights. The severe monotonous nature of television has led to the development of social norms like Netflix and chill, where people now need an escape from their usual method of escaping reality. Slow TV means no more awkward dates where you sit on your bed watching something with someone you barely know, unable to talk for fear of missing dialogue. Rather, you can talk throughout, getting to know them in a stress-free environment, deciding if you want to see them again or if it’s appropriate to make a move. Slow TV actually complements the social craze of Netflix and chill rather than drives it out of necessity. You don’t miss any of the plot and can continue to watch seamlessly afterwards too. Furthermore, these are shows devoid of problematic actors—there’s no need to worry about being hurt by scenery as a train passes through the countryside, or a bird feeder in a park. Slow TV is always a relaxed and safe space to return to. Put it on at a house party or with your roommates and let the banter flow. Make it a relaxed drinks session or enhance your experience with some more exotic substances. The room will flood with a tidal wave of puns, gossip and laughter. The perfect start, middle or end to any day. Heck, the perfect way to spend the entire day if you watch a 17-hour version.

70

AGAINST BY RUBY PERRYMAN

W

hat was SBS thinking, airing 17 consecutive hours of The Ghan? Or airing it at all for that matter? While it’s lovely that those who can’t afford to actually board are able to watch the rail journey in this way, surely no-one sat through the entire thing. When the show first aired, I searched for it on SBS On Demand with cautious curiosity. After not being able to get through even 15 minutes, I sought out the comment section. It seemed many viewers shared my experience. SBS On Demand user Routfams questions: “What the hell are you trying to do. This is absolutely boring. Lucky l am still awake to post this comment.” Fellow user Markstothard claims to have travelled on the Ghan himself and thought it a was great trip, but “consider[s] this program a near death experience”. So give me Kim K or a gunfight over ‘an ordinary event in its complete length’ any day, because it’s exactly that: ordinary. As human beings, whose lives are already ordinary events in their complete length, we engage in activities like watching TV for a brief escape from reality. Most of us really don’t deserve to be subjected to events even more mundane than our own existence when we inadvertently flick on the telly when the day is done. Slow TV is downright sadistic. And anyway, the coverage shown in The Ghan isn’t even the journey in its complete length, which is really 54 hours long. If in search of a show to watch, it’s a much wiser idea to choose a riveting Netflix original. Black Mirror, for example. Whether sober or stoned, alone or accompanied, this show is guaranteed to evoke thorough analysis and discussion. And because each episode delves into a different, layered storyline, you can spend an entire day watching it while simultaneously staying awake. Think about it—there’s no way you’re getting any ‘chill’ if endless footage of sweeping landscape has lulled your company to sleep like it almost did SBS On Demand user Routfams. We must embrace the era of internet streaming, where shows load as fast as their content plays. The rise of slow TV could potentially see the end of escapism and young libidos. Thank fuck my new share house doesn’t even have a TV.

ART BY DAVID ZELEZNIKOW-JOHNSTON


ART BYMORLEY ART BY RACHEL

71


UMSU and the media office are located in the city of Melbourne, on the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations. We pay our respects to their elders—past, present and emerging—and acknowledge that the land we are on was stolen and sovereignty was never ceded, and no acknowledgement will give it back.

72

ART BY