__MAIN_TEXT__

Page 1

Ed.

615

17 29OCT JUN 012020 NOV 2019

p18.

SNOW DOGS p22.

LISA CURRY p26.

SPIKE LEE

and p40.

APPLE & JAM CAKE

$9 HELPING PEOPLE HELP THEMSELVES $4.50 of the cover price goes to your vendor


NO CASH? NO WORRIES!

Some Big Issue vendors now offer digital payments.

NATIONAL OFFICE

ENQUIRIES

Chief Executive Officer Steven Persson

Advertising Simone Busija (03) 9663 4533 sbusija@bigissue.org.au

Chief Operating Officer Sally Hines Chief Financial Officer Jon Whitehead National Communications and Partnerships Manager Steph Say National Operations Manager Jeremy Urquhart EDITORIAL

Editor Amy Hetherington Deputy Editor Melissa Fulton Contributing Editor Michael Epis

Subscriptions (03) 9663 4533 subscribe@bigissue.org.au Editorial (03) 9663 4522 editorial@bigissue.org.au GPO Box 4911 Melbourne Vic 3001

All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. PRINTER

Contributing Editor Anastasia Safioleas Editorial Coordinator Lorraine Pink

PUBLISHED BY

CONTRIBUTORS

Big Issue In Australia Ltd (ABN 61 071 598 439) 227 Collins Street Melbourne Vic 3000

PRINCIPAL PARTNERS

Contact the vendor support team in your state. ACT (02) 6181 2801 Supported by Woden Community Service NSW (02) 8332 7200 Chris Campbell NSW, Qld + ACT Operations Manager

thebigissue.org.au © 2020 Big Issue In Australia Ltd

Printgraphics Pty Ltd 14 Hardner Road Mount Waverley Vic 3149

Art Direction & Design GOZER (gozer.com.au)

WANT TO BECOME A VENDOR?

Qld (07) 3221 3513 Chris Campbell NSW, Qld + ACT Operations Manager SA (08) 8359 3450 Matthew Stedman SA + NT Operations Manager Vic (03) 9602 7600 Gemma Pidutti Vic + Tas Operations Manager WA (08) 9225 7792 Andrew Joske WA Operations Manager

Film Editor Annabel Brady-Brown

MAJOR PARTNERS

Allens Linklaters, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Clayton Utz, Fluor Australia, Government of New South Wales, Government of Western Australia, Herbert Smith Freehills, Macquarie Group, MinterEllison, NAB, Newmont Australia, PwC, Qantas, Realestate.com.au, William Buck MARKETING/MEDIA PARTNERS

C2, Carat & Aegis Media, Chocolate Studios, Macquarie Dictionary, Res Publica, Roy Morgan, Town Square

Small Screens Editor Aimee Knight Music Editor Sarah Smith

DISTRIBUTION AND COMMUNITY PARTNERS

The Big Issue is grateful for all assistance received from our distribution and community partners. A full list of these partners can be found at thebigissue.org.au.

Books Editor Thuy On Cartoonist Andrew Weldon

CONTACT US THE BIG ISSUE, GPO BOX 4911, MELBOURNE, VICTORIA 3001 (03) 9663 4533

HELLO@BIGISSUE.ORG.AU

THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU

@BIGISSUEAUSTRALIA

THE BIG ISSUE AUSTRALIA

@THEBIGISSUE

Can’t access a vendor easily? Become a subscriber! Every Big Issue subscription helps employ women experiencing homelessness and disadvantage through our Women’s Subscription Enterprise. To subscribe THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU or email SUBSCRIBE@BIGISSUE.ORG.AU

The Big Issue is a proud member of the INSP, which incorporates 110 street publications like The Big Issue in 35 countries.


Contents

EDITION

615 22 LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF

DAVE | ACT

CINDY | ADELAIDE

MICK | PERTH

PAT | PERTH

MARK | GOLD COAST

LOUIS | MELBOURNE

BOB | SYDNEY

Life in the Fast Lane Champion swimmer Lisa Curry congratulates her 16-year-old self on getting through the ups and downs, and shares the advice that drives her success – depend on yourself.

26 FILM

10. The Big Miss You! After months of pandemic isolation, Big Issue vendors are back at work, and they’re looking forward to catching up with you again. Here, vendors from around the country share their stories of life in lockdown – and Mark from Adelaide pens an iso diary.

Time to Wake Up Acclaimed filmmaker and activist Spike Lee’s latest film Da 5 Bloods insists that we can learn a lot from history – if we just wake up to it.

THE REGULARS

04 Ed’s Letter & Your Say 05 Meet Your Vendor 06 Hearsay & 20 Questions 09 My Word 18 The Big Picture 24 Ricky

25 Fiona 36 Film Reviews 37 Small Screen Reviews 38 Music Reviews 39 Book Reviews 40 Tastes Like Home

43 Public Service Announcement 44 Puzzles 45 Crossword 46 Click

BEHIND THE COVER

“Going back to Big Issue work will be like a birthday present for me, as my birthday is just a couple of days beforehand – I have already started celebrating!” says Wayne A, who sells The Big Issue in Adelaide. illustration by Luke John Matthew Arnold

Luke is a visual artist and illustrator who creates text-based work about the communities and issues around him. @lukejohnmatthewarnold

34 BOOKS

A Certain Kind Dutch historian and bestselling author Rutger Bregman’s new book posits that hope is an act of defiance, and proves that we humans are kinder than we think we are.


Ed’s Letter

by Amy Hetherington Editor @amyhetherington

E FO RT NI GH T LE TT ER OF TH

Welcome Back!

F

or the first time in a long time, I felt a happy burst of normality. Standing on a local street corner with Sheldon, who sells The Big Issue in St Kilda, we were having a chat – about the hand‑written story he’d just given me, about Star Wars, about the state of the world, and about his imminent return to work after a 13-week hiatus. As we practised social distancing in the warm winter sun, two lots of passers-by stopped to say g’day, such is Sheldon’s cachet in our neighbourhood. It was a snapshot of the extended Big Issue community in action. Now we’re back in a big way – welcoming vendors’ return to street selling with this three-week edition, which celebrates the people who sell it. In an extended Streetsheet of sorts, vendors from around the country share their iso stories, reflections and hopes. For most, it’s been a tough few months.

They’ve been missing their regular income, their sense of purpose, and you! And we’ve heard that very same sentiment from the many of you who’ve written, texted and called in to send messages of support or to buy a magazine. Thank you – it’s meant a lot. So please keep your eyes peeled for vendors who are out there working again, wearing the trademark fluoro vest, with magazine in hand. Many more vendors now accept contactless payments – tap-and-go and Beem It. All have been provided with hand sanitiser and completed Vendor COVID-19 Safety Training to ensure their health and wellbeing – as well as yours – as we continue to comply with up-to‑date government advice. So, if you’re able, stop by and have a chat, buy the magazine and catch up on the latest Big Issue news. As for Sheldon’s story, you’ll need to buy the next edition, on sale 17 July, to read that one.

04

THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU

The Big Issue Story The Big Issue is an independent, not-for-profit magazine sold on the streets around Australia. It was created as a social enterprise 24 years ago to provide both a voice and a work opportunity for people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage. Your purchase of this magazine has directly benefited the person who sold it to you. Big Issue vendors buy each copy for $4.50 and sell it to you for $9, keeping the profits. But The Big Issue is more than a magazine.

Your Say

Thank you so much for the wonderful article about Rachel T in Ed#612. I love reading The Big Issue vendors’ stories, and being part of the Women’s Subscription Enterprise scheme. These articles are real and raw and provide some of the greatest inspiration regarding the kindness, compassion and caring in our community. Thank you all for your commitment to raising awareness about the issues people experiencing homelessness face, and for the courage and self-determination you show in living a life where what you contribute to others really matters. CHRIS KNIGHT DECEPTION BAY I QLD

Please give my regards to Stephen who sells on Glenferrie Road in Malvern. Let him know that I hope he is okay. Our conversations are limited by my lack of Auslan, but I enjoy exchanging a greeting with him. I’ve taken out a subscription to The Big Issue until we can buy again from vendors. Thank you for all your efforts to keep publishing the magazine. It’s always an enjoyable (and challenging!) read. NARELLE MCAULIFFE ARMADALE I VIC

• Our Women’s Subscription Enterprise provides employment and training for women through the sale of magazine subscriptions as well as social procurement work. • The Community Street Soccer Program promotes social inclusion and good health at weekly soccer games at 19 locations around the country. • The Big Issue Classroom educates school groups about homelessness. • And The Big Idea challenges university students to develop a new social enterprise. CHECK OUT ALL THE DETAILS AT

THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU

As winner of Letter of the Fortnight, Chris wins a copy of Now for Something Sweet, a cookbook by Monday Morning Cooking Club. Check out their recipe for Apple and Jam Cake on p40. We’d also love to hear your thoughts, feedback and suggestions: SUBMISSIONS@BIGISSUE.ORG.AU

YOUR SAY SUBMISSIONS MAY BE EDITED FOR CLARITY AND SPACE.


Meet Your Vendor

Raylene

SELLS THE BIG ISSUE OUTSIDE FRESH PROVISIONS, BICTON, WA

interview by Pia Bonifant photo by Ross Swanborough

PROUD UNIFORM PARTNER OF THE BIG ISSUE VENDORS.

05

29 JUN 2020

I love a chat, and could happily tell my life story to a stranger. I love a bit of fun too, and am happy to put myself out there for a laugh. I think those parts of my personality make me a good Big Issue vendor. It makes my job more interesting. I started selling The Big Issue a couple of years ago. I brought my son, Jarran, into the office to sign up, and I realised it could be good for me, too. I’d had a bumpy few years – it’s so hard to find work when you’re over 50, and when you haven’t worked for a while you lose your confidence. There’d been a year of sleeping on friends’ couches, and some tough stuff going on in my life. Selling magazines suits me beautifully. My customers are lovely and the shop owners at my pitch are wonderful, too. I can afford to do things that make me feel good about myself – like getting my hair done, my teeth fixed, buying plants for my garden, or doing big cook-ups for my family and friends. I absolutely love cooking and I love seeing people enjoy what I cook. I’m known for bringing batches of freshly baked cookies to The Big Issue breakfasts, which no-one seems to mind! I grew up in Perth in a stable home, and went to business college. I went straight from college into a girl Friday role that was great experience for everything else I’ve done – my work journey has changed so many times! I worked with elderly people and people with disabilities for years and loved it. I was devastated when I had to leave because new quality assurance rules meant I needed formal qualifications. People say I have a big heart, and I like taking care of people, so that work really suited me. I moved up to Coral Bay with my two small boys after I separated from their dad. I moved to be close to my sister. I worked at the caravan park and organised tours and I loved it – it’s a beautiful spot! I had to leave when I got sick, and I moved to Busselton, then Dunsborough. When I look back, I realise I’ve been drawn to places near the water. I was a real water baby as a little one, and still go to the beach a lot. I find sitting on the sand so calming. It’s one of the ways I look after my mental health. Depression has always been a thing for me. A diagnosis helped and I’ve been meeting with my lovely psychiatrist once a month for 32 years – we’ve aged together! Wonderful friends help, too. I’ve learned to just take baby steps on the tougher days – one thing at a time – and that the odd lazy day escaping into a murder mystery book is okay. I’m pretty happy-golucky, all things considered. I don’t think my life has always been an easy life, but I would say I’m content now. I love my boys and my family – like many families, we’re complicated, but I love them to bits – and having a cosy place to potter in. I have work that I love, and heaps of really great friends around me to share food and a laugh with.


Hearsay

Andrew Weldon Cartoonist compiled by Michael Epis Contributing Editor

There’s never been a cat like him. And never will again. I feel like the light has gone out in my life. I will never forget him.

Big Issue UK vendor-turned-author James Bowen on the passing of his beloved ginger cat Bob, whom he credits with saving his life. Their friendship inspired the book series and film A Street Cat Named Bob. THE GUARDIAN I UK

“Basically, we made the assumption that intelligent life would form on other [Earth-like] planets like it has on Earth, so within a few billion years life would automatically form as a natural part of evolution.” Christopher Conselice, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Nottingham, on new cosmic evolution-based calculations that say there are likely to be 36 contactable alien civilisations in the galaxy.

06

THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU

THE GUARDIAN I AU

“Your baby loves to be hugged… Infants older than four months old showed a high increase ratio of heartbeat intervals [ie they relaxed] during hugging by their parents than by female strangers. Parents also showed a high increase ratio of heartbeat intervals by hugging their infants. We found that both infants and parents come to relax by hugging.”

Sachine Yoshida, of Toho University in Tokyo, on research showing that hugs play an important role in parents–baby bonding. Come on, give us a cuddle. SCIENCEDAILY I US

“From this moment on, when you look at the vastness of the night sky, and you see those stars moving up there, know that those stars are our African ancestors dancing. They’re dancing in celebration because their lives are finally being acknowledged.” Rapper mogul Pharrell Williams supporting calls to make June 19th, known as Juneteenth, an official holiday commemorating the end of slavery, in the US state of Virginia. ROLLING STONE I US

“I spend the morning trying to do something healthy – and then I spend the afternoon trying to do something productive.

In the evening I just try not to eat too much ice cream while bingeing TV shows.” Director Judd Apatow (Superbad, Knocked Up) on his daily lockdown routine. NME  I UK

“Fifteen tortoises from Española, including Diego, are going home after decades of breeding in captivity and saving their species from extinction. Their island receives them with open arms.” Paulo Proaño Andrade, Ecuador’s environment minister, on the worldfamous Lothario Diego, who at more than 100 years old has produced around 800 offspring – helping boost the island’s giant tortoise population from 14 to 2000-plus. CNN I US

“It’s like showing up to a plane crash with a chocolate bar. There’s tragedy everywhere, and you’re like, ‘Uh, does anybody want chocolate?’ It feels ridiculous. But what doesn’t feel ridiculous is to continue to fight for nuance and precision and solutions.” Former The Daily Show host Jon Stewart on returning to the spotlight with the small-town political satire Irresistible amid political and social turmoil in the US. THE NEW YORK TIMES I US

“I thought, Oh, that’s really cool, and then it started walking towards me with intent… I thought I could maybe help it. So I gave it a pat and he chomped my hand.” Liz Willer, one of at least three University of NSW students who have been bitten while trying to pat a fox – named Frankie by students – on the Kensington campus. She added the subsequent tetanus shot hurt more than the bite itself. THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

“We have some life-like blowup dolls that have been sitting


20 Questions by Little Red

01 How many billions are there in a

trillion? 02 How many countries does the

Mekong River flow through? Bonus points if you can name them. 03 Which Hollywood star’s name is an

anagram of Germany? 04 In which decade did Australians

no longer officially require the permission of their spouse to get a passport? 05 What is the world’s youngest

continent, with 60 per cent of its population under the age of 25? 06 In which Australian novel are

the Pickles family the central characters? Bonus point if you can name the author. 07 What is Western Australia’s second-

largest city?

“Seeing them do this right in front of my eyes is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever witnessed. We’re really only beginning to scratch the surface in our understanding of colour vision in animals.” Mary Stoddard, a Princeton University evolutionary biologist, on experiments that prove that

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC I US

“The consistency of the patterns where damage is found in sculpture suggests that it’s purposeful… The damaged part of the body is no longer able to do its job.” Curator Edward Bleiberg from New York’s Brooklyn Museum explains why it’s no accident that Egyptian statues often have a nose lopped off: it’s to kill – by removing the ability to breathe – the deity depicted by the statue, who evidently is not revered by the nose-lopper. Turns out we’ve been using iconoclasm as a form of protest for a while. CNN I US

FREQUENTLY OVERHEAR TANTALISING TIDBITS? DON’T WASTE THEM ON YOUR FRIENDS SHARE THEM WITH THE WORLD AT SUBMISSIONS@BIGISSUE.ORG.AU

09 What is the highest-selling album of

all time around the world? 10 Mercredi is French for which day of

the week? 11 Are sea monkeys a type of plankton,

bacteria or shrimp? 12 What are the world’s three largest

economies, as measured by GDP? 13 Which Australian comedian

recently had their shows removed from Netflix due to racial stereotyping and “brown face”? 14 Which tennis player recently

organised their own tournament, the Adria Tour? 15 How long can a vampire bat go

without drinking blood before it dies: two, six or 12 days? 16 What does the festival of Vesak

celebrate? 17 What was the name of the Indigenous

man who died in custody in Sydney’s Long Bay Jail in December 2015? 18 Which media company did

Blockbuster decline to acquire in 2000? 19 Which Australian band’s first

album, released in 1995, was named Frogstomp? 20 Which country does haloumi cheese

originate from? ANSWERS ON PAGE 44

29 JUN 2020

NEW YORK POST I US

hummingbirds (and by implication other birds) see colours we don’t, as their eyes see combinations of four colours (they’re tetrachromatic), while ours see combinations of three – red, green and blue, making us trichromatic. Actually, some women are tetrachromatic, but men rarely are, and men are more likely to be colour blind, which is an inability to see one of the three colours properly.

07

around here for the past 15 years “But I don’t have that we’ve used any other feet!” for various other A youngster responding to stories – [like] his Prep teacher when told when people were his shoes were on the wrong presumed dead. feet, overheard by Jordan of Geelong, Vic. We’re dusting off the dolls and putting new wigs and make-up on them and they’ll be featured in love scenes.” The Bold and the Beautiful’s executive producer Bradley Bell on using blow-up dolls to get around social distancing on the set of...The Blown Up and the Beautiful? EAR2GROUND

08 What is a female sultan called?


My Word

by Anna Sublet @subbie

@notesofsubstance

O

n a sunny Sunday as the pandemic looms, I walk through the park on my way to get Nan’s lamp fixed. Families are having picnics on the grass. Can we fix it? drums in my head as I crunch across the gravel towards the Repair Cafe, a little inner-city hub where volunteers work their magic on broken stuff. In my bag, I’ve got a lamp that’s dodgy and a globe that works. My fear in bringing the lamp for repair is that when they plug it in, it will blow up the power board. My nerves sizzle. The world seems to be short-circuiting. Repair Cafe volunteers repair things, from toasters to cushion zips to stereos. They keep rubbish out of landfill; save consumers from buying new products; and cross‑pollinate a community of people who tinker, rebuild, deconstruct and recreate objects. Around the world, there are more than 1500 Repair Cafe centres working towards reducing waste, sharing knowledge, repairing items and fostering communities. The first cafe started in Amsterdam in 2009, and The Repair Cafe Foundation offers help to those wishing to start their own hub. At the front desk sit the triage team, three women at a trestle table. “You just made it!” they say. It’s 4pm. “Oh, I thought it went till 5?” “Yeah, well, we have to fit you in! We wanna be out of here by 5! What is it? Oh, a lamp. Weight? 200 grams? Nah...350? We’ll say 300 grams.” So far, this little repair cafe in St Kilda has saved over a tonne of items from landfill.  I soon find myself opposite a repairer who sets to work on the little blackwood lamp. The table is set up with all sorts of tools, special bits and pieces, screwdrivers, nuts and bolts and a twisty metal clamp. Someone offers a cake around. He checks the cord, pulls the clicker, tests it out – it doesn’t work. Gets out the tools, pulls the socket apart and behold, we are within the bakelite! A number of springs shoot forth and disconnect themselves from their bearings. He goes into his own world; he doesn’t speak as he tinkers. He’s poking around with his fingers and I’m not sure he can put it back together again. What’s at stake if the light doesn’t shine?

My partner’s nan left him this lamp when she died, as she knew he liked to read books. It feels like she is hovering nearby, wanting to connect beyond this room; to see the light turn back on, instead of hearing the fizz and crackle of the wires burning out. A repair colleague comes across. “What we got here?” He offers to help and uses a tiny screwdriver to hold the spring in place; they manage to clamp the bakelite back together. Then we put the globe in and turn it on – it still doesn’t work, but at least it hasn’t blown up. The repairer opens up the plug and finds a disconnected piece of copper wire. He asks me to hold his special testing tool to see if there’s electricity going from one part to the other. I’m holding it gingerly, unsure, trying not to electrocute myself. “Do you find it stressful to do repair work?” I ask, though the low hum of uncertainty seems to be coming from me. He says he works in such a different field during the week that he finds it really nice to work with his hands. I’m holding the little clamp fast on the metal with mild fear, my hands stiff with tension. “It’s like a dentist with all their tools; like intricate dental work,” I say to him, trying to calm my nerves. He uses a tool to twist the burnished copper, and the testing machine registers. He forces the old rubber back over the plug head. The globe flares. There’s the corona, a small circle of light. “If you don’t want to hang onto it, I’ll take it. It’s a beautiful piece of blackwood,” he says. “It’s from Nan,” I remind him. “We can’t let it go.” I thank my repairer, and go to shake his hand. But we can’t do that any more; instead we do the elbow bump. One sizzling wire frying another; one bundle of elements colliding with another; one life bumping into another, not quite knowing the meaning of our connections.  I walk home through the gardens. The family groups have cleared now. The currawongs sweep and call above the highest part of the trees, ducks parade near the pond and the pigeons cross the gravel paths. Nan’s light shines on. We’re all holding on in this period of global repair, willing the corona to burn itself out. It’s as if Nan knew that now would be a good time to be reading books. Anna Sublet is a Melbourne writer, with musings on birds, dogs, surfing and footy published in The Guardian, The Age, Footy Almanac and Australian Traveller.

09

As the world short-circuits all around her, Anna Sublet visits a repair cafe to tend to a broken family heirloom.

29 JUN 2020

A Lightbulb Moment


The Big Miss You!

10

THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU

The Big Issue vendors share their stories from isolation, their hopes for the future and their optimism about getting back to work and catching up with their customers. A Perfect Day

G’day from WA

It was such a beautiful day, and I was heading into town to meet my fiancée Sherri, as the restrictions had been lifted. I was very nervous and excited – I told my support worker my heart was pounding very fast. My support worker gave me some advice to take deep breaths and it helped calm my nerves. On our way into town, I heard “Steve! Steve!’’ and I looked round and it was Shane – another Geelong vendor and my best friend. I was so touched and emotional to see him after so long, I cried with happiness. Then we walked over to Market Square and for the first time in over two months, I saw Sherri. I was so excited I ran up to her and I really wanted to hug her, but I didn’t because it isn’t safe. We were both very emotional to see one another – all I could do was cry. It was such a wonderful day for me.

Hi all! It’s your two favourite vendors from WA, Stacey and Kaia! We hope you’re all staying healthy. We miss you all heaps. We have been asked, What have you done to handle COVID-19 restrictions? Our answer is, we’re related, so we have supported each other through phone calls (discussing everything and anything) and through shopping together once a fortnight (at 1.5m apart). It’s great to just see a familiar face. We both live alone and have found it comforting to have each other’s support through these hard times. As restrictions have eased up in WA, Stacey decided we needed a party to celebrate her five years off drugs, so we invited eight friends and family. The barbeque was a hoot. We all had fun and are proud of Stacey’s achievement. Hope to see you all soon. Love from Kaia and Stacey.

STEVE B MARKET SQUARE I GEELONG

KAIA AND STACEY MURRAY ST MALL I PERTH

Happy Faces

Early Present

Don’t worry everyone, I am still going to sell The Big Issue when we’re back out selling. Me and the cats are going fine; they are keeping me company. Take care everyone. I miss seeing all the happy, smiling faces every day.

It was sad timing for me, because I had my first trip to Melbourne planned for April, but I had to cancel. Hopefully things will improve, and borders will be open, so I can go next year. But my cat, Lucy, is pleased to have had me at home a lot more. I am glad church is back, and football too. I have been going for walks most days,

GARRY FLAGSTAFF STATION CNR WILLIAM & LONSDALE STS I MELBOURNE

trying to get fit. Sometimes my friend, Troy, has cooked me dinner. He makes a really good tomato and bacon pasta! Going back to Big Issue work will be like a birthday present for me, as my birthday is just a couple of days beforehand – I have already started celebrating! WAYNE A HUNGRY JACK’S, BODY SHOP, HAIGH’S I ADELAIDE CBD

Trailer Made I am a member of the Men’s Shed. I really enjoy being part of the Men’s Shed. They run classes on cooking and we do big walks together. They have a workshop where they do woodwork on Tuesdays. I use a trailer when I sell The Big Issue to carry my magazines to my pitch. Unfortunately, my trailer was stolen recently, before lockdown. When the other Men’s Shed members heard that my trailer had been stolen, they offered to build me a new one. Hopefully, it will be finished by the time I am back out selling. During lockdown, I’ve been going out on drives with my support staff and getting a drink from Grill’d. LACHLAN KOORNANG RD, CARNEGIE I MELBOURNE

Go for Gold Coast I’ve been going for long walks with my support worker. We’ve been to Hinze Dam, Springbrook National Park and Burleigh Heads.


Do Something Different These days with self-isolation it’s the perfect time to do something different yet new to you If your gym is closed go for a walk around your house or block Do star jumps or sit-ups Go for a run Can’t learn at school or university except online? No excuses Go to your public library and borrow a book Or learn a language Do something different yet new Do some art, write, sing or dance, you can do all these things By yourself Stay positive We can get through these times DANIEL K CNR HUTT & WAYMOUTH STS, NORWOOD I ADELAIDE

Every Friday I meet my friend Carrie at Broadwater. She’s just had a baby. Hi to my customers at Nobby’s Beach! I miss you and can’t wait to be back.

size! A big shout-out to vendors and all my customers! I have been thinking about you all. I can’t wait to be back at work! CLAUDETT B THE BODY SHOP I ADELAIDE

CAMERON NOBBY’S BEACH I GOLD COAST

Great Mates

Family Tree I’ve liked looking at vendors’ photos on our private Vendor Facebook group. When I go walking I like to take photos and put them on the Facebook group. I’ve also been visiting my brother Peter who’s a vendor too. He visits me as well. I’ve also been doing our family tree. I’ve gone all the way back to my great-great-grandfather. He was an admiral in the navy in the UK. I’d like to say hi to all my customers – I’m coming back! STEW SANDGATE & NUNDAH MARKETS I BRISBANE

I have been enjoying connecting with and supporting other vendors over the Australia-wide Vendor Facebook page. It has been amazing to share stories and photos and to e-meet other vendors from all over Australia! I have made some new friends and I am grateful for this. I have also been keeping up with all the news and I have found it interesting, and exciting, to follow all the updates on restrictions as they ease. KELVIN F THE ARTISAN CAFE I ADELAIDE

You Beauty!

Hearts and Crafts During isolation I have kept busy with my crafts and hobbies. I have been painting and making diamond art, and I have also started crocheting a new blanket. It’s going to be a really big one – double-bed

I’ve been learning how to sew and I’m wanting to become a very skilled sewer. I like embroidery and I am wanting to learn how to do oil and canvas paintings of beautiful scenery. I love beauty. SARINA I BRISBANE

Green Thumb CINDY IN FULL BLOOM

29 JUN 2020

When I moved into my place the backyard was a dump; it was so overgrown I couldn’t use the clothesline. At first, I couldn’t be bothered, but with the help of a couple of people I had two garden beds built and started growing vegies. I was encouraged to enter a garden competition. I wasn’t going to as my backyard was lined up to get ripped out and put back to how it was, but with a little nudge I did – and I won Best Produce award. The yard was then cleared so I put in more garden beds. I have grown carrots, broccoli, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, spinach for my bird Sunshine, spring onions and cucumbers. I’m currently growing red onions, purple cauliflower, broad beans, capsicum and cabbage. I’m looking forward to planting in spring and summer for more homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers. I have had fun finding slugs; it makes growing vegies harder but they’re great for the compost. I am very much looking forward to the next garden competition, and getting the yard ready for this year. In between watering I have been out riding my bike, thinking about what I can grow next – maybe some flowers as well.

11

CINDY CNR GRENFELL & CURRIE STS I ADELAIDE


VENDOR ED HAS BEEN TAKINGDIE PHOTOS

Walk of Life Since this virus hit, I leave home at the normal time as if I’m working but I go for a morning walk. I love taking photos on my walks. I’ve also been going on pushbike rides. Probably the biggest thing I’ve missed during lockdown is going out and doing something. When I’m selling The Big Issue it feels like I’ve got a proper job so that’s what I’m missing, a purpose in life. If I stay in my flat for too long, I go stir-crazy. One thing I’ve learned about myself during lockdown is that I don’t mind my own company. But I’m looking forward to selling the magazine again – oh yeah! I miss my customers – they are like a second family to me. I’ve caught up with a few. My Saturday pitch is the local farmers’ market, a five-minute walk from home, and I still buy my fruit and vegies from there, so I’ve seen a few of my regulars around. I’m looking forward to seeing all you guys again! EDDIE KELVIN GROVE MARKETS I BRISBANE

Alone, Not Lonely I haven’t minded lockdown. I’ve got emphysema, so it’s in my best interests to isolate, and I’ve been a loner most of my life. I can be alone and not be lonely. I have a little balcony; I can sit outside and read my book in the sun and watch the world go by. Mostly I’ve been reading loads during lockdown. It keeps the mind occupied. Mainly nonfiction, like the biography of Olympian Peter Norman. That was a really good read. I’ve got a lady a couple of doors up. She’s old and unwell so I’d been going up the shops for her a couple of times a week. Tuesdays and Thursdays I used to go and see her to see what shopping she wanted, but I went to see her Saturday and she was really bad. Her screen door was locked so I called the coppers so they could do a welfare check. She’s in the hospital now. I’ve been waiting for a phone call to hear how she’s doing. MARK COLES ALTONA I MELBOURNE

12

THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU

Silver Lining The last couple of months have been hard without being able to work. The first few weeks made me realise just how important The Big Issue work is for me. I am happy to say that some good has come out of it though – with my extra time I have been able to focus on my health a lot more. I have started hydrotherapy once a

week for my feet and legs. It’s hard work but it will help me when we are back out there selling mags! KERRY-ANNE THE BODY SHOP & ELIZABETH SHOPPING CENTRE I ADELAIDE

Job I Love I guess lockdown for me was challenging because I love working. I have been spending time with my daughter and doing my art designs. I have missed my customers and fellow vendors and staff. It will be awesome to see them again. It was nice because I had so many customers contact me to see if I’m okay, and The Big Issue staff have been great checking up on me also. Getting back out there will be great because it will show the public that we haven’t given up on the job we love. GLENN F CENTRAL STATION I SYDNEY

Sleeping in! Lockdown has been a massive lifestyle change. After eight years of getting up at 4am so I can start selling at 6am, it’s been a hard habit to break. Now that we are back selling it will be even harder to get back into the habit of getting up early. I have been enjoying the sleep‑ins! I can’t wait to get back and see all my customers and friends. DAVID S PARRAMATTA I SYDNEY

We’ll Meet Again I’ve been staying at home, doing my housework and my exercises. I’ve been cooking, because I love cooking and baking. Most of the time I’ve been watching TV and movies and reading books. The first few days of lockdown were lonely because I missed my friends. But I had to abide by the rules and be safe. So even though I missed them I made myself busy at home. But I’ve missed my customers the most; I don’t want to lie. They are like family and I really miss them. I’ll be happy when we can meet again. I’m coming! I’ve been missing you and I really love you all! JOSEPHINE NORTHERN BEACHES I SYDNEY

Jogging and Jigsaws Won’t we be glad when lockdown is all over! I’m involved with a church, and I could still listen in on services. I jogged and went on very long walks. So many people were exercising and walking dogs. I bought a jigsaw puzzle – mainly the less interesting puzzles were left in stores. And I read so much. I’m hanging out for when we return. I look forward to going to the library and selling The Big Issue to my customers. Wishing everyone a happy return to normality. DARRELL ASHFIELD STATION I SYDNEY


I Will Still Be Me

It has been so boring! Can’t go to movies, can’t go to a restaurant and have a nice steak with mushroom sauce and salad (mmm, so good!), and my trip to Sydney with my daughter Nakita had to be rescheduled for a later date. But now, with restrictions easing, I feel like I can spread my wings and fly again. I’ve started catching up with family and friends. I have been going out for walks to check out the beaches after we had some horrific storms a few weeks back. I had been saving money until the shops opened – and I have been able to buy a few new things for the home. It’s always nice to treat yourself once in a while. I’m looking forward to going back to work to earn money to put to something else (most probably bills, haha!). For now, I’m enjoying life – just taking one day at a time, that’s all we can do. As for following the regulations, in Australia we have done an incredible job. I am proud. Speak to you soon, when I’m back on my pitch. JACKIE G MYER BRIDGE I PERTH

Lucky Country I want to talk about COVID-19. I have seen on the news people that have passed away, lost their jobs, and there is a lot of sadness in the world. Even though I have found it tough, I feel very lucky to not have the virus and to live in Western Australia. To keep my mind off COVID-19, I have been going to the beach each day, going for walks, daydreaming and meditating. This has helped keep my mind off things, and keep me busy. I am excited to be able to work again. SEAN HAY ST MALL I PERTH

All Together Now My name is Jannah, and just before COVID-19 I moved to a small coastal town. I can see that anxiety and

Cat’s Canary We decided our house wasn’t crazy enough with three cats – Cougar, O R EO T Missy D and Oreo – so HE CAT SAYS H we went and bought a EUGENI TO E canary, Eugene. Oreo loves chatting with him every morning when we’re doing his cage. He won’t be coming on pitch though – I think it will be too much for him. Plus, I think the two cats are enough! I’ve missed my chats with friends and customers. It’s been hard. Communicating with people is one of the big things I miss. I have done a couple of Big Issue e-Classroom talks with students. It’s good to be getting that work during lockdown, and good the schools get an opportunity to talk to us as well. CHERYL MELBOURNE CENTRAL ELIZABETH ST & NORTH MELBOURNE

29 JUN 2020

One Day at a Time

RACHEL T PYRMONT I SYDNEY

13

JACKIE G GETS TO THE BEACH!

What will it be like going back to work? Are my customers okay? The thoughts flow through my mind. I don’t know the answers; all I can do is trust. Maybe my trolley needs to make way for a portable table? No more handshakes. A few changes, but I will be still be me. The lesson that helped me survive the loneliness of isolation, and kept my depression low, was the many thankyous, letters, smiles, friendships and text messages of are you okay? over the last couple of months. Strangers, customers and now friends, who understand my life is full of flaws and dysfunction, labels and numbers. They share my suffering and accept my unique joy instead of trying to control me – that, to me, is love. Finally, I get to return! And in small ways do something other than complain and feel so damn sorry for myself and others. We all get frustrated at the world around us and complain – some take a person’s joy away, some give too much. So

when I start work again I will be that annoying joyful vendor who tries her little best to show that life is so much more. My little tree pitch, and the people that walk by, are my little help to kickstart my joy.


Recipes for Success I have been teaching myself to cook with pastry. I have made a bacon and egg pie, an apple pie, a peach and apricot pie, and sausage rolls. I’ve also learned how to make pizza scrolls, and I’ve been making crumbles with a variety of fruit. I have also been able to do some garden work, help a neighbour move furniture, visit some parks which was so cool, do some walks, and a lot of cleaning at home. I have to be doing something! It has been challenging not doing the things I would like to do, and I do miss working and especially interacting with my customers. But I’m happy with what I have been able to do. I have been waking up each morning always happy. To those who have been buying online, thank you so much for your support – it means a lot to our vendors and our organisation.

ARNED DAVID HAS LERY . YUM! TO COOK PAST

DAVID L SUBIACO FARMERS MARKETS I PERTH

A Lovely Change When the coronavirus kicked in, it took away the only way I had of making the rent at the backpackers hostel I was staying at, which was selling the magazine. I’ve been scrimping and scraping. If it wasn’t for Launch Housing – who approached me when I was on the street and have put me up during lockdown – I would’ve been up shit creek without a paddle. I would’ve been really messed up. Every week, Big Issue Vendor Support call me. They’ve helped me out a couple of times with $50 vouchers from the Vendor Hardship Fund. It will make a lovely change – it will – getting back out there and selling the mag. For real. It will be nice to see the customers and their support again. MICHAEL TARGET BOURKE ST | MELBOURNE

I work long hours selling The Big Issue, 10 to 12 hours a day, so I’ve been using the time to relax. Watching television, getting stuff done around the house, around the garden – socialising when I could. I haven’t had a chance to get away for a long time, so I got out of the city for a bit for a change of scene. With no cars on the road, I didn’t have to worry about traffic – it was fabulous. And the petrol price went down. I’m looking forward to seeing the customers – come and see me! NICK MELBOURNE I VIC

I’m All Good I am waiting to go back to work, so I can see all my customers. I do miss all of my customers, who are very nice to me. I love selling The Big Issue, and I’m a good seller. I travel everywhere to sell The Big Issue, and go by bus and by train. I have been missing going on public transport during lockdown – I love going on trains, and I like going away on holidays on the train, too. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I do Byron Bay, Grafton, Lismore and Casino by train. My next trip is to Darwin – I’m hoping to go up there by airplane when everything’s ready to go again. During lockdown,

I’ve been getting phone calls from Charlie, Chris and Beverly in the Vendor Office, and that’s made me feel very happy, because I love them talking to me and making sure I’m not getting worried or anything like that. I am all good. BRADLEY PALM BEACH, COLLAROY, NEWPORT I SYDNEY

By the Books Hi everyone, how are you all? Stircrazy like me? I like to read, but our library shut down. Erica from Vendor Support told me about street libraries, and she looked up some which are local to me. I’d never heard about street libraries before – it really helped me out. Street libraries are small to medium boxes that have books inside them (they sometimes look like little houses). You can go and see and take what you want to read. When finished you can take them to other street libraries and swap them. It’s really great! The council library is back open now, and they have a table of free books they are giving away. I get one or two books and when I’m finished reading them, I take them to these street libraries. It’s a great way to share a good read, plus it gets you out of the house for a short time! IRENE G WSE I ADELAIDE

ALL VENDOR CONTRIBUTORS ARE PAID FOR THEIR WORK.

29 JUN 2020

JANNAH THE DOME, WESTRALIA PLAZA I PERTH

Time Out

15

depression have a big impact on people’s lives. Being in lockdown has made me and my daughter closer – we played board games, did drawing and watched DVDs. We have learned that we are all in this together – and safety and hygiene are the number-one motto! What also has happened since restrictions eased off is that we get to go exercise and take family outings. Let’s keep it up Australia!


Me, Myself and Iso

Week One Today The Big Issue stopped selling to the public. I am without a job, without a purpose, and the world has gone to hell. A virus has spread across the planet and forced us into isolation with only the promise of the occasional trip to the supermarket and a little outdoor exercise every day. We have been told to stay home. So be it. I think I can survive on my disability pension. I might have to cut down on the smokes and eat a little less, but I’ll be right. Right? Sure, my boarding-house room is a little small but I have just invested in Netflix, have plenty of books and can always ring family and friends for a chat. I’m sure I won’t get too bored. How bad can it get?

16

THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU

Week Two Every morning I put on Sunrise to watch the latest news: the updated case and death tallies, as well as info on the latest restrictions. I find myself watching a lot of news. It’s partly the need for information. A part of me also has a morbid fascination with death. Why is this? I’ve always been a fan of disaster movies, but I don’t think I actually want one of those scenarios to happen. Perhaps a brush with death makes us feel alive, makes us grateful for whatever life we have left? A shared experience like this might even bring us together. Or perhaps this morbid fascination is born from fear? It’s time for my daily walk. I have been walking most days for exercise; it helps with my mental health. When I get back maybe I’ll turn off the TV and get into a good book.

I find myself sleeping more. It’s partly because when I sleep I can’t smoke. But it’s mostly a lack of motivation that sees me sleeping through the day. Still watching a fair bit of news. Poor old Italy is in bad shape, most of Europe in fact. And America. They’re going from worse to ridiculous. I’m glad I’m here in Australia, that’s for sure. My mum gave me my first face mask as I have a doctor’s appointment coming up and she thought I might need one for the waiting room. I don’t know if I’ll use it. I always scoffed at the young students who would walk past me on my pitch all masked up, thought it was overkill. But I should listen to my mum, she used to be a nurse and she’s usually right. The pigeons are back! Our boarding house recently moved on all the pigeons as they were pooping all over the balconies and courtyards. This morning, however, I found two fresh white ablutions on my balcony, the first for ages. I looked up and saw five of them on the roof of the building directly opposite. Really, fellas? My balcony has become my sanctuary. I often go out for fresh air, to listen to the sounds of the city and to occasionally talk to my neighbours doing the same thing. Dodging poop makes the experience far less enjoyable. I’ll have to keep an eye out for them and shoo them away before they have a chance to redecorate. That’s a 24-hour job. Great.

Week Four This morning I lay awake in bed staring at my big toe for a good 10 minutes. Oh dear, motivation is low. I am sick of the news and rarely check it anymore, too depressing. Also, I think I finished Netflix. At least I’ve finished the stuff I wanted to watch. I have Stan now though. I got it for Breaking Bad, have always wanted to watch it. I also got an Xbox but it’s failed to grab my attention the way games have in the past. Bored. So bored. I often get to 10am and wonder how the hell I’m going to get through another 12 or so hours before bedtime. I find myself pacing up and down in my little room. I’ve been ringing

HEADSHOT BY NAT ROGERS

by Mark

Week Three

illustration by Jessica Singh

For Big Issue vendor Mark in Adelaide, lockdown was spent fending off boredom …and pigeons.


Week “I Can’t Remember What Week It Is” And here I lay. Yes, I have got up since the incident in the mall but it’s becoming harder and harder. Sometimes I play music and let it soak through me as I lie in my bed. I like classic rock, so there’s a lot of The Doors and Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Metallica and a sprinkling of Red Hot Chili Peppers. I do a lot of daydreaming. Some of it is positive; I think about what it will be like to get back to work, see my regulars, and earn a living again. Mostly it’s negative though: where is the world going? When restrictions are lifted, will the infection rates rise again?

Week Eight (I’m Pretty Sure…) Carpe diem my mum always taught me. And I’m trying. Most days I get up at a reasonable hour and eat a decent breakfast. I go for a walk and give my mum a call to check how she’s going; she has struggled as well over the past weeks. Family and friends seem to be answering my calls more often too, which is nice. I sometimes go for a second walk in the afternoon, which is slowly reducing my waistline. Hooray! The rest of my time is spent on Facebook and Messenger, watching Netflix and Stan, playing a bit more Xbox, reading, listening to music and only occasionally watching the news. And what I see on the news is much more promising: restrictions are slowly lifting, South Australia has no active cases, and the footy will be back on soon, albeit to crowdless stadiums. Go Crows! This morning after my walk I headed to my balcony and noticed a pigeon out there. We both froze as our eyes met. Please don’t poop, I thought. But suddenly, like an epiphany, I realised a little bit of pigeon poop wasn’t such a big deal. My balcony would no longer be one of only a few options to be free of my four walls. “Fred,” I said aloud (I had decided to call him Fred), “poop away.” You be you, I thought, because pretty soon I’ll be able to be me. I looked out at the city skyline and at the beautiful blue autumn sky. I took a deep breath. Yes, soon I can go to the movies, get a beer from the pub, see my nieces and nephews and hit the streets to sell a Big Issue or two. So poop away Fred. Poop away!

29 JUN 2020

Later that day… So I went to Hungry Jack’s and headed over to Rundle Mall to eat my meal on one of the fancy new benches. No sooner had I taken my first bite, than a pigeon appeared at my feet. Bloody pigeons! Within seconds another three had joined him, each one a bit more daring. These birds were starving. There must be fewer food scraps for them to eat now that people haven’t been around for weeks. Another five or so flew in from different directions, and one had jumped up onto the bench. The leader, I assume. I had laid out my chips on the Hungry Jack’s bag and he wasted no time in helping himself to one. Right, this means war! There were probably 20 or 30 at my feet now, as I had accidentally dropped a few scraps of lettuce from my burger. I was fighting a battle on two fronts. The leader had been joined by three or four others and they all started taking pot shots at my chips. I gave them a big shoo! and flicked my hand at them. It didn’t stop them though. I decided to leave but as I gathered my things and stood up I spilled most of my chips on the ground. It seemed like every pigeon in the CBD arrived at once – feathers, beaks and chips flew everywhere! I made a dash for it and didn’t look back. I caught the first bus home and had to lie down for a bit.

This morning I lay awake in bed staring at my big toe for a good 10 minutes. Oh dear, motivation is low… Also, I think I finished Netflix.

Sometimes I’ll slide back to sleep. I can fly in my dreams, but I’ve noticed this is harder to do at the moment – sometimes I barely get off the ground. A lot of my dreams are in the vast vacant countryside, or if I do make my way into a town or city there’s no‑one around. I know what these dreams are referring to – Adelaide seems more and more deserted each day. Right now though I’m awake but deflated, depressed, lethargic. Arms and legs dangling over the edge of my single bed. I’m staring at the air-conditioner. I hear a scratching noise on my balcony. I know immediately what it is – bloody pigeons! But I can’t summon the energy to get up and shoo them away. Scratch, scratch, scratch. Here I lay.

17

people a lot, just to talk. I ring pretty much everyone in my contacts. Most of them don’t pick up; I think they’re all sick of me ringing. Except Mum, she always picks up. It must be time for a walk. Maybe I’ll walk into town and get Hungry Jack’s; I’ve got a spare buck or two.


The Big Picture series by Kiliii Yüyan

18

THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU

Leaders of the Pack Photographer Kiliii Yüyan meets the women – and their dogs – who well and truly sleigh. by Anastasia Safioleas Contributing Editor @anast


29 JUN 2020

P

hotographer Kiliii Yüyan works in remote locations, faraway places like the wilds of Patagonia and the icebergs of Greenland. Last year he found himself in northern Alaska keeping pace with mushers and their dogs as they trained on the Arctic snow for the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. “Oftentimes I would sit on the snow machine facing backwards and take photographs while it was going,” he recalls of his attempts to capture the perfect shot as they sped over the ice. Each year in March, teams of up to 14 dogs and their mushers race 1600km through the snowy Alaskan wilderness in the hope of winning one of the world’s toughest contests. Starting in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, and travelling west to the coastal city of Nome, it can take up to 10 days to complete the unforgiving course. Yüyan was there on assignment for Vogue to document the women, such as twin sisters Kristy and Anna Berington, who take part in this epic race. “The twins have been mushing for 10 to 15 years. They’re both ex-military and pretty amazing; they dominate the scene and are very accomplished mushers. These women are like athletes,” he says. As well as demanding peak physical condition, mushing requires commitment to a very particular way of life. As well as adapting to the harsh Arctic conditions, you must be prepared to look after your charge: the huskies that pull your sled. “The dogs are all-consuming – feeding and caring for them is so much work,” he explains. “A typical Iditarod team is between 14 and 16 dogs, so typically every musher has a kennel about four times that size. The dogs eat a tremendous amount of food and every single time they go running you have to put little snowshoes on each of their paws. There are no weekends – there’s no time off. You have to run them every single day.” Now in its 48th year, the Iditarod was dominated by men until Libby Riddles became the first woman to win in 1985. Together with fellow musher and subsequent four-time winner Susan Butcher, they’ve inspired women to brave the endurance race ever since. Safety is an ongoing issue for the Iditarod. Thin ice makes it difficult to tell whether you’re travelling over water – fall off your sled and you risk acute hypothermia. And while checkpoints along the route give mushers and their dogs the opportunity for rest and food, it’s not uncommon for a musher to catch a few minutes of shuteye while racing, or even stop alongside the trail to nap. Dogs, meanwhile, have been known to poop on the go. “The biggest fear all mushers have is that while they’re asleep the dogs will take off and leave them stranded. Once they’re gone it’s very difficult to get yourself out of the wilderness,” says Yüyan. “So from the very beginning, mushers learn how to hop back on the sled, run after it, do anything it takes to get back on.” He pauses and then adds, “These women are just totally badass.”

19

FOR MORE IMAGES FROM KILIII YÜYAN, VISIT KILIII.COM. THIS TEAM COOLS OFF AFTER A RUN


20

THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU

AT THE KENNEL, BEFORE RIGGINGÂ THE DOGS TO THE SLED

ALISON LIFKA GETS IN SOME TRAINING BEFORE THE BIG RACE


ALISON LIFKA LOVES “THE PEACE OF THE TRAIL”

29 JUN 2020

KRISTY BERINGTON NEEDS FIREWOOD, SO OUT COMES THE CHAINSAW

XXX

KRISTY: BADASS

21

THE DOGS LOVE THE SNOW


Letter to My Younger Self 22

THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU

I

Life in the Fast Lane Swimming superstar Lisa Curry talks gold medals, family and the three words that changed her life. by Amy Hetherington Editor

used to sleep in my togs when I was a kid, so that I could just get straight up out of bed and get in the car. My mum never ever had to wake me up – ever. I was always ready to go. I don’t know where I got all that from. I just went to training because it was fun. When I made my first trip overseas representing Australia at 14, I came back home and all I wanted to do was train hard, make another team and miss more school. That was my motivation, because I wasn’t a great student. But I loved being at training and I loved the camaraderie of the sport. I just thought the harder I work, the more trips I’m going to get. And as I became a little bit better and a little bit faster, I started reaching a little bit higher. When I was 16, I went to the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton in Canada, and I came home with a silver medal in a relay – but no individual medals. I was disappointed; I wanted more. I went to a breakfast in Brisbane, I paid $30 and I listened to this man speak, his name was Dr Denis Waitley and he had written The Psychology of Winning. To go along to a breakfast on your own at 16 and listen to an American psychologist is probably unheard of, but I learned and remembered one thing that changed my life. And that was if I wanted to be better, if I wanted to be faster, if I wanted to be at the top of swimming, I would have to depend on myself. Those three words stuck with me forever, “depend on myself”.


If I wanted to be better, if I wanted to be faster, if I wanted to be at the top of swimming, I would have to depend on myself.

LISA CURRY’S NEW EPISODE OF WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? IS NOW STREAMING ON SBS ON DEMAND.

29 JUN 2020

TOP: GOLD IN 1990, WITH DAUGHTER JAIMI LEE BOTTOM: GOLD IN 1982

holds me back. And that I think I got from my dad. When people tried to pull me down, I just got up even stronger every single time. I always wanted to be a young mum. I wanted to be a young grandmother. Grant [Kenny] and I were married quite young and by 24 I had my first baby. The kids came with me when I worked; they came with me when I raced. When I trained, they were at the pool. I wanted to do everything with my kids, as Grant did, and I think we were able to achieve that. We were there for all their little races at school and their carnivals and sports days or grandparents’ day. And that was important to us. My most memorable moment in the pool is a hard toss-up between my first-ever Commonwealth Games gold medal, which was in 1982, and my last gold medal in the Commonwealth Games, which was in 1990, as a mother, and breaking Commonwealth records – that was pretty cool. But probably my proudest moment was standing up on the blocks at the Olympics in 1992 – I didn’t come away with a medal, but I was 30, I had two kids at home, and so many people told me I couldn’t do it – I was too old. But I stood there as a mother with the two kids in the best shape of my life, swimming the fastest I’d ever swum and feeling pretty damn proud of myself. I think it paved the way for the other athletes to think Oh, hang on a minute. Well, if she’s done it, I can do it too. When I retired from swimming, I got bored. I missed swimming. I missed the racing, but I didn’t miss the training. You train six hours a day and then all of a sudden, you’ve got six spare hours in a day; what on earth do you do with them? I did work, but I had a really good job which didn’t require me to be at the office nine to five, so I was very lucky. I also took up outrigger canoeing, which filled the gap, and I did that for 20 years. I wasn’t just a swimmer. I had other priorities, and I think that’s what really helped me in retirement – that I was a mum. To my 16-year-old self, I just say good job. You did well for all the ups and downs; for some reason I came through it pretty much unscathed. And I think it comes back to that guy: depend on yourself. Even though you’ve got a support team around you, with parents and friends and teachers and coaches, there’s only one person who dreams your dreams, and sets your goals and walks in your shoes. Or in my case, swims in my flippers.

23

MAIN PHOTO BY ROSS COFFEY/SBS; INSET PHOTOS BY GETTY

After that I asked Mum if she would drop me at the pool half an hour earlier and pick me up half an hour later. And it was that extra time I spent with my coach [Joe King]. I helped Mr King open up the gym or help him put in the lane ropes. And afterwards I’d help him put everything away, but it was in that extra hour a day I spent with my coach that he would talk to me about all sorts of things – things that have stuck with me today. And he very quickly became very much part of my life and my hero in life. Every week of my life from the age of 13 until I finished swimming at the age of 33, he wrote something positive in my [training] logbook. Every single week. It’s amazing. He had the most beautiful handwriting. And before big competitions, he would just send me a letter of thoughts. It was just one of those special bonds that you have with your coach. And so I think the person that I am today is very reflective of Mr King and the bond that we had for 20 years. From my mum I learned to be organised, to be on time, don’t keep people waiting, do as you’re told. And all of those things, every lesson that Mum taught me, is with me now. So I try and pass that on to my kids. If I say I’m going to meet you at 10 o’clock, I mean 10 o’clock, not 20 past. You don’t realise why you need to be organised until you’ve got a job and three kids. I will say [witnessing domestic violence growing up], it was hard for us. My brother and sister and I, we all went through the same experience, but we dealt with it and we deal with it differently. You can let it affect you for the rest of your life or you can choose not to. And I’ve chosen not to. It was what it was. It wasn’t our fault as children. Things happened that weren’t very nice. My mother still lives with the pain every day and that’s hard for me to see that and to hear that…but my dad was my dad, and he was a great man and he was good to me. At 16, I was a bit chubby and a bit pimply, and the [other] coaches used to call me Queen Zit and Moonface: they were my two nicknames. Boys used to laugh at me at school and say I was big and muscly, and the other girls at swimming…there were a couple that used to scratch me as they went past when I was swimming. And I remember one day I got out of the pool and I said, I’ve had enough. I’m going! And Mr King came running up to me and he had to console me and tell me it’s going to be okay. I get there was jealousy; people didn’t like the fact that I was doing well. But there was something in my being – and I still have a really ferocious work ethic – and no-one


Ricky

24

THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU

A sunny winter’s day in Australia is a thing of exquisite tenderness. That warmth on your face from the sun should be bottled and sold.

by Ricky French @frenchricky

Powder to the People

S

omething resembling a ski season is now underway in a small pocket of our hot, dry continent. I’ve always admired a country that gives ill‑suited pastimes a red-hot go. The Australian ski season is like the New Zealand summer: sometimes you get a really good one and it’s talked about for years, but usually it’s an anxious period of inclement promise followed by a series of cold fronts bringing rain; a crushing but inevitable climatic anticlimax. But hey, I love skiing and will not hear a bad word said about the Australian winter. I’m an optimist and I live in eternal hope that climate change will welcome in a slice of European winter across the Great Dividing Range. There is of course the question of whether it’s a good idea to gather in crowds right now, and skiers are nothing if not avid queuers. While some people are worried that thousands of people going skiing and indulging in the après-ski scene may promote the spread of COVID-19 (as opposed to promoting the usual spread of credit-card arrears and STIs), I’m not so concerned. It’s a well-known fact that the Sars-COV-19 virus spontaneously combusts upon contact with snow* and that the mountain air does wonders for your complexion. That’s another thing about skiing: we all become uncharacteristically graceful and stylish on the slopes – even when sliding sideways down a blue run on your arse with a snowboard – and the layers of clothes hide those extra lockdown pounds you’ve piled on. The more garish your ski jacket, the more kudos you get in the chairlift line. That’s why I choose to ski in long johns and running shorts. The upside to Australia’s mild winters is that I don’t have to hire or buy serious (and seriously expensive) ski clothes, although I do get a few strange looks when I start marking out a cricket pitch in the snow. Skiing might be the most glamourous winter activity – except when I do it, of course – but

it’s far from the only thing you can do. We often regard winter as the time to hole up at home, but God knows we’ve exhausted all fun in doing that these last few months. A sunny winter’s day in Australia is a thing of exquisite tenderness. That warmth on your face from the sun should be bottled and sold. Then the sun slips behind a cloud and it’s cold again. In that regard it’s exactly like a New Zealand summer. The coast is wild this time of year, and you can walk for hours without overheating or feeling like you’re obliged to go through the hassle of getting in the stupid water. Find a beach shack and go there. Hire a house in the hills and burn some carbon. Indoor fireplaces create an instant mood with the flick of a match. There’s something about shutting the cold out and heating a room just a little too much that makes you feel a bit smug, and also very toasty. Do it. Last winter we went to a tiny town we’d never heard of – Forrest, Victoria – and did something we’d never done before: mountain biking. Mountain biking is the new skiing, as evidenced by the conversion of ski runs to mountain bike tracks in the summer. I found that I mountain bike the same way as I ski: slow and not particularly well. But I loved it. You can also hit the mountains without skiing this winter. Snow shoeing is a wonderful way to travel, especially if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to walk with a tennis racquet strapped to each foot. If you have a dog find a dog-friendly state park and take your pooch walkies in the snow. For some reason dogs enter an off-the-scale phase of delight bounding through snow. Whatever you do this winter, do it well. *Neither well-known nor a fact.

Ricky is a writer and musician who loves getting on the piste.


by Fiona Scott-Norman @fscottnorman

PHOTOS BY JAMES BRAUND

A

nyone else feeling nostalgic for 2016? The designated International Year of Pulses? As in peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas? Those were the days, before we knew what apocalypse looked like. Sure, it seemed terrible, what with Brexit, David Bowie dying, Prince dying, George Michael dying, Leonard Cohen dying, the Zika virus, the man-tears shed over the female reboot of Ghostbusters, and the election of Donald Trump, but after six months of 2020 I’m willing to trade. It was, retrospectively, small potatoes. Remember when all Trump had to exaggerate was the size of his inauguration crowd? How we laughed. I am nostalgic for the simplicity of that moment. I am nostalgic for being able to believe that things would return to “normal”. “Normal”, let’s face it, has taken its bat and ball and gone home. Sure, there are solid arguments to be made that 2020 isn’t the worst year ever. There was the bubonic plague, after all, in 1348. Killed a third of the population of Europe. Would not recommend. 1943? Bad year. The Holocaust was going full tilt by the spring of 1943, and – in a classic colonial dick move – Britain’s war-driven need to increase food exports from then British India caused a famine which killed an estimated three million people. In 2016 David Baker, the author of the online series Crash Course Big History, nominated somewhere around 72,000BC as the worst year in human history: a volcanic super‑eruption on the island of Sumatra triggered the equivalent of a global nuclear winter, and the human population was reduced to between 3000 and 10,000 individuals. Even fewer than the crowd at Trump’s inauguration! Sad. So, it could be worse. We still have sourdough, Bunnings and virtual Joe Exotic‑inspired Zoom backgrounds – although the very existence of Tiger King is itself a harbinger of end times. As is, for that matter, white Instagram influencers using Black Lives Matter protests as a backdrop for sexy

self‑promotion. Lord have mercy, influencers – read the room. Or if you really have to inappropriately centre yourselves in the battle against racism – and it’s obvious that you do – go for a hike in your bikini and pose in front of what’s left of the 46,000-year-old Juukan rock shelters after Rio Tinto destroyed them. Anything to keep the pressure up on a company that has little remorse. Yup. 2020 is unequivocally making a spirited bid to stand out from the pack, bringing such an unrelenting density of day‑by-day bad news that six months in and we’ve forgotten January. If we think of it at all, when the country was top-to-bottom on fire, and the sky was red, it’s chiefly categorised as “that time when we had to wear the other facemasks: the smoke ones, not the pandemic ones”. Ah, remember climate cataclysm? We should. It’s not going anywhere. And I haven’t even mentioned COVID! And yet. What was so great about “normal”? What many of us consider normality, and desirable, is an illusion. Scientists have been warning about climate change and pandemics for decades, mass extinctions have been accelerating for years, Western culture has been built, literally, on slavery and racism. None of this is stable or sustainable. We’ve just been able to ignore it all, is all, and now it’s unravelling like a cheap sweater set upon by a hundred hyped‑up kittens. Which means that 2020, actually, could be the best year in a very long time. Oh, it’s not nice. It is terrifying, depressing and confronting. But for all of the times we’ve asked “What’s it going to take?”, we now have our answer. 2020 is what it takes. And now we can get to work.

Fiona is a writer and comedian who’s under no illusions.

29 JUN 2020

We Can Work It Out

‘Normal’, let’s face it, has taken its bat and ball and gone home.

25

Fiona


Spike Lee

Film 26

THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU

OM N FRKE UP ” EAR A N L W E WA C E IF “ W RY – EE O IKE L HIST – SP


by Steven MacKenzie The Big Issue UK @stevenmackenzie

PHOTO BY GETTY. TEXT COURTESY OF THE BIG ISSUE UK

H

istory repeats itself,” Spike Lee says from his office in Brooklyn. “We can learn from history – if we wake up.” Two hundred and fifty years ago, a Black man is murdered in Boston by the state. On 5 March 1770, British soldiers fire into a group of protesters. Five fall. The first – the first American to die for the nation’s independence – Crispus Attucks. A sailor of African and Native American descent, Attucks became a symbol of the American Revolution, and of the abolitionist movement to end slavery, then was largely forgotten. Jump to 25 May 2020, Minneapolis: arresting a Black man suspected of passing a fake $20 bill, a white police officer restrains George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd repeats “I can’t breathe”. He dies. In the wake of his death, protests against racism and police brutality spread across the US and the world. Hundreds of thousands of people march in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The exceptional thing about George Floyd’s killing is that it is not exceptional. He was the latest victim of a society built from its conception on inequality and exploitation, where today Black teens are 21 times more likely than white teens to be fatally shot by police. After the Boston Massacre of 1770, future founding father and president John Adams defended the troops; last month, President Trump branded protesters “thugs” and threatened “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”. In response to Floyd’s death, Lee posted a new short film, 3 Brothers, with the caption “How Many Times Does History Have to Repeat Itself Before the Murder of Black Bodies in Broad Daylight Ends?” It features

29 JUN 2020

Filmmaker or historian? Spike Lee says he’s both. The acclaimed director’s latest film confronts America’s long history of racial injustice via the Vietnam War.

27

Time to Wake Up

footage of Floyd’s killing, footage from the killing of Eric Garner while under arrest in 2014, and footage from Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989) – where one character, Radio Raheem, is choked to death by an officer. For four decades Lee’s films have fearlessly addressed big issues. Early indies She’s Gotta Have It (1986), Jungle Fever (1991) and Crooklyn (1994) showcased a cinematic maverick telling untold stories of Black America. Malcolm X (1992) resurrected a civil rights icon, 25th Hour (2002) defined post-9/11 loss and anxiety, When the Levees Broke (2006) mapped the devastation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, and BlacKkKlansman (2018) taught us to infiltrate hate, finally winning Lee an Oscar. Da 5 Bloods, his latest Joint – as he has long billed his films – is about the Vietnam War but tells of our times. Four “Bloods” – a term of camaraderie used by Black soldiers – return to Vietnam to exhume and repatriate the remains of their former commander (and dig up gold they buried in the jungle). In flashbacks, the actors play opposite Black Panther’s Chadwick Boseman as Stormin’ Norman, their squad (and political and spiritual) leader. The survivors have grown old – now mostly in their mid-sixties, but the memory of Norman has not. The past still haunts and hurts. Lee pulls back from individual to international trauma, echoing the context. It opens with a montage of archival footage: demonstrators clubbed by police at the 1968 Democratic Convention; anti-war student protesters shot and killed by the National Guard at Kent State University; monks self-immolating on the streets of Saigon. You cannot see these images without thinking of similar scenes in America now. Filming on location, Lee travelled to Vietnam for the first time. “We did not want to dehumanise the Vietnamese people,” he says. “They were fighting for their country… These are very proud people but a beautiful people. I did not want to make the Viet Cong the villains in no way, shape or form.” A scene in the film shows the Bloods’ reaction to Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination, heard via the enemy on Radio Hanoi: “Black GI, your government sends 600,000 troops to crush the rebellion. Your soul sisters and brothers are engaged in over 100 cities. They kill them. Why you fight against us so far away from where you’re needed?” The broadcast – adapted from historical recordings – suggests Black soldiers had more in common with the Viet Cong than with their white commanders, who sent them to the other side of the world to fight and die for freedoms they did not have at home. Stormin’ Norman convinces his Bloods not to take revenge against their white officers. He talks about racism – “Every time I walk out my front door, see cops patrolling my neighbourhood like it’s some kind of police state, I can feel just how much I ain’t worth” – and Black history.


SPIKE WITH AN OSCAR AT LAST, AT THE 2019 ACADEMY AWARDS

ON SET IN VIETNAM FOR DA 5 BLOODS

FROM DO THE RIGHT THING, ALL THE WAY BACK IN 1989

computers. So how are children being taught?” Lee points out that we’re still dealing with the legacy of the Vietnam War. “Even though it’s 50 years ago, wars never go away, people are still mourning their fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, relatives, friends that got killed in Vietnam over some bullshit.” Similarly, the impact of COVID-19 will last long after the pandemic passes for a generation who fell behind with their education or lost family members. “You can say it lasts forever because people are always going to mourn their loved ones. That does not go away,” Lee says. But remembering connects us to history, reminds us of those who believed a change could come, who we honour by believing change could yet come. “When they find a vaccine, we can’t go back to what was,” Lee concludes. “It has to be a whole new agenda. These vast differences between the haves and have‑nots, these humungous gaps have to be closed… That’s my hope and dream.” Two hundred and fifty years and counting. DA 5 BLOODS IS AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX.

29 JUN 2020

Lee echoes this: “Since day one, Black people have been fighting for this country – that’s why we hear Chadwick Boseman’s character talk about Crispus Attucks; he’s not really known, not being taught in school, that’s why he’s in the movie – we’re still fighting for our rights. We’re still fighting for this country today.” Racism and discrimination in the criminal justice system is far from only an American problem. In Australia, First Nations people are the most incarcerated in the world – three per cent of the population yet nearly a third of the prison population. David Dungay Jr, a Dunghutti man, was just one of the 437 Indigenous people who have died in custody since 1991. He too told officers (12 times) that he could not breathe before he died; no-one has been held accountable. There has never been a conviction over an Aboriginal death in custody in this country. Lee continues: “Way back in 1989 with Do the Right Thing I was asked this question: ‘Spike, do you have the answers to stop racism?’ And I said no. People are still asking that question today. “Racism is not any more just wanting to be able to sit down at a counter and eat. There’s redlining, social inequality, lack of education. For example, here we are in the middle of the pandemic, schools are closed. People of colour have a greater chance of not having wi-fi in their home, have a greater chance of not having

29

PHOTOS BY GETTY, NETFLIX AND MOVIESTILLSDB.COM

These vast differences between the haves and havenots, these humungous gaps have to be closed… That’s my hope and dream.


The 1975

Music THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU

30

B AC MAT TK TO THE Y HEA 1975, WITH AND CLY FRONT MAN ENTR E


by Jared Richards @jrdjms

Jared Richards is an arts and music critic who has written for The Guardian, Junkee, Swampland and more.

I

n the lead-up to The 1975’s fourth album, frontman Matty Healy checked into a digital detox. Well, kind of – in the CGI music video for ‘The Birthday Party’, Healy’s avatar stays at a nature retreat and partakes in therapy circles alongside memes, alt-right iconography and internet hoaxes. But Healy isn’t interested in Black Mirror moralism about the internet being evil, though he knows it can be a scary place. “Our reality is chaos and the internet is an algorithm that we’ve created to keep us informed on as much of that chaos as possible – from when we wake up to when we go to bed,” he says. “Of course we’re fucking terrified. But the thing is, the internet is just a reflection of the real world. If people want a vessel to get hatred out, that’s what they use. “This is a little diatribe and I’m trying to keep it short. But the thing that’s been quite nice about [this] is that I’m obsessed with technology and I think that it is the future – with this situation, you’re seeing that people have been forced towards technologies that they wouldn’t normally use.” The situation is COVID-19. Healy speaks on the phone while quarantining near Oxford, where he’s also spending time in the studio with The 1975’s drummer and co‑writer George Daniel. They’re working on new material, as well as promoting Notes on a Conditional Form, released in May. Healy is also, like everyone, spending a lot of time online. Then again, like everyone, he always does. He says that the way “our relationships are mediated through technology” is his main inspiration, which is why he’s excited about some kind of virtual reality replacing our awkward video chats that have become the new norm during lockdown. “Right now, people are being pushed to Zoom or different technology that’s slightly more rudimentary or in development. And I think the next step, apart from making the stream better, is working on the principal idea of trying to create a sense of tactility in a digital world,” Healy says. “We’re being driven back towards the utopian ideal

NOTES ON A CONDITIONAL FORM IS OUT NOW.

29 JUN 2020

The 1975’s fourth record has received polarising reviews – Genius! A mess! – but frontman Matty Healy says in these strange times he’s just trying to be sincere.

31

Take Notes

of the internet – which is the extension of pre-existing communication. I find that quite exciting, although I find the context very depressing.” But the internet’s most obvious influence on The 1975 isn’t in their meme-filled videos, Healy’s philosophising or their Trump tweet-quoting lyrics, but the band’s formlessness. Since even before their 2013 debut album, The 1975 have spent more than a decade shifting back-and-forth between sounds with ease, resembling the carefully curated Tumblrs that were their first champions – a jumbling of references and eras into one slightly ironic and nostalgic mood board. Their latest LP is no exception, in large part a homage to the latenight UK radio of their youth. “We started by going back to our past – going through the music that made us. We stood on top of our most commercially successful record and I was thinking, Do I act accordingly? But we basically just shut the doors and made this really intimate record of who we are,” Healy says. Recorded over three years and delayed multiple times, the 22-track album covers a lot of ground, starting with our climate crisis. Opener ‘The 1975’ is an ambient instrumental accompanying a sobering four-minute speech from Greta Thunberg (“Either we choose to go on as our civilisation, or we don’t”), with all proceeds from the single’s sale going to Extinction Rebellion. Once that’s done, the frenetic album skitters between Britpop, UK garage and gospel, with features from FKA Twigs, Phoebe Bridgers, dancehall legend Cutty Ranks and Coronation Street actor Tim Healy, Matty’s dad. Topics include twee love declarations, Healy’s addiction issues, social media stresses and odes to Healy’s bandmates. In short, it’s incredibly expansive and occasionally overwhelming. Take ‘People’, a Fugazi-lite punk song about leaning into feeling like the world’s falling apart, which is exactly the apathy Thunberg’s rallying against in the opener. If it’s a little too contradictory, it’s supposed to be. “The question I’m asking is, Will the centre hold? I’m asking questions – I never pose opinion on my records; I only ask questions: Is this weird? Should I be as concerned about this as I am? Can we continue as normal and expect nothing seismic to change? And the answer, as it turns out, was no.” Critics are divided, making the same points to either call Notes a work of genius, or a complete mess. NME’s five-star review celebrated Healy’s “wrecking ball to his ego”; a blistering one-star Independent review, which Healy himself retweeted without comment, called Notes “a parade of smug self-indulgence”. The singer’s the first to joke that he can come off as full of trite, but defends Notes as The 1975’s best album yet. Despite the pomp, he calls it an “ode to sincerity” – to expressing everything he can, with whatever genre and reference at his hand. “I’m very good at being sardonic and sarcastic and taking the piss. I’ve done that for years now, to be honest with you. But I think it’s actually way harder to be a bit naive or soppy – and maybe end up looking like a bit of a dickhead.”


The Baby-Sitters Club

Small Screens

Join the Club Calling 90s girl-power fans: Stoneybrook’s greatest girl gang is back for the Netflix generation. by Kylie Maslen @kyliemaslen

Kylie Maslen is a writer and critic from Kaurna Yerta/Adelaide. Her first book – Show Me Where It Hurts: Living With Invisible Illness – will be released in September.

32

THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU

T

he prestigious women’s history archives at Smith College in Massachusetts house papers from literary luminaries such as Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath and Ann M Martin. While the first two names are widely known, the third may only ring a bell to fans of 1990s girl-power nostalgia. Yet Martin’s body of work – more than 131 novels published between 1986 and 2000 – remains a feminist force and enduring cultural phenomenon. Yes, it’s The Baby-Sitters Club series, and it’s back for a new generation. I came to The Club as a pre-teen, when the world around me seemed flushed with pink and my friends were experimenting with make-up and fashion. Kristy Thomas – the leader of The Baby-Sitters books – showed me through her daggy “mom” jeans and normcore looks that I wasn’t alone in being a tomboy. Importantly,

the series’ depth of characters and personalities gave many readers a chance to see that it was okay to express themselves differently, too. The entrepreneurial middle-schoolers of Stoneybrook, Connecticut, sparked spin-offs and special editions, merchandise, a cult HBO series in 1990 and a poorly realised 1995 film. Their novels alone boast sales of US$180 million. Mega-fan actor Natalie Portman – posting a gushing Instagram of a signed original edition in 2019 – described queuing for hours as a child to meet Martin at her local bookstore. Last year, the series was released by audiobook platform Audible, with the first batch voiced by Elle Fanning. Now, The Club has been reimagined by streaming giant Netflix. The five original members are all here: Kristy Thomas is the sports-mad and sometimes bossy founder; Claudia


Kishi is the creative artist and host of the thrice-weekly meetings; Mary Anne Spier is the shy bookworm; Stacey McGill is the boy-crazy sophisticated New Yorker; and Dawn Schafer is the free-spirited activist from California. Each episode focuses on a different character, with their narration giving voice to diverse backgrounds and experiences. The new series mirrors the first eight books then jumps to a special edition for a two-part season conclusion set at – where else? – summer camp. The finale introduces future members Mallory, Jessi and Logan, presumably ahead of season two. The adapted plots may be written with young viewers in mind, but they never underestimate their audience. Directed by Broad City’s Lucia Aniello, the episodes pass the Bechdel test – the criteria being that two girls or women talk about something other than boys or men –

THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB SCREENS ON NETFLIX FROM 3 JULY.

29 JUN 2020

C L AU MARYDIA , STAC EY ANNE AND K, DAWN, RISTY

33

The new series will appeal to older millennials who grew up craving those pastel spines.

as well as the DuVernay test, which is a similar metric for race. Martin’s kid-friendly feminism on the page created third-wave role models at a time when intersectionality was rarely acknowledged in mainstream culture. With Martin as a producer, Netflix has kept the integrity of the books’ fully-realised characters, casting Momona Tamada (To All the Boys: PS I Still Love You) as the Japanese-American Claudia. Some changes have been made to diversify the predominately white casting of the 90s iterations. Latina actor Xochitl Gomez (Gentefied) as Dawn, and Malia Baker as a biracial Mary Anne offer more fans a chance to see themselves in The Club. Speaking to Seventeen, Tamada revealed the books were important to her as a young reader as it was the first time the Japanese-Canadian actor saw a reflection of herself in a character. “I definitely got to see myself in the series,” she said. “Which was a first because there weren’t really many Asian characters that I could read about when I was younger.” As a disabled person I have strong memories of The Truth About Stacey, in which her diabetes is revealed and the impact of chronic illness is discussed openly. Small details like Claudia’s healed broken leg always aching when it rained stick with me even to this day. The new series will appeal to older millennials who grew up craving those iconic pastel spines. Alicia Silverstone plays Kristy’s mum Elizabeth ThomasBrewer, who is “not totally clueless” (an in-joke for the grown-ups). But this smart, contemporary adaptation will charm younger audiences, too. The Club still relies on a landline phone, but it’s acknowledged as a relic. The characters text from iPhones (Kristy has a flip phone case!), share playlists and talk about Pinterest boards, and there are nods to current pop culture references such as “the floor is lava”. While the pop soundtrack – featuring artists of broad appeal like Lizzo and Charli XCX – solidifies the cross-generational connection. Importantly, the series honours its source material by addressing current social issues. Mary Anne corrects doctors who misgender a child in her care. Online bullying is discussed when a rival babysitting business shares a video of Stacey seizing from a diabetes attack. And Claudia’s family history at internment camps offers commentary on the current treatment of refugees and migrants in America. Rather than simply relying on the current 90s nostalgia trend, which has spawned ill‑thought revivals of Beverley Hills 90210, Full House and Roseanne, this series picks up where Martin left off. The Baby-Sitters Club for the Netflix generation puts complex girls front and centre. As in the books, there is space for young women to fail and succeed, to have crushes and heartbreaks, and to test the boundaries of responsibility and independence while enjoying the innocence of childhood. More than 30 years after Kristy’s Great Idea, this remains radical and necessary.


Books

Rutger Bregman

RUTG E FOR “R BREGM A AR T G ES THE FHE SURVN RIEND IVAL OU LIEST F ”

A Certain Kind Popular historian and author Rutger Bregman is certain that we humans are not as bad as we fear we are – and he’s written a book to prove it. by Thuy On Books Editor

34

THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU

@thuy_on


R

utger Bregman understands it’s hard to be optimistic about humanity at the moment: we’re in the throes of a global pandemic and an international recession is biting at our heels. The mass protests in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by police in the US underline systemic racism and social inequalities experienced by people of colour. Not to mention global warming. So it’s unsurprising that the Dutch historian’s second English-language book Human Kind – A Hopeful History was met with eyebrow-raising suspicion. And Bregman remains steadfastly positive in his thesis that people are generally good. “A summary of my book in one sentence would be: Most people are decent, but power corrupts,” he says. “It’ll be a summary of this moment as well. We see the extraordinary courage of millions of protesters, and the corruption of those who are supposed to ‘protect and serve’.” His passion for his subject is unflagging, “What do those in power fear the most? The opposite of fear. Which is hope. That’s why I believe it’s an act of defiance to keep believing in the good of humanity. To remember that most people are decent. To focus on the overwhelming majority of courageous and determined citizens who are protesting peacefully.” Bregman’s inspiration for Human Kind comes off the

man with a cane, shooting at journalists et cetera, while the president himself cheered them on. We’ve seen the corruptive effects of power everywhere.” More than five years in the making, Human Kind is a comprehensive, cogently argued thesis that champions the goodness in people throughout time. The book draws on expansive research, and includes case studies and proposals for change. Bregman’s ambit spans many disciplines: biology, genetics, archaeology, philosophy, anthropology, psychology, history, economics and sociology. In clear, compelling and accessible writing, the author explores the evolution of our species, which he argues was predicated on “survival of the friendliest”. Although struggle and competition were clearly factors, he argues cooperation was far more critical. He also unpacks the human negativity bias, which means we’re more attuned to the bad news than the good. This is why he makes a distinction between the news and journalism, and cautions against watching the former. “The sensational reporting about mostly negative incidents is not good for us. It can make us anxious, cynical and depressed. Psychologists even have a term for this: they call it ‘mean world syndrome’,” he says. “Good, constructive journalism talks truth to power, helps to understand the world, and to get a more

realistic view of our history and nature.” Among the many extraordinary facts unearthed in Human Kind is the case of a real-life Lord of the Flies, which turned William Golding’s famous book about marooned schoolboys-turned-savages on its head. “It was amazing to discover a real case of kids shipwrecking on an island in 1965, near Tonga in the Pacific Ocean. Turns out the real Lord of the Flies is a story of hope and friendship, of courage and resilience. I managed to track down the four survivors still alive today, and the captain who rescued them. They are still the best of friends! After the story went viral, the six of us managed to connect over Zoom.” Bregman calls this discovery the highlight of his career. Stories like this are interwoven in Human Kind, which succeeds in blasting cynicism, and casting doubt on theories of humanity as a species governed by selfinterest. Maybe we’re better than we think we are? “It’s easy to imagine a dark path ahead of us,” Bregman acknowledges. “Still, I hope readers will find some comfort in the ideas of the scientists, entrepreneurs, activists and citizens in my book, because there’s hope in our history as well.” HUMAN KIND – A HOPEFUL HISTORY IS OUT NOW.

29 JUN 2020

back of his English-language debut, Utopia for Realists, a bestseller that argued for a universal basic income – a no-strings-attached payment that would cover basic needs, like food, shelter and education – so that no-one lives in poverty. His research offered an overview of all the evidence that shows this policy can work. But he faced opposition to his idea, dismissed as “communist fantasy”. “I heard the same objection again and again: But what about human nature? Aren’t most people selfish and lazy? That’s when I realised that I needed to dig much deeper,” he says. “In Human Kind, I try to show that we need to move to a much more hopeful and more realistic view of how we are as a species.” The primatologist and social critic Frans de Waal calls it “veneer theory” – the idea that civilisation is just a thin veneer and that during a crisis (such as a pandemic) we reveal our true selves and become violent savages. Like de Waal, Bregman outrightly rejects this view. “For so long, veneer theory has been used to justify hierarchy, racism and oppression,” says Bregman. “Those in power want us to focus on isolated acts of looting and vandalism. They want us to believe that we need them to restore law and order… But who are the real savages right now? We’ve seen police cars ramming through crowds, officers knocking down an elderly

35

PHOTO BY MAARTJE TER HORST

What do those in power fear the most? The opposite of fear, which is hope. That’s why I believe it’s an act of defiance to keep believing in the good of humanity.


Film Reviews

Annabel Brady-Brown Film Editor @annnabelbb

CINEMA: NO LONGER ON THE SHELF!

I

n the immortal words of Etta James, at last. Cinemas are re-opening and it’s enough to make one a bit weepy. While many of us have found solace in streaming, no home set-up beats seeing a movie at your local cinema, and they’ll need our support over the coming months. The anxiety around the analogue vs digital debate is what energises The Booksellers (in cinemas 2 July). DW Young’s

documentary about the world of New York’s rare and used booksellers offers an intriguing look at a profession that is struggling to stay relevant, as bricks-and-mortar shopfronts are replaced by eBay shops, and the art of the hunt reduced to a Google search. The notion of being a collector today is romanticised as much as it is questioned. Things get further complicated when the film introduces a new generation who view the work of collecting as closer to that of archivists and activists, resurrecting overlooked or forgotten histories. Closer to home, the art world’s muddied relationship with the market is on display in the powerful Namatjira Project (2017), which follows the decades-long fight of the family of landscape painter Albert Namatjira to regain copyright to his iconic work. A striking example of this country’s shameful treatment of its First Nations peoples and the work that still needs to be done, Sera Davies’ documentary is available to rent digitally via the website of Sydney’s Golden Age Cinema, with all profits going to the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW. ABB

IT MUST BE HEAVEN  | CINEMA

A Cannes Film Festival favourite, Elia Suleiman is known for producing offbeat cinematic meditations on the subject of his native Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Armed with a sensibility that sits somewhere between Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismäki and Mr Bean, Suleiman’s approach to this thorny subject matter is comedic as much as melancholic. In his latest offering, he plays a fictionalised version of himself (as per all three of his previous features) on the cusp of impulsively leaving Nazareth in order to make a sort of pilgrimage to Paris and then New York. Placid, sad-eyed and almost completely silent throughout, he’s not a guide but a witness. Together with the viewer he observes the world as a series of vaguely absurdist, beautifully choreographed tableaux: police parade on empty Parisian streets on Segways and horseback; shoppers at a New York bodega tout military grade weaponry. In these glamorous metropolitan hubs – as at home – systemic inequality and the threat of violence underpin the everyday. KEVA YORK ARTEMIS FOWL

36

THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU

 | DISNEY+

Militant fairies. It’s an idea so crazy it just doesn’t work in this blockbuster adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s popular youngadult novels by director Kenneth Branagh (Murder on the Orient Express). A genius kid discovers he’s part of a dynasty of thieves who moderate peace between humans and an underground nation of fairies. Yes, fairytales are real, and centaurs have wearables; how else are they going to count their steps? Artemis Fowl is low on charm and wit to match a premise that promises criminal masterminds, ancient magic and Colin Farrell’s Irish accent (fans self!). It’s about as fun as getting stuck at the top of a rollercoaster before the big drop. An even bigger distraction, and a syndrome of films based on book series, is the plot is mostly in service of theoretical sequels. There’s a vibe that the story will make sense if the series can get to Artemis Fowl: Tokyo Drift. The closure of cinemas nudged this to a streaming service release, which says it all. CAMERON WILLIAMS

JUST DON’T THINK I’LL SCREAM  | MUBI

Ennui is a prison and movies are its cells in this experimental essay film by Frank Beauvais. In 2016, after a failed romance, the French filmmaker found himself in a well of despair. Isolated, unmotivated and increasingly disturbed by events of mass violence across the world, Beauvais sought solace in movies, mainlining four or five a day. Those films are what make up Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream, which pairs a collage of images from his endless movie marathon with the sound of his diaristic musings to give us a tour through his makeshift memory palace, recreating one very long summer. Beauvais can be overly literal, but the editing is generally so rapid and the selection of clips so diverse that any moments of didacticism are overwhelmed by the dizzying sense of emotional turmoil. The bare soundscape (just Beauvais’ monotone narration) may induce sleep, but even that could add to his evocation of psychic drift. A recommended bummer, especially if the viewer has felt the toll of isolation. KAI PERRIGNON


Small Screen Reviews

Aimee Knight Small Screens Editor @siraimeeknight

ALL EARS  | PODCAST

 | FOX SHOWCASE + BINGE

Confession: I once thought an American TV adaptation of Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s hilarious 2014 vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows was a bad idea. Two seasons later, I realise I was dead wrong. Well, undead wrong. Set in Staten Island, New York, three traditional vampires (Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou and Kayvan Novak) live in a share house with an energy vampire (Mark Proksch) and a human assistant (Harvey Guillén). Once the series cleverly untangles itself from the film, it’s a comical look at the mundane aspects of supernatural life. For example, how does a vampire attend a Super Bowl party and not eat their neighbour? There are also dodgy necromancers, a ghost ex-boyfriend and chain emails with ancient curses! Vampires’ unusually long lives and silly traditions are drained for jokes and reborn in a modern world where they appear to be comically out of place. CAMERON WILLIAMS

WAR OF THE WORLDS  | SBS + SBS ON DEMAND

For the third time now, HG Wells’ 1898 novel about alien invasion is reimagined as a television series. Adapted by Howard Overman and starring Gabriel Byrne, this version is set in contemporary Europe. However, attempts to diversify the story accordingly are merely gestural. The one and only Black character is Kariem Gat Wich Machar (Bayo Gbadamosi, The Great), a former child soldier who is barely afforded any humanity as his story mostly consists of being attacked. Another marginalised character Emily (Normal People’s Daisy EdgarJones), who is blind, gains significance in the storyline only when she can see. The lack of daring storytelling does not inspire any genuine connection, nor does it engage with economic, racial and gender inequalities at all despite being set in a dystopia. And while the Indigenous people, Black people and people of colour around us are experiencing real-life emergencies, it’s difficult to feel empathy or relate to these one-dimensional characters battling to survive this extraterrestrial calamity of fiction. BRUCE KOUSSABA

L

ike countless cultural events dealing with the difficulties of COVID-19, the 2020 Audiocraft Podcast Festival (APF) is pivoting to a digital platform. This might seem like a natural fit, given that podcasts themselves are distributed online and not typically listened to in a communal setting. But when your festival exists to bring podcast makers together to talk shop in person, shifting to virtual transmission means finding new ways to collaborate. APF has been held annually in Sydney since 2015. Back in May, festival manager Jess O’Callaghan let me preview the 2020 line-up, which just launched on audiocraft.com.au. An enormous amount of work has gone into shaping the program for its online rollout – and I’m stoked that I can participate from my home base in SA. And whether you’re a seasoned podcast producer, an aspiring sonic storyteller or, like me, just an audiophiliac audience of one, there will be something in the schedule to pique your interest. I’m a big fan of Gimlet Media’s Science Vs, hosted by the delightfully daggy Wendy Zukerman. The Australian expat is dialling in from New York City to talk about audio journalism in the time of coronavirus. Her colleague Matt Leiber – a co-founder at Gimlet, as heard on the formative series StartUp – will also appear. Further highlights include Becky Ripley and Timothy X Atack from the BBC’s Forest 404 show; a pitching session hosted by lead partner Spotify; and a free, opening-night variety hour streamed live on Podbean. The festival runs online 24 and 25 July. AK

29 JUN 2020

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS

PEAS INTO PODS

37

Hosted by Melbourne-based broadcaster, producer and DJ Annaliese Redlich, All Ears explores how music shapes our everyday lives. A graduate of The Wheeler Centre’s Signal Boost program – a professional development initiative that supports new voices in Australian podcasting – this doco series explores how music has a presence in many settings, from wineries to mortuaries. Music appreciators from all walks of life tell their own stories, which open up the series’ appeal to more than just sound design or music nerds. Redlich is a careful and considered researcher, spinning narration and sound effects into guided aural tours of history. She highlights music’s active use as a tool or soundtrack in unexpected scenarios – like plastic surgeons blasting pub rock during procedures. Episode 6, ‘Camp Confidence’, recorded at Melbourne’s Rainbow Rock Camp for LGBTQI+ youth, is especially heartwarming and affirming. For fans of Song Exploder who want to look beyond the craft of composition to hear how music shapes our sense of self. NATHANIA GILSON


Music Reviews

K

Sarah Smith Music Editor

iller Mike and El-P return. And their voices have never been so prescient. When the Atlantan heavyweight and the experimental east-coaster first teamed up as Run the Jewels in 2013, it seemed a strange match. But over four records, the two have built an undeniable chemistry. Here, from the opening bars on RTJ4, Killer Mike’s political nous unloads with extraordinary dexterity, El-P leaning back to create space for his partner, while always having his back. Work on the record started over a year ago, but its themes of police brutality, the capitalist state and race relations make it sound like it was written as the US protests unravelled around them. When Mike raps: You so numb you watch the cops choke out a man like me/ Until my voice goes from a shriek to whisper – ‘I can’t breathe…’, the full weight of that lyric punches bars later when you realise it’s a reference to the killing of Eric Garner, not George Floyd. The right-hooks continue on slacktivist-slaying highlight ‘Goonies vs ET’ and capitalist-cop takedown ‘JU$T’. For all the political rage, RTJ also allow room for their slippery screwball energy – patented weed-addled musings littering the visceral vocalisations. In lesser hands these moments would dilute the potency of the message, but this balance is one of RTJ’s greatest skills, and here they do it with force. Ending with two meditations on good and evil – ‘Pulling the Pin’ and ‘A Few Words for the Firing Squad (Radiation)’ – is genius; they’re biblical in lyrical and metaphysical force. RTJ4 is the protest music our generation deserves. SS

38

THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU

THE R U N LS E W E J

@sarah_smithie

HOW I’M FEELING NOW CHARLI XCX 

Announced at the beginning of the epoch of COVID-19, then recorded and released in two months, Charli XCX’s How I’m Feeling Now is an in-the-moment response to strange days. Her lyrics evoke nostalgic memories of dancefloors and the dispiriting ennui of life indoors, and explore plunging a longdistance relationship into around-the-clock cohabitation. On ‘Anthems’ – whose title befits its massive, speaker-rattling, overdriven sound – yearns to go to parties, hold hands, be with friends; anything but more online shopping and TV watching. Of course, the album is also about a workaholic getting productive in a lockdown; the process – file-trading with experimental electronic producers like AG Cook, BJ Burton, Danny L Harle and Dylan Brady of 100 Gecs – documented in a host of online clips. And the transparency of its creation is a natural match with the music’s sincerity. Where her last LP, 2019’s Charli, was a glossy, guest-filled work that felt corporate and calculated, here the emotions and sounds are raw, urgent, exhilarating. It’s music for the here and now. ANTHONY CAREW

’AKILOTOA | ANTHOLOGY 1994-2006 VIKA & LINDA

PETALS FOR ARMOR HAYLEY WILLIAMS





The singing sisters’ 28-song anthology pulls together songs from five studio albums and two live albums spanning 12 years. The album cements Vika and Linda as Australian music essentials, and provides a mural of Melbourne in the 1990s, featuring Archie Roach, long-time collaborator Paul Kelly, and The Black Sorrows, with whom Vika and Linda sang as backing vocalists until 1994. The title track ‘’Akilotoa’, a Tongan love song and verb meaning “to be enclosed or surrounded”, is exquisite in its simplicity. Several other songs celebrate their Tongan heritage, including ‘Grandpa’s Song’ and ‘The Parting Song’. These are tender moments on the album. ’Akilotoa is a welcome walk down memory lane, one of warmth and brightness reminiscent of car-kept CDs, long drives and Melbourne’s best venues, many of which have closed their doors. Vika and Linda’s harmonies are unparalleled, their stage presence incomparable and their sisterhood unbreakable. IZZY TOLHURST

Though Hayley Williams’ voice defined a specific era of pop-rock with her band Paramore, it is with the release of her debut solo album that the American musician truly flourishes. Petals for Armor is an album detailing a journey through multitudes of emotions – from rage to reflection, confusion to satisfaction, and the inklings of new love. Williams writhes in feminine energy that is never saccharine; rather it’s proud, daring and luscious. Trip-hop elements meet funk grooves, while Williams’ love of pop music’s construction and execution is beautifully represented throughout. The album straddles intimate introspection (‘Over It’) and bold notes (‘Watch Me While I Bloom’, ‘Dead Horse’). Williams navigates her way through texture and tone while keeping her focus intact. As a whole, Petals for Armor is a strong step forward into the solo spotlight that has been calling Williams for a long time. The wait has definitely been worth it. SOSEFINA FUAMOLI


Book Reviews

Thuy On Books Editor @thuy_on

A

s I write, the US is in the midst of its largest civil upheaval in decades thanks to the nexus of police brutality and racism, and the Black Lives Matter movement is once again gaining momentum across the globe. We are not as riven by racial politics in this country, but we cannot afford to be complacent either. For those who want to understand a little more about race relations in Australia, here are some books to read. Stan Grant’s Talking to My Country is a personal and passionate response to being an Indigenous Australian man. There’s also Ruby Hamad’s White Tears/Brown Scars, which examines the dealings between white women and women of colour, and the collision between racism and sexism; while Maxine Beneba Clarke’s award‑winning memoir The Hate Race looks at growing up black in white, middle-class Australia. A brand-new book is a collection of works called After Australia. Edited by Sweatshop director and author of the award-winning novel The Lebs Michael Mohammed Ahmad, the anthology collects 12 pieces by Indigenous writers and writers of colour, offering their vision of what our country circa 2050 may look like. Contributors include Omar Sakr, Michelle Law, Zoya Patel and Claire G Coleman. Time will tell if their dystopian visions, or those splintered by shards of hope, win out. TO

Lionel Shriver’s 15th novel is a satirical attack on the cult of exercise, and centres on a long-term marriage in crisis when sexagenerian Remington decides, of all things, to take up training for a marathon and later, even a triathlon (at the behest of a perky personal trainer called Bambi). His wife, Serenata, no slouch when it comes to fitness herself, is nonetheless nonplussed, then grimly concerned at this late-age pursuit. Shriver’s characteristic spiky wit comes into play in this book. But not content at skewering the addictive craze of self-improvement, she also has a swipe at political correctness in the form of the prohibition of cultural appropriation – and it’s this aspect of the book that feels too zealous and overdone. Serenata, for instance, finds a lot of her voiceover work disappearing because society is becoming increasingly uncomfortable with a white woman voicing non-white characters in dialect. Still, The Motion of the Body Through Space is bristling, engaging and entertaining when it keeps to the theme of extreme sport obsession. THUY ON A COUPLE OF THINGS BEFORE THE END SEAN O’BEIRNE 

This laconic short story collection is steeped in Australian life and popular culture; both in its remembering, as well as its foretelling. With its playfulness, experimental use of language, and the form and structure of the stories changing throughout, it is a fun, fast read that keeps the reader on their toes. The book, however, lacks deeper engagement with some of its themes or ideas, with some stories seeming commonplace or unfinished, leaving the reader unfulfilled and wanting more. Stand-out stories include a young woman meeting a wild Barry Humphries on a ship in the 1950s, and an obese mother who hoards food and feeds it to a young boy in a kind of utopian remembering. Iconic images and Australian slang are weaved throughout (AFL, the ANZACS and sheilas), giving the book an unapologetic Australian tone and providing a connection to place and the wider zeitgeist. The strength of this collection is in its inventiveness, its pace and in its voice. MANDY BEAUMONT

ASK ME ABOUT THE FUTURE REBECCA JESSEN 

This is a youthful, spry debut poetry collection (Jessen’s first book was a verse novel) that spans a number of topics including being young and queer on dating apps (“swiping through/so many nose rings/ the new lesbian signifer?…”), heralding a new nephew at the maternity ward, navigating domesticity in a share house, reminiscing about an old lover, and “trippy AF poems” about the total eclipse. Jessen experiments with structure: there are prose poems, found poems, itemised lists and poems in the form of an index. From space themes to family vignettes and explorations on self-identity, Ask Me About the Future is fresh, playful, humorous and poignant. It may be a collection that will appeal to those wary of contemporary poetry, for Jessen’s work provides an access point for those who believe such poetry is indigestible and esoteric. Which is not to say her work is simplistic; rather, apart from a few poems that seem a bit flippant, the rest are skilfully put together. THUY ON

29 JUN 2020



39

THE MOTION OF THE BODY THROUGH SPACE LIONEL SHRIVER


THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU

Tastes Like Home edited by Anastasia Safioleas

40

PHOTOS BY ALAN BENSON

Tastes Like Home Merelyn Frank Chalmers


Apple and Jam Cake Ingredients

Merelyn says…

3 eggs 1½ cups caster sugar 1 cup oil 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups self-raising flour, sifted ¼ cup strawberry jam 3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar (see note) 1 tablespoon caster sugar, for sprinkling

hat is it about these uncertain times and baking? Suddenly staples we took for granted are flying off the shelves, ingredients usually relegated to the back of the pantry now deemed essential (Hello, yeast!), and aromas from the depths of our memories are now top of mind. Famed food critic AA Gill once said food without memory is just digestion. For my parents, new immigrants after WWII, food was their high altar to the past. It was where they paid homage to their parents who had perished, ritualised the tables around which they grew up, and kept their memories alive for us, their Australian children. It brought their old homes into their new home, and homeland, in Australia. For my mother, who never really learned to cook as a child in Hungary, food became her language of love. She would drive around Perth looking for elusive European ingredients, hand-grind her poppyseeds, shell her walnuts and almonds, and grow fruit to make jam. To her, a slice of homemade cake with a cup of tea was health food. These days, I finally understand it was mental-health food.  Apple cakes were on high weekly rotation, and Saturday afternoon tea wouldn’t have been the same without a slice accompanied by a dollop of whipped cream. There were several variations, from German apple slice to American-style apple pie, but this oilbased cake, with all its simplicity, was called upon regularly. The ingredients could be found in the pantry, no need to use up precious butter, and there were always some apples in the fruit bowl ready to be sliced and baked into the cake. I’ve also made it with pears or plums with great success, and this winter it may well shine as a rhubarb cake.  For me, almost any homemade cake feels like home. Measuring ingredients, standing by the Mixmaster, waiting for the oven to heat – the very act of making the cake batter settles me, grounds me, brings me home.

NO TE

To make cinnamon sugar, combine 1 cup caster sugar with 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon. Store in an airtight jar and use as needed.

MERELYN IS A CO-AUTHOR OF NOW FOR SOMETHING SWEET BY MONDAY MORNING COOKING CLUB, WHICH IS OUT NOW.

29 JUN 2020

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 24cm round springform cake tin. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and caster sugar until pale and creamy. Add the oil and vanilla and beat until just combined. Using a spatula, gently fold in the flour. Pour half of the batter into the prepared tin, then dot with the strawberry jam and cover with half of the sliced apple. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Top with the remaining batter and then the remaining apple slices. Finally, sprinkle over the tablespoon of caster sugar. Bake for 1 hour then reduce the temperature to 160°C and bake for a further 30 minutes or until deep golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

41

Method

W


Public Service Announcement

by Lorin Clarke @lorinimus

Yes, I realise that some of us have all too recently paused our activity in a range of dreadful and unforeseen ways due to a certain global pandemic. But consider this: my “run” lasted for 40 minutes and covered just over 4ks (the American bloke pretended to be thrilled about this but you could tell his heart wasn’t in it) and during that time, I paused my activity to witness the following. A teenage girl in a football jumper playing frisbee with her dad. He was pretty good at it – but she was better. At one point, utterly out of nowhere, she calculated – as she was running – that there was just enough space and time in the universe for her to do a cartwheel, which she did, clipping the edge of the frisbee with her foot mid‑cartwheel in mid-air, arresting its momentum, and then, as she emerged from her wheeling motion, she caught the frisbee and bowed at her dad. I am not making this up. Now I come from, as I have confessed on these pages before, a long line of frisbee tragics. I have seen some incredible feats in my time, but this? This was astonishing. It was the quickest decision. It was cheeky and funny and skilful and it looked like so much fun and then the bow! And here’s the most amazing bit: had I been focusing on my running, like the American wanted me to, I wouldn’t have been watching.

I wouldn’t have thought, Oh look! Some people playing frisbee! and then I wouldn’t have thought, Dad and daughter for sure, and then I wouldn’t have witnessed such an incredible suburban sporting triumph, hidden among all the other sporting moments happening all around it. The soccer game. The people chatting while their children chased each other. The cricket practice. It was one moment. And then it was gone. Activity paused. I saw a dog carrying a stick that was so comically large it was bound to run into some interference from a park bench or a fence or something at some point, but it trotted along with all the optimism of a big, dumb, happy idiot about to not learn a lesson. Behind the dog walked a youngish man. He was in a big, warm jacket with his collar popped up and a beanie on. He walked briskly past a small, elderly woman with white hair but she talked to him, suddenly, about his dog, a wide grin on her small face. He shook his head and smiled. There was rather a lot of giggling. Up ahead, the dog, still carrying this branch, turned around and waited, panting, tail wagging, for its owner to stop eye-rolling with an old lady about what a complete fool he was. As soon as the conversation looked like it might come to an end, the tail wagged faster. Maybe the dog wasn’t such an idiot? Activity paused. There are birds everywhere, you know. Squabbling up trees. Making the sky-etchings full of politics and gossip and chatter, until they go quiet as the sun sets. Activity paused. On the way home, near the lavender, there’s a big intersection. Sometimes, a man juggles balls there for change from the drivers. Today when I crossed, the man didn’t stride out ahead of me. He was leaning on the pole. When I passed him I heard – I couldn’t quite make it out – but he was humming, gently, looking at the sky. Public Service Announcement: activity can be paused. Sometimes, it’s worth the bad lap times.

Lorin Clarke is a Melbourne-based writer. The second season of her radio series, The Fitzroy Diaries, is on ABC Radio National and the ABC Listen app now.

43

T

oday I went for a run in the park. It was mid‑afternoon and the clouds were doing this strange, romantic thing where they kind of look like marble. It had the effect of making the trees look like etchings someone had made across the sky. I have an app on my phone that tells me how fast and how far I’m running. It has an American accent. If you’re a bit of a dreamer like me and you do something like stop to smell some lavender or take a photo of how the sky looks like marble and the trees look like etchings, the voice stops whatever music you’re playing on your headphones and loudly announces: activity paused. It has realised you are using the camera app or have stopped running and so it stops itself and starts judging you. Public Service Announcement: sometimes the best result is activity paused.

29 JUN 2020

A Frisbee Miracle


Puzzles By Lingo! by Lauren Gawne lingthusiasm.com MEAT

CLUES 5 letters Carry, fetch Drunken revel Individual Military horn Protuberance

44

THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU

6 letters Blend, intermix Hang about Judgement Make a mess of Rob premises 7 letters Complaint Mischievous sprite 8 letters Sound of hunger pangs

R E M U G

L

N

B

I

Sudoku

by websudoku.com

Each column, row and 3 x 3 box must contain all numbers 1 to 9.

5

9

4

1

2 6 1

3 6 8 7 7 5 4 8 2 7 1 3 8 4 4 8 1 6 8 7

Puzzle by websudoku.com

Solutions CROSSWORD DOWN 1 Blip 2 Obey 3 Euphoria 4 Titchy 5 Strolled 6 Snatch 7 Timbuktu 8 Nebraska 11 Storm 15 Intimate 16 Pilgrims 17 Helsinki 19 Absinthe 20 Lenin 22 Elixir 24 Urgent 27 Earl 28 Goya

Using all nine letters provided, can you answer these clues? Every answer must include the central letter. Plus, which word uses all nine letters?

by puzzler.com

ACROSS 9 Labour intensive 10 Psychic 12 October 13 Portrayal 14 Hikes 15 Impeach 18 Dracula 21 Tulle 23 Louisiana 25 Martini 26 Ginseng 29 Tom, Dick and Harry

Word Builder

It was hard to have a meat-free diet in early medieval English, because all food was meat. That is, the Old English word mete meant any kind of sustenance. In the Middle English of the 1400s you could still refer to vegetables as grene-mete (“green meat”), and the original white meat (whytemete) was any dairy food. This older meaning is why you won’t find any flesh in your sweetmeats (lollies). The change in the meaning of “meat” meant that in the 1400s horse meat was something you would feed to horses, but a few centuries later meant the flesh of a horse. The word meat is related to the word mate, as a close friend with whom you would share food.

20 QUESTIONS PAGE 7 1 1000 2 Six (China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam) 3 Meg Ryan 4 The 80s (1983) 5 Africa 6 Cloudstreet by Tim Winton 7 Bunbury 8 A sultana 9 Thriller by Michael Jackson 10 Wednesday 11 Shrimp 12 US, China and Japan 13 Chris Lilley 14 Novak Djokovic 15 Two days 16 The birth of Buddha 17 David Dungay Jnr 18 Netflix 19 Silverchair 20 Cyprus


Crossword

by Siobhan Linde

THE ANSWERS FOR THE CRYPTIC AND QUICK CLUES ARE THE SAME. 1

1

2

1

3

1

4

1

5

1

6

1

7

1

8

Quick Clues ACROSS

9 1 10

1

1

1

11

1

1 1

1

1

1

15

16

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

12

1

13 1

1

9 Requiring lots of workers (6,9) 10 Medium (7) 12 Month (7) 13 Depiction (9) 14 Walks (5) 15 Cast doubts on (7) 18 Archetypal vampire (7) 21 Net-like material (5) 23 Southern US state (9) 25 Cocktail (7) 26 Plant used in traditional medicine (7) 29 Ordinary people (3,4,3,5)

1

1

17

1

18

1

1

1

14

1

1

DOWN

1

1

1

1

1

27

28

26

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

29

Cryptic Clues

Solutions

work (6,9)

10 Papa finally uses very fashionable medium (7) 12 One of 12 about to be covered in gold? (7) 13 Picture of surrealist painter in doorway (9) 14 Kelpie is gutless during his walks (5) 15 Question how Mario’s girlfriend introduces

herself (7)

18 Famous vampire queen, perhaps, returned

with Mulan’s innards (7)

21 Headless seabird caught in Lawrence’s

netting (5)

23 Woman embracing man in American state (9) 25 Drink knocked back in one tram (7) 26 Scrambled eggs in new dietary supplement

(7)

29 To headmaster, detective and potter are

ordinary people (3,4,3,5)

to eat Vietnamese soup (8)

4 Very small bird caught by hot guy, finally (6) 5 Drollest party ambled along (8) 6 Grab a piece of material after changing direction (6) 7 Tiny musician (male) to broadcast from African city (8) 8 State banks are collapsing (8) 11 Tailless bird might start commotion (5) 15 Close friend in note written by friend (8) 16 Religious travellers are stern, tucking into lager (8) 17 Trouble in 14-across involving large capital city (8) 19 Spirit bathes in liquid (8) 20 Fifty-nine turned up to see revolutionary (5) 22 Obelix ironically ingested magic potion (6) 24 Critical man from ancient city? (6) 27 Almost too soon to become nobleman (4) 28 Domingo yapping about another Spanish artist (4)

SUDOKU

WORD BUILDER

29 JUN 2020

1 Bishop going over the edge is an aberration (4) 2 Follow bad boy around point (4) 3 Excitement when heads of Urban Institute are about

45

9 Needing lots of workers to be in universal

5 Bring Binge Being Bugle Bulge 6 Mingle Linger Ruling Bungle Burgle 7 Grumble Gremlin 8 Rumbling 9 Lumbering

DOWN

6 1 3 2 8 9 4 7 5

ACROSS

2 7 8 5 4 3 6 1 9

25

1

24

9 5 4 7 6 1 8 3 2

1

1

3 6 2 9 1 7 5 8 4

1

23

1

Puzzle by websudoku.com

1

1

1 8 9 4 2 5 3 6 7

22

1

5 4 7 8 3 6 2 9 1

1

1

4 2 1 6 9 8 7 5 3

21

1

1 Unexpected deviation (4) 2 Heed (4) 3 Intense happiness (8) 4 Very small (6) 5 Sauntered (8) 6 Grab (6) 7 Malian city (8) 8 Midwestern US state (8) 11 Commotion (5) 15 Close friend (8) 16 Religious travellers (8) 17 Capital of Finland (8) 19 Highly alcoholic drink (8) 20 Communist revolutionary (5) 22 Magic potion (6) 24 Pressing (6) 27 Nobleman (4) 28 Spanish painter (4)

7 9 6 3 5 4 1 2 8

1

20

8 3 5 1 7 2 9 4 6

1

19


Click 1940

Vera Lynn

words by Michael Epis photo by Getty

46

THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU

W

hen the Queen addressed Great Britain about the coronavirus crisis recently, it was Vera Lynn she referenced – not Churchill, not Nelson, not Boadicea. The Queen’s video message was entitled ‘We Will Meet Again’, echoing Lynn’s song from WWII, a song that meant so much to so many Allied soldiers all around the world, and to their loved ones back home, wherever home was, as both parties wondered if indeed they would survive the war and meet again. For the generation destroyed by that war, and the next generation scarred by it, the stirring strings and Lynn’s commanding yet embracing voice were positive notes to cling to amid the misery. Lynn, who has died at 103, is forever associated with that war. Indeed this year, celebrating the 75th anniversary of VE Day (Victory in Europe), Lynn found herself back in the charts – a rare achievement for a centenarian. She was voted by those servicemen and women as their favourite performer, earning her the tag “the Forces’ Sweetheart”. Her Sunday night radio show was listened to by one-fifth of Britain. But she was ditched in 1942, after a campaign against music thought to

be harming morale. As the BBC’s Dance Music Policy Committee put it: “We have recently adopted a policy of excluding sickly sentimentality which…can become nauseating and not at all in keeping with what we feel to be the need of the public in this country.” The decision was later reversed. In 1943 Lynn re-recorded ‘We’ll Meet Again’ for a film of the same title, and it is that version (and an even later one) that is lodged in people’s minds. It is a shock then to hear the version that those adoring troops so loved in 1940. The only backing is from a Hammond Novachord – the world’s first proper synthesiser, four decades before they became popular. It is perhaps that version that Pink Floyd honour in their song about Lynn on The Wall (1979), itself a meditation on the intergenerational damage of WWII. The song lives on. The public never tired of hearing it; Lynn never tired of singing it. It plays as the world ends in Dr Strangelove (1964) – and during the Cold War it was programmed by the BBC to play at the world’s actual end, in the event of nuclear holocaust. And so, Vera, we will meet again – don’t know where, don’t know when.


47

17 APR 2020


Profile for The Big Issue Australia

The Big Issue Australia #615 - Welcome Back!  

- Oscar-winning director and activist Spike Lee speaks about his new film Da 5 Bloods, the power of history and the state of America today....

The Big Issue Australia #615 - Welcome Back!  

- Oscar-winning director and activist Spike Lee speaks about his new film Da 5 Bloods, the power of history and the state of America today....