FARRAGO MARCH 2012:
COMEDY FESTIVAL ON THE CHEAP GOON:
A CONNOISSEUR’S GUIDE
STILL OFF THE AIR OUR LACK OF CAMPUS RADIO
BUGS BANDT GECKOS GAYS
Missing the dayâ€™s most important meal?
The UMSU Welfare Department presents...
FREE ENGLISH LANGUAGE TUTORING! Our English Language Program is specially designed for International Students who need a bit of extra help with conversational English Sign up today with the Welfare Department to receive 1 hour a week FREE tutoring, make new friends and participate in a fantastic cultural activities
The UMSU Welfare Department and Welfare Collective invite you to the...
WEEKLY FREE BREAKFAST Wednesday 8:45 - 10:30 South Court
ALL STUDENTS WELCOME!
Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org (03) 8344 4808 1st Floor Union House, Welfare Office
Interested in education issues? Want to have more of a say in what goes on around Uni? Think that things can be improved? Like smaller class sizes? Recording all lectures? Textbooks and readers online?
Better tutor training?
Do something about it! Join the SRN! The Student Representative Network meets in the training rooms on the third floor of Union House. The next meeting is 12pm April 3rd. Come along to talk about education issues that you care about or to learn what is being done and how you can help out. The UMSU Education Department wants your involvement, so get active and come along.
Anna Morrison and Kara Hadgraft, Education Academic officers, UMSU Have a question or want more information? Check out: http://union.unimelb.edu.au/ed-academic email@example.com
EDITION TWO, MARCH 2012
COVER: ELLA DYSON
6 NEWS TENDER NONSENSE, O-WEEK WRAP-UP & MATILDA HAS HER LAST WALTZ 8 OFFICE BEARER REPORTS
“Listening to this is a terrible disappointment akin only to the feeling after you have had sex with an actual minx, which people tell me is a horrible cat-like creature that will rip out your eye balls and eat your prized genitalia—you know, the one you bring out on special occasions.” THOMAS ABILDGAARD—PAGE 21
O-WEEK REFLECTIONS & BEC JONES ASKS SOME QUESTIONS
SEX & GOON, WHAT A COMBINATION! 16-17
BUGS, PENGUINS & GECKOS, OH MY! 18
SOUND: REVIEWS & INTERVIEWS
STAGE: DICKENS’ WOMEN, THE SEED & THE WILD DUCK SCREEN: REVIEWS, OSCARS BLUES & MAD MEN BOOZE 27
BOOKS: ZONA & SHANTI BLOODY SHANTI 28
FEATURES 38 TUBING: TROUBLED WATERS Freya Scully
30 STILL OFF AIR: THE HISTORY OF RADIO AT THE UNIVERSITY
THE RESPILL TIMELINE 49
THE NEO-LIB CONSENSUS
26 DAYS TO LAUGH: YOUR GUIDE TO THE COMEDY FESTIVAL
SESTINA IN RED
THE BEST PODCAST LAUGHS
35 ROOKIE ROGAINING 36 SOME LIGHT BANDTER 38 TROUBLED WATERS 40 COLLABORATIVE CONSUMPTION
A DECENT PROPOSAL: THE CASE FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY
THE PEAK 46 ASSORTED POETRY
47 SURFACE TENSION
FEELING A LITTLE QUEER WITH HOMO ERECTUS 54
LIFE S’PORT WITH KEVIN HAWKINS
41 THE MYKI SAGA
EDITORIAL EDITORS Max Denton, Ella Dyson, Vicky Smith and Scott Whinfield.
CONTRIBUTORS Thomas Abildgaard, Josh Arandt, Scott Arthurson, Eeva Armand, Andrew Beech Jones, Owen Bennett, James Burgmann, Samuel Chappel, Tom Clift, Anthony Colangelo, Daniel Czech, Natalie Diney, Josh Eilken, Homo Erectus, Christopher Fieldus, Emily Finlay, Emily French, Mhairi Gador-White, Nick Hadgelias, Erin Handley, Richard Haridy, Kevin Hawkins, Amy Haywood, Bec Jones, Monica Karpinski, Amelia Kemister, Zoe Kingsley, Emma Koehn, Derrick Krusche, Danielle Kutchel, Christina Lee, Bonnie Leigh Dodds, John Lister, James Madden, Julia Matthews, Paul Millar, Sarina Murray, Alexander O’Brien, Jess O’Callaghan, Freya Scully, Christine Todd, Rupert Weaver and James Whitmore.
SUB-EDITORS Thomas Abildgaard, Josh Arandt, Tom Clift, Kate Crowhurst, Giles Dewing, Will Druce, Christopher Fieldus, Mhairi GadorWhyte, Steve Godden, Richard Gwatkin, Kevin Hawkins, Amy Haywood, Zoe Hough, Bec Jones, Zoe Kingsley, Emma Koehn, Christina Lee, Damir Ljuhar, Briar Lloyd, Lena Ly, James Madden, Mercedes Marsh, Matthew McCarthy, Sarah McColl, Clancy Moore, Nicole Moraleda, Rachelle Moulic, Sarina Murray, Alex O’Brien, Jess O’Callaghan, Luke Patterson, Matt Pierri, Danny Phung, Tahnee Saunders, Michelle SeeTho, Chris Shorten, Christina Spizzica, Christine Todd, David Threllfall, James Whitmore, Meg Watson and Sally Whyte.
GRAPHICS SUB-EDITORS Giles Dewing, Steve Godden, Lena Ly, Mercedes Marsh, Matthew McCarthy, Sarah McColl, Nicole Moraleda, Rachelle Moulic, Danny Phung and Tahnee Saunders.
OUR THANKS AND SEXUAL FAVOURS GO TO MANY Thanks, as always, to our wonderful team of sub-editors and our marvellous contributors—we couldn’t do this without you. Thanks as well to anyone who brought us food while we languished in our office (we’re looking at you, Julia Matthews) and to whoever left the box of Roadies on our couch—mucho apreciado. We would not like to thank the vindictive flu bug that attacked each of us in turn, just before layout week. We offer our condolences to anyone we infected. And, again, thanks to our friends and family for your constant support, advice and sympathetic cups of tea. We love you guys. Apologies to Belinda O’ConnOr—we know how to spell your name now. And also, Max did the first cover. Farrago encourages all students to become involved. Contact the editors if you wish to contribute. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 8344 6957 Visit our website: www.farragomagazine.com Like us on Facebook... please? Follow our inane tweets: @farragomagazine DISCLAIMER: Farrago is the student magazine of the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU). Farrago is published by the Secretary of the Union, Samuel Vero. The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of the Student Union, printers or editors. All writing and artwork remains the property of the creators. The collection is © Farrago and Farrago reserves the right to republish in any format. © 2012 University of Melbourne Student Union. All Rights Reseved.
It is with far less stress and a little more aptitude that we present our second edition of Farrago. Like parents, we are far more relaxed about our second born; far more likely to let it eat bugs and jam its fingers in power sockets. Our cover image of a gagged radio points to our main feature for this edition—Mhairi Gador-White’s exploration of the history of radio on campus. Whilst we have never had a student-run campus radio station, the University was home to an anticonscription pirate broadcast in the 70s and to 3RRR during their brief period of homelessness in 1981 as their new studios were being built. Aside from volunteering at SYN, 3RRR or PBS, there are few options for students when it come to getting their voices on the airwaves. In 2011, Farrago presented two seasons of a program on SYN, Shameless Self Promotion, all about breaking into the media. As editors, we
hope to continue hosting programs on SYN as a way to enable University of Melbourne students to become involved with radio. We believe, however, that the University should provide its students with access to such broadcast facilities. Despite offering Media and Communications and Journalism studies, students are forced to turn away from the University to develop skills such as panel operating, producing and presenting. Investing in radio infrastructure and training would demonstrate the University’s willingness to develop and nurture the skills of its students on a practical level, as well as enriching campus life and community. ~ Max Denton, Ella Dyson, Vicky Smith and Scott Whinfield.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR SEND YOURS TO: FARRAGO2012@GMAIL.COM
C-section reduction a mixed blessing I write in response to Damir Ljuhar’s article in Farrago regarding ‘a shift to reduce our rates of C-section.’ It is true both that Australia has among the highest rates of C-sections in the world and that other nations achieve a lower rate of C-sections with better results for mothers. However, I would be reticent to push the conclusions any further than that. Firstly, the idea that Csections above 15% in Australia are ‘made up with elective C-sections’ is just crap science. There is nothing to say that the difference between the Australian and WHO calculated rate of C-sections is purely because of elective C-sections. The causes for this difference could be both medical and/or non medical (as described: fear of litigation, popular preference etc). This is an inadequate interpretation of that data. Secondly, Norway’s 17% C-section is not ideal for Australia for many reasons. I happened to do my Obstetrics training in Nor-
way. The existing health profile of the women in Norway versus Australia is a very different and has direct impact on the clinical decisions made per birth. Australia has higher rates of obesity, drug use, higher maternal age and a much more protean health delivery model. In contrast, Norway is small and homogenous with a highly educated community. These factors completely change the risks involved in giving birth. Of the dozen or so C-sections I participated in in Oslo, the majority involved higher rates of comorbidities that are much more commonly seen in Australia (age, weight, smoking status) and are risk factors for C-sections. This is why the Csections in Australia beyond 15% are not necessarily elective. Thirdly, I would be wary buying into any push against C sections and Obstetricians. There is a constant anti-Obstetrician putsch out there propagated by a very small but very vocal group including midwives and anti-doctor political types. Put simply, these people have
nothing to do with the delivery of obstetrics and lack real experience with complicated births. Those who push the idea that birth is natural and seek to form a barrier between pregnancy and medicine have blood on their hands. Pregnancy is still fatal in third world countries; and anybody who has scrubbed in for an emergency Caesar for a birth gone wrong knows instinctively how unpredictable some obstetric emergencies are. Undoubtedly, ‘too posh to push’ and some elective bias among obstetricians will factor into the higher rate of C-sections to some degree. It is correct to discourage elective Caesars in place of safe vaginal delivery where possible and this must be done more in Australia and it may lower the C-section rate. However, Ljuhar’s article states no adequate evidence that the C-section rate in Australia should be empirically reduced on those grounds alone. ~ Dr Grant N Ross, MBBS B.Med Sci (Intern at Western Health)
UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE STUDENT UNION
O-Week Wrap EMMA KOEHN
-Week 2012 revealed the University’s new obsession with social media. While a boost to club funding saw an abundance of freebies and events on campus, communication between the university bodies and commencing students appeared to be the University’s focus. The now one-year-old ‘First Year at Melbourne’ Facebook page went into overdrive from January, with new students using the wall to consult on subject choices and discuss reasons behind mysterious Portal crashes. The push to move orientation info online has been occurring for two years with 2012 undergrad students receiving host group and O-Week details by email only. The Student Union, clubs and societies, and the university at large also hit Twitter, with the official Melbourne Uni page reaching 11,000 followers. However, several first years told Farrago that online communication with the university was difficult, and that they were unsure how to meet their host group or how to prioritise activities. The shift to social media communication assists interstate and international students, but ques-
tions posed to the university’s Facebook and Twitter accounts reveal that many students were confused by, or failed to receive, email communications. Campus activities also appear to have been geared towards ‘New Generation’ undergraduates with graduate and mature age student events getting less publicity. The Graduate Student Association ran events specific to grads in the first week of uni, but communication between individual graduate schools and students was again an integral factor in determining students readiness for uni. One student beginning in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences told Farrago that schools should note that O-Week info for graduate students is just as important as for undergrads. “The only email I got was about my Masters orientation lecture, and even that came pretty late. I’ve done undergrad at this uni, but you’d think they’d let you know about graduate specific activities, and enrolment requirements; it is a different situation.” The extra $200,000 in funding to clubs and societies from the Student Services and Amenities Fee also resulted in bigger budgets to represent smaller groups of students. The Mature Age Student Network, 23+, jumped to maximise the reach
of their programs for students with different interests to younger undergrads. Their events, focusing on professional networking and social interaction between students over 23, aim to support those returning to study and who may have been neglected in the O-Week line up.
this is also the last day for applications for FEEHELP or HECS-HELP payment options. International students paying upfront will have to cover the costs of all subjects they’re enrolled in after the census date. The only exception to the census date is applications to defer payment for the Student Services and Amenities Fee, which can be made on the student portal from April 2012.
ject without receiving a ‘Fail’ on your academic transcript is 4 May 2012. You’ll still have to pay, but you will dodge an F.
Censusness EMMA KOEHN
he University of Melbourne census date for semester one is 31 March 2012. The subjects you’re enrolled in, and how you’ve said you’ll pay for them, cannot be changed after the census date.
Who does it affect? It will affect anyone studying undergraduate, postgraduate or Community Access Program single subjects The census date is the last day that you can change your subjects, withdraw from subjects or withdraw from your degree entirely without incurring the costs of enrolment. This date is unique to the University of Melbourne, but federal legislation dictates it must be no earlier than 1/5 of the way through a teaching period. It applies to students paying upfront, those who have Commonwealth Supported Places, and those who are deferring their fees to HECS-HELP. If you’re starting a course,
Can I withdraw from my subjects after the census date? How about my degree? You can withdraw, but you will have to pay the fees for subjects you were enrolled in. Your academic transcript will also show a ‘Withdrawn’ note if you leave the course or subject after the census date. If circumstances such as serious illness cause you to withdraw later in the semester, you may apply to have the costs waived. The last day to withdraw from a sub-
FARRAGO — EDITION TWO 2012
How can I avoid paying for subjects I don’t wish to complete? Decide to withdraw from anything that you are unhappy with before 31 March 2012. This gives you four full weeks of class to decide. As the census date is a Saturday, your enrolment must be finalised on the Portal or at your student centre by Friday 30 March 2012.
I’ve realised I want to join the circus instead of doing Commerce... Best wishes for your acrobatic career change. Withdraw from your course by the end of March and we’ll pretend this never happened.
Last Waltz for Matilda As of 2012, the University of Melbourne will no longer offer Australian Studies as a major.
ANTHONY COLANGELO t was with a sense of inevitable disappointment that I read Amanda Dunn’s piece in The Sunday Age this February confirming the eradication of the undergraduate Australian Studies program at The University of Melbourne. I am about to embark upon the third year of my Bachelor of Arts degree at the University, where I am completing a double major in Media and Communications and Australian Studies. I went into my Arts degree knowing Media and Communications was a passion of mine. However, by not completing enough first year Politics subjects—through accident and poor organisation—I fell into an Australian Studies Major. Though it was my only option, Australian Studies has proved to be a blessing, as the time spent learning about our culture and identity, both historically and in a contemporary sense, has been enlightening. Australian Studies has low enrolment numbers, and subjects about Australian History in the History Faculty suffer the same disinterest. It is symptomatic of a wider issue for students. There is no problem with the quality of the course being offered—the lecturers, who all possess doctorates in their chosen fields, are some of the most knowledgeable and passionate individuals I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. Their courses deal with contentious and important issues that have shaped, or have the potential to shape, our nation. Dr Graham Willett, a senior lecturer who will be leaving at the end of the year, ran the first year subject Contesting Australia. The chief aim was to discuss and critically analyse historical and contemporary aspects of areas of contestation within Australia. These areas included immigration policy, Indigenous affairs, gender representations, and the environment. It was startling how a subject dealing with questions of this magnitude didn’t interest a larger number of fellow Australian university students. Disengagement with our nation’s history and formative agendas are something I have noticed since school. In Year 12 the VCE subject Australian History was not popular. Out of a year level of over
200 only 13 did the subject. This year Australian History is not even offered at the school, whilst History: Revolutions—a subject that does not involve Australia—has two full classes. There is nowhere near enough significance placed on our history and identity. People believe it is more vital and interesting to look at major powers like the USA, China and Britain. Professor Trevor Burnard, head of The School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, told The Age that students were, “less interested in exploring Australian identity and more interested in exploring Australia in the wider world”. A desire to seek this broader understanding of Australia is fair enough, however this understanding can be attained through Australian Studies. This semester I will be doing the subject Australia and America, and in previous subjects we have looked at our relationship within Asia, along with the significance of our continuing links to Britain. Furthermore, a high number of international students in Australian Studies often leads to tutorial discussion being firmly rooted in comparisons to their countries of origin. It is vital that there be a way for students to analyse contemporary Australian culture and society at our University. Australian Studies gives a broad sociological base that can be used to contextualise many other disciplines. This fixation on looking overseas rather than to our own country has the potential to be dangerous; neglecting our own society’s narrative could denigrate our engagement in our culture. Parallels can be drawn with our struggling local cinema and television industry. Whilst we produce excellent films audiences are still drawn predominately to overseasmade material. It is a shame the University sees dissolving the Australian Studies program as the right choice. All students should be given the opportunity to delve more intimately into the topics that define our culture and society.
n 1 February, the University of Melbourne asked the Graduate Student Association (GSA) and the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) to bid in a tender process for funding that would see them host a student advocacy service to be used by both undergraduate and graduate students. The successful bid would receive $400 000 of University funding being made available for student advocacy. Currently, both the GSA and UMSU provide student advocacy services, which offer advice for students with grievances they may have with a member of staff or their faculty, graduate school, institute, centre, or university administration. The GSA’s advocacy service is exclusively for graduate students, while the UMSU services both undergraduate and graduate students. The request for a single provider of student advocacy first came from the University of Melbourne in 2010, when they proposed the GSA and UMSU begin negotiations to combine services by 2012. The university cited an overlap in the advocacy services as the reason for this, particularly at point of contact and interaction with the University of Melbourne. President of the GSA, Martin Spencer, says he has never seen a business plan that proved this a more efficient way to provide student advocacy. President of UMSU, Mark Kettle, insists: “a single advocacy service is the best way to ensure all students were getting the best advice.” The GSA did not tender for the privilege of being the sole student advocacy provider, nor did anything come of negotiations with UMSU to combine the advocacy services. The negotiations with UMSU, Mr Spencer explained, relied on both parties refusing to engage in the tender process. The GSA offer a number of reasons for this; the main one being their organisation is tailored to service graduate students and extending their advocacy service to undergraduates would not keep with the intentions or structure of the association. Another reason offered was that UMSU advocacy staff are employed by Melbourne University Student Union Ltd (MUSUL) and, in the case of a merger between the services, would not be direct employees of the GSA, but a subsidiary of the University. Mr Spencer was adamant that the main concern of the GSA was the tender process itself, and told Farrago: “It is inappropriate behaviour for a student union to bid in a tender process.” UMSU was the sole bidder in the tender process, which closed on 21 February. If successful, UMSU will receive the full amount of the allocated funding to carry out this restructure. If successful, the UMSU bid to be the sole provider of student advocacy for both graduate and undergraduate students will see an expansion of the services already provided by the Student Union Advocacy Service (SUAS). In a statement released on their website November 2011, UMSU explained that in the period between 2007 and 2010, the number of graduate students using SUAS has increased 92% and graduate students as a proportion of the total caseload have increased 102%. During the same period, graduate student enrolments increased by almost 6%. “We will be doing what we’ve always done, but with greater capacity” said Mark Kettle. As Farrago was going to print, UMSU was advised that it had been awarded the tender to operate a single advocacy service for all students at the University. farragomagazine.com
YOU IS FOR UNION STUDENT UNION OFFICE BEARER REPORTS
the interests of Melbourne students, advocating for no increases to HECS for any undergraduate students and for greater funding for HECS places in postgraduate courses. As a result of the Melbourne Model, government funding for postgraduate places is necessary for students to be able to afford to study a postgraduate degree or we have to pay the full cost of the degree! The Student Union will be running a campaign this semester with the National Union of Students demanding more funding for higher education and no increases to HECS. To be a part of the campaign contact me (email@example.com) or one of the Education Officers (education@ union.unimelb.edu.au)
Network which facilitates student involvement in University committees and allows students to have a say about the direction of educational issues at the University. Although applications for the SRN are now closed you can still get involved by coming to our meetings on the second Tuesday of every month. Check out our website for more information. We are currently working on the issue of overcrowded tutorials and trying to introduce policies in the various University faculties to cap on tutorial sizes. If you’re in an overcrowded tute or lecture we’d love to hear from you! Additionally we are continuing our work with the University on reaching a universal recording of lectures policy. 2012 is going to be an exciting year for the education department so if you’d like to get on board, shoot us an email and come along to the SRN! Email us at educationacademic@union. unimelb.edu.au Website: http://union.unimelb.edu.au/ ed-academic
O-Week Orientation was one of the largest the Student Union has had in years! Thanks to the thousands of students who came and participated in orientation events throughout the week. With more events than ever before being run on campus by the Student Union departments and clubs throughout O-Week and the rest of the year, make sure you get involved!
Base Funding Review—HECS Fees In 2011 the Federal Government conducted a review into the funding of higher education, the Base Funding Review (BFR). The recommendations of the review call for an increase in funding for universities, a restructuring of HECS fees and potential funding models for postgraduate Commonwealth Supported Places (CSP). On 27th February I attend a consultation session with Federal Government representing
EDUCATION (ACADEMIC) ANNA MORRISON & KARA HADGRAFT
First Semester has been off to a great start for the Education Academic department. We worked tirelessly to produce the Education guide for O-Week, which was a great success, giving out hundreds of copies to students on Union Day. The Education Guide comprised all the information new students need about their education at Melbourne Uni including things such as important contact details and information on what to do if you run into any trouble with your assessment or your degree, study tips and hints on how to survive first year. Our aim is to expand this guide into the future to include the Counter-Course handbook, consisting of subject reviews and advice by students for students. We also had a lot of people sign up to be involved in the Student Representative
FARRAGO — EDITION TWO 2012
AYEESHA CAIN & JIM SMITH
Ed Collective Ed collective runs every Tuesday at 12pm in Graham Cornish A. Come along for free food, jokes and most importantly— make your voice heard.
Record Our Lectures Campaign We launched this campaign in O-week to much success. The stickers are up, the petition is going strong and the website will have up to date information on who you can contact if your lecture isn’t recorded, and what steps you can take to ensure that we, as your education officers, are supporting you.
Student Action Series The Education (Public Affairs) Office is pleased to present the Student Action Series. If you are a student group, community project or faculty club and you want to run projects with the Education Department please don’t hesitate to email us or even just turn up at our office. We are running campaigns that affect education under the following banners: • • •
Equity Diversity Quality
Campaigns can be anything from BBQs to raise awareness of an issue through to public forums, online petitions. The list is endless. Tell us what you think. To pitch an idea please come along to Education Collective or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
feminism. The times sometimes change, so joining our Facebook group and checking our website www.umsuwomyns.com is the best way to keep up to date. International Women’s Day saw events all over campus and the city, an Amanda Palmer Concert, Cath Bowtell meeting students, and a screening of the documentary “Miss Representation”. The day before that, we got together with the Welfare and Education Departments to run a BBQ to raise awareness about Violence Against Women, and asked everyone to take the White Ribbon oath to never be violent and never be silent about violence against women. It’s important to remember that both men and women are responsible for violence towards women, and it’s never okay. Take the oath at http://www.whiteribbon.org.au/myoath Feminist zen of the month: “Always be respectful, but never too polite.”
end of it all we celebrated our successes with a jamming party. Our two exciting projects that we have been working on at the moment are our community garden and starting up a bike co-op. Regular activities include our fortnightly clothes and book swaps, our rideto-uni vegan breakfasts and also coordinating Play with your Food, a free vegan dinner on Monday nights. Get involved: environment@ union.unimelb.edu.au.
RUTHIE HAMBLING & RACHEL DEANS WOM*N’S AMY JENKINS & BELINDA O’CONNOR
2012 is kicking off quite nicely, heaps of regular events (which you are totally welcome to!) like GIRLZONE every second Thursday at 1pm in the Wom*n’s Room (weeks 1, 3, 5 etc) for queer and questioning women to gossip about girl crushes and talk stuff through with people who get it. And then WAC (Wom*n’s Action Collective) every week to get your activist on. And FEMINIST DISCUSSION GROUP, open to anyone of any gender who’s interested in talking about, learning about, and developing their
Sometimes dealing with environmental issues is quite overwhelming and it can be hard to shake that ever-present feeling of doom. However, fear not! The Environment Department is here. We inspire, motivate and support (emotionally and economically), projects that you want to be involved in! If you have an idea, come along to environment collective on Mondays, 1pm – 2pm in the Joe Nap Room B on the second floor of Union House. We also provide a food co-op FREE lunch and have exciting activities planned for each week. So far this semester has taken off like a rocket. O-week was a huge success; we had a recycled hat competition, lots of free giveaways, a book and clothes swap, and at the
Want to get creatively involved on campus? Need inspiration for your next show/musical/ script/movie/story/article/poem/installation/ exhibition/project/work/interpretive dance? Just want to hang out with amazingly awesome people? Then I want you! Hi! I’m Alice and I’m your Arts Officer for 2012. This year I’m keeping the heart of the arts office pumping with projects such as Above Water, Tastings and creative writing workshops throughout the year. Keep posted on Facebook UMSU Arts Department Group for upcoming events as well as grant dates, production dates, Arts news, and all events that the Arts Department will be running, or just drop by to chat about your latest zine/theatre piece/dance/art installation/juggling show. As students, you’re at the centre of the Arts department and I’m looking to create programs that support the development of student- devised work, facilitate artistic growth and encourage experimentation. So come and drop by, have a chat and talk to me about all the creative works you’re involved in and I can let you know about opportunities happening on and off campus!
theFODDER. PHOTOS BY BONNIE LEIGH-DODDS
FARRAGO — EDITION TWO 2012
Want your sexy photos in the next Fodder collage? Send them to Farrago2012@gmail.com. Got an awesome random shot from around campus? Email us or post it on our Facebook.
CAMPUS * SOUND * SCREEN * STAGE * BOOKS
Misanthropology SARINA MURRAY
Calendar MARCH 23rd
VCA 40th Anniversary Birthday: 4-8pm. VCA, Dodds St. Given the changes and upheaval of the past years, the VCA has added reason to celebrate its 40 birthday. Blow up a balloon and join the street party at their Southbank campus.
Tripod: 1-2pm, North Court, Ground Floor, Union House. The comedy trio returns to North Court to entertain the troops. Seasoned festival performers and TV regulars, Tripod are ready to serenade you with some jokes.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
MARCH 28th APRIL 22nd
Check out our guide on page 32 and monitor our website, www.farragomagazine.com, during the festival for our reviews.
Cartooning workshop with Mark Knight. Leading Herald Sun cartoonist, Mark Knight, will share his wisdom. Places are limited: register your interest by emailing email@example.com
APRIL 19 th-21st, 24 th, 26 th-28th
A Clockwork Orange: A Play with Music. Guild Theatre, Level 1, Union House, 7.30pm. Audience members are warned this play contains ample lashings of old ultra-violence, nudity and course language. What are you waiting for?
he stink would be forgivable, had they regard for your personal space. The squalling understandable, were it not unstudied hearsay. My life would be much improved should they stop occupying parks and gardens. I refer not to socialists, but children. At an American diner off Chapel St, the food is deep fried to within an inch of its life and the staff imagine strangling you to within an inch of yours. However, small televisions above each booth rob the joint of authenticity. Despite the 50s set-up, they don’t play The Honeymooners or footage of McCarthy’s commie trials. Rather, they feature the obtuse, low-budget kids’ telly stations use to fill Australian content quotas. For months after moving to the area I was affronted. I understand the needs of parents to harden up their overprotected tots, and one’s arteries should not be excluded from the fun. But surely in the 50s if your kid made a fuss at a restaurant, you’d put them over your knee—not direct them to a Larry the Lawnmower marathon. Staring down the barrel of a sausage patty one skeezy morning, my mind was changed. Whatever tactic can be used to silence the young most completely is that which I will vouch for. “You were a child, too,” my mother reminds me, but that never mellowed this animosity towards children. In fact, a refusal to relate meant that, until my peers survived the tyranny of adolescence, it was suspected I had Asperger’s Syndrome. I’m not saying I single-handedly delayed Parkville’s bottled
water ban by sending a letter to Glyn Davis suggesting I may have poured sterilisation materials into the water supply. But could you blame me if I had? Take sterilization to a worldwide scale and call 2050 the end-date of humanity. A short-lived utopia could thrive. Forget conserving resources—our existence could become a race to the finish, a Vue de Monde express lunch. Admittedly, dessert—the period 2040-2050—would be a wasteland, as skippable as spotted dick or gulab jamun. Without children, there would be no pedophiles. In fact, without children, our most contentious social issues would disappear. Abortion; paid maternity leave and childcare; natural birth versus caesarean and public versus private education; censorship and the Jonas Brothers. Coalition MPs have even said gays shouldn’t get married because the institution exists to protect children... in fact, most coalition MPs would also go away. The only people left in politics, with the glory of being remembered forever eliminated, would be those who really gave a damn about people. There aren’t many excuses for not helping the poor or fixing the pay gap between men and women in a world with an expiry date. And would religious fanatics give a damn (heh) about destroying non-believers when they could be reassured we’d be prodded with pokers for eternity after our 37 years were up? The next time you smile at a baby or give money to a five-year-old playing a recorder, realise you’re part of the problem, not the solution.
Questions BEC JONES
IMAGES BY SARAH CHAVDAROSKA WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/SARAHCHAVPHOTOS
he very first guitar Dominic Hone owned was a stolen Ayers acoustic. However, it wasn’t acquired through a music store heist or at gunpoint. It was taken from his sister, who in a shortlived love for guitar suddenly discarded the brand new instrument. “I just swooped in… and claimed it as my own,” recalls Dom. That was eight years ago and still the Ayers acoustic is the centre of Dom’s passion for music. “Now it’s my child, my acoustic baby,” he jokes, flicking his side-swept hair. Dom’s musical flair is a bit of a mystery. None of his siblings share the same interest, and the closest his parents get to talent is playing The Beatles on their stereo. For Dom, it began at his annual high school Jam Fest, where he chose Oasis’ Wonderwall as his debut performance. He was thirteen years old, prepubescent and “nervous as hell,” he explains. Nevertheless, something inspired Dom that day. Perhaps it was the energetic applause, or the fact that his voice was still high enough to nail the notes. A modest smile forms in the midst of his unkempt stubble and he explains how he then turned to online tutorials to sharpen his skills. Dom appears relaxed in his plain blue t-shirt and shorts, and this attitude mirrors the style of his music. “It’s pretty chilled out,” he says. Although he admires the energy of Californian band Group Love and the melodic strumming of Bon Iver, Dom’s music emanates a ‘summer’s night’ vibe. “I’m not one of those pub guys that’s banging out an AC/DC cover,” he is quick to explain. The biggest challenge for Dom in the early days was combining vocals and
instrumentals. “I could do them independently,” he says confidently, “but I found it really hard to do them at the same time”. Now with a soothing voice and melody to make you sway, it’s fair to say that Dom has successfully fused the two together. With that mastered, he has moved onto song writing. “That’s the thing I enjoy most,” he says on writing originals. “I really like showing someone a song I’ve done… and seeing if they like it or hate it. It’s not so good if they hate it.” He laughs and shrugs it off, knowing that either way, he finds joy in creating lyrics and melodies. Over the past six months, Dom’s musical gift has found a new outlet—he now plays gigs at the Station Hotel in Prahran. The opportunity came out of Dom’s prior interest in doing DJ sets there. He would arrive early to watch the acoustic entertainment, but even as he mixed tunes his mind would wander. “I just saw it and said I want to do it,” Dom exclaims matter-of-factly. “I like the feeling when you can see people appreciating what you’re doing,” he admits, referring to both acoustic and electronic performances. So which does he prefer? “I really like acoustic because it’s organic and it’s raw,” Dom confesses after some thought. “But it’s kind of restrictive because it’s just you and a guitar.” Dom now divides his attention between writing acoustic numbers and mixing dynamic beats with music-making software ‘Logic’. “I didn’t know there was so much you could do,” he claims excitedly. “Before then I was just strumming a guitar, singing.” Dom laughs off his naïveté, shifting in his chair with each chuckle.
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His acoustic set also has the potential for a vibrant makeover, with his bedroom housing a myriad of instruments. There’s an electric guitar, tambourine, shaker, ukulele, keyboard and two harmonicas. “Maybe that’s something to look at in the future, a one man band,” jokes Dom, thinking of Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. However, musical mates Kate Nodrum and Chet Faker are keeping Dom’s aspirations more attainable. Making his name on the local electronic scene, Chet Faker has been a constant motivation for Dom. As for Kate, a high school friend, Dom has contemplated combining their talents into an Angus and Julia-esque duo. “Sometimes you need more dynamics… you can only get that with more people,” he concedes. “You feel it together.” An EP release sits on the distant horizon, but for now Dom is content experimenting with his beloved Ayers acoustic at local gigs. “I’m not taking it too seriously,” he admits, still relaxed but grinning cheekily at his next thought, “I don’t want to be one of those guys who’s just a wanker.” Instead, he’s just a guy strumming a tune. And that’s where he wants to be. Check out Dom’s live talent, Thursdays at Prahran’s Station Hotel, or listen to his acoustic songs and remixes on his Sound Cloud Profile: soundcloud.com/domhone If you or someone you know is a young artist who’d like to be interviewed, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and you might be the focus of Bec’s next column.
ROUNDUP O-WEEK MICRO-REVIEWS
BEC JONES TALKS WITH O-WEEKERS
O-Week wisdom: At the faintest whiff of free goodies, I will readily divulge my name, email address and deepest, darkest personal secrets. Why yes, I am easily bought. ~ Ali Simpson Not sure what being accosted by a banana playing a ukulele symbolises for the year ahead, but it can only be good. ~ Elise Pham
Have you gotten lost on campus yet?
“I’ve been lost most of the day to be honest.”
What’s the best freebie you’ve received during o-week?
Is o-week living up to your expectations?
Have you been harassed by any groups yet?
“Yes! I’ve met lots of new people and I’m having fun… The human bowling has been exciting.”
“No but the costume people kept coming up to me… they’re everywhere!”
“Ummmm, probably my chips… they’re Roadies.”
O-Week was a race to join enough clubs to guarantee at least two free meals a week: mission completed. ~ Harry Branagan A pack of rats demolishing an already rotting skeleton... Popped collars. Free noodles. Hungover heads. ~ Herbert Farnsworth Walked into Uni this morning normal and came out a Friend of Unnatural Llamas. And there wasn’t even any alcohol involved. ~ Sam Karipidis Pros and cons of O-Week: still not enrolled in the right subject, but I have a hell of a lot of fried rice. ~ Katie Hollonds
What’s the best freebie you’ve received during o-week?
Is o-week living up to your expectations?
Have you gotten lost on campus yet?
Is o-week living up to your expectations?
“So far yeah. There’s a lot more people than I thought there would be and as for the night events, we’ll see how that goes…”
“Not forcefully. I’ve sort of used the pulling out the phone tactic though.”
“Yep, the freebies are good. Gotta love that rice.”
“It would be the skydiving voucher… I got it on North Court.”
Host groups: first-years, determined to make friends, also seem determined to instigate awkward silences. Hosts foolishly resort to ineffective name-games. Clubs and Societies carnival: Sadistic club folk crush innocent students inside Wilson Hall, before throwing propaganda-laden show-bags at their battered bodies. ~ Kevin Hawkins
THE GOON REVIEW
My Messy Bedroom.
MONICA KARPINSKI GETS HER GOON ON
Goon. Destructive enabler, requisite for first year; and apparently, wine.
elcome to O-Week; or as I like to call it, “Ohh-Week!”. That’s right, while you freshies were off roaming foreign halls and scavenging for whatever stationary your sticky hands could snatch, my hands were busy doing something else. Last year my Uni Girls and I decided that “Sex At University” should be on everybody’s To Do list. There’s something eternally titillating about the idea of getting down and dirty in an academic institution. All I needed was a time, a place and a partner up for a little mischief—preferably some Mega Babe who wouldn’t mind getting public with their pubes. Luckily, I’ve recently been sleeping with a Mega Babe who is up for anything. Sex in the car? Check. Tied to the bed? Check. In the shower? Check. My messy bedroom was officially spreading out to become my messy life. So when I pitched Mega Babe my idea for a sassy “Ohh -Week!” it took her only a few minutes to flesh out the details: four days of O-Week, four different public university locations, and four great big O’s. After chugging down a few sneaky ciders at the Farrago picnic on Tuesday, my partner in promiscuity and I sauntered off to find the least crowded university building. South Lawn was swamped, Chemistry littered with construction workers, and Architecture (ironically) quickly deemed “too ugly”. Not to be defeated we held our heads high and headed for the tallest building we could see, hoping for a private room with a view. Up ten flights in a steel grey elevator, down a never-ending hall of offices, out the fire door and into the bathroom we went. I slammed her against the door, she slammed
me against the ledge below the open window, we briefly saw our lives flashing before our eyes, and then hastily sneaked our hands into the others pants. It didn’t take me long to reach our first big O of the week—something greatly helped by Mega Babe’s decision to lift me up onto the window ledge, her hand still between my legs. As a team of miniscule University of Melbourne soccer players gave us an unintentional standing ovation from below, Mega Babe gave me my very own standing O up above them. Unfortunately thing’s got messier from there on: Tuesday night saw me a drunken birthday mess blowing chunks over my bedroom balcony while Mega Babe rubbed my back, soothing me (to her credit) by saying she’d still have sex with me in the future. Wednesday I was unable to leave the bed, let alone attend University for some Phys Ed, Thursday found me in a similar sad state, Friday Mega Babe got her period: mega fail. But like most good essays, nobody remembers the middle bit if the start and end rock. So on Friday, after attending a Liberal Party barbeque as a joke and finding it more horrific than we had ever imagined, Mega Babe and I ran off to get our gay on and the conservative out of our system. We scoured busy hallways for a room to get busy in: Engineering was being occupied by repairmen, John Medley harder to navigate than a clitoris, and Frank Tate too quiet for our liking. But fear not, we kept wandering a little further North and soon found a quiet little bathroom upstairs of a big grey building perfect for a little action down my South. Start with a bang, end with a bang: mischief managed. FARRAGO — EDITION TWO 2012
Wine has degrees of cultural credit. People drink wine and discuss its character mirth with words like “Grange” and “slight hint of caramel”. All goon gets is flak. It’s the common uni experience that yokes students together, but no thought is spared for the substance itself as it’s guzzled mindlessly from a Hills Hoist. Is there really something more in those silver sacks than the apocalypse? Banrock Station Shiraz, 2L, $12
A dark, watery purple-maroon, this stuff rolls dejectedly around the glass as you swill it. It’s flimsy, dull, and once in your mouth tastes as if you’ve inhaled a mash of cherry and darker berry flavours that have been muddled in some vinegar. Sour and horribly acidic, it’s the aftertaste that really destroys this wine- it’s sharp, pungent, and biting to the point where it almost tastes burnt. Renmano Premium, Chardonnay, 2L, $9
A dulled version of a real colour, this wine barely qualifies as light gold. It’s heavy on the tongue and explodes into a hot, acidic, rotten-fruit-like mess as soon as it enters your mouth. Slight, blink-and-you’llmiss-them hints of pear and what might be peach appear, but are poor consolation for the intense acidity you’re dealing with. And strangely, you can simultaneously feel the thinness of the wine run down your throat as your palette suffocates via said fruity mess. De Bortoli Premium Reserve, Cabernet Merlot, 2L, $10
Richer and redder, this one smells almost exotic, like a mix of spices one might infuse to make chai tea. There are definite swatches of berry in there: blackberry, cherry, maybe even a tiny slither of plum. You’re tricked into expecting something rich and warm in a chai kind of way, but instead there is only overripe plum mixed with something akin to sour cherry. Leaves your teeth a bit gnashy, though not altogether awful.
Yalumba Premium Selection, Semillon Sauvignon Black Vintage 2011, 2L, $12
Heavy on the tongue, this one is sharp, biting and tastes sour, but not in an off-fruit way. The fruit flavours are marginally more aggressive, with hints of melon and passionfruit on top of an artificial, tinned-fruit kind of aroma. In your mouth it just feels like a thick, syrupy mess. It’s sugary, sweeter and still acidic, but not to the point where you’d involuntarily cringe. Golden Oak, Fruity Lexia, 4L, $9.50
Splashes of melon and pear are vaguely discernable from this sugary compote. Said sweetness offsets an awkwardly warm, compostlike texture, making this the most drinkable of the bunch. It also makes the acidic tang manageable. Colour-wise it’s a pale, almost metallic dijonnaise. Stanley Wines, Australian Classic Dry White, 4L, $12
Whilst the smell is subtle and unsurprisingly dry, the taste is aggressive and sharp. It’s heavy in your mouth, and near corrosive; you can just, perceptibly taste what might be a yellow apple/soft Nashi pear kind of flavour before your senses get the better of you and send you into an involuntary shudder. Afterwards, your mouth is left feeling prickly, furry and violated, with a distinct kind of residue at the back of the throat. Take your dignity and run. Berri Estates Rosé, 5L, $14
A tangy smell powers out as the teat cracks: peach, pear, nectarine and maybe even a slight hint of something darker like cherry. Aromatic and weighty, there’s a definite bouquet in here. I can taste tropical, melon flavours like tangerine, cantaloupe and a light hint of pineapple. It’s sour, but not exaggerated. The aftertaste is mildly lingering but nothing to grimace about. Whilst I wouldn’t call this experience pleasant, inter-goon distinctions were clear. And as the most drinkable of the bunch, it seems that Fruity Lexia does in fact make you sexier. Having said that, if you can afford better: do so. ILLUSTRATIONS BY MAX DENTON
The Bedroom Scholar EEVA ARMAND
f you ever pop into Happy High Herbs, five minutes of perusing the merchandise will have you realise that almost anything with a label can claim to be an aphrodisiac. Spam too, contains a healthy amount of advertisements which claim that their pill will make you feel fantastically aroused or increase your penis size tenfold (ORDER NOW! IT VERY WORK!). The plethora of foods, activities and drugs purported to boost sexual drive is overwhelming. And who is to say that they don’t? Feeling horny is a feeling; a psychological concept. We cannot really “prove” that anything is an aphrodisiac without first mutating telepathy. But that doesn’t mean we can’t guess. Chocolate: Personally, I’d rather receive something more thoughtful than chocolate on Valentine’s Day, but unfortunately it persists as standard fare among lovers. Many consider chocolate to be not just a food but a drug, one that borders on addictive. Indeed this corner-store indulgence contains various pharmacological agents, such as caffeine, cannabinoid-like fatty acids (don’t tell the government, or you’ll have chocolate prohibition on your head) and phenylethylamine. The latter releases those feel-good neurotransmitters: noradrenaline and dopamine. It is generally accepted that chocolate creates feelings of wellbeing and vigour. It could be the drugs, but then again the humble pleasure of gobbling confectionary is enough to get anybody’s juices going. Horny goat weed: Many plants in the genus epimedium are referred to as horny goat weed and are used in Chinese medicine as an aphrodisiac. This name originates from the legend that long ago a Chinese goat-herder noticed that his flock became frisky after eating the herb. farragomagazine.com
Epimedium acts as a vasodilator—which means it causes blood to flow more easily around the body, including the genitals. End result: a case of happiness in the pants for both men and women. But only metaphorically, as it is difficult to find much evidence that it has any psychological effects at all. After all the hype I’ve seen online and in stores about horny goat weed, it’s disappointing to learn that it’s just herbal Viagra. Yohimbe: The bark of the African Pausinystalia yohimbe tree is a reputed aphrodisiac that can be brewed in a tea or smoked. Extracts are sold as a prescription medicine for sexual dysfunction because yohimbe, like epimedium, is a vasodilator. In addition to this, many report that yohimbe is a strong stimulant, comparable to caffeine. In high doses yohimbe has been likened to MDMA and speed, but at this dosage it can easily cause headaches and insomnia. Yet still— to my eye—this bark seems to be exaggerating its bite significantly in claiming to be an aphrodisiac. Certainly it sends the body into heightened state of arousal, but that is far from promoting feelings of passion and desire. Needless to say I could have mentioned countless other substances here, including alcohol. But I really don’t think something is a credible aphrodisiac if it makes men have trouble “getting it up” and women less lubricated. Yet there is definitely something to be said for loss of inhibition. Perhaps too much said if one has a few drinks. Tentatively, I’ve begun to postulate that the myth of the aphrodisiac might not really be a myth at all, even if it may never be perfect. I can now envision the intoxicating ingredients that a love potion would contain. I imagine a witch’s brew of vasodilation, stimulation, loss of inhibitions, euphoria and perhaps a pinch of the placebo effect.
THERE AREN’T ENOUGH FLIES IN MY SOUP BY MHAIRI GADOR-WHYTE
h i l e it may be culturally taboo in many western countries, entomophagy–ingesting insects as food–has been practised by humans for thousands of years. The indigenous people of Mexico began eating insects as far back as 7000 BCE, when many common food sources such as mammoths became extinct. There are also references in the Bible to eating locusts, crickets and grasshoppers (Leviticus 11:22). There is even evolutionary relevance, as many primates ingest insects, particularly lice and termites. Although such practice may have begun through necessity, entomophagy is still common in many cultures around the globe, with over one thousand different kinds of insects eaten worldwide. In Australia, the Witchetty Grub (the white larvae of the Cossid moth) is a traditional bush food of Indigenous Australians. In Mexico, toasted grasshoppers called Chapulines are very popular, and dragonflies are often sought after in Bali. Perhaps a more wellknown example of entomophagy is Casu Marzu: a sheep’s cheese made in Sardinia, Italy, which contains cheese fly larvae. Other examples of countries embracing entomophagy include Japan, where candied grasshoppers are very popular; Ghana, where winged termites are either roasted or made into flour; and Cambodia, where deep-fried tarantulas are part of the local cuisine. While spiders are technically not insects (they are part of the arachnid family), they produce a similar effect on squeamish diners when appearing on the plate. Even the most prudish Westerner has, in all likelihood, ingested insects. There is always a certain proportion of food
ILLUSTRATIONS BY SARAH McCOLL
products, like flour and other grain, which contain insects – albeit ones which have been ground up with the grains so as to be indistinguishable. In most countries there are regulations on how much insect matter is permitted in food products, but it is impossible to completely eradicate. But before you throw out all your bread and flour, consider the many advantages of including insects in your diet. An article from The New York Times regarding entomophagy reveals that almost all edible insects contain high amounts of minerals such as zinc, iron and thiamine, and that most contain around the same amount of protein per 100 grams as chicken or beef. Unfortunately, some insects, particularly caterpillars and softer grubs, are often high in fat—although often in the unsaturated, healthier types. According to an article by Dawn Starwin, an entomologist from South Africa, mopane caterpillars have been recommended as a food source for HIV-positive people as a way of improving nutritional levels. Moreover, entomophagist Dennis Oonicx, from Wageninen University in the Netherlands, claims that there is a much lower likelihood of disease contamination from insects than from meat. This is because, physiologically, humans differ more from insects than from other mammals. Aside from the nutritional benefits of eating insects, it may actually be better for the environment if our society embraces entomophagy. According to an article in The Guardian, harvesting common insects such as grasshoppers would produce 10 times less methane than breeding livestock such as cattle and sheep. Additionally, Starwin claims that insects produce less carbon dioxide per unit of mass than pigs
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or cattle. Insect harvesting would also be more environmentally friendly as insects, unlike livestock, can be harvested from the natural environment. However, there are some drawbacks to eating insects (other than having to overcome the desire to whack your meal with a flyswatter). Unless the insects are harvested or farmed correctly they may contain traces of pesticides and other poisons. They could also be carrying diseases. This can be avoided by sourcing the insects from safe, quality retailers. There are many online stores that sell insects, but only a limited number that ship internationally. One such store is Thailand Unique, which stocks products such as chocolate-covered silkworms, scorpion lollypops, pregnant crickets, silkworm larvae and cicadas. There are several stores within Australia that sell edible insects, but none of them have the range of Thailand Unique. The Bug Shop in Western Sydney sells both live and precooked edible insects, as well as insect lollypops and chocolate chip cookies made with ground mealworms. They ship all their stock within Australia and a limited selection overseas. Creepy Crawly Candies, based in Brisbane, also stocks insect candy as well as roasted mealworms and crickets. Entomophagy is already worming its way into Australian culture. This year, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is running an event called Bugs for Brunch which aims to introduce squirming Westerners to the concept of insects as food. The Age states that participants of this event can taste chocolatecoated mealworms, stir-fry with crickets, and view an exhibition of live insects. With so many advantages to eating insects as food, it’s only a matter of time before entomophagy really takes off in the West.
James Whitmore Other Animals
JAMES WHITMORE SOUTHERN MARBLED GECKOS
t is a summer evening in suburban Melbourne, and an invasion by stealth has begun, creeping in as the last shadows of day flee. The sky fades through dusky orange to navy, and eyes with a Midas touch and a cat’s pupil glisten; a sly and silent predator is paying her visit. She sits motionless while her prey— moths, mosquitoes, crickets— dance, enraptured by warm household lights. When the opportune moment arises, her moist, sticky tongue delivers a swift death upon the chosen victim. At five centimetres long and two-and-a-half grams in weight, the southern marbled gecko hardly appears to be a monster of God but, like a Russian spy, appearances can be deceptive. Generally brown or greyskinned, with a marbled pattern that aids in camouflage, it is those golden eyes that hold the most allure. This femme fatale has a host of adaptations that make her not only a super-efficient assassin, but an invader of suburban sense and sensibilities. Creatures such as these have long been labelled ‘cold-blooded’, but this is a very poor description indeed. Despite avoiding sunlight, these geckos are able to maintain body temperature above that of their surroundings. You would think any gentlemen would be overjoyed to discover that his fair-skinned maiden is not as cold as a rock but is in fact a fiery madame. Such fellows would do well to treat a female gecko with caution and respect. With daylight the geckos retire to cracks amongst bark and plaster like a wife of the Raj retreating to the foothills, to await their nocturnal escapades. Few males are permitted to disturb the peace of these enclaves and of those that are only a little is known of their dalliances. In farragomagazine.com
truth, males are rather less valuable than might be expected. The females are able to store sperm in their bodies across seasons; the male is required for little more than a donation. The traditional lands of the marbled gecko are the woods and heaths of the Victorian hinterland, but many are unable to resist the allure of city lights and the swarming crowds of insects they attract. While the human settlers toiled in the burning sun, the geckos hitched rides in their timber and ornamental plants. There they bred like reds under the bed until dawn rose on their sunset existence. Geckos have taken to the urban frontier better than any among their reptilian family. The carnivorous, and enormous, Tokay Gecko stalks the ceilings of Southeast Asian cities. In the classical world, Mediterranean House Geckos found civilized existence their ideal lifestyle. There is another, more disturbing, explanation for the gecko’s success. A few species of gecko have discovered the power of parthenogenesis. The males of the species are cast aside, castrated, emasculated like a eunuch. The females are capable of generating a newborn without the labours of a doting male; the offspring essentially clones. A single female is capable of starting a whole dynasty of queens. A female gives birth, then her daughters give birth, then their daughters, and so forth until a many-headed Hydra is created, regenerating even as it is destroyed. The mourning gecko—an apt name indeed for the dispossessed gender—now has a worldwide distribution thanks to this witchery, including the Northern Territory and Queensland. An army of female clones is the stuff of nightmares, and any suburb might be next on the hit list.
CHOCOLATE RECIPES UNWRAPPED BY JULIA MATTHEWS
ILLUSTRATION BY SARAH McCOLL
ith Easter fast approaching, I’m sure you’re all thinking about one thing: the joy of waking up on Easter Sunday to a trail of chocolate eggs and freshly baked hot cross buns, then spending the day stuffing your face with delicious foil-wrapped goodness. For some students, however, Easter can be a bit of a downer. You’re away from the family, you’re poor and you’re already worrying about the extra kilos you may have collected over the Christmas holidays… You don’t want to go to the supermarket and buy those shiny but ridiculously overpriced eggs that taste half as good as last year. You especially don’t want to go out and buy them for other people. Have no fear, chocolate lovers! Here are some basic gift ideas to help your chocolate reach its full potential without reaching into your wallet. Homemade chocolate moulds: The one drawback of being a chocolatier is that, if you want to do it right, you need a lot of equipment that the average student doesn’t want to clutter their kitchen, let alone can afford. Chocolate moulds are probably the biggest hurdle I’ve come across, but also the easiest to jump over. Next time you buy something that comes in a hard plastic cover, wash it and save it. My favourite moulds, however, are silicone ice-cube trays. I prefer silicone for its flexibility. It makes it much easier to remove chocolate without having to grease the mould or fill it with cling wrap, and you can pick up a set of fun and standard shapes for less than a dollar a tray.
Chocolate bark: An easy one that looks spectacular—all you need is a block of chocolate and some decoration. Melt your block of chocolate and then spread it onto a tray covered in baking paper, then grab whatever you want and throw it on the top—dried fruit and nuts work well, but you can always use chopped rock candy, marshmallows, praline, straight sugar or anything you desire. Top it with another block of chocolate and use a toothpick to swirl it around for a marbled effect. Once you’ve topped it, put it in the freezer and leave it until it is rock hard, then take it out and go to town on it with a hammer or the side of your bench. The result is a collection of pretty shards of chocolate that you can wrap up for friends and family. Truffles: The best thing about truffles is that you can make them out of anything. Don’t have enough chocolate in your pantry? Use up all the leftover cake and biscuits in your house to make a delicious gift. All you need to make truffles is 700g of cake or biscuit to one block of chocolate. Feel free to experiment with a dash of spice here, a splash of liquor there, some extra fruit and nut on the side or whatever you feel like. Then all you do is crumb the cake/biscuit, melt the chocolate and mix. Shape it into balls and then roll them in a topping: cocoa powder is good for a sophisticated look, while coconut and biscuit crumbs are good for the more playful. Fudge: The ratio I like to follow is one can of condensed milk (395g) and about 100g of butter to one of block chocolate. Basically, melt and mix. You can add crushed nuts or biscuits, fruit, lollies, spices or anything you like to it. Bailey’s and dark chocolate always goes down a treat. Once you’ve mixed it, pour
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it into moulds or a bar pan and refrigerate until solid. Add less butter and condensed milk for harder fudge and more for the real melt-in-your-mouth goopy kind. Praline: For the chocolate intolerant, praline is a good gift because it is sweet, visually appealing, and can be used for all sorts of things. Put a cup of sugar in a saucepan on low heat with a couple of teaspoons of water and melt it, then turn the heat up to high and bring it to the boil. Stir for about five to seven minutes until it starts to turn golden brown, then pour onto a tray lined with baking paper and leave it to set. If you’re adding things to it, either mix it into the sugar in the saucepan or lay the ingredients on the baking tray then pour the sugar over it. Be careful, the sugar will not only be boiling hot but will stick to you if you touch it. Once it has set, crack it with a hammer and you have a praline! You can either wrap it and give it away or use in other recipes such as these. Coconut melts: Another chocolate free recipe. For this all you really need is a bag of desiccated/shredded coconut. Pour a cup or so into a food processor, turn it on, and process the coconut until it becomes wet and smooth (about two to three minutes). Pour it into moulds and let it set. The result is an intense coconut flavoured and not too sweet candy that is not only delicious but has fewer calories than most chocolate. You can also use this as a replacement for chocolate and/or butter in other recipes, including the ones above. Now that you have these basic recipes down pat, you can go off and make your own cheap and customisable chocolate gifts for Easter. Enjoy!
THE CACTUS CHANNEL
magine ten teenagers on stage, fresh out of high school. Add guitars, sax, percussion, trumpets, an organ, tambourine and a killer funk soul beat, and you’ve got The Cactus Channel. Their name was coined from a hollowed-out TV set housing cacti, and their song titles come from the random collections in bassist Hudson’s shed. What started as innocent jam sessions in their school music room has seen them supporting The Cat Empire, grooving at the Apollo Bay and Harvest music festivals and releasing singles on good old fashioned vinyl. Bec Jones talked to members David Thor and Lena Douglas about their upcoming 45 Launch and all things funky. How did it feel to be approached by The Cat Empire?
LD: It was so epic. I have listened to them since I was ten. I basically came home from school one day and had a message on my answering machine from Lauren [saxophonist], who said “Lena, oh my God the Cat Empire want us to play with them!” DT: It was so exciting. Their DJ was at a record store owned by a guy we know, and he just gave the DJ a couple of copies of our stuff. We’ve actually been really lucky with the people we know in terms of the funk scene in Melbourne. When you placed in the top six of Triple J’s Unearthed High 2011, did you feel like your music was a bit foreign to your classmates?
DT: A tiny bit. If you listen to all the other bands they’re all kind of generic indie pop/rock. That’s why I was worried about us entering.
BEC JONES CHATS WITH TWO MEMBERS OF TEN PIECE FUNK OUTFIT THE CACTUS CHANNEL
LD: Yeah, I have this theory that our music is different enough for people to be interested, but not generic enough for us to win first place. DT: Although, there’s a renewal of the whole funk soul scene that started about five years ago, with bands in Brooklyn on the Daptone Label... But also here with The Bamboos. They’re the height of funk soul in Melbourne. So it’s important to start networking with others on the funk scene?
LD: There are some people that are just ridiculously supportive. We’ve been recording with the guys from HopeStreet Recordings in Brunswick. They say to us, you guys just come along and we’ll record you and risk losing a lot of money, and it’s just amazing. DT: Yeah, our first 45 sold out. There are no more copies. Except for the eight in my bedroom. Maybe in fifty years time they’ll be rare. Have you considered incorporating vocals?
DT: We’re considering getting a singer. But we don’t want be that generic funk band that’s replaying what it was like in the 60s. And also eleven people, it’s a lot of people! LD: It can get very predictable... It really shits me off when people only think about the sing-
er and the lyrics, and I think one thing we’re pretty good at is having an even spotlight. Why did you make the decision to release your single on vinyl?
DT: It’s been a funk band tradition, I guess. It feels more genuine, putting the needle down on the record and hearing a bit of a crackle. That’s what all the bands did back in the 60s, and with the revival that’s just what we’ve started doing. Other than your second single launch, can you reveal plans for the rest of 2012? Albums, tours, world domination?
DT: This can be a bit of an exclusive! We recorded an album last year at HopeStreet Recordings, which we’re going to be releasing later this year. We’re going to try and tour around Australia as well around September. LD: We’ve got our first interstate gig this March too, which is very exciting. It’s in Sydney supporting Charles Bradely, who’s on the Daptone Label. So stay tuned, because things are happening for The Cactus Channel. You can catch their Funk 45 Launch Party on March 31st at the Evelyn Hotel, 9pm. Tickets $15.
Every Tuesday at North Court different bands strut their stuff for hungry students, their chats with Farrago will appear online each week.
THE PUTA MADRE BROTHERS. INTERVIEW BY ZOE KINGSLEY
dding an intoxicating blend of Hawaiian and Blues to their Margarita-Mexican riffs, the Puta Madre Brothers (Anto, Pickle and Renato) caused a Spaghetti-Western spectacle as the first act to front North Court this year. On-stage they flashed their Sombrero-like clichés with brazen pride and dust-splattered guts, and showcased their impressive technical abilities as one-man band musicians. Yet off-stage, behind the bravado, their stilted, deadpan aloofness, in hindsight, begs the ultimate question: if in a face-off against a Clint Eastwood alter-ego, could their loaded pistol of attitude prevail? Well, that is for you lovely readers to decide. For those who don’t know, what does Puta Madre translate to?
“Beautiful Mother” Brothers, the “Wonderful Mother” Brothers or the “Sons of Mother” Brothers.
In Hobart, Tassie and Switzerland [specifically] in an African bar in the Swiss Alps. In contrast, where have you found your most awkward audience?
Melbourne University… people were too busy thinking to enjoy themselves, too busy thinking You’ll have to talk to our mother about study and stuff… Do you think we’ve made enemies? I about that, she created us. hope so… It’s too boring if you What’s the cultural and only have friends. How was this nacho-ridden Mexican posse created?
musical appeal of all things Mexican, as is obviously Have you taken on the your band’s inspiration? motherland (Mexico) yet? If you have, how did they react to you guys? It’s just the best really…
All things fake Mexican are pretty great too… The heat, the colour and the danger… and Ritchie Valens rock ‘n’ roll—although he’s from Venezuela and he doesn’t even speak Spanish.
We sent him [Anto points to Renato] there on a research trip. [Turns to Renato] It was good—nice ice-cream… can’t remember too much, bought some good boots and some nice teddy bears and handFrom your travels, I under- made stuffed toys: monkeys, stand you’ve toured nationally and internationally giraffes… countless times, where did you find your most understanding audience?
FARRAGO — EDITION TWO 2012
What prevails in the band: enough hand-eye coordination to play both the drums and guitar at the same time or the ability to grow a killer Mexican-style moustache?
We don’t have either [laughs]. These are drawn on [points to their charcoaled mos] and the other stuff we can barely do it. What does a three-set one-man band bring to the table compared to more conventional bands?
Three times as much of everything. As the infamous Puta Madre Brothers, do you have any advice to give to us young, impressionable Melbourne uni students?
Fight, break things and smoke a cigar. It’s important to break things, otherwise all you’re gonna do is not break things and keep the world gentrified and conservative.
Wrecking Ball REVIEW BY JAMES BURGMANN
recking Ball signifies a new direction for ‘The Boss’—a homage to his rock balladry that comes in the form of a distinctly modern, soulful and occasionally R&Besque record. An oldie meddling with the new can often be cringe-worthy. However, Springsteen aptly blends traditional and contemporary styles, as evidenced on “Rocky Ground” and “Land of Hope and Dreams”. Delta Blues meets the American frontier dressed in Pop on “Easy Money”; “Death of My Hometown” achieves a wonderfully cohesive synthesis of Celtic melodies, rocky rhythms and guitar hooks; and a stirring of Mariachi and Americana is dexterously showcased on “We Are Alive”. Conversely, “Jack of All Trades” is a moving piano ballad invested in standard cadences and melodic sequences to emphasise simple, poignant lyricism. The ‘Swamps of Jersey’ (listen to the title-track) rocker appeared musically aimless on his previous record, Working On A Dream. Here, he has clarity of vision akin to that found on 2005’s Devils & Dust. While the latter depicted a conceptual collage of destitute, bottom-of-the world characters, Wrecking Ball is a fiery, sociallyconscious album with close thematic ties to 1982’s Nebraska, despite being musically dissimilar. ‘The Boss’ is well and truly back with this carousing stomp of an album.
NEW RELEASES WITH THOMAS ABILDGAARD
Toward the Low Sun REVIEW BY JAMES BURGMANN
he Australian instrumental trio’s first studio album in seven years is a mixed bag, ranging from harsh and chaotic to sublime and beautiful. The two opening tracks, “Furnace Skies” and “Sometimes I Forget You’ve Gone”, introduce the album on a weak, alltoo-chaotic note. Fortunately, the post-rock group begin to remedy this by the third track. From here, Toward the Low Sun goes on a journey into worlds, both sparse and textured. The sublime concordance of violins, guitars, piano and drums is most noteworthy on the impressionistic “Moon On the Land” and “Ashen Snow”. Dirty Three are at their best when delving into unpolished acoustics; having mastered a unique weeping tone over the last two decades. When it comes to experimenting with beat, pulse and rhythm, however they fall short—although, these aspects are astutely focussed on throughout the rhythmically dynamic “Rising Below”. Regardless, Warren Ellis’ crying violin is the centrepiece of this band; the songs that adhere to that instrument hierarchy truly standout. “The Pier” and “Rain Song” are testament to this fact. The closing song, “You Greet Her Ghost”, fittingly brings the album to a confluence where the jagged and the smooth meet in superb harmony.
Some of the sounds on Interstellar remind me so much of Disintegration that I feel like suing her for fat old Bob. She really just stole the beat from “Close To Me” for her track “Know Me”, but it sounds great and I love the Cure so who the hell am I to complain? The internet says Frankie used to be a member of the Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts, and the Dum Dum Girls, thankfully this sounds so much better than any of those twats. This thing is awash in harmonies that reverberate around you like some really cohesive self proclaimed Social Media Gurus getting real excited about Pinterest or something else stupid. By all of which I mean, it’s pretty great.
I’m generally pretty sceptical about anything Pitchfork tells me is supposed to be good, because really, they know nothing and think less. Also, Grimes is Canadian and that sets alarm bells ringing. Always remember what Alanis Morissette and Bryan Adams did to us in the past. Watch out for Shania too, I hear she bites. However, all this said Visions is pretty darn good if you’re into cooed icy-vocals over glitchy electronica. It’s nowhere near as original as people are trying to claim it to be, but it’s still some rather interesting music for a dreary day when you’re feeling oh-so oppressed by the heat.
SLEIGH BELLS REIGN OF TERROR
Frankly, you’re not supposed to do anything but drink bourbon to this record from Nashville collective Lambchop, and for that it’s great. Unfortunately, it’s not that much good for everything else. Not to say it’s as bad as having to listen to Gwyneth Paltrow talk about anything other than burning her eyebrows off with the fat of an exploding duck, it’s not, it’s really quite good. There is just nothing remarkable about Mr. M. It’s an enjoyable, well-written, well-recorded and produced alt-country meander, but it’s not great. Not great at all. Perhaps due to the fact that this is album 11 from an almost 20 year career, but it feels like they’re punching in the numbers.
A terrible disappointment akin only to the feeling after you have had sex with an actual minx, which people tell me is a horrible cat-like creature that will rip out your eye balls and eat your prized genitalia—you know, the one you bring out on special occasions. I really quite enjoyed their first record’s mix of huge processed guitars and pretty hooks, but this just makes it all disgusting like a bucket of chicken. The guitars sound like the worst kind of AC/DC nonsense and where the hell are those damn hooks? I hate this so much I want to grow a beard, start wearing sandals, and start some sort of a folk-rock collective, with mandolins. Mandolins of all things!
Dickens’ Women REVIEW BY:
Daniel Czech ournalist turned writer Rose Maloney (Sara Gleeson) embarks on a trip to the UK with her Vietnam veteran father, Danny (Tony Martin). They are attending the 80th birthday party of Rose’s grandfather Brian (Max Gillies), whom Rose has never met. Brian is a spirited old man with a proclaimed IRA heritage and brazenly flaunts himself as both a revolutionary and patriarch. Ironically though, he lives in Nottingham and is the widower of an English wife. He has not seen Danny for 30 years and bares a grudge toward him for leaving the family to live in Australia and then later fight in Vietnam. All this makes for fascinating material for Rose, who is researching her family history for a book she is writing. But the heart of this story is not a simple family grudge. This semi-autobiographical play by Kate Mulvany is about the physical and mental fallout of war, for both soldiers and their families. It juxtaposes Danny, who suffers ‘whiteouts’ and fits of rage, against Brian, who seems strangely at peace with his brutal experiences. Then there’s Rose: born with kidney cancer that has caused her immense physical suffering, she is unable to bare children and because of this has been recently deserted by her fiancé. As you can probably imagine, all this baggage (or in Brian’s case lack-there-of ) makes for one hell of an interesting birthday party. Kate Mulvany’s script is wonderful. She writes dialogue that is witty and entertaining and at the same time profound and
poignant. Lengthy conversation scenes are intercut with haunting flashbacks to Rose’s childhood. These occur at precisely the right moments to lift the dramatic momentum as the play drives towards its surprising and powerful catharsis. Her characters are all thoroughly engrossing and real; each has their own special vernacular, wit and pathos and the actors lap this up. Sara Gleeson gives a beautifully dignified performance as Rose, and Tony Martin has an engaging, stoic energy as Danny. But the standout is Max Gillies. He is wildly charismatic as Brian and though the other two are fantastic, they simply cannot match his magnetic performance. Anne-Louise Sarks has directed this play very deftly. It is simply staged; props such as couches, a lamp and some very suspicious looking boxes imply the living room space in which most of the play takes place. A sharply rendered lighting state is used in the place of physical walls, and blue washes and spots create atmosphere for the very lyrical monologues Rose delivers in the flashbacks. It was a bold choice for a company as big as the MTC to stage a play so minimally, but the absence of spectacle is what this play needs. It’s intimate. It’s a character affair; one that reveals a terrible legacy of Vietnam of which many (myself included) would be ignorant. It’s one of the most compelling Australian plays I’ve seen the MTC produce since ‘When the Rain Stops Falling’.
iriam Margolyes (otherwise known as Professor Sprout from Harry Potter) has been performing Dickens’ Women for 23 years. This year she is taking it on a world tour, as 2012 marks Dickens’ 200th birthday. The performance is essentially a onewoman show, with a pianist adding sparse but skillful undertones to her dialogue. Margolyes, at 70 years of age, convincingly portrayed 23 characters in a series of monologues and dramatic readings, ranging from the pre-pubescent Little Nell to the elderly, deranged Miss Havisham. Margolyes connected each of the pieces into a whole work by sharing her love and knowledge of Dickens with her audience, and she drew parallels between the women in his life and those who appeared in his novels. She excelled at playing some of Dickens’ most vivid and grotesque females, eliciting laughter from her audience for the majority of the performance, particularly in a courtship scene between Mrs Corney and Mr Bumble. Miss Wade and Miss Flite were beautifully, heart-wrenchingly performed, but sadly Nancy from Oliver Twist was not present at all. Apart from this disappointment, Dickens’ Women was brilliant. Just as Dickens brought characters alive for Margolyes, she gave Dickens’ women a new dimension.
The Seed is playing at the Fairfax Theatre, the Arts Centre, until 4 April.
Dickens’ Women has closed, yet is touring nationally. See dickenswomen.com for details.
FARRAGO — EDITION TWO 2012
Q&A SCOTT WHINFIELD SPEAKS WITH DANNY BALL AND ANGELIQUE MURRAY The cast of The Apartment, a self-devised play loosely based on a Raymond Carver story, have been rehearsing with a safety word: pineapple. As opposed to any playtime naughtiness, the need for a safety word is a reflection of the challenges posed in the rehearsal room, director Danny Ball notes. Given that the play is in part based upon the actors’ lives, much of the material explored became extremely personal. The four actors had the option of ending an exercise if it became too overwhelming. “It’s a much more confronting process, and it’s also a very liberating
The 24-Hour Play Project REVIEW BY:
t six o’clock on the Thursday evening of O Week, the annual 24 Hour Play Project commenced. Four writers and four directors were randomly paired and, equipped with their stimuli of one prop, two words, a location, an event, a cast, and their own personal supplies of enthusiasm and creativity—they set to work creating original piecies of theatre. Scripts were due at seven o’clock Friday morning. Roughly 12 hours later, the audience was seated in the Guild Theatre, ready to witness the results of this grand theatrical experiment. The results were surprising. First up was Sharp Point. What the cast lacked in accent training, they made up for with facial-expression-based-comedy. A marketing team creating an ad campaign for the London Olympics; a boss killed with a chopstick; the belief that the mere mention of Hitler will produce laughs (it did). This one has the potential to become a clever piece of satire.
The Cynic was a pseudophilosophical play sitting awkwardly between comedy and drama. A bomb is discovered in a museum, the terrorist enters: cue cheesy lines, confused motives, an existential debate and life-affirming monologues. The third play, An Approximation of Madness, contained my two-minute highlight. What did the title have to do with personified windmills? I’m not sure, but I loved the Pythonesque skit the piece opened with. Finally, Are you or-ange-you dead? Here was a brave attempt at absurdism – a safe style to pick if you want to effectively create a sense of intelligence and humour. It had me fooled! The funeral of an orange was an offbeat concept, and the play had some great comic lines. What was produced during the Project may not have been finely polished, but it certainly got the creative juices flowing and was great preparation for the pressure cooker of student productions.
one: starting with yourself as a person as opposed to playing a character,” said Ball. The Apartment explores the lives of four twenty-somethings living together and ideas surrounding voyeurism and the construction of identity. The play is the first production for Four Walls and a Roof. “The company has come out of the need for a company to support The Apartment,” Ball identified. The show’s producer, Angelique Murray, recognised how its formation has led to greater plans: “We realised through [creating the company] that there was actually a lot of scope to continue working together and with the encouragement of Union House Theatre (UHT), with Josie Bryt, and Alice Dawes, the Arts officer this year, it made us realise we could do some more projects.” Murray describes The Apartment as a very natural place to start. “You’ve got twenty-somethings playing twenty-somethings
watched by twenty-somethings in a situation that is perfectly relatable that you use your own experiences to present and connect with the show. It’s the most challenging, yet most natural place to start for an emerging student theatre company.” Both Ball and Murray insist that audience members will feel something when seeing their show, be it love, hate or discomfort. According to Ball, “you can’t passively sit through this show and think, ‘It was nice. Drinks?’” Murray has noticed how relatable the show has been with visitors to their rehearsals. “A lot of people will come into the workshop space will say, ‘That happened to me last December in Berlin’ or ‘That is my lounge room.’ I’m really eager to hear what the audience says.” The Apartment runs from 21-24 March in the Guild Theatre, Level 1, Union House.
The Wild Duck REVIEW BY:
he Wild Duck, a Belvoir St Theatre production recently re-staged at the Malthouse Theatre, is more than a modern adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s classic play. It is a reinvention. Director Simon Stone has taken Ibsen’s idea and reinvigorated it to reflect the struggles, lies, disappointment and deceit that plague families in our time. Despite the somewhat melodramatic narrative, the theatrical choice to place the actors inside a glass box removes the viewer from the emotions of the characters, encouraging them to a more analytical experience. This production boasts an impressive cast of six, including John Gaden and Ewen Leslie. Each actor rose to the challenge of being disconnected from their audience, achieved through clever use of radio microphone and physical interaction with their glass cage. Needless to say that having a live duck on the stage (albeit it a clearly well trained one), quacking on cue was an event in itself. Stand out directorial decisions include when Anthony Phelan fired a shotgun into the audience. The Wild Duck asks us to take a clinical eye to our actions, in the same way the audience judges the characters on stage. It is little wonder that this play won a host of awards last year at the Sydney Theatre and the Helpmann Awards. The Wild Duck has now closed.
TV * FILM * GAMES
A DANGEROUS METHOD
REVIEW BY TOM CLIFT
REVIEW BY RICHARD HARIDY
REVIEW BY ANDREW BEECH JONES
ike a knife to the neck, The Raid— an Indonesian action film written, directed and edited by English ex-pat Gareth Evans—arrives to stab us multiple times before reminding all film fans that the action genre is not dead. This despite Hollywood’s recent chaotic, headacheinducing efforts to kill it. The set-up is simple: As a SWAT team swarms the giant 30-floor compound of a ruthless crime lord things quickly go awry. Psychotic martial artists, machete wielding drug dealers and gun toting thugs come out to play as the cops fight for their lives floor to floor in this amped-up play on Die Hard. This isn’t a particularly game-changing film but instead is an impeccable example of how to make a non-stop kinetic piece of cinema that is paced to perfection. Evans builds his set pieces cleverly, escalating from bullets to knives to fists, and alternating shooting styles accordingly. This really is a near-perfect example of action cinema. Violent, propulsive, bloody, visceral and whatever other adjectives you want to throw at it, The Raid is simply the best action film this writer has seen in many years.
s the Roman Empire crumbled, the city’s games, festivals and orgies became increasingly elaborate and obscene. Generously, one could interpret Project X in the same light, as a satirical vision of the spoiled brats of recession-hit American literally setting fire to their consumerist paradise and wilfully destroying their future in a gigantic hedonistic spectacle. Truthfully though, that’s a generosity that the film—a putrid mess excreted by director Nima Nourizadeh and producer Todd Philips (The Hangover)— simply doesn’t deserve. In fashionable “found footage” style, the film follows a trio of affluent high school jerks who, channelling the spirit of Corey Worthington, publicise an “epic” party which soon descends into a kind of unerotic, mediocre and hideously misogynistic music video peppered with moments of jump-the-shark stupidity. I say misogynist, but given that the male ‘characters’ are basically just cardboard cut-outs with cocks, it would be more apt to say that the film degrades both genders. Most appallingly, Project X asks us to identify with adolescents so selfish and indulged that they consider a car to be a “lame” birthday present. Clunky references to genre classics with actual wit and heart like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Animal House also fail dismally. A crass abomination.
avid Cronenberg’s most accessible film to date is also, unfortunately, his blandest. The Canadian director rose to prominence in the seventies with body horror films like The Brood, before gaining further notoriety and acclaim with the likes of Videodrome, The Fly and, more recently, A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. For a filmmaker who has always been fascinated by the connections—tangible and intangible—between the body and the mind, the rivalry between psychoanalysts Carl Jung (Viggo Mortensen) and Sigmund Freud (Michael Fassbender) at the dawn of the twentieth century seems in theory like the perfect subject matter for Cronenberg. Sadly, it is his uncharacteristic restraint that proves the film’s undoing. Fassbender and the terrifically understated Mortensen are both strong, but their conversations make up only a small portion of the running time. The rest of the story is dedicated to the illicit relationship between Jung and a Russian patient, played by a ludicrously over-the-top Keira Knightley. Scenes between the two of them are disappointingly tame, and the whole film ultimately leaves you wondering how much more memorable it might have been had it been made much earlier in Cronenberg’s career. A Dangerous Method will be in theatres 29 March.
The Raid will be in theatres 22 March.
FARRAGO — EDITION TWO 2012
Project X is in theatres now.
MICROREVIEWS Tyrannosaur (23 Feb) 1 Gripping debut feature from actor
Paddy Considine. Frank, disturbing and stirring depictions of impoverished suburban domesticity with a breakthrough performance from Olivia Colman.
MERYL WINS, KERMIT GRINS & BILLY CRYSTAL’S STILL ALIVE
Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close (23 Feb) Moving adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel from director Stephen Daldry set in post 9/11 New York. Powerful performances from Thomas Horn, Sandra Bullock and Viola Davis.
Contraband (23 Feb)
BY EMILY FINLAY
f movies were boyfriends, this year’s best film winner would be the strong, silent type. And if the Academy Awards were boyfriends, this year’s ceremony would be the type of guy who is well-meaning but just ohso dull and predictable. The Oscars this year were all about the old. Two of the films nominated for the top prize, The Artist and Hugo, celebrate the magic of silent films and their ability to transpose the audience into another world. Unfortunately, nine-time host Billy Crystal had many viewers wishing they too were in another world. Most of his jokes fell flat, from his opening joke about Incredibly Loud and Unbelievably Close to his dig at Christian Bale’s infamous rant. This might have been funny... except that it happened over three years ago. There were few surprises at this year’s awards. Silent film The Artist swept most of the major categories, winning Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor. It has been over 80 years since a silent film has won the top honours at the Academy Awards, but The Artist’s win proves the adage that sometimes, silence truly is golden. Director Michel Hazanvicius and actor Jean Dujardin were particularly charming in their acceptance speeches, flashing their mega-watt grins and speaking in broken English. Hugo, Martin Scorcese’s tale of a French orphan who lives in a railway station, also fared well. It won five technical awards from its 11 nominations, including the awards for Cinematography and Art Direction. Continuing with the “in with the old” theme, Christopher Plummer set a record
‘Marky Mark Wahlberg’ tries unsuccessfully to convince us he’s got street cred in this dull, bloated remake of an Icelandic thriller. ILLUSTRATION BY RACHELLE MOULIC
when he won Best Supporting actor for playing an elderly man who comes out as gay in the film Beginners. Upon accepting his Oscar, Plummer joked about winning his first Academy Award at the age of 82. “You’re only two years older than me darling. Where have you been all my life?” Octavia Spencer’s Best Supporting Actress win provided one of the few moments of genuine emotion. Receiving a standing ovation, The Help actress teared up as she thanked everyone from her family to the entire state of Alabama. The only slight surprise was Meryl Streep winning Best Actress for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. It was her third win from 17 nominations, a fact she acknowledged in her acceptance speech. “When they called my name, I had a feeling I could hear half of America going ‘Oh no, oh why her again?’”. While Australia lacked any high profile nominations, Australian Kirk Baxter (along with Angus Wall) won the film editing award for his work on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Clearly surprised by their win, the editing team ran out of things to say and cut the rest of their speech. Other highlights included Flight of the Conchord’s Bret McKenzie winning Best Original Song, presenter Angelina Jolie’s weird leg-baring pose (which was immediately mocked by the Adapted Screenplay winners from The Descendents), Emma Stone’s over-the-top presentation style and trying to figure out whether presenter J.Lo had a nip-slip situation.
Like Crazy (1 March) Two college kids from the US and the UK fall in love and battle Visa woes. A dull and painfully slow film packed with endless scenes of Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin staring aimlessly into each other’s eyes. ~ Tom Clift & James Madden
DVD OF THE MONTH
BREAKING BAD SEASON 1 2 Breaking Bad ups the ante yet again
in Season 4 as chemistry teacher, suburban father and meth manufacturer Walter White (Bryan Cranston) continues down his ever-darkening criminal path along with his delinquent protégé Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). Following last year’s jaw-dropping season finale, the pair finds itself on tenterhooks with their psychopathic employer Gus (Giancarlo Esposito). The middle of the season may seem to drag at points but impeccable writing and performances largely make up for it. In any case, it’s all worth it for the final four episodes, which constitute some of the most gripping, unpredictable and satisfying television that the series has ever produced. ~ Tom Clift
DRINK YOURSELF MAD BY ALEX O’BRIEN
o me, the 1960s ended on the day that Freddy Rumson quit drinking and joined AA. Devotees of television’s acclaimed drama Mad Men will of course know that I refer to the series’ middling copywriter, infamously fired for wetting his pants and missing a meeting with suitcase manufacturer Samsonite. Series creator Matthew Weiner has frequently expressed that the show’s central theme—its raison d’etre—is to depict the consequences of the decade’s various excesses; thus when the characters smoke too much they develop coronaries, when they tan they burn, and when they get sober they become solemn and humourless. As Raymond Chandler’s immortal Philip Marlowe insists of temperance, “You have to get used to a paler set of colours, a quieter lot of sounds”. It has always been my feeling that the allure of alcohol is its appeal to possibility – its appeal to the irrational belief that anything can and will happen when one starts drinking (though of course the reality is inevitably duller and much more likely to lead to nonessential online purchases). Jonathan Ames, novelist and creator of HBO’s unjustly cancelled series Bored to Death, describes the lure of relapse like this: Still, like most sots, I romanticize booze, and so I was sitting there… every night wishing I could have a glass of red wine, as if one glass would turn my life into a Fitzgerald novel. When Mad Men’s protagonist, Don Draper (née Dick Whitman), sets out into the night in the episode ‘Seven Twenty Three’ clutching an old-fashioned glass behind the wheel of his Cadillac, the fact that he is robbed and beaten-up by hitchhikers seems
ILLUSTRATION: ELLA DYSON
somehow immaterial. Isn’t this after all what he is seeking? The French phrase ‘nostalgie de la boue’—literally to feel a nostalgic yearning for the mud—describes, in essence, the nature in which Draper seems to be living his life as one long cry for help; living as if in search of abasement. A uniquely alcoholic impulse, it seems. In a series that assails all matter of turmoil upon minority groups, it is with a strange sense of guilt that I admit one of the most affecting scenes in the entire series consists of Draper having the prostitute he is frequenting slap him in the face (“Stop telling me what to do,” she says, “I know what you want.”) What it means that I gravitate towards this particular scene I don’t know—surely something Oedipal. Perhaps what is most startling about the experience of watching Mad Men is realising how quickly we have reached our current levels of reform, if not austerity, in relation to drink. Every time my whisky bottle expresses its concern and asks me kindly: IS YOUR DRINKING HARMING YOURSELF OR OTHERS?, there is still a part of me that answers, “Yes, but isn’t that really the point?” I will of course pare back my intake the minute the questioner adopts a more mocking tone. I will abstain when the somatic murmur is no longer whispered, but is mentioned aloud: earnestly referring me to where I imagine my liver to be. Somewhere low and vital I
FARRAGO — EDITION TWO ONE 2012
suppose; though I’ve never been quite sure. However, as Draper writes in his diary: “They say as soon as you have to cut down on your drinking, you have a drinking problem.” Self-awareness can be a real paradox. But self-awareness is exactly what Mad Men is about. We watch to see if the characters realise the true nature of the social climate in which they live: in all its anachronism, disparity and promise of an ‘American future’. As Michael Lambeck writes, memory “is always in the act of being made”—it is an act performed in the now—Draper’s drinking and his ubiquitous melancholy can perhaps be viewed as an inchoate acceptance and penance for the decade’s ills; morality imposed on him from our position of relative reform. Certainly, how the series is to confront the civil rights movement in the upcoming season, as Latoya Peterson suggests in Slate, will be the true reflection of its calibre. Mad Men’s relevance will be measured by how well it can fracture the decadal illusion described in Richard Yates’ 1961 novel Revolutionary Road, that: A man could rant and smash and grapple with the State Police, and still the sprinklers whirled at dusk on every lawn and the television droned in every living room. The highly anticipated 5th season of Mad Men will begin to hum on US television (and download sites) on 25 March.
Books. Shanti Bloody Shanti
BY AARON SMITH
BY GEOFF DYER
REVIEW BY JESS O’CALLAGHAN REVIEW BY JOSH ARANDT
aron Smith’s ‘Indian Odyssey’ Shanti Bloody Shanti is described as “Sarah McDonald’s Holy Cow but more dramatic, or Gregory David Robert’s Shantaram but laugh out loud funny”. As someone who got pretty annoyed reading the first of those books, but who loved the latter, I spent a lot of the time reading this take on a trip through India attempting to place it somewhere in the middle. Holy Cow’s redeeming feature is that it at least makes a point, no matter how much whinging it took to get to it. McDonald explores religion in India, her own lack of spirituality, and the quirky day-to-day life of the ABC India correspondent’s house in the late 1990s. The point of Robert’s book hits you on every page; it’s an epic drama, and has the benefit of being true and incredible at the same time. Until page 200 I couldn’t work out why Aaron Smith had been able to publish a book consisting of so many mundane travel anecdotes, and by that time I had yelled at him a few times and fallen asleep a few more. He spends the first 180 pages complaining about his unwanted travel companions, describing rather boring drug trips and avoiding anything that might have made the book interesting. The synopsis proclaims he is fleeing “his shady Australian past” (because, as he tells us maybe ten trillion times, he is an “ex-punk rocker”), “encounters a murder mystery” (looks at a dead body while tripping on acid), “witnesses the tragic death of a friend” (though spends only two chapters with her), “dodges terrorist attacks” (decides not to go to Nepal), and “a revolution” (again, he decides not to go to Nepal) and “befriends a cast of characters fit for a Bollywood film” (characters he makes you loathe and explains he will probably never see again, only to sentimentally reveal that they were the point of the book all along). The book explores none of these things well. What ties the Shanti Bloody Shanti together is the oft-explored idea that fate is somehow heightened in India. That it’s a country of contradictions; with the poor
and the not poor, and the spirituality and the arguments with Ambassador taxi drivers. The book reads more like a travel blog which would only be of interest if you were Aaron’s friend, checking in to see that he is still alive, and thinking, ‘Man, I’m glad he didn’t go to Nepal’. The story could have been interesting, if Aaron Smith had been a more interesting traveller. If he had wondered about other travellers’ lives, and if he didn’t categorise everyone he met as either ‘wet behind the ears’, or too far swallowed up by India that they could never return home. The author throwing his Lonely Planet out the window of a train is no better than the Israeli hippies singing John Lennon songs, the gap year students in Goa, or his friend Frankie who flits from ashram to ashram, changing his name, and sleeping with women. Smith has a knack for capturing a moment: a smell, a time of day, a street corner. He is great at evoking the feeling that all the tourists wandering the subcontinent are part of some universal conspiracy comprised of fate and drug induced stupidity. Unfortunately he draws this idea out where subtlety would have sufficed. If you’re heading to India, and need a travel book that’s easy to swap in guesthouse common rooms, take this one. If you’re looking for a page-turner, maybe start this one at page 200.
alfway through Geoff Dyer’s latest work, Zona, the author finds himself asking “What kind of writer am I, reduced to writing a summary of a film?” And it’s not just any film, but Andrei Tarkovsky’s relatively obscure cult classic Stalker. But that’s the kind of writer Dyer is and has always been, a risk taker whose blend of slacker-conversation, meta-narration, and erudite criticism has seen him attain a cult status of his own. Zona is no different. Although it follows the movie frame by frame, the text feels anything but conventional in its plotting, and rather than a sustained critique on the film, the scenes feel like a rhetorical leash, something to reign the author in every time one of his digressions threatens to break out and make a run for it. At any one point we might find Dyer moving from English Romantic poetry to the problems encountered by taking psychedelics in middle age, to the astonishment of emperor Dom Pedro discovering a telephone for the first time. But these digressions never feel unwelcome or unnecessary, and by the time Dyer admits somewhat sheepishly that the book is really “an account of watching, rememberings, misrememberings and forgettings” the gig’s already up. Yet the trick with Dyer, which makes his writing so compelling, is that it would be equally unfair to say that this little book of his isn’t about his love of film—or for that matter his love of Stalker. Dyer’s main interest here is concrete life, of the role art plays in lived experience. Yet he seems to find all these little titbits in the grab-bag of Tarkovsky’s film—as if Stalker is itself the very incarnation of art’s abstract form. Yes it’s true what the blurb says, you don’t have to see this movie or have an ecstatic love for film to enjoy Zona—but it sure helps. Possessing neither, at times I felt I was reading a collection of strange anecdotes punctuated by one of those laborious onesided conversations you find yourself nodding to at a cousin’s wedding. But nevertheless, an enjoyable read from an author everyone should encounter at least once.
CRAFTY IN CLASS WORDS AND PHOTOS BY CHRISTINA LEE
I’m the sort of person with the attention span of a goldfish. Any amount of sitting still and listening is enough to render me comatose with boredom. In the same way you let toddlers colour on tablecloths, I like to bring little craft projects to lectures to keep me busy. This semester, instead of drooling into your textbooks, indulge in a little bit of pro-craft-stination! With a little bit of set up, you can work on these projects in 9:00am lectures, while crammed into a tram nestled in a filthy guy’s armpit, or wherever the urge to kill people strikes.
2. You can get all fancy here, but back stitch is super easy. Sandwich the paper inside the embroidery hoop and tighten, gently pulling at the fabric until you have a flat, taut surface (yeaaah, baby).
EMBROIDERY: Ditch the embroidered kitties and balloons and make your own rad embroidery patterns. You can find all kinds of patterns free online, but with a pencil and some baking paper, you can trace any picture you want. Here, I’ve commemorated a particularly inspiring lecture on political philosophy.
3. To perform a backstich, take a single, small stitch. From underneath the fabric, bring the needle back through a space ahead of the first stitch.
What you’ll need: • • •
Embroidery hoop Embroidery thread Fabric
For the pattern: • •
Tracing paper or baking paper Pencil Carbon paper (I got mine for $1.20 from my creepy local newsagent)
1. Take your pattern (here, I’ve traced a photo of the dashing and moustachioed philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche). Tape it to a square of carbon paper, tape the carbon paper to your fabric and carefully redraw the lines of the pattern with a pen.
4. Bring the needle down into the same hole at the end of the previous stitch, ultimately creating a figure eight with your thread.
5. Repeat your backstitch carefully along the drawn lines until you have your very own German Nihilist sampler!
FARRAGO — EDITION TWO 2012
PAINTING BY TESS RANGELOV
“Truth be told, tubing has less to do with inflatable tubes here than homebrewed alcohol, illicit drugs, and wasted dancing on a rickety wooden pontoons.” FREYA SCULLY—PAGE 38
“Although most Melbournians only became aware of the ‘Myki saga’ during the much publicised delays and cost blowouts of 2007/08 – at which point the word Myki almost entered the popular vernacular as a curse (“Gee, I really Myki-ed that right up!”) – it has since become clear that the smart card system was ‘Myki-ed’ from the beginning.”
“The spiders were huge, and this isn’t just me being a wimpy British tourist. Orb weaving, arse-globe protruding monsters hung between every tree in the vicinity. Our plans to run almost immediately fell by the wayside as we surveyed our surroundings.” EMILY FRENCH—PAGE 35
OWEN BENNETT—PAGE 41
STILL OFF AIR MHAIRI GADOR-WHYTE investigates the history of student radio at the University.
ILLUSTRATION: ELLA DYSON
FARRAGO — EDITION TWO 2012
he closest Melbourne University has come to its own student-run radio station was a brief fling with a pirate broadcast in the seventies, and hosting 3RRR while they were temporarily homeless. While the current radio programs that exist for young people provide great opportunities, the lack of our own student-run broadcast leaves MU students at a disadvantage. The Marketing and Communications department at Melbourne Uni runs a weekly audio program, Up Close, which is based on research and analysis of a wide variety of issues, with topics ranging from politics to science and the arts. The program includes interviews from Melbourne University academics, as well as experts from around the globe. Up Close has about 22,000 downloads per month, from around 95 countries. While there is an internship open to students studying the Master of Global Communications, student involvement with Up Close is minimal. The closest thing we have had to our own broadcast is Radio Resistance 3DR, a pirate radio station which was set up for three days in Union House in September 1971. As the illegal transmissions announced, 3DR was trying to “give power to the people” and attempted to persuade listeners to “resist the draft.” The Draft Resisters’ Union, which opposed Vietnam War conscription, helped to set up the broadcast in order to aid four young draft resisters who were avoiding arrest. Around 150 students came to the support of the draft resisters and camped out in Union House for three days and nights trying to keep the broadcast running, despite warnings that this could provoke a police raid. Although all students were eventually evicted, the transmitter and the four draft resisters were able to escape.
3DR is not the only radio to have broademployability within radio. As Azaria points broadcasting Melbourne-wide via a transcast from campus. For a few months in 1981, out, in the media “it’s not enough to just have mitter, Radio Monash has managed this community radio station 3RRR broadcast a degree”—without practical experience, it way for years. The Radio Monash website from Union House while they were waiting is extremely difficult to get a job in such a describes the transition to internet broadfor new studios in Fitzroy to be completed. competitive sector. Lamshed describes such cast as a way of “giving the diverse student Former Manager of 3RRR Reece Lamshed experience as essential, not only because of the population a global voice”. reminisces on this “weird period” in the stabroadcasting skills that one acquires through There is currently a studio at Meltion’s history: “As the next person came to volunteering at a radio station, but also bourne Uni which could be used to do the next shift, the broadcaster had to run because it demonstrates the passion for radio produce an online student radio program. downstairs to let the person in. There were that prospective employers look for. Lamshed The Horwood Studio, located in the John times when, in order to attract the person on cites Fran Kelly from Radio National, Ross Medley building, is available to students air, stones...were thrown at the for an hourly charge. While window.” it would be challenging to These days, students with source the funds to cover stuan interest in radio can turn dio hire and other expenses, to the Student Youth Network sourcing sponsorship is one of “Another option for Melbourne Uni students would be (SYN), and to a lesser degree the skills that Volkmer mento stream the broadcast online. While this is less exciting 3RRR. 3RRR still broadcasts tions when she talks about the than broadcasting Melbourne-wide via a transmitter, Room with a View, a program valuable experience students Radio Monash has managed this way for years.” run by RMIT Media students. would gain from being a part SYN, a youth-run media of student radio. organisation based in MelVolkmer is positive about bourne, provides hands-on exthe idea of streaming our perience for all young people own student radio broadcast aged 12-25. SYN was formed in 2000 in an Stevenson from 3AW and Greig Pickhaver online. “We could really reach out to other amalgamation of two smaller youth broad(HG Nelson from ‘Roy and HG’) as people students worldwide, develop programs tocasters. As Tahlia Azaria, the current General who have forged successful careers in radio gether [and] engage in public debates,” she Manager of SYN observes, they provide their after making a start at 3RRR. says. There are many universities around members with “twenty four hours of radio Lamshed believes that one thing radio the world which have their own student broadcast time per day”. programs offer to students is “a focus for the radio programs, including elite institutions While these are all great opportunities student community.” He imagines a Melsuch as Cambridge, Stanford and Princfor young Melburnians interested in radio, bourne Uni radio that would “keep it local” eton. Volkmer praises Harvard University’s Dr Ingrid Volkmer, from the School of and focus on cultural events such as thestudent radio (Harvard Radio BroadcastMedia and Communications at Melbourne atre, music and the arts, in addition to MU ing), which is run entirely by undergraduUniversity, believes that “it’s not the same” sports. Lamshed believes that a Melbourne ate students at the university. In addition as having dedicated, student-run radio. Volk- Uni student radio could provide “high qualto transmitting locally, the broadcast is also mer argues there is still a “big space” for a ity, challenging and relevant [political and streamed online for international audistudent radio program: “There are so many cultural] programs”. Volkmer is attracted to ences. Even on a smaller scale, Volkmer interesting debates and papers and talks gothe idea of “delivering university life to the says that a Melbourne Uni radio could ing on here, which could be delivered to the outside world”, as well as providing pro“serve the larger community of Melbourne” audience in Melbourne.” Volkmer supports grams that would deal with “all the issues instead of just the student community. She the idea of students collaborating with existthat affect...and relate to students”. cites Radio Adelaide, which is based at the ing programs, such as Up Close, to share Unfortunately, establishing and running University of Adelaide but is also a comskills, experience and technology. our own student radio may be easier said munity station for the whole city, as an A student-run radio program at Melthan done. According to Azaria, it is exexample of a campus radio which reaches bourne Uni would offer students hands-on extremely expensive to set up and maintain a out into the wider public. perience, which Volkmer believes is “essential radio station. The cost to establish SYN was When asked about the reasons why Melto give you a cutting edge” when applying for around $1 million and it requires around bourne University has never yet had its own employment in this sector. Volkmer says that $400,000 to run each year. Additionally, campus radio, Volkmer argues that “there just being involved in a student radio program Azaria says that the Federal Government is hasn’t been a group of people willing to take at Melbourne University would help students “not giving out any new full licenses in the it on”. She can’t imagine the university being to “build up their professional portfolio.” near future.” Another option for Melbourne opposed to the idea, and she is happy to supBoth Lamshed and Azaria also stress the Uni students would be to stream the broadport students who are willing to get “Radio importance of hands-on experience in terms of cast online. While this is less exciting than Melbourne” off the ground. farragomagazine.com
26 DAYS TO LAUGH SARINA MURRAY teaches you how to laugh for less at this years comedy festival.
LLUSTRATION : MAX DENTON
elbourne has a festival fetish. From stenciling to cabaret; from food and wine to underground films provoking their regurgitation, there’s always something on the calendar. The daddy of the lot is the International Comedy Festival. From March 28-April 22, dad jokes will abound—as will so much else. The record of shows seen at a single Melbourne International Comedy Festival sits at 145. There are 421 on offer this time around. As though you weren’t intimidated enough. As though the suspicion wasn’t niggling already at the back of your mind that, like every other festival, you’ll have all the best intentions and end up seeing nothing. It can be a risk. The up-and-comers might be dreadful—the really shocking thing, though, is how many are actually amazing. Of course, they still cost money. There are a lot of strategies to alleviate the pocket-strain. Check out comedy bars like Local Laughs (Monday), Checkpoint Charlie (Wednesday) and Softbelly (Thursday) in the lead-up week to see big names polishing their best jokes. After that, previews, running early in the festival, usually knock a few dollars off the price. They’re a chance for comics to try out their material, and may not show a performer at their best.
However, if you spend some time checking out who already did a run at the Adelaide Fringe, you should end up with a decently polished show. Adeladians may resent you referring to their year’s cultural highlight as a test run for Melbourne, so in asking your South Australian compatriots for advice, perhaps leave that part out. Then there are Cheap Tuesdays, which although offering more benefits to adults than concessions, will still leave you with a few extra bucks to buy your cheap wine when you inevitably decide to write your own show at the end of the evening. Many comedians don’t offer concessions at all on Fridays or Saturdays, so plan ahead and save the weekend for praising your preferred religious or cultural deity. If you’re born around this time of year, encourage friends to take you to shows. I sent a message to 15 people last year with this intent, and the 10 who responded were invited to a very fabulous dinner party. The rest should know better this time around. Giveaways also abound at the Comedy Festival. Scan the festival guide for faces to stalk in front of the Town Hall. You can go high-tech with this, too. Last year, I joined Twitter in advance of the festival and followed as many comedians as I could find, to see when they’d spurt out their offers. With the #MICF hash-tag, I
FARRAGO — EDITION TWO 2012
also found other humour aficionados with spare tickets they were happy to offload. Websites such as The Pun and The Enthusiast are another boon for free show offers, and in the lead up to the festival should be observed intently. Free is one thing, but quality is another. Pay close attention to Farrago’s website during the festival, as I’ll be reporting back on the standard of what I’m seeing. The Age, The Pun, The Groggy Squirrel and The Enthusiast will also offer daily reviews of shows throughout the festival’s run, and those receiving mass plaudits will soon become apparent. The Herald Sun will also be doing reviews—but their coverage, quite frankly, might be the biggest joke of all. Last year, among accusations that reviewers were sending their spouses to see shows instead of actually attending themselves came the revelation that most had never seen a comedy show before. This resulted in some tired sexist sentiments, a Twitter backlash and a hasty apology. To organise a night at the festival, use reviews to pique your interest but also be open to suggestion. Go to the Town Hall early, as shows will generally each go for one hour starting at 6:00pm, with fifteen minute gaps to move from venue to venue—almost everything is an hour earlier on Sundays, and practically nothing plays on Mondays. Let
“There are Cheap Tuesdays, which although offering more benefits to adults than concessions, will still leave you with a few extra bucks to buy your cheap wine when you inevitably decide to write your own show at the end of the evening.”
yourself be flyered and see a few shows per evening to get bang for your time. If you end up with an hour’s break, hit up the Victoria Hotel on Little Collins Street and spy on the comedians looking quite Pierrot as they temper their nerves before or after a performance. Come 11:00pm, comedian Karl Chandler recommends hitting up the Hi-Fi, across from Town Hall, where a rotating stream of big and small names will do bits from their acts to boost attendance numbers. There’s no tension in the air by that time of night, so it’s a great way to finish off the evening. Bec Petraitis, producer of SYN’s ‘In Joke’, which profiles comedy year-round, suggests venturing beyond the Town Hall circuit. Many smaller venues are often overlooked but offer more niche performance experiences. South Melbourne’s Butterfly Club specialises in quirk and cabaret, Chapel off Chapel (which is off Chapel) has a theatrical focus, and Red Bennies (which is on Chapel) does Burlesque. Additionally, the Hi Fi is not the only late-night show-case – Bella Union at Trades Hall will have Late Night Letters and Numbers, and Jenni Townsend’s ‘Non-Refundable Evening With…’ at Madame Brussels should show up some sparkling new stars. Comic Justin Hamilton suggests staying local. While many imports will attract big crowds, my experiences confirm our own young things often come up trumps. Last year, Michael Workman won Best Newcomer, after triumphing at Raw Comedy in 2009. He is as verbally dexterous as Dylan Moran or Tim Minchin, but his bites are poignant rather than crushingly acerbic. Losing to him was a fellow Sydneysider. With fake blood, a clever pipe set-up and memories of public speaking hell, Zoe
Coombs Marr soiled her swim suit and stained her face five minutes into last year’s ‘And That Was the Summer that Changed My Life’. Her theatrical background lends Coombs Marr a punching braveness that would be impressive even if she weren’t hilarious. But she is. In 2010 the newcomer award went to Claudia O’Doherty, who last year asked ‘What is Soil Erosion?’ and answered it with more accuracy and corduroy than you might have expected. She wrote ‘100 Facts About Pandas’ with the much more famous David O’Doherty (but is not his immediate relation). Her straight-faced approach to the bizarre transcends traditional dead-pan style, and when she suggests ‘Telescope’ is her first foray into theatre, you gather she means the entire concept of theatre will be undone. Despite playing with concepts that could descend into pretentious dross, she is not only watchable but mesmerising. Skipping the ‘newcomer’ credit entirely was ‘Dr Professor Neal Portenza’s Interactive Goat Hour V2.0’, nominated for the 2011 Golden Gibbo. The Gibbo celebrates local independent shows that eschew commerciality for innovation—a word which I suspect has been sullied for many of you by its misappropriation in our essay guidelines. ‘Does anyone have a petrol chainsaw they don’t need for about a month?’, asked Portenza’s creator Joshua Ladgrove recently, suggesting that ‘Choose Your Own Portenza’ will fulfill the word’s undone promise. Karl Chandler’s ‘Little Dum Dum Club’ podcast with Tommy Dassalo will be recorded live on Mondays from the Town Hall during the festival. The otherwise quiet day ensures they’ll scoop the biggest names, but one of the shows Chandler is
most psyched for is Sam Simmons. Simmons will be familiar to those of you who listen to Triple J, but his festival showings have become inevitable highlights. In 2010 he performed twice a night, despite becoming ill half way through the run. ‘The Incident’, with David Quirk, won that year’s Gibbo, while ‘Fail’ won the Piece of Wood—the prize voted for by comedians. Last year’s ‘Precise History of Things’ was nominated for The Barry. There are bad comics, there are average comics, there are great comics, and then there is Daniel Kitson. An exception to the ‘go local’ rule for every comedian and knowing pundit I spoke to, the Briton can transmit more emotion in one rambling story than most war films. My mouth never shut during last year’s ‘Interminable Suicide of Gregory Church’, whether I was laughing or just agape in wonder. The show was 90 minutes, but I needed a further hundred just to dwell in its wake. Despite an unerring ability to make you laugh, Kitson’s productions offer more than just comedy. If the world were just, he would sell out faster than a Kanye/Radiohead double-bill. From Hannah Gadsby’s tours of the NGV to Dr Brown’s terrifying take on the art of clowning, this years Comedy Festival has got you covered no matter what you’re looking for. Don’t let the enormity of what’s on offer dissuade you either. Of the dozens of shows I saw last year, I regret two. And neither of those comedians have returned. For more recommendations, message @sarinaisshaft on Twitter or email smmurray@ student.unimelb.edu.au
Subscribe to Laugh SAMUEL CHAPPEL runs down the Top 5 outside the Top 5.
In recent years, with the advent of iPods, iPhones and Androids, more and more people have turned to podcasts as a convenient and free alternative to radio. For many, they’ve become a source of giggles during tedious commutes and yawn-worthy lectures. Hamish and Andy, Ricky Gervais and TOFOP (hosted by Wil Anderson and Charlie Clausen) have had huge international success with their weekly comedy podcast gems, regularly rating in the iTunes top five. Not to be obscured by this podcast royalty, more and more Australian comedians have started to craft their own unique brands of pod-based comedy gold. This is an introduction to five hilarious podcasts outside the top five. Definitely worth downloading.
1. The Little Dum Dum Club
3. Can you take this photo please?
5. Something for the drive home.
For just over a year, Melbourne-based comedy mates Karl Chandler and Tommy Dassalo have been uploading their podcast onto the world wide web for our amusement. Each week, the boys have one or two comedian guests on the show and the result is a series of laugh-out-loud moments, sure to earn you some weird looks on the tram. Karl describes it as “mucking around with each other and inviting celebrity guests on, to drag them down to our stupid little level.” Former guests on the show include comedy greats like Shaun Micallef, Mick Molloy, Tom Ballard and Peter Helliar, to name a few. The perfect podcast for comedy lovers everywhere.
This podcast is the creation of Adelaideborn comedy veteran, George Clooney fan and Triple M radio host Justin Hamilton. It centres on his experiences as a close friend and colleague of many A-list Aussie comedians. Subsequently, Justin is always asked to take the photo and never asked to be in it. A comedian’s version of ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’. What ensues is a series of highly intriguing in-depth interviews with guests like Rove MacManus, Greg Fleet and Tony Martin. Each week the listener is taken on a delightful journey as the guests’ experiences and exploits in the world of comedy are explored, with a few guffaws thrown in for good measure.
Firstly, a warning. This podcast contains very frequent, high level, coarse language. If political correctness and polite conversation is your thing, then I’m afraid this podcast is not for you. If you’re stumbling around the Melbourne CBD at about 1am on a weeknight, you’re liable to run into comedians Nick Cody and Bart Freebairn, wedged in a late-night cafe or Indian restaurant recording this utterly unique podcast. With no discernable structure or purpose, these surreal conversations are certain to both shock your sensibilities and potentially make you piss yourself laughing. Not for the faint hearted, or for anyone who is easily offended, this podcasts remains sublimely singular, irreconcilably irreverent and completely comical. Check it out.
2. I Love Green Guide Letters Host Steele Saunders describes his podcast as “a review of the letters to The Age’s Green Guide liftout...petty complaints about petty complaints.” This highly amusing reflection on Australian society sometimes feels like the slightly twisted offspring of ABC’s Media Watch. The podcast has one rule. You do not talk over the letters. Former guests of the show include Charlie Pickering, Dave O’Neil and Dave Thornton and each week the guests produce bales of comedic fodder they complain about complaints. It’s worth downloading just for Steele’s special letter-reading voice. This podcast is ideal for anyone with a love for the absurdities inherent in the media.
4. The Sweetest Plum Hosted by Declan Faye and Nick Maxwell (not the Collingwood captain), this Podcast describes itself as “twenty minutes of barely concealed bitterness, masquerading as social comment from two extremely out of work comedy writers.” The warped perspective of these two mates makes for side-splitting, topical satire like no other. The sheer strangeness of their rants and raves will make your average listener see the world in a new, perhaps more distatsteful light. If you’re looking for a brief diversion from every concept of reality you’ve ever relied upon, give it a go. More importantly, if you can overlook the fact that Maxwell has not yet gotten the knack of turning his mouth away from the microphone as he slurps and crunches on his breakfast, then this podcast is sure to entertain.
FARRAGO — EDITION TWO 2012
This is only a brief snapshot of the comedy podcast smorgasbord provided, for free, by comedians across Australia and the world. The best way to find more? Listen to some podcasts. All these comedians are shameless cross-promoters. A wonderful poddy world awaits you. Dive in.
Rookie Rogaining BY EMILY FRENCH
very time I informed people of my upcoming rogaine trip, the consistent response was: “What the hell is rogaining?” Even as I typed that word, Microsoft attempted to change it to “regaining.” That’s how little known this activity is. According to the Australian Rogaining Association, “rogaining is the sport of long distance cross-country navigation.” Or, as I told everyone who asked, it’s basically orienteering. I soon learnt not to say that to a rogaining purist, or risk receiving a dark glare and a lecture regarding the greater navigation component their sport entails. If you think ‘rogaining’ is an obscure verb to throw into conversation, try telling your friends you’re off for a jaunt of long distance cross-country navigation. Rogaining isn’t quite orienteering, as I’ve learned from the glares of purists. At the other end of the knowledge spectrum, it might have something to do with hair-loss. For Microsoft Word, it’s a chance to be a smug autocorrecting liar. We headed to Castlemaine, where a strange mix of scarily fit retirees and students with nothing better to do on a Saturday had congregated. Before we set off, I embraced my competitive side and attempted to convince my team members that we were going to make a serious effort to win the novice section. As ten o’clock loomed, participants gathered in a small cordoned off area to be informed of the rules and regulations of rogaining. When the klaxons sounded, the competitive ducked under the tape, streaking off. Our team attempted to follow suit, and for a short time we kept up an admirable jog. However, as our path took us off the track and into the bush, I ran straight into a spider’s web
ILLUSTRATIONS BY MATT MCCARTHY
and could not rogaine my composure. The spiders were huge, and this isn’t just me being a wimpy British tourist. Orb weaving, arse-globe protruding monsters hung between every tree in the vicinity. Our plans to run almost immediately fell by the wayside as we surveyed our surroundings. With Ron Weasley-esque expressions of dread, we acquired large sticks and walked tentatively forward, waving them in front of our faces. Bush-bashing was not going to be speedy.
As it turned out, neither was finding our checkpoints. Rogaining is challenging; terrific fun, but not my forte. I definitely underestimated my ability to walk within twenty metres of a checkpoint and still wander blindly past it. Our group even struggled to find the water station, which organisers insisted was located right in the middle of the path. Which path, pray tell? About halfway through our rogaine, one of my teammates noticed that (in rather small print) our map admitted that there were a number of
unmarked tracks on the route and we should be aware that the map couldn’t always be considered accurate. Great. The day’s high point was our last-ditch attempt to find the final check-point by splitting up. Two of us stayed within each other’s sight. Our other teammate went wandering over a hill and completely out of view. When we realised this, a lot of panicked shouting commenced and for a short while I thought we would have to return to the starting point and confess to having lost one of our teammates. Fortunately, our friend heard our bellows and turned back. Unfortunately, this delay to our return meant that, although we ran, we were almost two minutes late getting back to the starting point. Twenty points were deducted from what was no doubt an already very modest score. We were comforted, however, by the sight of some well-deserved post-rogaine nosh. On offer was a fantastic supply of barbeque fare, stew, pasta and soup for us to enjoy. I insisted that we couldn’t grab our food until we had found out our results and was proud to discover that we were even more awful at rogaining than I would have guessed: 81st place out of 89 teams. Result! Despite what we may have failed to rack up in checkpoints, it was unanimously agreed amongst our group that if we were being judged purely on distance travelled, our team definitely would have kicked butt. Oh, that the judges had seen it that way. At one point, we realised we had walked in completely the wrong direction and almost wandered straight off the map. Now that’s covering ground for you.
Some light Bandter DERRICK KRUSCHE sits down with ADAM BANDT
dam Bandt is a busy man. Given his background, it is no surprise he managed to win the seat of Melbourne in 2010 and establish himself in Canberra’s halls of power. He has locked horns with the government, forcing action on climate change and a rethink on the war in Afghanistan. Raised in Western Australia in the early 1970s by his social worker father and his psychologist mother, you wonder if progressive politics may well be in his genes. As he reflects, “there was always talk around the dinner table about tennis and social justice. At home dad was the first person in his family to go to university— it was a very working-class family—and they had very strong social justice beliefs. Mum was very much a practical environmentalist. She and her family had been doing it long before it became fashionable.” Other than his parents, Bandt cites the 80s anti-nuclear movement as an influence; in high school he protested against nuclear-powered warships docking in Freemantle harbour. Founder of the German Greens, Petra Kelly, also left a lasting impression.
FARRAGO — EDITION TWO 2012
ILLUSTRATION: MAX DENTON
When he started university in the late 80s Australia lacked a mainstream environmentalist party, so Bandt joined Labor. “I joined the Labor party for a while, but you know, people do strange things when they’re young,” he laughs. The introduction of HECS led to eventual disillusionment and a departure from the party: “I did an arts/law degree and my total HECS bill after six years at university was about $12,000 and if you look at the fees that you pay now for six years of university you can see what the difference is. It was the Labor party that did most of that and it was in the middle of those campaigns that I just said ‘well, I don’t actually believe in this party.’” After university, Bandt relocated to Melbourne to work for the legal firm Slater & Gordon as an industrial lawyer. At the same time he enrolled at Monash University where he completed his PhD entitled Work to Rule: Rethinking Marx, Pashukanis and Law. The mentioning of Marx in this title has given Bandt’s political opponents ammunition in their attempts to stereotype him as a Red. “I looked at a number of
theories,” he acknowledges, “including those ment before, including the 2009 package. See, sway the parliament and the government far, of some people who would call themselves what happened last time was Labor chose its far too easily. And I think that that’s someMarxists. But if it’s the case that you can’t dancing partner in the Coalition. Then it all thing that needs to be addressed.” explore differing ideas without having your fell over and they came to us—wouldn’t even One interest that Bandt thinks exerts PhD thesis reduced to one word, then have any discussions—just said take it or leave too much influence is the U.S. alliance. Australia’s become a pretty intellectually it.” Rejecting this approach, Bandt describes Charged with the pacifism he developed poor place.” Although not seeing himself how negotiation eventually resulted in a better in the anti-nuclear movement back in his as Marxist, he is sympathetic to far-left popackage. He lists improvements, including an youth, Bandt has been consistently lobbying litical groups like Socialist Alternative and agreement of 80% pollution reduction cuts for the withdrawal of Australian troops from Solidarity at the University. Even though by 2050, compared with the earlier 60%, and Afghanistan. With Western forces setting a these organisations are radical, Bandt is a new proposal of 13 billion dollars to be indate for withdrawal by 2014, Bandt agrees quick to defend their right to exist: “I think vested in clean renewable energy. However, he that the Taliban are effectively biding their one of the best things about a democracy is does admit, “it’s not exactly what we would’ve time to wait and take part in a negotiation that you do have groups that you can comdone if we were writing it ourselves—but we process with the Afghani government. Since pletely disagree with if you want and I think weren’t. It was a negotiation process. But, the end of the Cold War, debate has persisted university and the world and politics would we’ve got much, much more than what the as to whether humanitarian intervention is be a pretty boring place if you didn’t have government was going to do if left to their always justified. Bandt relates this debate to groups that had radically different ideas own devices, and in fact we’d still be waiting Afghanistan: “This is the problem with thinkfrom each other.” now if Labor was governing with a majority in ing that you can change a country down the In a return to party politics, Bandt joined their own right—we’d be waiting till 2013.” barrel of a gun from outside. There’s a lot of the Greens and came close to securing the It is not just in regard to environmentalex post facto justification for why we’re doing Federal seat of Melbourne in 2007, winning ism that Bandt encourages people to see the what we’re doing in Afghanistan including it in 2010. The Greens’ upbeat rhetoric was bigger picture. Evocative of a distaste for that we’re there to increase human rights and crucial in appealing to voters, prevailing over Labor that developed in his university life, democracy.” Even though Bandt views Presithe negative monotodent Obama’s foreign ny of the mainstream policy as an improveparties. However, ment on Bush’s their campaign was this does not mean “The old parties actually don’t put people first anymore. not without flaws. blindly following the Panellists on ABC’s Maybe they did at some point, but now as we’ve just seen US: “I still think one TV program Gruen can have criticism— with pokies reform, as we saw in the mining tax—they’ll Nation criticised the one can still say bow to powerful interests.” Greens’ TV advertiseAustralia should be ments for appealing making these decito their usual consions independently. stituents of inner-suburban professionals and he is eager to highlight that there is little I think it’s the right decision to begin the students. When I mention this PR slip-up, difference between the government’s policies withdrawal, but we shouldn’t be judging our Bandt lists statistics showing more swinging compared to those of the Coalition: “The timetable for withdrawal based on what the voters supporting the Greens. Regardless, government talks to the Coalition a lot about US asks us to do. We should be having our Bandt became the first Greens MP elected to getting legislation through— there’s a lot of own independent debate as a mature democthe Federal Lower House along with being the things they agree on—and we find ourselves racy about what our involvement should be.” first to displace a Labor politician from the outnumbered when Labor and the Coalition The issues talked about here dictate seat of Melbourne in over a century. He disgang up”. He is highly critical of both parties Bandt’s approach to his work. His genuine agrees, however, that their victory was largely and does not distinguish greatly between the belief in pressing issues like climate change thanks to preferences and protest votes. two. He continues, “the old parties actually and the war in Afghanistan drives his desire True to the Greens’ main message, Bandt don’t put people first anymore. Maybe they to spread the Greens’ message. He is wary of since being elected has spent many hours did at some point, but now as we’ve just seen “getting stuck in policy world” and balances negotiating a climate change package with with pokies reform, as we saw in the minhis career with reading and travelling, the minority Labor government he helped to ing tax—they’ll bow to powerful interests.” especially to the Tasmanian bush. However, establish. A common question he receives is The mining industry’s efforts to water down the magnitude and urgency of the issues why the Greens rejected the proposed 2009 the mining tax, Clubs Australia’s campaign in which he is involved mean he will not Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and then against pokies reform and the increasing pribe vanishing from the Australian political settled for a carbon tax in 2011. They ask vatisation of commercial media indeed pose a landscape anytime soon. He is proud whether it was a compromise by the Greens threat to transparent democracy. This worries of a recent poll that showed the Greens or rather that they actually preferred a carbon Bandt: “I think our parliamentary system could win the seat of Melbourne outright tax. Bandt insists it was the latter: “We’ve got is good. I do think though that part of the without preferences. After meeting him and a climate change package that is streets ahead problem with the country is that powerful experiencing his energy and work ethic, this of anything that has been before the parliainterests have too much say and are able to belief is far from over-ambitious. farragomagazine.com
TROUBLED WATERS BY FREYA SCULLY
Vang Vieng, the small Laotian town making headlines of late for all the wrong reasons, is synonymous with tubing. Along with the Full Moon parties in southern Thailand, tubing in Laos has become a must-do on the well-worn South East Asian tourist trail. This kind of tubing, contrary to the standard image of an inflatable tube whisked around a beach or lake by a speedboat, involves endless bottles of Lao-Lao whiskey, the throbbing base of Top 20 chart music, and near naked bodies clad in swimwear and spray-paint, all converging on the postcard-like paradise on the banks of the Nam Som river. Truth be told, tubing has less to do with inflatable tubes here than homebrewed alcohol, illicit drugs, and wasted dancing on rickety wooden pontoons.
FARRAGO — EDITION TWO 2012
Supposedly, the tubing fad began with a local farmer offering tubes to his volunteers to wind down on the river after a hard days work. So why, all of a sudden, has the practice received such a spike in interest—not just with the traveling folk but also the Australian media? To put it simply, the picturesque river offers a glorious setting for young people to revel in a virtually limitless world of excess and fun—but not without a price. Vang Vieng, with its opium shakes, mushroom pizzas and free whisky buckets from 9pm until 10pm, is a devil’s playground and the tubing itself is fraught with danger. Rope swings, mega slides and towers to jump off can be found at most of the many bars scattered along the riverbank. Tragically, the river has taken a number of lives in the past few years, and as the number of visitors to the destination increases, so too does the death toll. I found myself sucked into the vortex of the tubing world only a few weeks ago. Initially, I had planned to bypass Vang Vieng altogether as I’m not one for alcotourism and the raucous types it attracts. Ashamed as I am to admit, it was a ridiculously attractive English lad, with fantastic hair and a full-sleeve tattoo, who had me trekking, commonsense lagging far behind, to the backpackers Mecca. It seems fitting that I was drawn to the place by pure self-gratification. The town itself is actually 3km, or a 15-minute tuktuk ride, from the first of the shanty bars. Aside from an eerie symphony of canned laugher emanating from the cafes on the main streets, the town is deserted in the afternoons. Everyone, bar those sleeping off the exploits of the day before, can be found down on the river. My first day tubing was something I’ll never forget. I hired a tube for around seven Australian dollars and was shuffled into the back of a tuk-tuk with about eight others, mostly Australian. Arriving at the river, I crossed a bridge of
wooden planks and was met by one of the most breathtaking sights I’d ever seen. Shining high in a crisp blue sky, the sun provides river-goers with just enough heat for them to freely discard their clothes and dive into the shimmering waters. Verdant mountains loom from behind the bars on the right hand side of the river, giving the place the aura of a hidden paradise. This site, so far removed from the strict guidelines and safety precautions of the Western world, wouldn’t last 20 minutes in Australia without the authorities coming down on it like a tonne of bricks. Perhaps it’s the surreal, novelty element that makes the river feel like a community, a writhing congregation of hedonists just sober enough to realise how lucky they are. That said, not all who partake in the revelries are so fortunate. A few days prior to my arrival Sydney man Lee Hudswell dived to his death. A friend who works at the FU Bar on the river saw the man jump off a ledge that was not a designated diving area. The water below was too shallow and all attempts to resuscitate the man failed. A Melbourne University student, 19-year-old Daniel Eimutis, went missing the day I left. His body was found three days later following a frantic search by his family and friends; it is presumed that he drowned. The thought of losing a travel companion or loved one in this way makes my blood run cold. It lurked in the back of my mind throughout my stay in the town and no matter how many cans of BeerLao I downed, I couldn’t seem to shake it. I was a lone traveler and I wondered if anyone would know if something happened to me. Who would be there to help me out if I got in trouble? Despite the potential for disaster on the river, there is startlingly little said of each loss and virtually no evidence of it. This could be partially to do with the seemingly endless flow of visitors, and is also a way for tourists and locals alike to go about their business without having to think of the terrible consequences that might ensue.
I stayed in Vang Vieng for four nights and went to the river to tube all three days I was there. Since my return I’ve heard of another two deaths: a Yarraville man, Alexander Lee and his Dutch girlfriend. The couple did not die on the river but in a hotel room just a few kilometres from Vang Vieng, in circumstances reportedly relating to drug use. The public response via comments left on various news websites is divided. Many argue that if young people continue to take part in activities known for their lackadaisical, practically non-existent safety measures they are then liable for their own misfortune. Others defend travelers to the region, saying that a bit of larrikinism is perfectly acceptable whilst holidaying and ‘partying it up’ is what Australians in particular are famous for. Whether or not you agree that travelers should be held accountable for their own actions, the casualties extend beyond those who make the newspaper headlines. In recent years, the townsfolk of Vang Vieng have seen their quiet town turned into an epicentre of debauchery. Despite signs around the town asking visitors to respect the locals and dress appropriately the plea goes mostly overlooked. Bare chests and revealing bikinis are out en masse. This kind of effrontery must be a slap in the face for locals, not to mention the rowdy, obnoxious behaviour that comes hand-inhand with the unchecked decadence tubing entails. Yet, the hospitable, largely impoverished people have little choice when it comes to letting the tourists in. Their livelihood lies in the hands of the beer-guzzling foreigner. It has been said that if teenagers took over the world, it would look like Vang Vieng. Perhaps someone – like the Australian Government – should play the adult, at least for a while, and help to clean the place up. In my eyes the bars on the river could do with a lifeguard or two, someone to keep a sober eye on the flowing spirits as well as the river in order to prevent further tragedies. PHOTO: MAX DENTON
From Me to We: Collaborative Consumption BY AMY HAYWOOD
collision of coincidence and circumstance first sparked my interest in collaborative consumption. Early this year I found myself in desperate need of furniture to outfit a new six-bedroom rental. My constricted budget and love of a bargain directed me to trading sites like Ebay, Gumtree and Freecycle. I bid feverishly on items and contacted their current owners, borrowed a van to pick up printers/ desks/tables/couches/beds/bookcases and then carefully arranged them in my new abode (all whilst patting myself on the back about the ‘absolute bargains’ I’d managed to find). It was only when Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers’ book What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption was recommended to me that I realised that my actions were part of what is being hailed as a new era in consumerism. Collaborative consumption is a new buzzword used to describe the increase in traditional trading practices such as sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting and swapping, which are reinvigorated through the Internet’s potential for networking. Sites such as eBay harness the democratic and decentralised nature of the Internet to create an online market place for buyers and sellers. This shift moves away from an era of wasteful hyper-consumerism and towards shared consumer experience. Botsman and Rogers highlight four key reasons for this shift. Firstly, people are rediscovering the importance of community and searching for more meaningful ways of connecting with each other. Secondly, the Internet has allowed us to connect with strangers and to trade information immediately. Thirdly, growing environmental concern has encouraged us to understand the negative impact of unsustainable consumerism. Lastly, they pinpoint the global recession as the kick-starter of collaborative consumption because it made consumers reassesses their behaviours. These factors converge in the form of websites such as Airbnb.com. Airbnb is an online service that matches people seeking short-term rental accommodation with those with rooms to rent. Co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk explains that the name ‘came from the idea that with the Internet and a spare room, anyone can become
an innkeeper’. Airbnb is a diverse marketplace for spaces—anything from an apartment in Berlin, a castle in Spain or a studio space in Fitzroy can be found online. If you’re away for a few weeks, you can rent out your place for that time. This means that people are able to share resources without sacrificing their lifestyle; they have the freedom to choose how and when they rent their space. The key difference in this type of consumer behaviour is that these networks require a degree of trust. When furnishing my house, I was amazed at how many people not only gave me furniture for free, but also how many welcomed me into their homes, offered me a cup of tea or a glass of wine after helping me struggle to load my desk/table/couch/set of outdoor chairs into the car. The dynamic use of technology enables trust between perfect strangers. Platforms such as Airbnb have a system whereby both the person providing accommodation and the person renting can leave a review of one another. They have created a network that mimics the peer relationships that would have been built on faceto-face exchange in the past. There are three main categories of collaborative consumption. The first is a ‘redistribution market’, such as eBay, Gumtree or Freecycle, which stretches the lifecycle of a product by trading, swapping, sharing, selling or recycling it. The second market is the ‘collaborative lifestyle’, for example Couchsurfing.com, a site which links travellers with couches to stay on all over the world. This market doesn’t involve trading physical goods, but exchanges less tangible assets like time, space and skills. The third market is the ‘product service system’, which comes in the form of bikesharing or car-sharing schemes where we can use a product without needing to own it. This fundamental shift in how we consume mirrors a shift in how we view products and services. We no longer want a CD, for example, we want the music that’s on it. Likewise, we don’t want the DVD, but the movie that it holds. As consumers we concentrate on experience, not materiality. Usage has trumped possessions, as it is not our ownership that is important, but our access to it.
FARRAGO — EDITION TWO 2012
Having now couchsurfed my way around Europe, outfitted my room from Gumtree, and joined Hub Melbourne’s collaborative project space, I think I am well and truly a collaborative consumption addict. If I stand back and think about it, I marvel at how these systems can possibly exist. For so many reasons they shouldn’t, but I am so glad to see that they do. Collaborative consumption is changing the rules of human behaviour. By creating sustainable and community based systems of trade it is revolutionising the way we consume.
Want to try it out? Some examples on how to collaboratively consume in Melbourne: Redistribution Markets Gumtree: an extensive network of online classifieds and community websites. www.gumtree.com.au Freecycle: An online listing that seeks to recycle products that would otherwise go to landfill. Everything is given away for free. www.freecycle.org Collaborative Lifestyle Hub Melbourne: A host space for collaboration and making connections. www.hubmelbourne.com Landshare: Connecting those who have land to share with those who need land for cultivating food. www.landshareaustralia,com.au Product Service GoGet Car Share: Car-sharing platform. www.goget.com.au For more information see: www.collaborativeconsumption.com
The Myki Saga BY OWEN BENNETT
PHOTO BY BONNIE LEIGH-DODDS
n December 2010, the Victorian Coalition Government announced an official review of the Myki smart card system. Although initially expected to take only a few months, the results of this ‘warts and all’ review of Myki have failed to materialise. Considering Myki’s reputation, the government’s failure to produce the review has not come as much of a surprise to spectators. Instead of the review, the Coalition announced in June 2011 that the Myki system would be retained, with the Metcard system to be phased out in late 2012. In the spirit of helping out these apparently troubled reviewers, I decided to conduct a review of my own. The Myki saga began on 12 July 2005 when the Japanese owned KAMCO (Keane Australia Micropayment Consortium) was selected by the Bracks Labor government to develop a smart card system for the Melbourne transport network. Under this agreement, KAMCO was given $494 million of state money to implement Myki by 2007, with a further $500 million to oversee the first ten years of its operation. Although most Melbournians only became aware of the ‘Myki saga’ during the much publicised delays and cost blowouts of 2007/08 – at which point the word Myki almost entered the popular vernacular as a curse ( “Gee, I really Myki-ed that right up!”) – it has since become clear that the smart card system was ‘Myki-ed’ from the beginning. The $494 million construction costs for Myki currently holds the world record for the most expensive initial costs for a smart card system. London’s Oyster card ($289.4 million in 1998), Singapore’s EZ-Link (US $78 million in 1999), and Hong Kong’s Octopus card ($100 million in 1994) are all much cheaper smart card systems. By March 2011, the total cost of the Myki system reached $1.5 billion – another world record. The massive amount of state funds invested into Myki has left many concerned citizens wondering – what is so special about Melbourne’s public transport network that justifies Myki being the most
expensive smart card system in the world? Apparently nothing. The Australian-based company responsible for the Metcard system, the ERG group, reportedly had numerous offers rejected in recent years to upgrade the Metcard system to smart card status for $100 Million. The Metcard validation machines even had a smart card feature (the yellow circle at the front of the machine, for those who don’t remember). If upgrading the Metcard system could be completed relatively cheaply, why did the construction of Myki end up exceeding every other smart card system around the world? The reason is simple—it was decided by the Bracks Labor government that the Myki system would design its own software in order to meet Melbourne’s ‘unique fare structure’, rather than purchase readymade ‘off the shelf ’ software. This decision effectively added hundreds of millions to
“The word Myki has almost entered the popular vernacular as a curse—‘gee, I really Myki-ed that right up!’” the total costs. Considering the success and efficiency of other smart card systems around the world, this decision has become a central point of contention. To understand this massive overpayment, I decided to investigate the notoriously competitive world of international smart card companies. In order to secure highly lucrative government contracts, companies spend large amounts of money writing detailed bids attempting to comply with complex government requirements. It was during this process that the Myki saga first started raising eyebrows – very suspicious eyebrows. In early 2005, it was revealed that the company later selected to lead the KAMCO consortium, Keane Inc.,
was responsible for writing key elements of the government’s application requirements. Unsurprisingly, only months later in July 2005, Keane’s application for the Myki contract was accepted by the Victorian Labor Government. These seedy back-alley dealings seem better suited to the plot of a bad Hollywood political thriller than the inner workings of Australian politics. The conflict of interest was eventually traced to Vivian Miners, Chief executive of the Transport Ticketing Authority (TTA), who not only held $150,000 worth of shares in the KAMCO consortium, but was also found to be Chief executive of another company within the consortium. Vivian Miners was subsequently made a scapegoat for these suspicious dealings, and he resigned from his $545,000 per-year position in 2008, the highest paid public position in Victoria. This resignation reportedly came only a few hours before Miners was scheduled to appear before a parliamentary committee to answer questions over the controversy. Miners has yet to be officially questioned over the affair. As if this was not incriminating enough, in 2010 The Age described how a leaked government report revealed that the state government was aware of the risks of contracting Keane Inc: ‘’Keane had no corporate experience in developing, implementing and operating a ticketing system … Keane has barely demonstrated adequate capability.’’ These findings were ignored and later omitted from the official report. These facts suggest that not only was the Victorian Labor government aware of the risks involved in contracting KAMCO in 2005, but also of the business interests being represented by the head of the Transport Ticketing Authority (TTA), Vivian Miners. The state government’s commitment to KAMCO, rather than commuters, was confirmed in December 2011 when the Coalition government announced that the price of tickets would be raised 8.6% in order to meet Myki’s fare revenue targets – the biggest price rise in eight years. I think it’s time to buy an electric scooter.
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PAINTING BY TESS RANGELOV
“We’re dancing on the belly of a crab he yelled WE’RE DANCING ON THE BELLYOFACRAB!” CHRIS FIELDUS—PAGE 45
“If you could speak stars, would you look upon the billions of me and say the same thing?” JOSH ARANDT—PAGE 46
Sestina in Red BY PAUL MILLAR
The screen’s cold light is harsher in the dark, it hollows out the features of the man. His bulging lips twist cruelly like a beast grown gaunt with hunger—desperate for the hunt. The curser strokes a pixelated girl. His fingers on the keys leave streaks of red. The stain that soaks the bed is black—the red of blood loses its richness in the dark. On once white sheets, she lies: a girl grown old, and sees with clouded eyes, the man who for the twisted purpose of his hunt has bound her here: an offer to the beast. That withered shape is nothing to the beast. Her eyes have lost their shine, her lips, their red. It needs the hot, sweet flush of youth—the hunt that haunts it still: a hunger from the dark. It writhes within the shameful pit of man, it throbs deep in his gut—and now, the girl. Her glowing image mocks him now—that girl, still smiling, taunts him from the screen. The beast in frenzy writhes, deep in that shell of man, and stabs at keys with fingers dripping red. Disguised as that cold woman in the dark, he beckons for his prey to join the hunt. It festered in his mind for weeks, this hunt that’s driven him, since first he saw the girl, who reached out from his screen into the dark, laid bare to unseen eyes. And so, the beast put on its mask of flesh. Its maw stained red, it left its screen to search the world of man. It slipped into her mother’s house, this man, and brought with it the fury of the hunt. Now coming up the drive, a blaze of red, bright scarlet coat, wrapped tight around the girl. Her footsteps draw her closer to the beast. An open door—she walks into the dark. His red hands slick with sweat, the man— the beast—whose body pulses with the hunt, embraces that lost girl. Her eyes go dark. ART BY VCA FINE ARTS STUDENT JESS MILNE
FARRAGO — EDITION TWO 2012
The Peak BY CHRIS FIELDUS
e’re dancing on the belly of a crab he yelled WE’RE DANCING ON THE BELLYOFACRAB! And they were and it was the tepee triangles surrounding and it was the lights beaming into the sky and it was the sinking beneath his feet the weight of one thousand people treading the soft earth the belly of the crab. The sea breeze blew brushed the tips of his hair and the ears of the rabbits around dancing and the taste of salt in his mouth reaching even high up here where the stars were close – can you see them spinning closerandcloser? – and he could touch the ivory moon. He shook his head slow. Raised his arms up around him to feel the electricity the stampede tremble the beating of his heart. He’d found this place – the peak – and would never climb down. Laughed and hands held him as he coiled down into himself to hold the heat. Hands held him and music raised him and around him were the creatures bouncing to the beat. Seconds maybe hours later the noise was gone was trapped inside his head where it screamed and echoed and the creatures hurried away in the whirlwind of torches and fluorescent yellow. The painted faces disappeared into the night and the stars were the only brightness in the universe. Hands pulled him away down to the lake and across the thousandmile bridge and space was collapsing and space was expanding as he stumbled over rocks and tripped on tree roots. He tried to run back to grab the fading lights to hold on to neverletgo but they took him away carried him away the moment lost a memory. He fell into the folds of a tent got caught up rolled inside.
ART BY VCA FINE ARTS STUDENT KARI McRAE
The tent snapped and blew up above him around him and his feet were growing and inside his head a station was running trains on the quarter hour. The gum red cavern sucked the air in and threatened to swallow them whole. It was too late for fastasleep Hannah dead to the world safe in her sleepdreams. It was now or neverever escape the nightmare. Clawed his way out into the stormy night and lay in his cocoon with the tip of a cigarette shining like a diamond rock hard glowing white-hot where two friends found him four in the morning their ears drooping whispered secrets to him told him stories and careful not to wake the neighbours the tents are restless the gathering is leaving when the sun rises. They threw away their cigarettes they were just for the weekend at home they were wheezing coughing asthmatics and they’d miss him when the spell was broken and the dream was over but surely they’d meet again? He lay there in the cold and strangers walked by miles away in the distance he could hear them whispering and whispering about him spread out heavy on the grass staring out into the neverending distance the predawn sky pulsating ready to explode into a thousand colours release the birds open the spring buds with the life force of the galaxy.
Up it came breaking through the darkness. It shimmered in the trees above him, leaves glimmering crackling with the electricity of the trillion watt sun and there was Hannah safe and sound not swallowed whole eyes unfocused body tired hair thick and tangled. She towered over him lying there dazedandconfused. He shivered as he’d shivered all night out there rooted in the cold dirt in the grass. The tent was still and the world had stopped expandingcontracting and the trains behind his eyes had stopped running and reality was returning. Was it time to pack up? The buses are leaving soon the planes are taking off can you hear the rumble overhead? They pulled out bags and shoes and put on sandals. Rolled up the tent as their neighbours rolled up tents and the temporary village fell to the ground and the dream was almost over. The creatures lost friends lost as they walked down the dirt road leaving dry mud falling from hems of jeans behind them. High up on the bus rolling down the hill toward the busy city chemical buzz purred. The grass growing tall around stiff as it reached up to the yellow glow. The clouds silver in the skybluesky floating by like wet zeppelins pushing through the atmosphere. Stars invisible but he could feel them high above and knew one day he’d touch them again.
PHOTO: NATASHA JANSZ farragomagazine.com
ART BY VCA FINE ARTS STUDENT JESS MILNE
Mademoiselle from Fitzroy BY JOHN LISTER Mademoiselle from Fitzroy I wanna be your hipster boy. When you ride your fixie by my heart skips and starts to fly. If you start to eat organic, I promise not to panic. I will love you the lengths of Brunswick Street, and kiss the toes of your sandled feet. Take me, Mademoiselle from Fitzroy!
After Les Demoiselles BY NICK HAGDELIAS
BY JOSH ARANDT Hammering in a tent-stake, I take a handful of sand and dirt, and think of the same cuntstruck and curious mind that followed me out of city clubs, that followed me out from rainy afternoon theatres and midnight kebab joints. The same mind that slunk through university halls and institutionalised cafeteria stalls. That stole off the back-straps of pretty girls only to wrap them round statues of Buddha’s paunch. Tonight I’ll stare into the stars and watched the phosphate trail round the rock-pools.
My five young women chiselled into posture soft, pink flesh wet and clean hard faces cast and painted. While a dark masked mortality reclines in feral squatting fertility and modern womanhood. she is pasted into life not long before she crept from the background and closed her paper curtains.
Then what’s left to do? What’s left for us pinhole skies? You, whom I’ve seen God climb from so often? Looking up for the trillionth time I’m convinced of some other unfathomable number: convinced of your vanity. If you could speak stars, would you look upon the billions of me and say the same thing?
A Drifting Moon BY NICK HAGDELIAS A drifting moon reveals itself at 3 am to a sleeping winter town the full and curtained eye of a man shines back, pleading. No one sees.
Camped in a discussion with stars
FARRAGO — EDITION TWO 2012
Surface Tension BY SCOTT ARTHURSON 1. There was a time when the glass did not find its way behind the barriers erected: always safely out of reach and knew only what it was shown. What was seen was real and undissected. Now cast aside! chewing gum wrappers, used bus tickets, bent safety pins and screwed up EFTPOS receipts sprawled across my desk, on which no work is ever done; where thoughts congeal in a viscous mass in which I wallow and find myself trapped. But still hanging around, like the empty bottles of Lethe piling in the corners of the room, or the ghosts that refuse forever to leave alone this bed. Then I open the drawer to find: old batteries, leaking acid left from a time when a child drove his remote control car on the red verandah of a red-tiled house on the rich red soil of blood washed land. The sea was two minutes of asphalt away. There the sun would wash itself of everything it had seen. Sometimes there was no sun, but rain. We would float little twigs and plastic vessels down gutters, towards the drains. We would try and save the boats before too late though of course they often found their way in then on
2. The years wandered on, and then it rose into sight, the unspeakable shadow that was consuming what might be called he, but the fact of the matter is that there was no who left to find in a place where there is no no no no knowing what or where or no I am not by where is any that is not everything when all was lost in a burst of heat that expanded indefinitely to the end that there is no one here to be no one to help anywhere to conflate to tangle your desires to mingle your nothing with You are alone, and this is forever. You will always be this way, that moment that is imminent occasionally will never arrive it is an illusion that is the sweetest and best thing you have ever almost held in your corrupted hands it is useless useless useless and this is forever. The name of this horror is not allowed to be spoken. So we talked about the cancer instead. Because it could be imagined: it was “real”. Meanwhile I listened to the laughter that began to well up from the underground chambers of all things never named. This laughter is the empty vessel which use will never drain. This laughter is secretly married to suffering but occasionally fucks for pleasure on the side. You can find it in anything if you look too hard. Dr. ______ strides into the hospital room. He begins to deliver the news with the grim satisfaction of one in absolute control of another’s life. Not enough to save them, but enough to feel like a god. A fly buzzes past, and he is displeased. He commands the orderly to get some bug spray. With a stern point of his finger, he snuffs the life out of the hapless intruder then finishes his prognosis. When he leaves, the three of us look at one another and laugh. Sometimes it’s the only weapon left.
lost to us, to decorate the ocean with our carelessness. Meanwhile, the scent of eucalyptus couldn’t quite drown the smell of millipedes multiplying faster than crushed silent tides that swept into the room each night. Happily, the terror then though in the house, was kept outside. But transparence would eventually shine its light through all that was dull and safe revealing the restless mud that could not be seen until her skin turned into glass; transfiguring a smile into an endless array of implications insinuations provocations: translucent lies refracting through a clouded mind before broken like the surface of a shallow lake in a splash of headfirst bravado. farragomagazine.com
OPINION #Respill. MAX DENTON
W The Leadership Massacre: A Timeline.
2010 Julia Gillard deposes Kevin
2010 Allegedly, Kevin Rudd or
Rudd as PM. Legend has it as Julia slid the knife quietly between his shoulder-blades, he whispered in her ear “Et tu, Julia?”
his supporters leak info all over the carpet, spoiling an otherwise perfectly run campaign and Tim’s favourite shag rug.
2010 Newly minted PM
2009 Tony Abbott
Gillard calls an election, sets Guinness World Record for most times saying “moving forward” in ten minutes.
ousts Malcom Turnbull by one vote in Liberal caucus then drinks a pint of dove’s blood in celebration.
2010 Julia Gillard regains
2012 Rumours of
a resurgent KRudd start being taken seriously when he starts mouthing to camera: “I gonna break her, so bad.”
Rudd Goes To Washington.
starts swinging like a cornered, syphilitic bear.
buys blunt machete.
2012 Simon Crean
2012 Simon Crean
sharpens said machete.
2012 Mr. Rudd
Goes To A Hotel In Washington. After announcing resignation reveals plans to become Ultimate Fighting Champion. “Fuck Yeah!”
* 2011 Ju-liar passes
carbon tax, after much discussion with The Secret Lefty Council To Destroy The Australian Way of Life.
2010 “OMGZ JULIA’S
WEARING BLUE SHOES” — The Herald Sun cover story 6/6/10, 7/6/10, 8/6/10
2012 With crisis mounting,
after several meetings and a brief juice break, Gillard’s PR team strategically decide to “keep fucking it up.”
2012 Rudd arrives home, begins
scared and scarred in trenches stinking of death and excrement, gather around First Lieutenant Gillard for final instruction before the great push. Private Garrett weeps silently.
Minister after making a long speech in Mandarin, then threatening to “burn this fucker down.”
2012 Simon Crean
2010 Kevin Rudd becomes Foreign
government after promising Bob Katter a lifetime supply of elephant rounds and a crocodile-fighting pit in the Parliament basement.
Presidential Campaign, mainly due to jet-lag.
* ** *** * 2012 Caucus sits. Kevin Rudd begins speech. Speech is interrupted as Julia Gillard and an overwhelming majority of Labor MPs attack and feast upon Rudd’s supple flesh. Bill Shorten is ritualistically awarded a necklace made of Rudd’s vertebrae, but only after Tony Burke has sucked the marrow dry.
appoints Bob Carr to the Foreign Ministry, due to his fantastic work ruining Sydney.
* ** 2012 Rudd’s taxidermied
corpse now adorns Gillard’s mantle, next to her coveted manilla folder collection. Unnecessary * = One Press Conference
FARRAGO — EDITION TWO 2012
ith the newlyfound infamy of Kony, the heightened competition for which Republican gets to be beaten by Barack Obama and a brilliant new app that’s essentially Pictionary except crazy-addictive, it’s kind of easy to forget that only a few weeks ago a bizarre and colossal thing rocked national politics— the Australian Foreign Minister challenged the Prime Minister for the leadership of the country. When Kevin Rudd stood up in that Washington hotel in the middle of the night and announced to the world that he was going to honourably jump before being dishonourably pushed, he unleashed a pointless shitstorm worthy of Michael Bay. The second he made public his previously (poorly kept) secret campaign for the Prime Ministership, his former ministers turned on him like a pack of stoats devouring a weasel. For a weekend all bets were off, and the Australian political landscape heaved. The Prime Minister, of course, won easily. You would think a challenge against a sitting Prime Minister, who has not even served for two years and seems more hated than, well, Kony, would irreparably destroy her credibility and ability to govern. But the spill, which was more brutal and public than most before it, was not a story of Labor’s failed leadership, or the personal attributes of the Prime Minister, and god knows it wasn’t about policy (A debate about policy? Ludicrous!). No, it was a story of one man and his uniquely Twining’s-flavoured ego: Kevin Rudd. Rudd was a failed Prime Minister. Despite being the first progressive hope since Keating, you can point to the mess of the CPRS,
the poorly played Mining Tax debate or the constant bending over backwards for the media cycle. No, the evidence is in the fact that he is no longer PM, and hated by his colleagues. Being PM means having the confidence of your party—that’s half the job—and that’s not something Rudd had. And thanks to the two-year-too-late family fight the party just had in public, we now know why: he was a dysfunctional boss, a poor leader and unable to make decisions. Nonetheless, he was a good media man. And herein lies the problem—we have a dualistic political system where one’s media image can be so carefully crafted as to hide incompetence, or in the case of the current Prime Minister, be so badly managed as to hide competence. The real tragedy of this is that it hides the things this country needs to do, and it reinforces the idea that government is unable to change Australia for the better. As Federal Labor sinks further, newly Liberal state governments hack away at the institutions and structures that hold this country up, while our resource-popping prosperity mistakenly tells us there’s no need to reform. The Victorian economy grew just 0.4% last quarter, and teeters on the edge of recession. At the same time Rudd is willing to risk sinking the electoral prospects of the only major party willing to tackle genuine reforms in order to get back the crown he lost out of carelessness and incompetence. If the respill did one thing it was to fully reveal the failures of our former babyfaced darling Kevin Rudd to the nation. Let’s hope the fallout doesn’t banish Australia to the flaccid Darwinian hellhole that would be an Abbott Government.
Rudd or Gillard, Labor’s economic story stays the same JOSH EILKEN
ayne Swan would have us believe that this is as good as it gets. After all, while the rest of the world is facing economic meltdown we’re sitting pretty as the best-performing First World economy. Unemployment is low, terms of trade are good, we have savings in the bank and there’s a six-figure salary waiting for you if you’d like to dig holes in the Pilbara. And sure, it’s true that our country is not in the grip of general strikes or riots or large occupations. Unlike the Greeks, we’re not slashing pensions and wages in a last-ditch attempt to deal with an enormous pile of unpaid bills. We should, Uncle Kevin tells us, be “happy little Vegemites”. But Australia in 2012 is hardly the land of milk and honey. Jobs losses are in the headlines again: “Qantas axe 500”, “ANZ sack 1,000”; meanwhile, tens of thousands of jobs are at risk as Holden and Alcoa consider closing plants. Cash-strapped state governments are in full flight, privatising state assets en masse in NSW and Queensland and risking thousands of jobs in the process. The defeat of workers and their unions in the Qantas dispute revealed the agenda of big businesses to play hardball over workers’ rights. In the same breath, Julia Gillard speaks of prosperity and fiscal discipline, of a “strong new economy” and of returning to surplus. Insulated by a resources boom and strong Chinese demand we might be, but in the era of globalisation it’s hard to hide from the ongoing slump in the world economy. When Labor talks ‘financial discipline’, what they mean is creeping austerity. When they speak of returning to surplus, they’re alluding to spending cuts. Already a consensus has been formed amongst the Australian establishment of how the country will try to weather the crisis—ordinary people will be made to pay. Despite the rhetorical gimmicks claiming the contrary, Labor and Liberal economic policy is eerily similar: Labor wants neo-liberal,
“Despite the rhetorical gimmicks claiming the contrary, Labor and Liberal economic policy is eerily similar: Labor wants neo-liberal, pro-business policies and the Liberals want even more extreme neo-liberal, pro-business policies.” ILLUSTRATION BY MAX DENTON
pro-business policies and the Liberals want even more extreme neo-liberal, pro-business policies. Gillard’s Federal Government efficiency dividend is set to cut the equivalent of 5,500 full-time state employees. Abbott wants to fire 12,000 public servants, as well as cutting health and education spending. In Victoria, Ballieu’s Tory government is about to sack 3,600 of its employees. Keen not to dishearten their core working-class vote, Labor will soften the edges with slightly higher taxation and more restraint when the austerity axe is unleashed. Despite Gillard’s wilfully-vague promise to “manage the economy in the interests of working people”, her policies, in reality, promote welfare for the corporates and falling wages for ordinary battlers. Private employers are already throwing the burden of the crisis on workers. The Financial Sector Union estimates 10,000 jobs will be cut from the banking sector in the next two years. Job security is disappearing, with 40% of the workforce in casual and contract employment. The Business Council
is calling for tougher working conditions and lower wages. Despite all the excitement of the ALP’s leadership stoush, Labor has zero vision for Australia beyond more neo-liberalism from either Rudd or Gillard. The unstable profit rates in the global capitalist economy mean that without a major shift in our national economic makeup—all we have to look forward to is an ever-shrinking economic pie. As usual, workers will lose their standard of living while the rich make millions regardless. Luckily there are some signs from the Greens and the independents that an alternative economic vision might eventually gain some traction in our political discourse. So, too, are the trade unions beginning to realise that Labor is failing to protect their members from hardship. But ultimately, regular people like you and I determine who gets elected and which worksites go on strike. The Australian people need to get active and engaged now, or else they’ll face further hardship as tougher times arrive.
A Decent Proposal: The time for marriage equality has come CHRISTINE TODD
like chicks. Well, one in particular. She’s smart, beautiful and cooks a mean breakfast. One day I will marry her, because no one tolerates my incessant quest for world domination quite as sweetly as she. The Pinky to my Brain, if you will. So the introduction of an equal marriage bill to the Australian Federal Parliament last week brought much joy to our household. You’ll note that I say household. You see, we live together. And dine together. And pay bills together. And all manner of not-very-deviant-things. The most deviant we get? Sometimes, SOMETIMES, we order the spicy food on the takeout menu. Next week, we’re opening a joint bank account. That way we can feel mutually depressed at our lack of disposable income. We fulfil every definition of a dependent couple. So it can sometimes come as a complete shock to remember that the country of which we are both proud citizens still legally denies us the option of getting married. Sometimes, this reminder presents itself in the form of angry old bigots insulting anything with a pulse. We mostly ignore them. But sometimes that reminder appears surreptitiously within day-to-day life, and those are the times that hurt the most. For instance, my girlfriend and I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of my older sister last weekend. I say attending. I was a bridesmaid, so I attended in a formal capacity, held in place only by copious amounts of hairspray and fake tan. We arrived at the ceremony, floated down the aisle, and I prepared to watch my big sister marry the guy of her
ILLUSTRATION BY STEVE GODDEN
dreams. It was beautiful. That was, until the celebrant uttered these paralysing words: “Marriage is the union of a man and a woman, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.” I froze. They... they meant me. And my gem of a girlfriend, standing a mere ten metres away in the throng of my beloved family. Up until that point, it had never really struck me that we were any different to the couple about to get married. We love each other. We trust each other with our lives. And yet on this day the federal government saw fit to remind everyone that we were indeed different. That there was something essentially unusual enough about our domestic relationship to justify excluding us from its strongest form of FARRAGO — EDITION TWO 2012
legal recognition. Say what you will about marriage, but it’s still socially acknowledged as a demonstration of your commitment to another. A social and legal tip of the hat to the hard yards you’ve put in to building a life together. And we have put in those yards, every single one of them toiled over with faith and affection. Nothing in the world could equate to the hurt I felt in those twenty seconds. And so I did something that is a complete rarity for me. I broke down and cried. For quite some time now there’s been resistance against allowing same-sex couples the opportunity to marry. The opposition has been largely political in nature, with a growing percentage of Australians supporting the idea of same-sex marriage. To demonstrate, I typed “Australians support…” into Google,
and its top autocomplete option was “gay marriage.” This obviously won’t be the extent of my social research, so here are some figures for you to consider. In a July 2011 Roy Morgan poll, 68% of Australians supported marriage equality. In 2010 when the Sydney Morning Herald polled its readership on whether the Marriage Act should remain unchanged, 75% voted that it ought to be flexible enough to consider shifts in social attitude. It has always been beyond me that marriage, a uniquely private arrangement between loving, consenting individuals, can be subjected to a range of external rules enforced by politicians who have little to no experience with the gay and lesbian community. It needs to be asked how the exclusion amendment to the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) came about without appropriate consultation with
Issues Cheat Sheet. WITH DANIELLE KUTCHEL
“Hold your local member of parliament to account and enquire as to their position on same-sex marriage. Ask them why the happiness of your best friend, your brother or your local pizza guy isn’t relevant to their political interests.” the group of people whose lives were about to be overwhelmingly impacted. Is this a reasonable way to go about legislative change, or equitable by any standard? Would we have permitted such political arrogance in any other area of social life? Another matter beyond my scope of understanding is how particular sections of the Australian community can legitimately argue that same-sex marriage will somehow undermine or seriously damage the sanctity of marriage. How insecure we must be in the institution overall if we think two surprisingly ordinary lasses from Melbourne’s western suburbs could somehow cause an implosion in marriage legitimacy. While I’m somewhat chuffed to think I wield such extraordinary power, I still question the notion that my relationship is so fundamentally dysfunctional it could bring down the holy empire of heterosexual marriage. Irrespective of my own position on the above arguments, the debate on marriage equality will go ahead when same-sex marriage bills are discussed in depth by the federal parliament later this year. In an interview last week with federal MP Anna Burke on the introduction of marriage equality bills to parliament, her perspective was crystal clear. Without appropriate consultation with the community at large, any debate about same-sex marriage will be hollow, and risks failure when put to a vote. She could not express strongly enough the importance of people approaching their local members of parliament and discussing their views. Otherwise, parlia-
mentarians would have nothing on which to base their vote. You might be wondering by now, well, what’s this got to do with me? You might support equal marriage already. For that I give you the Farrago thumbs up. You might still be internally debating how you feel about the issue. That’s okay too. But understand that while a different set of laws exist for a definable group within any given society, that different set of laws empowers discrimination. While discriminatory laws exist, prejudicial and hostile members of our society are enabled in their verbal and physical aggression towards gays and lesbians. While I have confidence in my ability to fend off such aggression, I cannot vouch for my ability to ignore insidious discrimination at wedding ceremonies. So I ask that you do my girlfriend and me the honour of acknowledging our relationship in the most democratically powerful way possible. Hold your local member of parliament to account and enquire as to their position on same-sex marriage. Ask them why they continue to deny thousands of same-sex relationships, composed of law abiding, tax-paying citizens, legal and social acknowledgment through marriage. Ask them why the happiness of your best friend, your brother or your local pizza guy isn’t relevant to their political interests. Convince them that it is. Tell them you will not sit idly by while discrimination exists on a legislative level. In doing so, you bring me one step closer to having that special day with my girlfriend. A day I cannot wait to share with all of you.
After coming out as “gay-gay-gay-gaygay-gay” on Valentine’s Day, Magda Szubanski threw her support behind an issue that a recent Galaxy Poll shows 62% of Aussies also back. Gay marriage. Or, more specifically, its legalisation in Australia. Conditional Marriage? The issue is whether to legalise gay marriage in Australia, which would involve altering the Marriage Act 1961. The Marriage Act 1961 defines marriage conditionally as “the union of a man and a woman”. Furthermore, it states that Australia will not recognise unions made in foreign countries between “a man and another man” or “a woman and another woman”. Read: No Gay Marriages. So to change this, an amendment must be made to the Act to legally allow gay unions. Two Bills were introduced to Parliament on 13 February: one by Greens member Adam Bandt and Independent Andrew Wilkie, the other by Labor MP Stephen Jones, both arguing for a change of the Marriage Act. In addition, there is another Greens Bill on the issue being considered in the Senate; however, given the positions of the major parties on this topic, no Bill is considered likely to get enough votes to pass.
The Greens, who introduced one of the Bills, are vocal proponents of same-sex unions. Labor’s stance is slightly more complex. At the ALP National Conference last December, members were allowed a conscience vote on whether or not to change the party platform to support gay marriage; the movement was carried, 208 votes to 184. However, they are also allowed a conscience vote on any Bills concerning gay marriage that come before Parliament. So while the party supports legalisation, individual members who do not will not be forced to toe the party line.
The general attitude of Australians seems to be positive yet ambivalent; according to polls and vox pops, many want to see gay marriage legalised but wish the government would simply get on with ‘governing’. However, with the hung parliament and the different voting strategies employed by the major parties, the passage of any Bill will be difficult and there are doubts as to whether it would garner the Who’s In? numbers needed. The decision to legalise same-sex unions NOT the Coalition. The official view of the Liberal Par- could prove popular with the public, or it could draw the ire ty is that marriage is between a man and a woman. Further- of religious and other anti-gay more, Tony Abbott has vowed marriage groups. Yet with the issue’s popularity amongst voters, he won’t allow Liberal MPs a conscience vote (whereby they it is inevitable that at some point vote according to their personal gay marriage will be legalised; and that will prove to be a historic day beliefs rather than the party in Australian politics. line) on the issue.
Partnership begins here Hold court with the Melbourne JD Law degree. www.law.unimelb.edu.au/jd
FEELING A LITTLE QUEER WITH HOMO ERECTUS
Re: A Trip up the Man-Clunge Dear Homos, Homettes and Gender-Neutral Homs,
A few months ago, the nineteen year-old brother of a friend of mine, let’s call him Douchebag, tried impressing me, who knows why, by explaining the ins and outs of his sexual proclivities. Whilst this in itself isn’t entirely newsworthy, especially considering that my international sexual proclivities have long been Farrago fodder, what pissed me off were his constant forays into misogyny. Imagine an obnoxious, Bintang-wearing, vodka/red bulldrinking college fuckwit lamenting the lack of ‘dirty hoes’ who can take a ‘big piece of meat’ up the ‘back alley’. Apparently, Douchebag thought he could confide his ‘dirty’ desires for tapping said ‘back alley’ with the likes of an ass bandit like me. After a failed attempt at lambasting him for his patriarchal bullshit and misogynistic sexual objectification, I hastily left him and his offensive cohort of fellow douches and rode home. It was during this drunken ride that the idea hit me, along with the curb after absentmindedly rounding the corner of Canning Street a little too quickly. Douchebag needs a good fuck. But not just any old fuck—he’s the one on all fours taking it up the arse. The next morning I couldn’t stop thinking about Douchebag. This got me philosophising that a decent pegging is probably in order for all heterosexual men. You know, let’s give them a break. Let them receive for once, for all their hard labours in giving so generously. Straight girls I am talking to you. Have you ever felt objectified as just a receptacle
for cock? Well, next time your man asks for a root, bring out your new ten-inch strap-on and let him fuck you only after you’ve fucked him first. And if he doesn’t want to play ball, well none of his cock in your cooch. I’ve put this proposition to many of my heterosexual male friends, each time to a fairly negative reception. Arguments ranging from “But I’m not gay” to “But that’s gross” and “but I don’t see how I could enjoy that”. BUT NOTHING BOYS. BUTT EVERYTHING GIRLS. Not only did some of the arguments offend me—hetero-normative privileging of heterosexual sex and attitudes still finds expression in apparently open-minded, liberal men who have a whole plethora of queer friends—but what strikes me most is straight guys’ belief that penetration is a uniquely female or gay experience, that it is centred solely around the male, the giver’s pleasure. When I took this question to many of my girlfriends, their responses were overwhelmingly positive. I put it to them in terms of whether they’d ever felt pressured sexually to perform a certain act they were not comfortable with. Most said they like the idea, many said they’d be willing to try it with their men and a few said they’d already tried pegging. Now, I’m not by any means advocating pressuring sexual partners into doing things they don’t want to do. But in our society we are still told what is and isn’t appropriate sexual behaviour for men and for women. So many hetero men are into the ‘kink’ of anal
sex, but only if they’re the ones fucking. I’ve discussed this with my good friend Gel over many a G&T and decided to put this out to the general public. We swiftly downloaded Blendr (Grindr’s hetero-flexible cousin) and I took a strategic photo of Gel showing only her shapely legs and flowing blonde hair. We placed this photo on the profile, called ourselves ‘DutchGirl’ and included a description of ‘only interested in guys who like to be fucked with a strap-on,’ as well as a list of hobbies such as cooking (not too emancipated) and adventure sports (likes man things). Immediately after posting the profile my phone began beeping with an incessant stream of notifications, so many that we couldn’t read the incoming messages fast enough. In the half hour that ‘DutchGirl’ existed we had at least sixty dudes inquiring when ‘DutchGirl’ and her strap-on would be free. Either this means more guys are into getting fucked than are willing to publicly admit (and let’s face it, when you have a tête-à-tête with Homo it is public information) or the men of Brunswick are ready, willing and able to give in to ‘DutchGirl’ and her desire to be a cock for an hour. I would ask any straight guys out there who enjoy a good pegging, or have at least tried it, to write in and share your thoughts with the world. And I ask all the straight boys out there to maybe think outside the, well, box, and maybe let yourselves get fucked on occasion. You might enjoy it.
Mucho amore, Homo.
Life S’port: “Tennis, a self-serving sport” (optional title if you need one) By Kevin Hawkins
I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME SCORE WITH KEVIN HAWKINS “Women shouldn’t have their own sports!” my friend scoffed. He seemed genuinely disgusted, like a white supremacist discovering the race of the American President. “They should just play with men!” he continued. His flagrant debauchery shocked me. Surely, I thought, Western society had progressed past this kind of sexist retort. Who did he think he was, to suggest that females were nothing more than sexual toys for the male species to feast upon? I vented my disdain, unleashing my inner feminist on him. “I’m not being sexist,” he defensively stated. “I’m just saying that one’s sex shouldn’t determine whether they’re good enough to compete at the highest level for a particular sport. Women should be allowed to play sport on the same stage as men.” I paused for a moment and re-played his dialogue inside my head. Upon realising that I had misinterpreted his original comments, I pulled at my neck collar and offered a humble apology. Our conversation came to an abrupt close, but his contention remained with me. Should women be permitted to compete in male sports? On face value, the question in itself presents us with an inequality. One might ask why men’s sports automatically deserve to be considered superior to that of women. Surely the question of whether females can compete with men is only valid if we likewise ask whether men be allowed to take part in women’s sport? Such politically correct, neo-feminist garble, however, is a tad ridiculous. As we are aware, biological limitations prevent the average woman from competing at the same physical level as the average man.
Understandably, these physiological differences have implications for both the quality and popularity of men’s sport. You don’t have to be a wife-beating misogynist to map out the flow chart. Men are stronger athletes than women. Strong athletes make great TV. Great TV generates large audiences. Large audiences spend copious amounts of money. Copious amounts of money pay for greater levels of professionalism. Greater levels of professionalism means the strongest athletes are also the richest. The richest athletes are men. While there are anomalies in this equation—women’s netball, for instance, remains far more popular than the male alternative— examples of this brutal game of natural selection are evident everywhere. From the back pages of the sports section to the claptrap of drive-home talkback, the media’s attention is almost always focused on Adam before Eve. Even in tennis—a sport where men and women ostensibly share equal billing – the men’s matches still boasts larger attendances and television audiences. As such, there’s no shortage of practical reasons why females might envy the sphere of male sport. Yet not everyone thinks in such pragmatic terms. Indeed, one might raise the question of whether females even want to compete alongside men. I’m reminded of the often-quoted claim that girls are stronger learners in single-sex environments (hilariously, boys learn better in co-ed environments). Could it be the same with sport; are females more likely to prosper in their sport if they are surrounded by female peers? I also turn my mind to the possibility of sexual harassment. If administrators permitted females to “play with men”, when would a tackle cease to be classified as a tackle? At what
FARRAGO — EDITION TWO 2012
point would a celebratory embrace constitute as affection? Then there’s sledging; where does one draw the line between cheeky name-calling, innocent flirting and sexist abuse? Yet for women who do desire to compete with men, it’s proving to be a worthwhile pursuit with the capacity to break social boundaries. IndyCar star Danica Patrick, for instance, has done much to disprove stereotypes about female drivers. Australian golden girl Ellyse Perry, meanwhile, is the only woman to ever play Sydney grade cricket. Five years ago Melissa Barbieri became the first Australian woman to ever join a professional men’s football team when she was selected as a goalkeeper for Richmond in the Victorian Premier League. Having competed with men throughout her youth, Barbeiri made the transition with ease. While her tenure with the male team was brief, she went on to become a poster girl for women’s sport in Australia. Ironically that was exactly the kind of exposure she has been determined to stamp out. “We need to do something about [Australia’s] sporting culture, where a female is quizzed when they say that they play a sport,” the former Australian soccer captain told the media last year. “We use ‘female’ too much—‘female footballer’, ‘female soccer’ ... why can’t it just be football, why can’t it just be soccer?” she added. Despite today’s androcentric sporting landscape—in which the Lingerie Football League is a fully-fledged American sport—the professionalism of women in sport is gradually improving. Yes, there’s still a long way to go before female athletes are treated with the same respect as males. But at least we’ve moved forward from the days when women and men could only play together in the bedroom.
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MEDIA COLLECTIVE IS HAPPENING! MEDIA COLLECTIVE is an opportunity for word-nerds to get together and talk all things words, writing and Farrago.
Mondays at 1pm in Graham Cornish Room B, Level 2 Union House, weeks 4, 5, 7 & 8. Watch out for our workshop series: our next session will be a cartooning and illustrating workshop with Mark Knight, Herald Sun cartoonist, in week 6. Attendance will be limited, so email us as soon as possible to reserve your spot: email@example.com Everyone is welcome!
Above Water is the creative writing anthology put together each year in an unholy union between the University of Melbourne Student Arts Department and the Media Department. We are looking for talented designers and artists to create the cover artwork and internal illustrations, as well as submissions from creative writers. Submission guidelines and entry forms are available on our website: www.union. unimelb.edu.au/farrago. Submissions close 5pm Friday 25 May 2012. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Arts or Media Departments, First Floor, Union House.
ART (2011 COVER) BY SARAH JANE HAYWOOD
The second edition of Farrago for 2012, edited by Max Denton, Ella Dyson, Vicky Smith and Scott Whinfield. Farrago is the official student m...
Published on Feb 29, 2012
The second edition of Farrago for 2012, edited by Max Denton, Ella Dyson, Vicky Smith and Scott Whinfield. Farrago is the official student m...