PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK | HERO RATS | TIM WINTON’S BREATH
No 561 4 – 17 May 2018
HELPING PEOPLE HELP THEMSELVES $3.50 of the cover price goes to your vendor
NATIONAL OFFICE Chief Executive Officer Steven Persson Chief Operating Officer Sally Hines Editor Amy Hetherington Chief Financial Officer Jon Whitehead National Marketing and Partnerships Manager Louise Gray
The Big Issue is Australia’s leading social enterprise. We are an independent, not-for-profit organisation that develops solutions to help homeless, disadvantaged and marginalised people positively change their lives. The Big Issue magazine is published fortnightly and sold on the streets by vendors who purchase copies for $3.50 and sell them for $7, keeping the difference. Subscriptions are also available and provide employment for disadvantaged women as dispatch assistants. For details on all our enterprises visit thebigissue.org.au. Principal Partners
National Operations Manager Jeremy Urquhart CONTACT US Tel (03) 9663 4533 Fax (03) 9639 4076 GPO Box 4911 Melbourne VIC 3001 firstname.lastname@example.org thebigissue.org.au WANT TO BECOME A VENDOR? If you’d like to become a vendor contact the vendor support team in your state. ACT – (02) 6234 6814 Supported by Woden Community Service NSW – (02) 8332 7200 Chris Campbell NSW + ACT Operations Manager Qld – (07) 3221 3513 Susie Longman Qld 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
Major Partners Allens Linklaters, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Clayton Utz, Fluor Australia, Herbert Smith Freehills, Macquarie Group, MinterEllison, Mutual Trust Pty Ltd, NAB, Qantas, Realestate.com.au, Salesforce, The Ian Potter Foundation, William Buck Marketing/Media Partners Adstream, C2, Carat & Aegis Media, Chocolate Studios, Getty Images, Realview Digital, Res Publica, Roy Morgan Research, Town Square 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. The Big Issue is a proud member of the INSP, which incorporates 122 street publications like The Big Issue in 41 countries.
COVER STORIES 14 CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION
Young people are fighting for a better world. You best get out of their way.
15 TEEN SPIRIT
A high school student explains why he had to March for Our Lives.
16 KIDS THESE DAYS…
Five young Australians going above and beyond the call of puberty.
21 DO YOU HEAR THE PEOPLE SING?
Paris 1968: two young Australians get caught in a youth revolution.
FEATURES 22 I SMELL A RAT
THE BIG PICTURE Rats aren’t just about stalking sewers and spreading plagues; they can save lives.
26 SEEDING HOPE
Can you be a good person and still bring a child into this world?
29 HOW MUM BECAME HOMELESS
LIVING HOMELESS SERIES What do you do when your own mother has nowhere to go?
30 DEEP BREATH
Tim Winton’s Breath is brought to life on the big screen by surfer dudes.
32 LOST, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
The lifelong repercussions of a 1950s science experiment on unwitting children.
34 IT’S NO PICNIC
Recreating Picnic at Hanging Rock in a more woke world.
37 SOOTHE MOVER
Jon Hopkins just wants his music to make you feel good.
“HERO RATS” ARE TRAINED TO SNIFF OUT TNT. THE RATS – OR THEIR HANDLERS – HAVE TO PROVE THEY’RE IN LINE WITH INTERNATIONAL MINE ACTION STANDARDS (P22) PHOTO BY MIRIAM DEPREZ
04 ED’S LETTER, YOUR SAY 05 MEET YOUR VENDOR 07 STREETSHEET 08 HEARSAY 11 MY WORD 12 RICKY 13 FIONA
38 FILM 39 SMALL SCREENS 40 MUSIC 41 BOOKS 43 PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT 44 PUZZLES 46 CLICK
FLYING THE FLAG
WHAT WERE YOU like as a teenager? For
research purposes, I did a deep-dive into my high-school diaries. It was an exercise in excruciating embarrassment; I was a new vegetarian, the SRC president and spent a lot of time crusading against social injustice on my high horse. But most of the entries are awkward, full of friendship dramas, family squabbles and self-loathing. For much of it I wasn’t really looking past my own nose – but I also knew it. In one surprisingly reflective moment from 1993, I wrote: “I know when I’m older and read this I’ll be disappointed. But older Amy, I’m sorry, this is how it is…” The spark was there, I was too distracted, too full of self-doubt to light the fire. Hopefully you were bolder, braver. Much like US gun-control advocate Emma González, and the new generation of teenagers who are igniting change around the world, challenging the status quo and demanding we all do better. Articulate and passionate, González has become an emblematic figurehead for this global youth movement. After the Parkland school shootings that killed 17 people in February this year, González and her fellow students channelled their grief and trauma into grassroots action. And they’re making a huge difference. According to a Good Weekend report, support for the NRA is at its lowest this century, while support for gun regulation is at an alltime high. As deputy editor Katherine Smyrk writes, they make us feel like we’re on the precipice of change. In this edition, she speaks with some remarkable young Australians who are making the world a better place. They are a reminder that to be an activist, all we need to do is act. It’s pretty simple. Every one of us can make a difference, no matter how small.
Amy Hetherington, Editor
mullets.” Then an hour later I’m walking behind a hipster with one! Recently I flew on the perfect PS: for the record, Mrs Brady (and Qantas plane (the A330-200), LETTER the trendy girl Karen in my class which comes with all the iPad, OF THE FORTNIGHT in 1976) had a lioness cut, not a wi-fi, USB entertainment mullet. The first notable fem-mullet goodness. But the whole IMHO was Martina Navratilova’s. entertainment system died Su Coutts, Torrens Park, SA – we almost had a funeral on board for it. Luckily (okay not luck, just The wonderful thing for vendors who good planning), I’d spotted a Big Issue sell The Big Issue is that over time the vendor on my way to the airport so I money and stability it brings to their loaned my mag to my depressed seat lives puts them in a better position to neighbour. Always have a backup plan engage with authorities to secure longfor the tech failure, people! term, low-cost housing. Once housed, Katie, Docklands, Vic selling The Big Issue helps them pay As winner of this edition’s rent and buy food etc. The Big Issue is a Letter of the Fortnight, circuit-breaker in the homelessness cycle Katie wins a double pass – buying a magazine regularly goes a to Breath. See our article long way to help battle homelessness. on p30. Susan Leith-Miller via Facebook Thank you for drawing attention to the issue of adult literacy in Ed#557. Usually the focus is child literacy. However, our members know that across Australia literacy is a problem for many adults. Adult literacy teachers and volunteer tutors work with all ages, from school leavers to seniors, helping them learn to read, think critically and engage effectively with day-to-day literacy tasks. We encourage anyone who would like to improve their reading and writing to contact the Reading, Writing Hotline for options, and we appeal to state and federal governments to adequately fund adult literacy classes and training for adult literacy teachers and tutors. Jo Medlin and Daniella Mayer, CoPresidents, Australian Council for Adult Literacy (ACAL) My gut feeling, on buying this week’s issue [Ed#560] was that it is too soon to celebrate the mullet. I recently saw a club entry restriction, “No singlets, thongs, mullets...” I still smile when I think of my son saying, “Friends don’t let friends get
@thatsfootballmt I have never chucked out a pair of old boots during my career. I’m very happy to see that my Magistas went to @thebigissue Street Soccer programs, to an Ethiopian refugee called Grace, who is homeless. She plays football every Monday. Thanks Dave from @theirbeautifulg
COVER #561 EMMA GONZÁLEZ PHOTO BY NICOLE RAUCHEISEN/ NAPLES DAILY NEWS VIA USA TODAY NETWORK/SIPA USA/MEGA DESIGN BY GOZER
THE BIG ISSUE USES MACQUARIE DICTIONARY AS OUR REFERENCE. MACQUARIEDICTIONARY.COM.AU
» ‘Your Say’ submissions must be 100 words or less, contain the writer’s full name and home address, and may be edited for clarity or space.
MEET YOUR VENDOR GAMAL SELLS THE BIG ISSUE AT DEGRAVES ST, MELBOURNE I’M EGYPTIAN. I grew up in a big family in Cairo – five brothers and one sister. All of them educated. My dad was educated. My mum didn’t go to school but she was a very wise lady. Until I went to university I was very happy, but for some reason I started to smoke, and my mum got upset. I was going with bad people, in the wrong direction. She told me in Arabic, “If you go in the wrong direction, sooner or later you will get bad results.” After a while I understood what she said and I decided to not have any contact with those people, and I studied well and got my degree. I have a degree in maths. But my mum was still worried and she advised my brother in Melbourne to sponsor me. Later on he sent me a ticket and I arrived here. It was 1987. I loved my mum. I loved my dad. I love my brother. He’s a doctor. When I arrived he gave me a book called The Power of Your Subconscious Mind. It helped me very good. I had chronic anxiety. I had two other brothers here but one died about four years ago. Back in Egypt I have one sister, who is a doctor, and one brother who is big in the army. My mum and dad have died. I liked Melbourne when I first arrived. People were kind and honest, you know. I worked in a factory doing machine work. After that I worked in a company with computers. I was a computer tester. The manager was very good but had to retrench me. I had nothing else so I started as a taxi driver. It was alright being a taxi driver. I didn’t complain. I had to be positive. I know the streets of Melbourne very well. I’m divorced. My wife is in Egypt. I have two sons. One is married now and has a little girl. My other son was working in Saudi Arabia as an English teacher but has “I LOVE now gone back to Egypt. We talk on the phone. I’m CUSTOMERS going back to Egypt next month for a holiday. AND I RESPECT Ten years ago someone told me about The Big THEM.” Issue. A friend. He was a vendor. He told me this is a good thing, get involved. I’ve been a vendor, on and off, since then. Every day I’m at Degraves. I have customers who stop and have a chat. I have a good attitude with the customers. I love customers and I respect them. I call them young man or young lady and most of them like it. The cafes in Degraves Street help me very good. About five shops give me hot milk. And I’m very happy. It makes me feel great. When I’m not selling I visit my cousin and brother and talk about religion and politics. Sometimes I watch soccer. Sometimes I watch football on the TV. I barrack for St Kilda because my niece supports St Kilda. She loves me! The money I make from The Big Issue makes a difference. It does. I can go shopping, buy clothes… I want to keep selling The Big Issue. I’m very happy.
interview by Anastasia Safioleas photograph by James Braund
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
STREETSHEET Stories, poems and pictures by Big Issue vendors and friends
“Good morning, The Big Issue…” “G’day old bag,” would be the response down the phone. “G’day old girl how are you?” I’d reply, “decided to come into work today have you?” And we would chuckle. This was a regular routine between Jenny and Big Issue support staff; she was cheeky and had a spunk about her. It’s with great sorrow we farewell Jenny, who passed away recently. Jenny had been a vendor since 1997. Her regular pitch was on Collins and Russell streets – you could often see her there, radio blaring, singing very loudly (and badly), having a good time. Jenny had attitude, and we are going to miss her, the sassy old girl. Gemma, Kirstie and all at Melbourne Vendor Support.
CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?
Hi, my name is John. I sell The Big Issue at Bayswater, Boronia and sometimes at Belgrave. I mainly go to Aldi and Coles in Bayswater, as this is where I live. On 14 February at approximately 8.30pm I decided to go for a walk (in my wheelchair) before I went to bed. Boy, was that a mistake. Some young guy came behind me and punched me in the neck. Luckily a good neighbour found me. They were very kind and brought me home. My carers rang the police straight away. An ambulance also came. I spent the night in hospital for observation. My carer stayed with me to see if I was okay. I came home the next day and my coordinator wanted me to stay home, but I said no, I want to go back out into the community to sell my magazines. So now I will be getting a camera on my chair for extra precaution. John F sells The Big Issue at Bayswater, Boronia and Belgrave in Melbourne.
I stand and sit every day selling The Big Issue so I can feed me and my cat Squishy, and sometimes I get to thinking of what Squishy is doing at home – sleeping or looking out the windows or playing with her toys. The best part of my day is seeing Squishy’s happy face. On the bad days I just think of Squishy’s happy face at the end of the day. Garry sells The Big Issue for his cat Squishy at Flagstaff Station, Melbourne.
I recently went on a trip to Geelong to play in the National Cricket Inclusion Championships. My highest score was three runs against Victoria. It was my
first ever state tournament so I’m happy with how I played. I am the only spin bowler on the WA team! I have been playing cricket for almost 20 years and I am obsessed! The Perth Scorchers are my favourite Big Bash team, and Australia is my favourite international team, of course. My favourite WA player is Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Lyon is my favourite Australian player. I saved the money I earned from selling The Big Issue to help pay for the trip. Thanks to all my customers for your support, see you at my pitch! Jason sells The Big Issue at Boas Avenue, Joondalup, and Royal Perth Hospital.
FOOD STORIES FOR THOUGHT
I have worked in a lot of restaurants. Usually it’s hard work, fast and sometimes pressured. It does, however, have its lighter moments. One night one restaurant I worked in was sprayed for cockroaches. The next day at lunch a customer had just finished eating his garlic bread; he picked up the napkin at the bottom of the bread basket and under it he saw a dead cockroach. In another restaurant, ice cream was served
in brown glass bowls. One hurried staff member picked up an ashtray – also brown glass – and put a scoop of ice cream and topping in it. Fortunately, a waitress noticed it before it reached the customer. Another time there was a water scare in Sydney. People were advised to boil tap water before consuming it. I made some jelly, sat it on the sink to cool and a waitress said, “I hope you used boiled water for that”. I said, “How do you usually make jelly at home?” She replied, “Just forget I said that.” In another place a girl was asked to strain the beef stock – she tipped the liquid down the sink and kept the solids. I heard of another restaurant that had a big stock tank (it had its own heating). A chef had put ingredients in it to make beef stock and turned it up high to get it going. He was going to turn it down before he left and leave it to simmer all night. He left and forgot all about it. In the early hours of the morning, it blew up and someone called the fire brigade. Darrell T sells The Big Issue in Ashfield, Sydney.
» All vendor contributors to Streetsheet are paid for their work.
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
HEARSAY WRITER RICHARD CASTLES
» CARTOONIST ANDREW WELDON
THE DUKE AND DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE ARE DELIGHTED TO ANNOUNCE THAT THEY HAVE NAMED THEIR SON LOUIS ARTHUR CHARLES. THE BABY WILL BE KNOWN AS HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE LOUIS OF CAMBRIDGE. Kensington Palace. – Twitter
EAR2GROUND “My medius is good, but my maximus doesn’t exist.” We’re guessing either muscles or gladiators. A woman after a fun run, overheard by Colette of Castle Hill, NSW.
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
“Australia used to be one of the most equal countries in the world. It’s now below average for advanced nations. That was the result of a change in policies. It wasn’t inevitable, and I always say measuring GDP is not a good way to judge a country. It depends on what’s happening to the average citizen. And they haven’t fared as well because of the growth of inequality, and that was the result of government policy.” American economist and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz on Australia becoming less equal. Stiglitz won the 2018 Sydney Peace Prize in May. – The Age “That blue Facebook icon on your home screen is really good at creating unconscious habits that people have a hard time extinguishing. People don’t see the way that their minds are being manipulated by addiction. Facebook has become the largest civilisation-scale mindcontrol machine that the world has ever seen.” Tristan Harris, who wrote an internal document for Google about addictive
design, on Facebook’s capabilities to control minds. Share if you agree. – New York Magazine (US) “Some country, somewhere, should make a monument to murdered journalists around the world. There’s been quite a few of them... So many of them have spoken truth to power, and then got killed.” Writer Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale). – Vanity Fair (US) “While extremity amputations are visible and resultant disability are obvious, some war injuries are hidden and their impact not widely appreciated by others… We heard from the spouses, families and caregivers of these wounded warriors about the devastating impact of genito-urinary injuries on their identity, self-esteem and intimate relationships.” Dr Andrew Lee, head of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Johns Hopkins University, on the world’s first total penis and scrotum transplant. – BBC News (UK)
PHOTO BY GETTY
“I think sometimes we [the US] have bordered on committing war crimes. I don’t think that we adhere to a just approach to war, where we are supposed to make armed conflict a last resort and limit our damage to other people to a minimum. I think our country is known around the world as perhaps the most warlike major country there is.” Former US president Jimmy Carter. – The New York Times (US)
“[W]e are all called racist now, and the word is actually meaningless. It’s just a way of changing the subject. When someone calls you racist, what they are saying is, ‘Hmm, you actually have a point, and I don’t know how to answer it, so perhaps if I distract you by calling you a bigot we’ll both forget how enlightened your comment was.’” Former lead singer of The Smiths, Morrissey. – NME (UK) “I had this crazy curly hair, this big ’fro, and at school there were all these boys in their uniforms who used to beat the shit out of me. They called me Basil Brush and the name stuck. At some point I changed it by deed poll.” Mark Anthony Luhrmann, now known
as filmmaker Baz (Strictly Ballroom; Romeo and Juliet) on reclaiming the insult and making it his name. – The Guardian (UK) “The basic thing is they haven’t got the balls.” Former ASIC investigator Niall Coburn on why the corporate lapdog – err, watchdog – has prosecuted just one financial adviser in the past 10 years. – The Age “Nobel, Nobel, Nobel.” So chanted fans of US President Donald Trump at a Michigan rally, referencing his efforts to bring peace to the Korean peninsula. – The Age “Eye contact is something I find incredibly difficult. I count all the time when I’m talking to someone
to make sure I do it right. Anything less than two seconds is considered rude, more than five seconds is too intense, so I have to look away. I worked that out myself. I find conversations incredibly stressful.” Singer-songwriter Gary Numan, who had No.1 hits in the late 70s and early 80s, and who has Asperger’s, on how he deals with eye contact. – The Guardian (UK) “If an unfortunate human were ever to descend through Uranus’ clouds, they would be met with very unpleasant and odiferous conditions.” Patrick Irwin, from the University of Oxford, on research that found Uranus has clouds that smell like rotten eggs. So, there you have it, Uranus stinks. – BBC News (UK)
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THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
ROAD TRIP TO THE FUTURE A journey into the Tasmanian wilderness takes a spooky turn for Ashley Kalagian Blunt – but not in quite the way she expected. WE’D MANAGED TO find the A10.
We were headed north from Hobart, through Tasmania’s forested heart, our hired black Commodore straddling the highway’s narrow lane. Steve gripped the wheel. His body tensed with the effort of driving on what we still secretly felt was the wrong side of the road. Originally from Canada, we’d recently held our hands to our chests and pledged our loyalty to Australia. Our stiff new passports featured kangaroos and dingoes inside. Keen to explore more of this vast and baffling country, we were road-tripping around what I’d come to think of as New Zealand Lite. Bright summer sky arched above us. We’d planned a spontaneous, stopwherever-the-drive-takes-you day, at least until we arrived at our Airbnb in Launceston, a town neither of us could pronounce. We settled on Lawnchester. As we passed a sign for something called the Tarraleah lookout, I pushed myself upright. This was exactly the sort of spontaneous Tasmaniana I’d been hoping for. I pointed to the sign. “Steve, Steve!” “You haven’t seen enough lookouts yet?” After a decade together, I knew Steve wasn’t as keen on lookouts, or wineries, or anything that involved stopping the car. He likewise knew this ran counter to my enforced spirit of road trip spontaneity. With a sigh, he attempted to signal the turn by flicking on the windscreen wipers. An industrial pipeline, large enough to drive the Commodore through, ran parallel to the scrawny side road. Another sign indicated the lookout was “ahead”. “You’re sure you haven’t seen enough lookouts?” “Just keep going.” Single-storey houses appeared,
lining the street. Rectangular structures with tidy triangle roofs, it seemed their architectural designs were based on preschooler art. The neighbourhood colour palate was Easter pastel – seafoam green, lavender, pale pink. The small front gardens were uniformly kept. No other humans were in sight. “Does something feel odd about this?” Steve nodded. His eyes narrowed. The street signs were also not quite right: too decorative, in pastels that matched the house paint. It was as if we’d driven into a museum attempting to replicate smalltown Australia in the late 20th century, with a Latin American colour scheme. There was no lookout in sight. Was this a trap? Was this whole town some sort of murder village, luring tourists off the highway with the low-risk charm of a lookout, only for their vehicles to later be pushed down a ravine and their bodies dissolved in barrels of acid? No, this was Tassie, not South Australia. Steve pulled into an empty cafe car park. An open sign hung on the door. “Lunch?” he asked. “Aren’t you kind of creeped out?” “Sure, but I’m mostly hungry.” Inside, a teenager stood behind the counter, thumbing her mobile. Billy Joel was on the speakers. There were no other customers. Steve shrugged, stepped up to the counter, ordered the soup of the day – pumpkin – and took a window seat. “Do you live in Tarraleah?” I asked the teen as I dug my wallet from my bag. She kept her eyes down, waving a hand vaguely. “There’s some info on the tables.” On each table was a laminated A4 handout, printed on blue paper. It was titled ‘Answers to All the Questions About Tarraleah You Are Dying to Ask’. Originally a hydro village built in the
1930s, Tarraleah’s reason for existing vanished when the hydro operation was automated, the handout explained. In 1996, Tarraleah closed down like an unprofitable convenience store. Most people left, taking their houses with them: “The houses were sold then literally cut up and were loaded onto trucks to be relocated around Tasmania.” By 2005 only four people still lived in what remained of Tarraleah. In the meantime, “a Tasmanian company” (left suspiciously unnamed) had bought what was left of the town and converted it into a resort with “a various number” of “accommodation types” and a golf course. The resort staff were now “the only people now living in Tarraleah apart from 24 ducks, two goats, six geese and about 30 highland cows”. Tarraleah was no longer a town, but a five-star luxury holiday village, with clientele including Australian dominatrix Madame Lash. The pamphlet noted Madame Lash “specialised in S&M services”, but did not clarify whether this was a not-so-subtle hint about the availability of said services, or just a fun nugget of Tarraleah trivia. “What a weird place,” Steve said, dipping a piece of sourdough in his soup. I nodded, looking out the window to the empty parking lot. I’d been partly right. Tarraleah wasn’t a museum of the past, but an inadvertent glimpse into life to come. Here was an Australian town at the vanguard of a dystopian future. Robots had taken nearly all the jobs, a shadowy company ran civic life and ducks were considered people. But the pumpkin soup was quite tasty, so the future isn’t all bad.
» Ashley Kalagian Blunt (@AKalagianBlunt) is a writer based in Sydney. THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
RICKY I DON’T GET out much. A combination of old age, apathy and a disinclination for late-night public transport sees me housebound most weekends. In a letter to my younger self I might write, “See as many loud bands as you can now, and don’t mock me when I tell you that one day you’ll spend your Friday nights watching re-runs of Border Security.” While my best gig-going days may be behind me, I do occasionally experience nostalgic pangs. So I was quite excited to find a gig recently that actually enticed me out of the house. A Melbourne band of infinite tenderness called The Orbweavers had booked a show in a library at the very sensible hour of 6.30pm. Not only would there be cautiously amplified music, but the show promised to include a PowerPoint presentation and a local history talk. Plus, there would be comfy chairs. Now that’s what I call a gig. I’ve always loved The Orbweavers. A two-piece consisting of Marita Dyson and Stuart Flanagan, the band write sparse, ethereal songs about places and people, sometimes with an almost gothic undertone. Marita introduces each song with a lengthy explanation of its subject matter, reminding you that it’s still possible to make music without being vacuous, glib or boring. Their new album is something that used to be called a “concept album”. The concept is waterways; specifically the old waterways of Melbourne. Marita and Stuart went searching for watery stories, then presented them back in song. One song in particular, about a lost salt lake, stood out. Marita explained she and Stuart wrote it after going on a psychogeography tour of Docklands and North Melbourne. A what tour? It was a new term for me, too, but apparently psychogeography has been around since the 1950s. According to my friend Wikipedia, it means “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment…on the emotions and behaviours of individuals”. I asked my ever-patient partner to translate this into English and she replied, “It means you walk around and think about shit.”
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
“I asked my everpatient partner to translate this into English and she replied, ‘It means you walk around and think about shit.’”
In The Orbweavers’ case they took a guided walk with a historian through container yards and warehouse blocks, beside freeway pylons and patches of rubbishstrewn paddocks, all in the name of finding the lost Blue Lake of North Melbourne. They no doubt thought a lot about shit, because Blue Lake was once full of it. Like many lakes and rivers around Australia, it was used as a dump for everything from raw sewage to dead horses to toxic chemicals, then wiped clean from the map because it was in the way, or as The Orbweavers put it, “…filled and realigned to expedite industrialisation of the city”. Not quite wiped. Marita explained that part of the lake’s shore is redefined periodically after heavy rain. No matter how used and abused they may be, waterways have a memory; they find a way home. To illustrate the point, Stuart superimposed an old map of the lake on a satellite photo from the area today, eliciting coos of nerdy appreciation from the crowd. The quest to discover hidden geographical stories in our home towns, as advocated by The Orbweavers, is a hobby that has my full support. The story of our civilisation is told through the prism of our physical surroundings. We build cities on rivers, use mountain ranges for defence, fight wars over ports and stuff we dig out of the ground. A good book on the topic is Tim Marshall’s Prisoners of Geography. He looks at how geography has shaped the history of places like Russia, China, the US, Western Europe, Africa, the Middle East, in fact, everywhere. Marshall takes a worldly view, but the story of civilisation is always right under your nose, in your town or city. Take a walk. Follow an old waterway or stretch of coast and think about how its uses shaped our lives. Write a song. Suggested title: The Day My Geography Went Psycho.
» Ricky French (@frenchricky) is a writer and musician who doesn’t mind a nap in a comfy chair.
PHOTOS BY JAMES BRAUND
Water Never Forgets
The Great Awokening IT’S TIME TO rethink my decor. Not because I live in a grand old shabby rental house which, frankly, is screaming for a paint job and a refurb. Won’t happen. My landlady and I have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” arrangement, in which I don’t ask for anything to be fixed short of the roof blowing off in a hurricane, and Joyce, mostly, doesn’t hike the rent up. It’s a fabulous lifestyle once enjoyed by many – you used to see thousands of us swarming at dusk, twittering over a white wine before wheeling off to our fabulous boho mansions. Thanks to the current “demolish, pop up some units, flip them” real estate model, houses such as mine are critically endangered, and I’m clinging on like an orange-bellied parrot to its traditional transTasman migration path. No, I’m wondering what to do with my knick-knacks in the post #metoo/ check-your-white-privilege era. I’ve spent decades wearing a metaphorical pith helmet, unearthing and bearing home kitsch treasures, and have collected quite the range of pop-culture curiosities. Or as called in simpler times, “conversation starters”. Some of them still are. The inventory of my display shelves includes a half-rotten ventriloquist dummy, for example. A John Travolta fitness book. A John Laws’ album entitled You’ve Never Been Trucked Like This Before, a 1930s novel set at boarding school titled Forester’s Fag, a Japanese jar labelled “Fermented soybeans forskin essence”. You get the gist. We all have our quirks. Other people collect Pokémon or Depression-era glass or their poo in a jar, and good for them. And yet it occurs to me, as I gaze around the dining room and my eye lights on the brightly coloured tin rectangle hung over the mantlepiece, that perhaps the time has passed for displaying a child’s little black Sambo target-practice toy. I bought it eons ago, from an op-shop, for exactly the same reason that you just inhaled sharply on
“We all have our quirks. People collect Pokémon or Depression-era glass or their poo in a jar, and good for them.”
reading “Sambo”. It is wildly racist. I’ve always gathered evidence that the past was more screwed up than we like to pretend. It’s an American shooting target, probably intended for sucker darts or maybe BB guns – it certainly bears dents – and features a wide-grinned cartoon black boy leaning on a target. The highest score – 1000 points! – is reserved for a circle hovering just over his bottom, and the brim of his straw hat reads “Sambo”. I always thought it was awful, but I’m only just beginning to see just how awful. The litmus test, naturally, is how I’d explain its dominant and festive position to a visiting friend who’s also, shall we say, a person of colour? Irony, the white person’s defence for all sorts of bullshit, no longer cuts it. So, I’m taking it down, obv, which raises the question, what to do with it? Throwing it out doesn’t feel right either. Where do we put all our racist paraphernalia? Our toxic artefacts? There’s plenty of them. There’s hardly a tea towel or table cloth of a certain era that doesn’t feature “noble savage” indigenous people or shameless cultural appropriation. Do we burn it all? Break the ashtrays and lamps and toys and paintings? What do we do with our aged Enid Blytons, and our Rolf Harris albums and murals and artworks? That box set of House of Cards? I’m not a fan of destroying the past. I prefer to hold it up, between tweezers, so we can examine and learn from it. In America, at Ferris State University in Michigan, there is the Jim Crow Museum. It’s a collection of racist paraphernalia, from mammy dolls and golliwogs to the game of “Ghettopoly”, and much worse. They “use objects of intolerance to teach tolerance and social justice”. We could do with one here. I’ve got something I’d like to donate.
» Fiona Scott-Norman (@FScottNorman) is a writer, comedian and collector of dubious knick-knacks.
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION
Young people are too busy whingeing into their smashed avo to take an interest in the world around them. Right? Katherine Smyrk explores how a group of angry teenagers proved everyone wrong.
N FEBRUARY THIS YEAR, 17 people were killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. We know how this plays out. The script is well worn. The collective heart breaks for the lives lost, too young. Politicians send their thoughts and prayers. Hot takes about Australia’s superior gun laws litter the internet. Celebrities post about their sadness, disbelief, vowing that it will never happen again. The NRA talks about the second amendment. And then the world moves on. But then a young woman with a shaved head appears. This high school student is grieving – yes. That we understand. But most of all, most surprisingly, she is angry. Doesn’t she know the script? “We call BS!” Emma González shouts into our TVs, our mobile phone screens, our internet browsers. “They say…that us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS!” Her speeches are shared with righteous and emphatic clicks across the internet, and we find ourselves in new territory. Instead of this event becoming another entry in the sad annals of mass shootings, it takes on a new life. González and her baby-faced compatriots stand defiant on the cover of Time magazine. They channel their fury onto social media with a power that sends ripples worldwide. They organise the March for Our Lives, which
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draws an estimated 800,000 people to the streets of Washington DC – the biggest rally in the country for 40 years. They send confrontational tweets to their president, saying: “Don’t you dare say that it is our fault, unless you were there, unless you tried your best you have no right to tell anyone what to believe.” When right-wing commentator Laura Ingraham belittled Parkland teenager David Hogg on social media, he called on advertisers to boycott the program with cool aplomb – her show lost more than half its ad time the next week. A video of González shaving her head with the caption “When you got work to do but your hair’s gettin too long #BaldiesGetTheJobDone” was retweeted almost four thousand times. The 18-yearold now has 1.58 million followers on Twitter; far more than the NRA. They hurl the script out the window and people around the world can’t get enough of it. There’s a special buzz that comes from knowing that you’re watching history unfold. You watch speeches from González, interviews with Hogg, read articles by survivors – not because gun reform directly impacts you, but because you know something special is happening. After donating US$500,000 to the March for Our Lives, Oprah Winfrey tweeted: “These inspiring young people remind me of the Freedom Riders of the 60s, who also said we’ve had ENOUGH and our voices will be heard.”
Barack Obama echoed the sentiment in an article he wrote for Time: “They have the power so often inherent in youth: to see the world anew; to reject the old constraints, outdated conventions and cowardice too often dressed up as wisdom… If they make their elders uncomfortable, that’s how it should be.” But it can be easy to dismiss young people. And since time immemorial, that’s what has been done. Aristotle once said: “[Young People] have exalted notions, because they have not been humbled by life or learned its necessary limitations… They would always rather do noble deeds than useful ones… They overdo everything – they love too much, hate too much, and the same with everything else.” In a 1966 campaign speech, Ronald Reagan labelled young anti-war campaigners as “beatniks, radicals, and filthy speech advocates” and the University of Berkeley as “a haven for communist sympathisers, protesters, and sexual deviants”. In 1976 American author Tom Wolfe wrote an essay about young people for New York Magazine that coined the term “The Me Generation” – which was seized upon by social critics as the perfect term to describe the “narcissistic” young people who were obsessed with “self-fulfilment”. These days tabloids twist themselves into paroxysms of outrage over reports of “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” in schools and universities, trumpeting
headlines like: ‘Crybaby millennials need to stop whingeing and work hard like the rest of us’ – The Telegraph (UK), 2015. There’s even a new term for them: “Generation Snowflake”, defined as “the generation of people who became adults in the 2010s, viewed as being less resilient and more prone to taking offence”. The term was entered into the Oxford Dictionary at the start of this year. “I don’t believe anyone that regularly engages with young people could make statements like that,” rebuts Dhakshy Sooriyakumaran, the Director of YLab, the social enterprise arm of the Foundation for Young Australians. “It’s really interesting that leaders buy into that narrative. It means young people are just not unlocked in the way they could be.” Young people can be annoying: the naivety painfully obvious; the assumptions galling; the fashion incomprehensible. But that naivety also allows young people to be nimble and
INTERVIEW COURTESY OF THE CURBSIDE CHRONICLE/INSP.NGO
Ravi Patel is a high school student in Oklahoma, US, who helped organise a thousands-strong March for Our Lives in his city. How did you get involved with March for Our Lives? I’d been informed before, but Parkland really changed things. It was students my age. They were going through the same things I was going through, whether it be preparing for tests or figuring out where they want to go to college. I could relate to them so well. It is definitely a fear when you enter
dynamic in the face of problems that feel heavy and hopelessly entrenched. And it’s not just about gun control, or even smashing the state. It’s 20-year-old Malala Yousafzai risking her life to fight for education for girls. It’s 10-year-old Levi Draheim suing the US government for “violating his constitutional rights by supporting the continued use of fossil fuels that contribute to global warming”. It’s 17-year-old scientist Macinley Butson (see p16), inventing a brand-new protection for cancer patients, even when her older mentors told her the results could not possibly be right. “I was that young person. I had just had years and years of being frustrated,” adds Sooriyakumaran. “But once they’re given a seat at the table, they’re so excited to be there; they prepare and always produce unique insights. Because it’s usually so inaccessible, when they get it they grab hold of it with both hands and make the most of it.”
Having a group of teenagers school the world on how to speak truth to power, how to fight for what you believe in with passion and fervour, can make you feel inadequate for not doing more, can make you really notice the sour taste of apathy on your tongue. But it’s not those feelings that have caused this issue to explode around the world. It’s something else. Something like hope. These children from Parkland have shown us, reminded us, just what young people are capable of. Young people have always changed history. Older people should nurture them, encourage them, share their wisdom with them and then get out of the way. As nine-year-old Yolanda Renee King, Martin Luther King Jnr’s granddaughter, chanted on stage at the March for Our Lives: “Spread the word across the nation, we are going to be a great generation.”
almost any high school in Oklahoma; we have an active shooter drill once or twice a semester. And seeing the Parkland students and their activism empowered me to share my opinions. Why do you think it’s hard for some adults to believe this is a youth-lead initiative? There’s this stigma that a majority of young adults are just caught up in doing something else. They’re apathetic. They don’t involve themselves in politics or public policy. I think this entire march and this entire movement proved that the youth are no longer going to stay silent and constantly be ignored from issues that affect us. What sets your generation apart? I think our generation is different because we have so much access right now, whether it be access to communicating with friends and families across the nation or access to a variety of information online. Technology has increased generation by generation and has helped young kids become aware of issues that affect them. In my personal opinion, our conversations are different. We’ve been able to converse with each other in a very respectful manner. A lot
of times our generation is stereotyped as argumentative, but if you go deeper into the conversation, we have a mutual respect for youth all across the nation. Getting diverse opinions helps us educate ourselves about these issues. What was it like being a part of the march? It was really, really inspiring. The march as a whole was phenomenal. This was my first march that I’ve participated in. It was amazing to see our nation’s sacrosanct value of peaceful assembly in real life. While we were marching in Oklahoma City, others were simultaneously marching and chanting in DC and around the world. To be a part of something larger than just ourselves really impacted a lot of the youth. It gave us a sense of unity. We were able to connect with complete strangers all across the world. What’s next? I think we’ve grabbed the nation’s attention. We’ve been able to grab the attention of a lot of our representatives and senators and people that are able to implement change. If this march solidified anything, it’s that we won’t stop here. Our time for inaction is up. This is not the end of a movement; this is just the beginning.
Katherine Smyrk (@KSmyrk) is the Deputy Editor of The Big Issue.
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KIDS THESE DAYS… It’s not just the kids of America who are making a difference – Katherine Smyrk speaks to some young Australians who are working to make the world a better place.
MACINLEY BUTSON, 17 INVENTOR
I made my first invention when I was in Grade 2. I made this very unfashionable pair of sunglasses – they basically had two polarisers and you could twist one polariser and it would adjust how dark it was. I think now more than ever is a good time to be involved in science. What I like about science is that, despite the fact that we have all this information, science is looking into the unknown and constantly trying to find out things that we don’t know or come up with solutions to problems that we have. I like to be involved in what is really going to be shaping the future and how we live. I came up with the idea for Smart Armour after a conversation over the dinner table. Dad works in medical physics and he mentioned that the other breast that isn’t being treated receives excess radiation and this can cause side effects, like skin burning. I was in Year 10 and I couldn’t understand why there wasn’t already something to shield the breast from all this radiation – you know, it’s a bit of a no-brainer. So, I decided to do something about it. If my family weren’t there nothing that I do would be possible. I think what people don’t realise is there’s a whole team behind me. And my teachers always go up and above their job description to help me out and that’s something I’m very grateful for. Young people don’t have the ways of a particular job engraved in their mind, they can think differently. For example, Smart Armour is made out of copper, which anyone in the industry of radiation would probably look at and second-guess, because lead is globally promoted as the best radiation shield. But then I came up with my results that copper was actually 20 per cent more effective at the skin’s surface. 16
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My mentor told me to go back and re-do the experiment because that couldn’t be right. I redid the experiment multiple times and came up with the same result every single time. I think that was one of the benefits of being young, because I wasn’t pre-judging my results. There have been points where I doubted myself. I think it’s natural to doubt at some point in the journey. However, I will say that none of that has come from being young. I’m very conscious of the fact that I am under 18 and I have almost zero life experience compared to most other people, but that’s never been a barrier for me personally. I think that young people, especially when it comes to inventing, have a lot more capability than anyone gives them credit for. I think young people have the ability to dream and to think outside of the box. My big brother inspires me. He’s a bit of an inventor as well. He’s five years older than me so I suppose I have always looked up to him and the work that he does. All of his work was never done for personal gain, it was never done because he thought he would win a competition. It was always about how he could help other people, and that’s become a part of me now. I think there’s no greater investment than in other people. I’m actually an avid English person! I would say English Literature is my favourite subject at school. The degree I’m looking at is a double – a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and a Bachelor of Science. When I say that people often get taken aback. I love English.
» Nominations for the 2019 Australian of the Year Awards are now open to all members of the public. Find out more at australianoftheyear.org.au.
PHOTOS (L-R) BY ELISE BUTSON; COURTESY OF BASSAM MAALIKI; COURTESY OF JULES STEER
Macinley won the 2017 INTEL International Science and Engineering Award, the first Australian to do so, for her invention of Smart Armour – a shield to protect the non-treated breast of cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy treatment. She is 2018 NSW Young Australian of the Year and a national youth ambassador with environmental group Green Cross Australia.
BASSAM MAALIKI, 15
MOLLY STEER, 10
When Bassam was 13 he started a campaign called #uBelong. He sold key-shaped badges, raising $10,000 for refugee support groups. Bassam is the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament member for Strathfield and won the 2018 NSW Youth Community Medal.
When Molly was nine she started Straw No More – and in one year has convinced more than 90 schools in Australia and overseas to do away with plastic straws, and has persuaded Cairns Regional Council to get rid of single-use plastics.
Being a Muslim and having a Lebanese background means I’ve lived through a lot of intolerance. I’ve been called a terrorist and told to go back to my own country. But going through a lot of discrimination motivated me to make a positive change. That’s how I came up with #uBelong. It’s a simple message of embracing diversity. It shows that we all belong and that we need to stand in solidarity for all refugees… Refugees, newly arrived migrants and asylum seekers, multicultural youth. Everybody belongs, that’s my main message – everyone. The key badge is a symbol of unlocking any restrictions or difficulties that stop people from flourishing. I’ve raised money for refugee organisations. I’ve had my own event – a flash mob choir that’s helped me with my message of belonging – we had more than 1000 people there. Now that I’ve followed my passion everyone wants to jump on board with me. At the beginning they never thought I could do anything. Now they can see you are never too young to make a change. I think it’s important for our youth to go after their dreams. It’s important. Whenever I speak to young people I always push for them to try to make a change – you are never too young. I started when I was 13. I don’t regret it at all. It is hard. As a teenager it is a bit hard balancing my study life with my campaigning and my own personal life – but once you have a passion in your heart you want to strive to accomplish it. The people that really pushed me to my limits are the youth refugees. The struggle they go through is unbelievable. It’s a real inspiration. Never underestimate the refugees. They are very smart people. They are artistic, smart, loving people. They are amazing. I’m still thinking about what I want to do after school. I think it’s important to stop the drama going on overseas – especially Syria and Iraq. The war over there – it needs to be stopped. I do also love my sport, rugby league. I’m pushing to be an engineer, another passion of mine.
» Find out more about #uBelong
Last year my mum took me to see A Plastic Ocean. The movie showed dead birds on a beach who starved because their stomachs were full of plastic. On my way home that night, I started to think of ways I could help the animals. Being born in Cairns means the Great Barrier Reef is always inside you. There’s something very special about snorkelling above the coral and watching the fish play. My mum said, “When you start something, it’s always best to start small.” Straws seemed pretty small. So, I said I was going to stop using them. And then I asked my friends to do the same thing, and my whole school took it on. Then other schools in town heard about it. When I started the Straw No More project, it was just meant to be at Cairns schools. But really quickly, schools from all over Australia and even overseas started getting in touch. I spoke to a lot of schools, and then I was asked to do a TEDx talk. Then more schools signed up, businesses too. I was nominated for the Cairns Young Woman of the Year Award. When I was receiving my trophy, I said to the mayor that I thought it would be a really good idea to make Cairns the first straw-free council in Australia. There were so many people in the room, and they all laughed. The mayor stood up and said he accepts my challenge. And that’s when it started. A month later, I went to the council meeting…and they voted to stop using straws. Next, I think I need to have a talk to McDonald’s, Boost Juice and Event Cinemas. Imagine how many straws we could save if those three businesses stopped using them! I get told by a lot of people that what I’m doing is pretty big, but it doesn’t seem that big to me. I’m really just asking people to stop using straws. When I first started a woman said to me, “Be the mosquito.” She was talking about the saying that if you think something small can’t make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito in the room. I have so many people who have inspired me. My dance teacher, Caitlin, Jen who invited me to do a TEDx talk last year, Amy, Jennie from the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. Alex, who showed me how cool it is to be a marine biologist. Oh, and my mum. She’s always inspiring me. I really love dancing, gymnastics and singing. Oh, and swimming.
on Facebook @ubelonghere and Twitter @Ubelong_here.
» Find out more at strawnomore.org. THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
AMELIA TELFORD, 24 CLIMATE CHANGE ACTIVIST
I signed my first petition when I was at high school in Lismore, but really my activism started much earlier. Being an Aboriginal woman, you are born into politics, and I was really lucky to be brought up in a family that had such strong values around looking after our land and looking after each other. My friends and family supported me to not only feel that responsibility, but to do something about it. I was so passionate about the country that I grew up on, Bundjalung country [on the north coast of NSW]. It was at that time I took it upon myself to see the role that young people can play in creating change. By connecting with the AYCC I realised that I was part of a bigger movement all around the country, and around the world. That’s where it all started to grow. In my early times volunteering it was glaringly obvious to me that I was one of the only Aboriginal people involved. And yet when you look at all the issues we were talking about, Aboriginal people are disproportionately impacted – from land rights and being able to be part of decision-making with mining projects, to front-line impacts that those communities face like health, social impacts and rising sea levels. The most vulnerable communities are impacted first. We officially launched Seed in July 2014. We needed to be able to have a space where we had a sense of belonging and our own identity, and felt able to make decisions that will drive work for Indigenous people by Indigenous people. As soon as we launched, things drastically changed. The number of young people wanting to be involved increased, and our profile and our respect and our reach within the Aboriginal community increased – everything just started to blossom and grow. I love the metaphors that you can use when it comes to Seed. It’s a symbol that represents our connection to country, it represents a cycle of protecting the land that has been going on for thousands of years and it also acts as a symbol for us to be able to grow a movement. Because we do believe that we need a people-powered movement to take on the biggest decision-makers and powers in the world. Young people are inheriting the consequences 18
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of decisions that are made today, and it’s so important that we have a seat at the table. But on top of that, the majority of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is under the age of 35. It’s so important that we do learn from our elders and our old people who have so much knowledge. They have been the keepers of our culture and our stories. But at the same time, it’s up to young people to be able to step up – a lot of our old people have been fighting their whole lives. I do have moments of feeling overwhelmed – but I draw on the stories of all the incredible young people who I currently work with and those in our history that have led incredible change. They give you a lot of hope. We are sort of winging it! Because what else can we do? We can’t afford to not try; I want to say to my children, “I did everything that I can to be able to create a better world for you.” At the moment we’re having screenings of a documentary about communities in the Northern Territory who are fighting gas frackers on their country. It’s called Water Is Life and it looks at the impact fracking is having on their water, on their land – social impacts, health and climate change and the future of young people in general. It also tells the story of Seed. It’s really cool. I’m really proud that this documentary tells that story and helps put pressure on the government to take action. In the last few weeks we’ve seen about 50 communities holding screenings – so that’s really cool to be able to see the impact of a people-powered movement with story-telling and a community-led campaign. I’m also passionate about my garden! There’s a pumpkin patch, eggplants, zucchini, basil, tomatoes… And I’ve recently caught the surfing bug again. I love being able to be out on my board at the beach and it’s where you are reminded that mother nature is a much more powerful force than we are and we need to do everything that we can to protect it.
» Find out more at seedmob.org.au. For more information on Water is Life, go to banfracking-aycc.nationbuilder.com/film.
PHOTO (L) COURTESY OF THE AYCC; (R) BY AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR
Amelia was the first ever Indigenous Coordinator at the Australian Youth Climate Coaliton (AYCC). The Bundjalung woman is now the national director and founder of Seed, Australia’s only Indigenous youth climate network. Amelia was awarded National NAIDOC Youth of the Year in 2014, Bob Brown’s Young Environmentalist for the Year 2015 and Australian Geographic Young Conservationist of the Year 2015.
GEORGIE STONE, 17 TRANS RIGHTS CAMPAIGNER At the age of 10, Georgie was the youngest Australian ever to be granted permission to take stage one puberty blockers by the Family Court. Her case became the basis of a 2013 decision to allow access to stage one treatment for transgender children without court involvement, which in 2017 was extended to stage two access to hormone replacement therapy. Georgie is the 2018 Victorian Young Australian of the Year. I’m transgender, so I have had a wide range of experiences. I was bullied a little bit in school, I had to go to court to access both stage one and stage two treatments. So already at a young age I had a sense of justice – what is right and what is wrong and I really did want to change things. I was 10 the first time around [in court]. It was really horrible. I felt really powerless. I mean, someone was making a really important decision about my body and I didn’t have a say in it – so it was really scary. There was no safety net… I could have started going into male puberty and that would have been that. It was really important that I got this treatment and the court process was really slow. It’s time-consuming, stressful – financially as well, it’s expensive. It was just holding people up on the inevitable really. There
this year because I’m in Year 12. I’ve been made school captain as well. The principal is really lovely and supportive. I’ve had the opportunity to hold events and get people to talk. It’s been good because it’s given me an opportunity to make change in my school community as well – you know at grass-roots level, not just federal. I don’t think there’s an age limit on campaigning. Young people are a lot more inspired than we are often given credit for – I mean look at what’s happening in America with gun control campaigning and Emma González! Right now I’m focusing on fundraising for the Royal Children’s Hospital gender service. They have a program called Trans20 – it’s a research program and it’s about collecting data on trans kids over a 20-year period.
“I don’t think there’s an age limit on campaigning. Young people are a lot more inspired than we are often given credit for – I mean look at what’s happening in America with gun control campaigning and Emma González!” was no point to it and it just made things really stressful, especially at such a young age. When I was 15 I had the opportunity to speak at a conference and to tell my story. That was the first time I’d ever done something like that. It just grew from there. I never had the goal to become an advocate, it just happened without my realising. I kind of enjoyed it – I wanted it to keep going. Removing the court requirements for trans kids to access stage two was massive, because that affected so many people. I think that was my proudest achievement. I can’t take full responsibility, there were so many people involved. I also have so many people around me. My family, medical professionals, other young trans people, so I felt comfortable to tell my story because I knew I had support. Sometimes it’s been quite stressful. I’ve had to say no to a lot of things because I don’t want to miss out on school. School has had to take a front seat – especially
A lot of people use junk science to battle against trans people and acceptance, so Trans20 is really about what goes right when trans kids are supported. Janet Mock, who is a trans woman from America, is a very big inspiration. Just how open she is and how articulate she is in telling her story I think is really inspiring. Emma Watson has also been really inspiring in the way she focuses on women’s rights and feminism – she’s incredible, I love her. Also my mum, because she works so hard every day, just even talking with parents and kids and reassuring them and telling them that they will be okay. I love song writing, that was a way that I could deal with my emotions. I also love acting; my parents are actors, so I got that from them. And I love AFL footy – I’m a massive Saints fan. That they’re doing the Pride game [which embraces the LGBTI community] is very good.
» Find out more about Georgie’s Trans20 fundraiser at give.everydayhero.com/au/georgie-15. THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
DO YOU HEAR THE PEOPLE SING? While travelling Europe as 21-year-olds, Janey Stone and Ruth Taylor found themselves in the middle of a student-led revolution. It was 50 years ago this month.
PHOTOS BY GETTY
THE YEAR WAS 1968. We were a pair
of 21-year-old school friends who, in the great Australian tradition, were doing Europe. We had hitchhiked from northern Spain to Paris and had ended up in a hostel in the 19th arrondissement, a working-class suburb of Paris. It was run by a group of anarchists who supposedly held all possessions in common, even their toothbrushes. Residents included an AfricanAmerican deserter who’d been stationed in Germany, as well as Greeks and North Africans. It epitomised the spirit of 1968 – the youthful desire for freedom from authority. They were a good-humoured group. The manager Yves sang while he worked, unless he was shouting at people for leaving the kitchen like a pigsty. We heard about the protests from our fellow residents who returned injured and bloodied from the daily demonstrations. Unbeknown to us, political unrest had started weeks earlier at Paris Nanterre University. Students had begun agitating about their living conditions and the rigid, archaic academic environment. Police repeatedly broke up protest meetings, which provoked the students to go on strike and occupy the campus. In letters home we described hostel life as one of comradeship, co-operation and a general willingness to help. Sometimes we prepared a communal meal together and eventually it was our turn to cook something. We bought the ingredients from a butcher’s shop that
displayed the effigy of a horse’s head above its door. Minced horsemeat was the cheapest option so we made spaghetti bolognaise with five-spice powder found in a grocery store. That evening we sat down with the warriors returning from the demonstrations; Tunisians, Africans, Italians, a Pakistani and some French to eat pasta with horsemeat. Following weeks of clashes between students and police, the university was shut down in early May, prompting students from Sorbonne University to demonstrate. More clashes with police ensued and a huge student-led demonstration followed. Authorities responded brutally – charging crowds and beating them. As a trained nurse, Ruth often treated the injured returning to the hostel. A large wound on the leg of a French partisan required washing and bandaging. It was caused by a smoke grenade. The atmosphere all around was highly charged. We decided to go and see a demonstration at the Sorbonne for ourselves. As we arrived the gendarmes charged the crowd. You could hear demonstrators being thwacked by police, left and right, as we ran, escaping down a metro entrance. Back at the hostel there were animated discussions about the crisis, ranging from opposition to capitalism, bureaucracy, class privilege and authority. This generation wanted autonomy, open discussion, the power
to make a difference, to build a fairer, freer kind of society. A few nights later, students who had been battered for hours by the police had decided to stand their ground and fight back. Using whatever they could get their hands on, they erected 60 barricades in and around the Latin Quarter, keeping the police out. Reading the newspaper in the morning and seeing the classic Parisian image of rebellion – a student throwing a cobblestone at the police – is one of the sharpest memories of that time in Paris. In a show of solidarity with the demonstrators, the trade union federation called a national strike. But we left the day before it took place to continue with our travels. We later learned that the national strike had brought France to a complete standstill. Perhaps it was for the best we left Paris. Although we did speak some French, we also relied on travellers’ cheques, which became impossible to cash when banks remained shut. By late May President Charles de Gaulle had fled Paris but soon returned and announced a general election. He ordered strikers to return to work or face a state of emergency. Workers did gradually return to work and the police eventually re-took the Sorbonne. The general election in late June returned the Gaullist party with a stronger majority. One of the most conspicuous things about the events of 1968 was the energy, excitement and creativity that was unleashed. This was evident in the poetry, posters and slogans that were created: “Be realistic. Ask the impossible.” We would go on to see student-led demonstrations in Vienna, witness Germans and Czechoslovakians in Bulgaria discussing the Prague Spring, and watched large anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in London. Paris in 1968 saw the working-class challenge the system. Crucially it was initiated by young people who could not accept what the previous generation had handed down to them. It was a revolution of ideas. by Janey Stone and Ruth Taylor » Ruth Taylor is a retired GP. Janey Stone has written about women’s liberation, radical history and anti-Semitism. They are both life-long activists. THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
THE BIG PICTURE » SERIES BY MIRIAM DEPREZ
A RAT Removing TNT in Cambodia, and it’s done dirt cheap.
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
THEY’RE THE UNLIKELIEST of heroes,
working for peanuts (and bananas) to make Cambodia a safer place. Meet the African giant pouched rat, a TNT-sniffing rodent that is helping clear landmines across the southeast Asian nation. Decades of civil war and international conflicts have left Cambodia with a legacy that is a constant reminder of its bloody past: 26 million bombs were dropped on the country during the neighbouring war in Vietnam, and it has the world’s highest proportion of mine amputees per capita as a result. With millions of live cluster munitions and landmines still undetected, these furry mine-detectors are on the frontline in the fight to rid the country of its explosive remnants of war and to give contaminated farmland back to its people. “They are a valuable tool to add to the whole effort in clearing these awful legacy landmines,” says Australian photographer Miriam Deprez, who travelled to Cambodia as part of her photography degree at Griffith University.
With a fierce sense of smell and a body too light to detonate the landmines, the rats are trained to sniff out the TNT in the explosives. “They are so much more effective than metal detectors,” explains Deprez. In an area that would normally take a human with a metal detector four days to clear, the Hero Rats (as they are affectionately nicknamed) will only take 20 minutes, as they are not tricked by any scrap metal or shrapnel lying in the ground. They are also able to detect plastic-based explosives. Wearing mini-harnesses, and tethered to a measuring tape and a line, the rats signal to their handlers by giving the ground a scratch when they sniff out explosives. A demolition team then safely destroys the mine. “The team we worked with had about 14 rats and the same number of trainers, so they do get to know their rats quite intimately. They are able to really connect with the rat,” explains Deprez. The rats go through a nine-month training program, and are well looked after, working only a few hours in
the coolest part of the day. “They are nocturnal and don’t really like hot weather,” says Deprez. “They do most of the work before midday, and the handlers coat their rats’ ears in sunscreen so they don’t get sunburned... Once their work is done, they sleep for the rest of the day.” The rats are operating in the Srey Nouy area of Siem Reap, where XXX hazardous land along roads and farmland has not been safe to use for generations, the threat of these remnants continually obstructing economic and social development in the area. It’s a program that has already seen success in parts of Africa, where nonprofit APOPO has been training the rats to detect TNT, as well as tuberculosis in human saliva, for more than 20 years. “The rats helped Mozambique to become completely mine free [in 2015],” says Deprez. “So the hope is eventually for Cambodia to have clear land.” by Amy Hetherington, Editor » Find out more at miriamdeprez.com.
HERO RATS ARE LEASHED ONTO A MEASURING TAPE 10 METRES APART IN A BOX FORMATION WITH ONE TRAINER ON EACH SIDE.
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
RATS ARE GIVEN BANANAS AS A REWARD ONCE A POSITIVE INDICATION HAS BEEN MADE.
EARLY MORNING, RATS BEGIN THEIR TRAINING AT A CLEARED MINE FIELD JUST OUTSIDE OF SIEM REAP.
LANDMINES THAT HAVE BEEN EXCAVATED 24 DEACTIVATED. THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4â&#x20AC;&#x201C;17 MAY 2018 AND
THE APOPO RATS ARE NOCTURNAL WITH VERY POOR EYESIGHT; THEY USE THEIR LONG WHISKERS AND PRECISE SENSE OF 4â&#x20AC;&#x201C;17 MAY 2018 SMELLTHEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU TO NAVIGATE.
Impending parenthood can make you think about what kind of world we should be making, as Melisa Gray-Ward found. a baby?” When my friend asks the question, I’m without a categorical answer. There are too many nuances, too many facts surrounding carbon footprints, scarce resources, an unsettling future. And anyway, was my desire to raise a family my own, or was I forging ahead with existential box-ticking? What others may argue is a biological urge was something my biology refused to go along with. During four years of trying to have a baby, my partner and I kept failing. For the first time since we got together 11 years ago, the 16-year age gap between us seemed problematic. Can one be a good person and have a baby? Can one be a good parent and celebrate your child’s 21st birthday as a 70-year-old? Finally discovering that undiagnosed endometriosis was causing my infertility, I underwent surgery to remove my ovarian cysts and unblock my fallopian tubes. The procedure was successful, but I remained unable to conceive naturally. It was time to continue our lives as a childfree couple, decide on alternate parenting constellations or try in vitro fertilisation. We began our first and only IVF cycle less than a month after my partner’s 48th birthday. Like steering a boat or investing in the stock market, the process was one of those things of which I had an abstract sense but whose mechanics I failed to understand. Ultimately, the science of conception is shrouded in mythos. The month-long IVF procedure externalises an internal, otherwise unseen process. With IVF, each step is counted, calculated, considered, transparent. Needles and hormones administered over several days and nights. Going under anaesthetic to extract eggs that will – ideally – be implanted inside your uterus as blastocysts some days later. Projecting a future on a bunch
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of otherwise forgettable cells. Cells you hope will transform into a zygote; an embryo; a living, breathing human. The 2016 US presidential election coincided with my fourth night of shots, and an unsurprisingly late night at work. Instead of escorting a visiting American friend to a party of Hillary supporters, I remained stationed at my desk into the night. A colleague and I worked for several hours on a mindnumbing presentation of 40 or so slides that few eyes would see and fewer would care to read. It was an exercise in futility on an evening when we both remained hopeful, refreshing our browsers in
My partner rolled out of bed and took the needle pen from me, kneeling beneath me as I squeezed my stomach into a fleshy mound ready to puncture. The dosage indicator quickly wound down to zero, and we silently packed the needle, the packaging and ourselves away for the night. A few hours later, I woke, my partner scrolling through newsfeeds in bed beside me. “He won. He won.” I was present but not fully conscious, dull from too much melatonin-stealing screen time. I thought of myself and the world and my microscopic place in it. Was it right to burden our planet with another
“Was it right to burden our planet with another inhabitant when a climate change sceptic was just elected?” between edits, athough the count wouldn’t be in for several hours. At quarter-past one, we switched off our computers and rode the elevator downstairs, subdued and glazy eyed. Riding home, the Turkish cab driver and I spoke about where we came from, our families back home. As we paused at a red light, he pulled out his phone to share several pictures of his cute, pink parkaclad granddaughter. I moved silently up the stairs to my apartment, opening the front door to darkness and my dog’s nails tip-tapping on the wooden floorboards. I washed my face and hands and opened the box containing the pen-like contraption housing the shot I should have injected five hours ago. It needed loading with the right dosage, but I needed my partner to administer the jab. An early attempt to self-inject confirmed I was incapable of the job. I needed to wake him. I got the rest of the kit ready on my nightstand: alcohol swabs, soul music for distraction.
inhabitant when a climate change sceptic was just elected to lead one of the world’s most powerful nations? How does one carry the weight of loving their own child? Were we good people? IF FAITH IS a crop we believe we
will harvest despite unpredictable conditions, hope is the seed we first must plant. Hope is what gives us the ability to rise. It propagates. As I watched people come together for the Women’s March; to protest Trump’s Muslim ban; to fight against conditions at Manus, a sense of good emanated from the growing crowds. The darkness brought out the good. Around the world, I watched humanity unite in hope, promoting peace, common sense and social justice. Making a world for me in which to raise my son or daughter.
» Melisa Gray-Ward (@melisagrayward) is an Australian writer living and working in Berlin.
ILLUSTRATION BY PAUL VIZZARI
“CAN ONE BE a good person and have
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HOW MUM BECAME HOMELESS
More older women are finding themselves homeless. Carmen Angerer looks at what happens when your own mother doesn’t have a place to stay.
ILLUSTRATION BY MICHEL STREICH
WHEN MY MUM told me she was “pretty
much homeless” I didn’t believe her. My mother is a woman who relishes hyperbole, but that wasn’t the only reason I dismissed her comment. I was afraid for her. It was too much to take in all at once. She was living with a boyfriend when things soured. It was his house and it was expected that she would move out. In her late fifties – with mental health issues, no job and limited access to her superannuation – she couldn’t afford to rent in the inner city. She felt like she didn’t have anywhere else to go. As her only child, our relationship has been complicated over the years by her health – manic depression and MS are not the easiest of bedfellows. She has been in and out of hospital since I was nine and with the stress of her situation building, I could already see the signs of another hospitalisation. I wondered if my housemates would be okay with her crashing on the couch, but I knew it was too much to ask of our bursting-at-theseams share house. The truth was I was already struggling to make ends meet and I knew our relationship would not survive if she moved in with me. “Can you stay with your sister?” I asked, wondering how we had ended up here. Of the more than 116,000 homeless people in Australia, single women over 55 are the fastest growing group of people without a place to go. The number of older women forced to couch surf in Australia has almost doubled in the past four years. There are a variety of reasons why this might be, from reduced economic mobility after caring for children, to increased financial vulnerability when relationships break down, to the lack of affordable rental housing.
This situation was not new for us. Years before, during her separation from my father, my mum slept on the downstairs couch for two years. She believed it was important for her to stay in the family home until I finished high school. It was also because she could not afford to move out. I remember feeling incredibly sad that my mum was in such a vulnerable situation, and mixed with the sadness was a deep sense of helplessness because I could not provide a home for her. But there was also a part of me that was angry. Everyone makes choices about their health, their employment and their relationships that can affect their economic freedom. Where did my mum’s situation begin and how did the factors of her health, age and gender fit in? We’re looking at a time where there were (and still are) cultural expectations on women to be the primary caregiver, then these same women are expected to reintegrate into a changed workforce and when they retire, they face the ramifications of a gender pay gap and reduced superannuation. Australian women generally retire with half the amount of retirement savings as men. My mum did stay with her sister on and off over the years, but family relationships are complicated and so is living in someone else’s house. My mum isn’t an easy person to live with and fluctuations in her mental health meant things were often strained. Ultimately, she was lucky enough to have a supportive friend who let her live in his house for a long time, years in fact. Always one to joke, my mum called it “an extended sleepover” and I was relieved that she had a safe place to stay with someone who helped her manage her health. Some of
us are lucky to have family close by and a good network of friends. Others are not. People with mental health concerns are over-represented in homelessness statistics. Looking for housing when their life is upside-down can increase the stress and anxiety on someone already suffering. For my mum, finding a “forever home” meant managing her expectations about what she could afford. We discovered that renting in a country town was a viable option, but her medical history creates challenges. How close was the nearest major hospital? What would happen if she couldn’t drive to her doctor’s appointments? What if she had to break her lease? Meanwhile I was managing my own fear. As a daughter, I wonder if my resistance to my mum using the word homeless wasn’t just because of my understanding of what it meant. Acknowledging that she was vulnerable and needed a place to stay that I couldn’t provide made me feel helpless and ashamed. In some ways our relationship has been characterised by these moments. As we have bounced from one moment of chaos to another, having a secure place to stay has been the deciding factor in whether she was safe, stable and cared for. Without it, we were both adrift. My mum’s sleepover lasted six years, and ended when an unexpected inheritance let her buy a small house in the country. After living out of bags for so long it’s a relief to see her settle into a space that she can finally call her own.
» Carmen Angerer (@carmenangerer) is a Melbourne writer, who is working on her first novel. Her mother has given her approval to share their story. THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
Turning Tim Winton’s celebrated novel into a film required something unique, and recruiting two teenage amateurs for the lead roles was just that.
(L-R) SIMON BAKER, BEN SPENCE AND SAMSON COULTER
PHOTO COURTESY OF ROADSHOW
WHAT’S EASIER, TEACHING actors how to surf or surfers how to act? For the producers of the new film Breath, it was no idle question. Based on the Tim Winton novel that won the 2009 Miles Franklin Award, it’s the story of two 14-year-olds living in a small town on the West Australian coast in the mid 70s. Surfing looms large in their lives – so large that the actors cast would be spending a sizeable chunk of the film out catching waves. Finding teen actors who were also skilled surfers seemed unlikely, and celebrated Australian actor-cum-director Simon Baker (who also plays a major on-screen role in the film) wanted nonactors in order to capture the characters’
untamed side. Finding surfers able to handle leading roles in a major feature would take him close to a year. “It was a funny process,” says Samson Coulter, who was cast in the principal role of the thoughtful, maybe toocautious Bruce, aka “Pikelet”. “They sent out a social media call for a young surfer who didn’t have to have any acting experience. Mum and Dad brought it up, but it was a teacher at my school that convinced me to put my name down, and I got an audition.” After a series of call-backs, the final stage was more of a challenge. “They got four or five of us and threw us in this big warehouse over a weekend. After that, it all went a bit quiet. Then I got the call.” For Ben Spence – who plays Pikelet’s best friend Ivan, aka “Loonie”, a wild child with a troubled background – the process was more straightforward. A West Australian native (Coulter is from Sydney), he flew to Sydney to test with Coulter, and scored the part. “The acting was hard, but you can transform yourself into that person if you just believe that you’re him in that moment. You just act like he would, and you have a feel for how he would act in that situation.” In Breath, the two teenagers discover the thrill of surfing and fall under the spell of local surf legend Sando (Baker), a charismatic charmer who’s turned his back on fame. But the closer they get to him and his injured skier wife, Eva (Elizabeth Debicki), the closer they come to an adult world neither of them is fully ready for. It’s the kind of exploration of masculinity – in this case, a visceral coming-of-age story – that Winton excels at, and Baker’s adaptation handles the material well. Two things stand out: the breathtaking west coast scenery (shot in Denmark, WA), and the performances of Coulter and Spence. “I never realised just how much actors have to do,” says Coulter. “It was physically demanding trying to learn the skills and the craft of it. There’s a lot of emotional energy – you’re pretending to be someone else all through the day.” “It was interesting seeing the different approaches,” says Spence, reflecting on the ensemble of quality Australian
actors who round out the cast. “I was really impressed by Elizabeth Debicki, her skills and acting were pretty amazing to me, and I know Samson thought the same – it just looked effortless. But yeah, Richard [Roxburgh, who plays Pikelet’s dad] and everyone were such good actors, it was all pretty inspiring.” The biggest challenge for both first-time actors came from playing characters who went through experiences they personally hadn’t dealt with yet. “There were emotions with Pikelet that I probably hadn’t quite encountered,” says Coulter, who has a fairly serious love interest as the film progresses. “So, in that respect, I found him to be a bit of a challenge. But Pikelet’s just a kid who loves surfing and loves the ocean and has a strong bond with that, so I definitely could relate.” Spence agrees. “When I was younger my lifestyle was pretty similar to theirs,” he says. “We just grew up trying to surf all day, then you’d go in to eat your food, then try go straight back out. I could remember that from past experiences. I just had to adopt that more crazy, out-there attitude that Looney has.” Being required to spend a large part of the film out on the ocean was a definite plus for the pair. But it wasn’t all messing around; it seems surfing has changed a lot since the 70s. “We couldn’t really surf how we’d usually do,” says Spence. “We had nose boards, and the surfing now looks a lot different to the surfing back then, so we still had to act in a way.” Both teens are full of praise for Baker – “I was pretty scared going into the whole thing,” says Coulter, “but having someone like him as the director made the whole experience a little less daunting, just because he was so easy to be around.” Which might explain why they’re both keen to continue with their acting careers. “I just stumbled into it more or less, but it’s something I really enjoyed. I’d love to continue doing it,” says Coulter. “I’d definitely take another opportunity if I got one,” says Spence. “I just liked how you could take your own personality and use it to be someone else.” by Anthony Morris (@morrbeat) » Breath is in cinemas now. THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
BOYS AT ONE OF SHERIF'S "CAMPS", 1953
LOST, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN A controversial experiment in the 1950s has become a mainstay of social psychology. But, as Gina Perry explores in her new book, do questionable ethics undermine the results? IT IS DIFFICULT for us to understand
now how any scientist could conduct psychological experiments involving children away from their parents and without their permission, but that is exactly what psychologist Muzafer Sherif did more than 60 years ago. Convincing the boys’ parents that the children would be attending a threeweek summer camp in Oklahoma, Sherif and his team of researchers conducted a series of experiments designed to explore new ways to bring peace to communities in conflict. The most successful of the three
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studies, known as the “Robbers Cave” experiment, was conducted in 1954. It became one of social psychology’s most famous experiments, appearing in textbooks and generating new research the world over. In her new book The Lost Boys, Australian psychologist Gina Perry tells the real story of the Robbers Cave, exploring the experiences of the boys and the researchers involved, and challenging the ethics and findings of the experiments. “There were so many questions for me that the research became a way of
trying to answer those questions for myself,” Perry tells me over the phone. Her interest turned into a seven-year research project. Psychology tends to approach people as isolated, self-contained individuals, but Sheriff’s research explores how the groups we are part of shape who we are and our behaviour. Based on ideas around so-called Realistic Conflict Theory – which posits that hostility arises between groups because of competition over limited resources – Sherif separated boys from comparable backgrounds, who didn’t know each
self-interest in Sherif’s treatment of the children,” Perry says. Put simply, he didn’t want their parents to know what was going on. Now, she believes the men she spoke with were ultimately relieved to learn the truth. “Most of them recalled that summer camp with a sense of uneasiness or a lack of resolution, so I think in that sense, talking to me did answer questions.” Originally from Turkey, Sherif witnessed violent civil war and conflict throughout his lifetime. He later went on to study in the US and
uncovering details and revealing hidden layers behind Stanley Milgram’s famous electric shock experiments of the 1960s, in which the subject was told to administer a shock to a man in the next room when he answered questions incorrectly. Perry hopes to provide her readers with “the historical and the cultural context in which the experiments take place, so that we can make better judgements about the conclusions that we draw from them and our acceptance of them as facts”. But how we approach these experiments
PHOTO FROM THE DRS NICHOLAS AND DOROTHY CUMMINGS CENTER FOR THE HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY, THE UNIVERSITY OF AKRON; ILLUSTRATIONS BY iSTOCK.
“I’d blundered into something that I wasn’t prepared for, they weren’t prepared for, and in a way I felt a sense of responsibility to them.”
other, into two groups. He then pitted them against one another and observed their behaviour. Perry soon uncovered something disturbing. “I did assume that I would contact these boys, now men, and we would talk and they would tell me about what the experiment was like and what they felt about it,” she says. So she was shocked to discover that the boys had never been told that the camp was an experiment in the more than 50 years since. “I’d blundered into something that I wasn’t prepared for, they weren’t prepared for, and in a way I felt a sense of responsibility to them.” Many of the men had harboured long-held suspicions about the strange adults who had supervised them as boys, and a few even figured out at the time that they were being observed and recorded. Those suspicions had never been confirmed until now. “I think there was a big element of
then Berlin, where he witnessed firsthand the rise of Hitler and Nazism before returning to the US. Though brilliant, Sherif was also a notoriously difficult and complicated character with many demons. Perry describes him as “a man of contradictions”. His belief in his role as scientist was “unshakeable” she says, adding that, if asked, he would undoubtedly argue that the findings from the experiment justified what the boys went through. The experiments made his reputation and confirmed his theory that cooperation and common goals could bring peace between conflicting groups. With her first book, Behind the Shock Machine, Perry made a name for herself by
and their contributions to psychology as a discipline needn’t mean erasing them from the textbooks altogether. “These kinds of experiments have helped validate social psychology... Helped it to define particular areas of study and also to stake a claim in particular conclusions about human nature and people in social situations,” Perry argues. And perhaps just as importantly, boys involved in the bizarre Robbers Cave experiment more than six decades ago have read the book – and they are happy that, finally, the truth about Robbers Cave is out there. by Angela Elizabeth (@AngelizabethAU) » The Lost Boys is out now.
IT’S NO PICNIC Re-adapting Picnic at Hanging Rock was never going to be easy, but this new miniseries has taken a different direction in its telling of the eerie Australian tale.
“IT’S JUST THIS big melting pot of people with issues,” says Lily Sullivan, devilish glee in her voice unmistakable. Sullivan is an up-and-coming Australian actor playing Miranda in the new adaptation of Picnic at Hanging Rock. “Here you are in this house full of young adolescent women with all their growing pains. Then you have a disappearance and the mystery around it, and the ripple effect throughout the town. And then it explores friendship, identity, liberation, repressed sexuality…” It’s perhaps not the Picnic at Hanging Rock with which many viewers 34
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will be familiar – Peter Weir’s subtly spellbinding 1975 film version of Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel, which tells the story of three teenage students from a boarding school in rural Victoria who mysteriously vanish during a picnic at the titular rock formation on Valentine’s Day, 1900. Weir’s film, widely regarded as a classic of the Australian cinematic renaissance of the 1970s, is stronger on atmosphere than characterisation. Vanished schoolgirl Miranda and her two friends are more “figures in a landscape” – to quote Beatrix Christian, the new adaptation’s screenwriter – than they are
fully rounded human beings. When Foxtel embarked on the process of reimagining Picnic at Hanging Rock for a new generation in this six-part miniseries, the decision was made to place a greater focus on the women and girls affected by the Valentine’s Day disappearance, using the central mystery as a prism through which to view how women were seen by society at the turn of the 20th century – and how they saw one another. According to Christian, one of several writers for the project, that meant they were adapting Lindsay’s book anew, rather than remaking Weir’s movie.
LEFT (L-R): IRMA (SAMARA WEAVING), MARION (MADELEINE MADDEN), MRS APPLEYARD (NATALIE DORMER) AND MIRANDA (LILY SULLIVAN)
PHOTOS BY FOXTEL AND MOVIESTILLS.DB
“I suspect it will be a generational thing, but for many of us the film was kind of a defining moment in Australian cinema, so we knew there was a weird poisoned-chalice aspect to it,” she says. “They got a group of people into the writers’ room, and all of us initially had this sense of ‘Why do we need to
NOW book is actually weirdly contemporary – she mucks around with time, and it’s written almost as a true-crime report. It’s very much ahead of its time in a lot of ways, so there was never any sense it wasn’t relevant. And because there were a lot of women in the writers’ room, there was a sense we wanted to get to
“Joan Lindsay’s novel has a timeless quality... The book is actually weirdly contemporary.” make this again when the original is so fantastic?’” But they knew that there are some stories so powerful they can be adapted and interpreted in numerous ways. “And Joan Lindsay’s novel has a timeless quality,” says Christian. “The
know the girls at the school.” Sullivan, recently seen in the Romper Stomper TV series, agrees, praising Lindsay’s book as “weird, psychedelic craziness from the 60s”. “I think it’s time to retell it,” she says. “The Brits do that so well, retelling and
reimagining and reinterpreting their well-loved stories, everything from Shakespeare to Sherlock, because they respect it and revere it. “And I know most of the girls playing the younger characters hadn’t seen the movie, so I do feel like it has skipped a generation. They probably wouldn’t pick up Peter Weir’s film unless they’re into brilliant filmmaking. Now that it is being retold in this new way, they can then discover the film. That’s exciting.” Just as exciting is the artistically bold and thematically provocative approach the makers of this 2018 version of Picnic at Hanging Rock have taken with their adaptation. That ranges from Sullivan’s interpretation of Miranda – a strongwilled, charismatic counterpoint to the somewhat enigmatic, ethereal portrayal of the character by AnneLouise Lambert in the 75 film – to the extensive backstory given to boarding school headmistress Hester Appleyard, played here by Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer. One could say that the predominance of women on both sides of the camera – the credited screenwriters, three producers, two of the three directors and most of the core cast are female – has plenty to do with that. “I think there were more women employed by this production than any other last year – writers, directors, executives,” says Christian. “I think it worked well for our purposes.” “The show is a total force for women, and so many different kinds of women in so many different roles,” adds Sullivan. “And it’s not that it now has to be a female-dominated crew… But it’s wonderful to be part of this feminist wave, and to make a show that is set in the 1900s but still feels scarily relevant in a lot of ways. The conversation in the world today about women finding the strength to speak up, we felt we were echoing and exploring that in a time that was not long ago but very, very different for women.” by Guy Davis (@RobertGuyDavis) » Picnic at Hanging Rock premieres 6 May on Foxtel station Showcase. THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
Electronica artist Jon Hopkins thinks music should sometimes put on its happy face.
PHOTO BY STEVE GULLICK
FOR JON HOPKINS, it all started with
remembering to breathe. After the release of Immunity — the record that propelled him to the electronic music big leagues in 2013 — the UK producer spent two years relentlessly touring, weaving between clubs and festivals across continents, finishing his sets at 2am, leaving for the airport a few hours after that, rinsing and repeating for weeks at a time. When he got home, Hopkins realised that his sleep schedules were broken. Very broken. So he turned to meditation. “I started to look into other methods of getting the rest I needed and transcendental meditation was what kept coming up, really,” he explains over the phone from Amsterdam. That meditation — methods like Wim Hof, which centre on controlling breathing — helped him reintegrate into normal, waking life. It also led to Singularity, his new album. It’s the latest piece of work in a 20-year career that’s spanned everything from remixes for Disclosure to scores for productions of Hamlet. “The record – it’s not that it was inspired by the experience of meditating. There isn’t really much that happens when you’re meditating,” he explains. “It’s more like it allows you access to a deeper or more true part of yourself. Everything you’ve been through, or have experienced, and every piece of music you’ve heard. It allowed me to
dive deeper into that, and bring this music out of it.” The result is an album that’s more an immersive experience than a collection of songs; hypnotic, ambient music that sucks you in and spits you back out. While Hopkins’ last LP charted an epic night out in the city, Singularity is all about nature and how it feels, he says, to be “dwarfed by its vastness”. It features none of the urban sounds of his last album, instead sampling real-life recordings of thunder and owls. It’s designed to be listened to in one sitting — mirroring, Hopkins says, the build, peak and release of a psychedelic experience. Does that mean drugs? “There’s many different types of psychedelic experiences,” he answers. “It’s possible to go on a very potent psychedelic journey with just intensive breathing exercises, for example.” But Hopkins also advocates the sorts of highs available in fungus form. “[Psychedelics] are an exploration of your own psyche that have been used for tens of thousands of years.” He says that he found “an incredible amount of worth” in those trips inside himself. “That was, really, quite a big part of
where this music comes from. It just allows you easy access to a state of mind which you can achieve if you work very hard at it from other routes: if you learn breathing techniques, or if you use certain forms of yoga. But we’re talking 10 years versus one hour. You could argue that we’re at a point in our society where we need to experience these different states to understand ourselves better and stop getting into such difficult situations.” There were a lot of “difficult situations” on the world stage in 2016, the year Hopkins wrote most of Singularity – the UK voted yes on Brexit and the US elected Donald Trump president, realities that couldn’t help but bleed into his art. “I feel like every album that’s being made now, whether you like it or not, it’s going to be a form of reaction to those events,” he says. “You can choose to reflect it back at everyone and make an incredibly dark and terrifying record, but I don’t really feel that’s my job in this situation. “My instinct is that I want to try and shine some kind of positivity through music, because I really believe that music can change moods. And if you can change moods, you can also change behaviour and help people’s responses to each other. There’s a certain empathy you can impart just through a certain choice in notes and frequency, and that’s what music is, really. I think it’s really quite a beautiful opportunity to stand up and say well, you can choose a positive outlook. Maybe that’s one of the jobs of music.” It’s the outlook of a man who cares deeply about artistry and not one bit about the shallow side of life as a musician. “You don’t come into this particular genre of music because you desire acclaim,” he laughs. He pauses, and then: “I always try to focus on the music itself because, honestly, your job is just to make the stuff. Anything that happens beyond that is not important.” by Katie Cunningham (@katiecunning) » Singularity is out now. THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
FILM ON BODY AND SOUL
BEYOND HEADLINES: THE WHITE HELMETS
ANNABEL BRADY-BROWN > Film Editor WHEN TRAGEDY HITS nowadays, it’s often the
images shot by witnesses that give the rest of the world immediate access to an unfolding crisis. This was the motivation behind Syrian filmmaker Feras Fayyad’s decision to risk his life and make Last Men in Aleppo (2017), a documentary shot during the 2015-16 siege of Aleppo, part of the ongoing Syrian Civil War. Moving beyond headlines of terrorist groups and refugees, Fayyad’s haunting film focuses on the people who remained in the devastated city. In particular, the White Helmets – the organisation of ordinary, unarmed Syrians whose lives are dedicated to rescuing citizens hit by the relentless military strikes, with little concern for their own safety. (To date, they’ve saved more than 114,000 lives; 200 of their members have died.) Through their eyes, we see what life is like in this hell, from the carnage wreaked by a single barrel bomb, to the experience of more mundane horrors like the lack of food and medical supplies. Fayyad’s film shadows and honours these men, focusing on three of the group’s founding members, Khaled, Subhi and Mahmoud. They move through the ghostly, ruined city with the detachment acquired by those who work in war zones, constantly exhuming bodies from the debris, yet astonishingly never losing their passion for life. As Fayyad said, “War brings out the worst in human beings, but it also brings out the best in us.” The Oscar-nominated documentary screens 17 May as the closing night film of the Human Rights Arts & Film Festival in Melbourne.
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
What would you do if you learned you and someone else shared the same dream? Hungarian director Ildikó Enyedi takes this premise to the heart of her tender film On Body and Soul, which examines the gradual bond forged by two reluctant lovers. World-weary Endre (Géza Morcsányi) manages an abattoir by day. Mária (Alexandra Borbély), the new quality-control inspector at the abattoir, struggles with human interaction. Despite their afflictions, their soulfulness knows no limits. In their dreams they appear as stag and doe in a blissful setting of crystal-clear streams and snow-capped forest. While love comes easily in dreams, its realisation in daylight is fraught with hurt, confusion and near-death. Enyedi asks whether humans are capable of an ardour that transcends flesh and bone to become a union of souls. It’s a question explored in ethereal fashion, from the film’s painterly composition to its restrained performances. Its answer testifies to the power of love. FIONA VILLELLA
Fifty-year-old single mother Aurore (Agnès Jaoui) is struggling. At the cafe where she waits tables, there’s a new owner who insists on giving the staff “sexy” names. At home, her youngest daughter’s boyfriend wanders around shirtless, while the news that her older daughter is pregnant has Aurore wondering if she’s ready to be a grandmother (she isn’t). Her love life isn’t helped by a best friend who approaches men in the street, pretending to be a spurned lover to embarrass them in front of their (always younger) girlfriends, and when she does meet an old flame (Thibault de Montalembert), he’s not sure he’s up to the stress of reconnecting. It’s all potentially grim, but director Blandine Lenoir keeps it light. Aurore’s mood never veers far from comic exasperation, and while various serious issues (menopause, ageism) are touched on, her optimism keeps darkness at bay. Jaoui’s winning presence makes this bubbly confection work, her charm selling the story’s occasionally saccharine whimsy. ANTHONY MORRIS
LAST FLAG FLYING
Richard Linklater is the best American director of conversation working today. His latest, which follows a squabbling trio of Vietnam veterans as they reunite to bury a son, displays the same old gift, but in a minor mode. Steve Carell plays the grieving father, Doc. Bryan Cranston, as decrepit bar-owner Sal, and Laurence Fishburne, as reformed preacher Mueller, are the figurative devil and angel on Doc’s shoulders. A boozy wreck with no social filter, Sal is a role that appeals to Cranston’s actorly vanity, whereas Carell and Fishburne make minor symphonies out of meekness and forbearance. Watching their friendship reignite is a low-key pleasure. But the speed at which the script skims across hotbutton issues – the War on Terror, the decline of manufacturing, the opioid epidemic – makes it feel like ticking boxes rather than investigating character. And the “period” 2003 setting makes for some bum notes: a subplot in which the men buy one of those new-fangled “mobile telephones” makes a weirdly comical digression. JAMES ROBERT DOUGLAS CINEMA RELEASE
SMALL SCREENS THE HANDMAID’S TALE
The first season of The Handmaid’s Tale was an electrifying global sensation. Its stark portrayal of a dystopia for women seemed to hit home with viewers. The second season on SBS begins where the first (and Margaret Atwood’s novel) left off, with Offred and fellow resistant Handmaids being forcefully arrested, and possibly doomed. This moment heralds a larger problem with the series, since the Handmaids are more or less too valuable to be executed. With its largest threat swept under the rug, the show instead shifts focus onto the non-Handmaid characters, crafting surprisingly tender moments that underlie the complexity of some of its “big bads”, including the cruel Aunt Lydia. Moreover, the show finally has space to explore the struggles of queer characters. It also gives viewers a glimpse of life beyond Gilead – from paradisiacal Canada to the nightmarish Colonies, all will be unveiled. FAITH EVERARD
She’s 25, single and living in the big city. She’s also an anthropomorphic red panda with rage issues and a tendency to wail death metal in the work toilets. It’s Retsuko, star of the idiosyncratic new collaboration between Netflix and Japanese anime giant Sanrio. From the folks who conceived Hello Kitty, Aggretsuko is a biting commentary on life in a time of capitalism. Slaving the day away at a Tokyo trading firm, Retsuko is perpetually pushed around by her colleagues. Her manager is literally a pig. Her work-wife is a Fennec fox, and their frenemy is a doe-eyed deer. After a long day dealing with these animals and their games, Retsuko hits the karaoke bars and unleashes her pent-up wrath. She may be caught in a quarter-life crisis, but this panda hits back, railing against the corporate culture of her homeland (and its sexist implications). Aggretsuko’s mix of kawaii super-cuteness and acidic social critique is wild. AIMEE KNIGHT
There is something incredibly powerful about the marriage of serious documentary journalism and the intimate medium of podcasts. Nowhere is that more apparent – heartbreakingly so – than in WNYC’s Caught. At least two years in the making, this podcast follows kids trapped in the US criminal justice system. Most are poor and children of colour. The journey starts with Z, a 16-year-old rap-star hopeful, first arrested when he was just 12. Through Z’s story and others like it, we learn about the far-reaching effects of mandatory sentencing, the damage caused by solitary confinement, the “abuseto-prison pipeline” that disproportionately affects young girls, how children come to be tried as adults, and the science that proves they shouldn’t be. While Caught also offers some hope for change, it mostly shows the crushing weight of a system that seems designed to grind these kids into the shape it presumes they already are. This is devastating listening. But it may just shift some hardened hearts in the right places. MELISSA CRANENBURGH
AIMEE KNIGHT > Small Screens Editor IS TRUTH REALLY stranger than fiction? I’m compelled to say “yes”, wholeheartedly. Whether you’re keen on stories about life’s peculiarities, or moved by universal themes and ideas, documentaries open a window into unseen and unforeseen worlds. Nothing grips me like seeing, hearing, feeling a real story unfold on screen. So – as we tire of ubiquitous reboots, sequels and re-runs – I’m thrilled that my favourite form is having something of a renaissance, due in no small part to Netflix’s investment in the genre. Building on successes like Making a Murderer (2015) and The Keepers (2017), the streaming monolith returned with another detailed long-form series in March. Wild Wild Country is the stranger-than-fiction tale of shady 1980s guru Bhagwan Rajneesh and his crimson-clad cohort of bioterrorists. Pulling in at the 400-minute mark, the series sure could tighten, but it’s still a rollicking ride through an otherwise forgotten moment in time. When I want something that’ll cut straight to the heart, I browse DocPlay’s selection of festival favourites, such
YEP, STRANGER THAN FICTION
as Searching for Sugar Man (2012) and Cameraperson (2016). Founded by Madman Entertainment in 2016, this meticulously curated platform is all killer, no filler, and something of an undiscovered gem. Best of all, it’s locally owned and financed, with a focus on homegrown content. Just goes to show that neither Netflix, nor scripted genres, have the monopoly on screen-based stranger things.
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
MUSIC INVASION OF PRIVACY CARDI B
A MODERN CASUAL BONDING SESSION. PHOTO BY iSTOCK
SARAH SMITH > Music Editor IN THIS ISSUE’S music feature, UK producer and musician Jon Hopkins talks about the role music can play in shaping the way we think and feel. “I really believe that music can change moods,” he tells Katie Cunningham. “And if you can change moods, you can also change behaviour and help people’s responses to each other.” This idea that music can literally change our behaviour isn’t just feel-good pop psychology: it’s scientific fact. I still find it fascinating that music predates speech, that there was a time long before verbal communication when we used rhythm to help us bond en masse. Whenever I’m at a music festival, dancing badly with a few thousand other people, I like to think that we don’t look all that dissimilar to how our prehistoric ancestors may have during a casual bonding session (maybe with just a tiny bit more glitter). And it’s no wonder music makes us want to bond – the release of dopamine we get from hearing music we enjoy activates areas of the brain that reduce anxiety, blood pressure and pain, while also improving mood and memory. In fact, music is so good at triggering memories that doctors are using it to reawaken the brains of patients with advanced dementia and to reintroduce movement, where it had previously been frozen, for people with Parkinson’s. So, the next time a loved one yells at you to turn the music down, perhaps remind them they may be better off if you turned it up instead.
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
To describe Cardi B’s ascent over the past two years as a whirlwind would be an understatement. The Bronx native and former Love & Hip Hop reality star has struggled publicly with the media surveillance that has resulted from her newfound superstardom – Invasion of Privacy is her case in point. Loved for her No. 1 hit ‘Bodak Yellow’ as much as her rambunctious and off-script personality, the album sees Cardi narrate her rise from stripper to hip-hop heroine. She bellows each line with her chest, every rhyme harder than the last, and feature artists Kehlani, SZA and Chance the Rapper sing with revelry. Weaving in and out of heartbreaking accounts of infidelity (‘Be Careful’), brash confidence (‘Get Up 10’) and flaunting her wealth like an unofficial member of Migos (‘Money Bag’), Cardi B brazenly exposes herself. In fact, Invasion of Privacy isn’t about privacy at all; it’s here “to set the record straight, ’cause bitches love to assume”. KISH LAL
EVELYN IDA MORRIS EVELYN IDA MORRIS
Evelyn Ida Morris’ self-titled album is a collection of piano-driven compositions that seek to address the experience of being non-binary (identifying, as Morris does, as neither female or male). It’s a significant departure from Morris’ work as Pikelet, and it now seems there’s much more at stake. On ‘The Body Appears’, the opening lyrics softly examine feelings of isolation: “When the body appears, only as a list of ailments, a list of impediments, when the body appears, but is unseen…where do I live then?” It’s a sad song, but also empowering as confidence of expression builds gradually. Most of the record is instrumental, using piano to better articulate feelings. On tracks like ‘Wreck It’ and ‘Downward’, dark and frenzied chords detail pain and chaos, while ‘Today Is Warm’ provides a moment of joy and clarity through lighter instrumentation. Evelyn Ida Morris is 13 songs of intense personal experience, and it’s humbling to be invited to share it. IZZY TOLHURST
A LAUGHING DEATH IN MEATSPACE TROPICAL FUCK STORM
The Drones have never been a band for the faint of heart, but bandmembers Gareth Liddiard and Fiona Kitschin push the limits even further here. Pairing with Erica Dunn (Mod Con) and Lauren Hammel (High Tension), they devote themselves to roiling exorcisms and barbed provocations. Like the most recent Drones material, this album recasts punk with scrambled electronics while hinging on Liddiard’s dense wordplay and sloshing intonation. It can verge on sensory overload, but there’s some respite, thanks to the single ‘Chameleon Paint’ and the title track’s emotional vocal harmonies. That said, much of the album’s appeal lies in the ways in which Liddiard chews the scenery, whether he’s summing up world news on ‘Soft Power’ or practically rapping on the overdriven ‘The Future of History’. Half horror flick and half cartoon, this band feels uniquely wired to our grotesque age. DOUG WALLEN VINYL
BOOKS THUY ON > Books Editor WONDERLAND – RELEASED AS a tie-in to commemorate the exhibition at Melbourne’s ACMI about Lewis Carroll’s most popular work – is a thick, gorgeously packaged hardback that deserves a place on the coffee table of any Alice in Wonderland aficionado. It’s a representation of more than 40 filmic interpretations of the book. Never mind that it’s been upwards of 150 years since the publication of this iconic novel, Carroll’s curious protagonist is still as beguiling and influential as ever. As Mia Wasikowska (who played Alice in two movies herself) puts it, “The wonderful thing about Alice and the world that Lewis Carroll created is that they can mean anything, to anyone, at any time in their lives.” Wonderland tracks the many ways in which moving images have adapted this book (silent film, animation, puppetry, videogames, CGI, 3D) and there are glorious, often double-page colour photos of the various costumes and props. The miscellany on show serves to remind us that “while technology may have changed, the spirit that the Alice tales champion…has not dwindled.” If your only memory of Alice is through Disney and Tim Burton movies, you’ll be surprised at some of the ghoulish, trippy and manga versions here. Highly recommended for those who can’t make it to the exhibition. For those who can, it’s a fabulous companion piece.
THE EXTREMELY WEIRD THING THAT HAPPENED IN HUGGABIE FALLS ADAM CECE
This novel for primary school children is a fun romp through the fictional town of Huggabie Falls, where being weird is completely normal. Three friends, Kipp Kindle, Tobias Treachery and Cymphany Chan, must discover and solve the mystery of the extremely weird thing that has happened, and if the weird residents of Huggabie Falls say it’s weird, it must be weird! We are introduced to many of the strange characters of the town – such as their classmate Ug Ugg, who is a troll, the man who lives on a diet of only French fries, and the pirate-hating-pirate who lives in a four-storey caravan – who help the three friends in their investigation. Cece often breaks the fourth wall, addressing the reader directly to provide explanations, commentary and reassurance. Kipp, Tobias and Cymphany must work together to defeat their witch teacher, escape vegetarian piranhas, hide from killer bats and tolerate their parents’ increasing weirdness, all to save the town of Huggabie Falls. JEMIMAH HALBERT
THE ZERO FUCKS COOKBOOK YUMI STYNES
Finally, a cookbook for those of us who are both time-poor and totally uninterested in stuffing mushrooms and shopping for unpronounceable, pricey, hard-to-source ingredients. With its catchy title, Stynes’ book offers some quick recipes and she isn’t afraid to use “shortcuts, hacks, tricks and pre-made” in her mission to encourage lazy cooks to create “stress-free scrumptiousness”. Some of the choices seem a bit too easy (does anyone really need to be told know how to make Honey Joys or Fairy Bread?), but others are well thought-out inclusions, such as ‘I’m in a Hurry Roast Chicken’, ‘Idiot-Proof Salmon’, ‘Edamame Guacamole’ and ‘Rich Person’s Roasted Veg’. And who can resist something called ‘Emergency Crumble’? Bright pictures of Stynes and her photogenic family lounging about enjoying various meals are included, alongside the usual array of food porn images. Stynes also has her own 10 commandments when it comes to cooking. Number Four? “Marshmallows do not count as an ingredient. Nor does Coca Cola, nor French Soup. Thou art busy, not a bogan.” THUY ON PRINT
LITTLE GODS JENNY ACKLAND
In Jenny Ackland’s Little Gods, 12-year-old Olive launches a cold-case investigation into a family secret, that ends up examining the edges of childhood for what we carry into adulthood. The novel has inherited the burdens that come with the “Australian classic” label, with striking similarities to Seven Little Australians and Jasper Jones. These may be unfair comparisons, despite the western Victoria rural setting inspiring a Gothic psychological exploration of the familiar. The Mallee landscape provides the perfect setting for Olive’s snoop into the family secret – her dead baby sister – and the palpability of Olive’s character allows readers to empathise and conspire with her. The weakest element of Little Gods is its language, which does not sustain the narrative drive that the novel requires. At its worst, the metaphors are unclear and the descriptions meander. At its best, the ambiguity gives room to flesh out Olive’s complex family mess. Her contemplation of death, especially when two occur, permeates the novel, resulting in a refined execution on the costs of losing one’s innocence. MARTA SKRABACZ THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
LORIN PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
SUBJECT: NON-URGENT EXCUSE ME. SORRY to interrupt the inner monologue. Apologies for butting in on the ongoing To Do List. Obviously you have other priorities. There are, of course, “better” ways for you to be spending this time. Thing is, though, sometimes it’s good to prioritise the nonurgent. To contemplate the unimportant. To be thankful for the small.
PHOTOS BY iSTOCK
SOMETIMES IT’S GOOD to sharpen all your pencils. Watch the
coils curl and drop. Smell the wood. Push the sharpened point into the pad of your finger. Use the new pencil on a new page in a pad. What a lovely invention. Good one, humans. Nice work. Consider the beautiful invitation to adventure that is the Australian path to the beach. Scrubby bush carved out by bare feet and surfboards. Signs depicting dangerous animals. A kid’s hat perched on the fence post in case someone comes back for it. Best of all maybe, that spot of blue glistening through the tunnel, which, when you enter it, goes instantly dark and silent, like a secret from the rest of the world. A new haircut. Nothing like it. Feel it lift you into another version of yourself. Poetry. Stay with me. Song lyrics count. William Butler Yeats reckoned he was going to set himself up in a small cabin with nine rows of beans, where he would “live alone in the bee-loud glade”. Now, next time you’re somewhere thick with undergrowth and you hear the low drone of bees, try to stop yourself thinking the phrase “bee-loud glade”. Pretty hard. And not to put too fine a point on it, but your old mate James Joyce famously described a wintery coastline as “the snot green sea, the scrotumtightening sea”, so there’s not much doubt poetry can paint a mind picture. It’s got attitude too. Don’t mess with Dorothy Porter when she declares she has “no head for heights/ but plenty of stomach for trouble”. Seriously, if you know a line of poetry, or a bar of a song, the words can sit alongside you sometimes, when you thought it was just you sitting alone. Banksias are so weird. How great is a world where banksias are just a normal thing, exploding like hedgehogs from the branches of trees, turning into different versions of themselves, propagating like gorgeously designed seed pods sent from outer space.
Marmalade is nice. Even if you don’t like marmalade, you like the word marmalade. If you don’t like the word marmalade I can only suggest you have a nice cup of tea and watch a David Attenborough documentary and see if you feel better after a lie-down. Sometimes, the power goes out. No, I realise that isn’t always absolutely amazing. But when the power goes out, or there’s a fire drill, or something happens that makes all the humans have to partake in a compulsory group activity, it really is quite an excellent example of humanity at its best and its worst. The nervous giggling, the team bonding, the problem-solving, the “hilarious” gags people make at the expense of whoever is to blame. And there’s always something that can’t be done. Computers can’t be used, or the cards won’t work that are supposed to get you into the building, or you have to find a candle in a house you’re staying in that’s owned by someone’s uncle. We live in a world that prioritises convenience so much that, when we are without it, a small part of us feels relieved. It’s out of our control. We are under no obligation to Do All The Things. When the power goes out, or the server’s down at work, or you have to evacuate with everyone on the seventh floor down a stinky stairwell, you aren’t allowed to make the usual choices you make, and so you swim with the tide. You talk to someone called Todd who is a graphic designer from way down the other end of the building and, forevermore, when you see Todd in the lift, you and Todd behave as though you have survived something together. There’s a deep understanding between you that nobody can take away, because of a fire drill. So here’s to the power sometimes going out. By all means go back to the To Do List. By all means, deal with everything life is throwing at you, but remember the poetry and the marmalade and the banksias, and take every opportunity life offers you to front up to a beach track and feel the rest of the world fall away. This has been a Public Service Announcement.
»Lorin Clarke (@lorinimus) is a Melbourne-based writer and co-host of the Stupidly Small Podcast.
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
2017-18 - Puzzle 2
BY LINGO! EMOJI Emoji are small images encoded like fonts, which is why they are so easy to add to your online writing. Emoji are seen as a development from emoticons, which use type to make basic faces and characters, like :-) , but the emo- in emoji has nothing to do with emotion. Emoji is from Japanese e, meaning “picture” and moji, meaning “letter” or “character”. They have been in Japan since the late 1990s, and on Western mobile phones since around 2011. The Japanese origin of the word means that some people use emoji as the plural, although emojis is also common. The original emoji set had 176 characters, the latest official set has 2789, including a roll of toilet paper, a llama and four different umbrellas. by Lauren Gawne (lingthusiasm.com)
2017-18 - Puzzle 1 SOLUTIONS #560
ADDER’S COIL by Wylie Ideas wylieideas.com.au
HOW TO PLAY Place a number in each empty square to make a path through squares of the grid following the numbers 1 to 9 in order, repeated as many times as necessary. After 9, start again with 1. The path tracks through adjacent squares horizontally or vertically, but not diagonally, to form a continuous loop that does not cross itself, split or reach a dead-end at any point. Solution next edition!
10 Median 12 Amen 13 Achilles Heel 14 Festive 16 Itching 19 Serial killer 21 Pooh 22 Libido 23 Easterly 25 Keep your shirt on DOWN 2 Ado 3 Linguist 4 Awhirl 5 Empress 6 Timidest 7 Ordeal 8 Scaremonger 11 Accessorise 15 Virtuoso 17 Half-year 18 Masseur 19 Shrimp 20 Kitsch 24 Loo
CONTRIBUTORS Film Editor Annabel Brady-Brown Small Screens Editor Aimee Knight Music Editor Sarah Smith Books Editor Thuy On Cartoonists Andrew Weldon
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
ENQUIRIES Advertising Jenny La Brooy on (03) 9663 4533 firstname.lastname@example.org Subscriptions (03) 9663 4533 email@example.com Editorial Tel (03) 9663 4522 firstname.lastname@example.org The Big Issue, GPO Box 4911, Melbourne, VIC 3001 thebigissue.org.au © 2018 Big Issue In Australia Ltd
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. PUBLISHED BY Big Issue In Australia Ltd (ABN 61 071 598 439) 227 Collins St Melbourne VIC 3000
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CARTOON BY ANDREW WELDON
EDITORIAL Editor Amy Hetherington Deputy Editor Katherine Smyrk Contributing Editor Michael Epis Contributing Editor Anastasia Safioleas Editorial Coordinator Lorraine Pink Art Direction & Design Gozer (gozer.com.au)
ACROSS 1 Parliament House 9 Township
CROSSWORD » by Siobhan Linde (@siobhanlinde) 1
CRYPTIC CLUES ACROSS
The answers for the cryptic and quick clues are the same.
8. Advertise job (4) 9. Italian citizen scrambled into a plane (10) 10. The Lobster or Rogue One? (6) 11. US marine deployed in South American country (8) 12. Price is utterly reasonable? (4) 13. Where unprotected, it wears mollusc shell to block back! (6,4) 17. Pruned hedges to make border (4) 18. Lie about material (5) 19. Approached tailless animal (4) 20. It’s role playing with short Yoda figurine (3,7) 22. Thus monster recoils (4) 23. Spread paste over little Scottish plant (5,3) 27. Avoided a crackpot cartwheeling around gallery (6) 28. Where you might find a ruler trashing nice places (6,4) 29. Hollow, contradictory statements? (4)
1. Not sure how to use payWave? (5-3-2) 2. Speed off, eating half a biscuit in a rush? (8) 3. Penetrating filth using spray (10) 4. Porridge is only appealing to Scottish leaders (4) 5. Actor rode off (4) 6. Said to choose chip for outdoor meal (6) 7. Pharmacist concealed injury (4) 14. He doesn’t eat pork but he’d eat carrots if given time (5) 15. Poor bird eaten after I got drunk (10) 16. Final battle made dragon sick (10) 19. Pressing 100 into envelope after removing five (8) 21. Fresh scent initially hides bad smell (6) 24. Wild plant with exposed seeds (4) 25. Run and hide (4) 26. Saw a yacht taking off (4)
QUICK CLUES ACROSS
8. Mail (4) 9. Inhabitant of Italian city (10) 10. Seafood (6) 11. South American country (8) 12. Cost of ticket (4) 13. Scavenging crustacean (6,4) 17. Lip (4) 18. Roughage (5) 19. Advanced (4) 20. Miniature figurine (3,7) 22. Consequently (4) 23. Climbing plant (5,3) 27. Gallery (6) 28. Repository for stationery (6,4) 29. Corner (4)
1. Unpredictable (5-3-2) 2. Rush of animals (8) 3. Penetrating (10) 4. Grains (4) 5. Executor (4) 6. Outdoor meal (6) 7. Injury (4) 14. Jewish scholar (5) 15. Drunk (10) 16. Final battle (10) 19. Bullying (8) 21. Bad smell (6) 24. Wild plant (4) 25. Hide (4) 26. Absent (4)
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 4–17 MAY 2018
CLICK WORDS BY MICHAEL EPIS » PHOTOGRAPH BY GETTY
Daniel Cohn-Bendit, 1968 DANIEL COHN-BENDIT was a sociology student at Nanterre University in March 1968, when he demanded that boys be allowed to visit the girls’ dormitories. The university’s refusal set off a train of events that led to “Les Evénements”, otherwise known simply as May 68, a moment in history when everything was up for grabs. The students occupied the university offices; police kicked them out. That was repeated at Sorbonne University in Paris. Marches followed. Workers occupied factories; police kicked them out. Marches followed. And more marches. And more strikes. By mid May, 10 million were on strike – two-thirds of France’s workforce. The minimum wage was lifted by 35 per cent. President Charles
de Gaulle was sufficiently unnerved he fled to Germany on 29 May, dissolved parliament and called elections to be held in June. May 68 was many things, but first and foremost it was a youth movement, a youth moment. The students’ actions and slogans – “Under the paving stones, the beach”, “It is forbidden to forbid” – are its most memorable signifiers. It’s a moment in history that keeps demanding analysis, which it keeps defying – it was an outburst, an overflowing, a series of spontaneous acts, without an aim, without a design, without a designer. It started with Cohn-Bendit (front, fist raised), but continued without him. He was a red-headed German Jew (his nickname Dany le Rouge – Danny the
Red – referenced his hair more than his politics), the son of parents who had fled Nazi Germany. He himself left Paris on 10 May and was deported to Germany 12 days later, prompting the chanted slogan: “We are all German Jews.” Cohn-Bendit ended up becoming a German Green, ran an “antiauthoritarian kindergarten”, was deputy mayor of Frankfurt, then a member of the European Parliament – representing at various times Germany and France. Looking back, he says (despite the excellent wage rise) May 68 failed politically – nothing structurally changed, the 68 elections increased de Gaulle’s majority – but succeeded socially, in ushering in feminism, the sexual revolution and environmentalism. In his words: “It was absolutely fun.”
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