629 29 JAN 2021
HOW TO LIVE TO 100
VENDORS AROUND THE WORLD
TING A R B E L E C EEK W R O D N VE
NO CASH? NO WORRIES!
Some Big Issue vendors now offer contactless payments.
Chief Executive Officer Steven Persson Chief Financial Officer Jon Whitehead Chief Operating Officer (Interim) Chris Enright National Communications and Partnerships Manager Steph Say National Operations Manager Jeremy Urquhart EDITORIAL
Editor Amy Hetherington Deputy Editor Melissa Fulton Contributing Editor Michael Epis Contributing Editor Anastasia Safioleas Editorial Coordinator Lorraine Pink Art Direction & Design GOZER (gozer.com.au)
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THE BIG ISSUE AUSTRALIA
Can’t access a vendor easily? Become a subscriber! Every Big Issue subscription helps employ women experiencing homelessness and disadvantage through our Women’s Subscription Enterprise. To subscribe THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU or email SUBSCRIBE@BIGISSUE.ORG.AU
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Together We Stand
H O M PE RT SE LF ER STAC EY FR ER YO U N GAN D H ES H IS W LO VE “P EA C E, BO W S” RA IN
Street paper vendors from all around the world reflect on the hardships imposed by COVID-19, and share their hopes for the future.
22 THE BIG PICTURE
100 Not Out Okinawa, Japan, is one of the world’s blue zones, where people live to an unusually old age. Photographer Arianne Clément asks them how they do it – and their answers surprise.
Letters to Our Younger Selves 28
by Lesa, Stacey, Eddie and Ricky
Big Issue vendors from around the country pen letters to their teenage selves, reflecting on their lives with affection and kindness, and offering words of advice, hope and encouragement. cover photo by James Braund contents photo by Ross Swanborough
04 Ed’s Letter & Your Say 05 Meet Your Vendor 06 Streetsheet 08 Hearsay & 20 Questions 11 My Word 26 Ricky
27 Fiona 34 Film Reviews 35 Small Screen Reviews 36 Music Reviews 37 Book Reviews 39 Public Service Announcement
40 Tastes Like Home 43 Puzzles 45 Crossword 46 Click
Dead Poet’s Society The life of 19th century “spinster hermit poet” Emily Dickinson may not seem bingeworthy – but Dickinson is proving us all dead wrong.
by Amy Hetherington Editor @amyhetherington
E FO RT NI GH T LE TT ER OF TH
It’s in the Post!
ou are loved, and you do matter.” So writes Lesa, our cover star from Melbourne, as she reaches across time with words of compassion and advice to the teenager she once was. It’s part of a moving collection of letters, penned by vendors around the country, which offer hope, humour and encouragement to their younger selves. Together, Lesa, Eddie in Brisbane, Stacey in Perth and Ricky in Canberra remind us to be a little kinder and gentler to ourselves and those around us. This Letters to My Younger Self series is part of our special Vendor Week edition, an annual celebration of the people who sell this magazine. The edition also recognises the collective power of street papers around the world, and the thousands who sell publications like the one you’re now
holding. From South Africa to Sweden, there are 110 international street papers, all helping to combat homelessness and disadvantage. To mark this special week in our milestone 25th year, we’re inviting you to write a letter, too – to your local vendor. In the middle of this magazine, you will find a pre-paid postcard, illustrated by Andrew Weldon. It’s free, thanks to our friends at Australia Post. So please tear it out and fill it in with a message of support: a simple hello, a joke, a poem, a drawing, an acknowledgement of a job well done, an appreciation for a connection forged through The Big Issue. “On no!” you might say, “but I didn’t catch the name of the person who sold me this magazine!” No worries. Just fill in the location details, perhaps a short description, and your note will find its way to its intended vendor. It’s the equivalent of popping a smile in the post. A reminder that we all matter.
One of the bright spots in this tricky year has been the return to vendor-ing of Teresa in the Bourke St Mall. For many years, I used to buy The Big Issue from her on Collins Street and she always brightened my day. Now, having returned from her retirement, I was delighted to see her back last year, and especially post-lockdown in Melbourne. I wish Teresa and all the vendors all the best for the year to come. DOUG CLARK HAMPTON I VIC
My absolute favourite part of each issue is Word Builder. Can you imagine my surprise when I gleefully got the nine-letter word in Ed#626 and my partner told me I got it wrong! We double- and triple-checked and realised it was also correct. Both INTRODUCE and REDUCTION were right! We love our subscription and the high-quality mag you produce and sell. Thank you! JULIE TODARO NORTHCOTE I VIC
The Big Issue Story The Big Issue is an independent, not-for-profit magazine sold on the streets around Australia. It was created as a social enterprise 24 years ago to provide both a voice and a work opportunity for people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage. Your purchase of this magazine has directly benefited the person who sold it to you. Big Issue vendors buy each copy for $4.50 and sell it to you for $9, keeping the profits. But The Big Issue is more than a magazine.
• Our Women’s Subscription Enterprise provides employment and training for women through the sale of magazine subscriptions as well as social procurement work. • The Community Street Soccer Program promotes social inclusion and good health at weekly soccer games at 20 locations around the country. • The Vendor Support Fund will offset the cost price of products for vendors, allowing them to earn a larger margin on their own street sales. • The Big Issue Classroom educates school groups about homelessness. CHECK OUT ALL THE DETAILS AT THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU
Doug wins a copy of Hong Kong Local, a cookbook by ArChan Chan. You can read her Carrot, Daikon, Corn and Pork Soup recipe on p40. We’d also love to hear your thoughts, feedback and suggestions: SUBMISSIONS@BIGISSUE.ORG.AU
YOUR SAY SUBMISSIONS MAY BE EDITED FOR CLARITY AND SPACE.
Meet Your Vendor
SELLS THE BIG ISSUE AT CLOISTERS ON HAY ST, PERTH
interview by Simon Grammes photo by Ross Swanborough
PROUD UNIFORM PARTNER OF THE BIG ISSUE VENDORS.
29 JAN 2021
I’m a New South Wales boy who’s called Perth his home for the last 20 years. I was born in Goulburn and spent my childhood and school years there and in Yass. I’ve had a good childhood, hanging around at the pool in Yass, playing lots of rugby league, touch footy and cricket. I worked out a lot when I was younger. I love my sports! I moved away from Yass in 1990 after my best friend Aubrey died in a truck accident. I went up to Moree, close to the Queensland border, where I got married and had a son who made me a grandfather a few years ago: a little girl! I also have a daughter in her mid-twenties from another relationship from that time. I moved back to Goulburn in 1999 when Mum got sick. Dad had died years earlier, and I moved back to spend time with Mum and to care for her until she passed a couple years later. After I moved to Perth, I started going to TAFE to do my Certificate I, II and III in Adult Education – I passed all of them. I started working as a kitchenhand in stadiums around Perth. My work on the deep-fryer earned me the nickname “The Chipmaster” because my chips were always spot on. I spent a lot of time playing rugby league until I had my final game for the Goulburn Exchange Rabbitohs in 1999. My knees weren’t well enough to continue playing; sport and the hard work of being a kitchenhand deteriorated my knees over the years. I’ve had three surgeries on my right knee and one on my left. I still wouldn’t change a thing – I loved every second of the rugby league I played. I’m still a huge fan of the NRL, where I support the St George Illawarra Dragons. About three years ago I found The Big Issue after I couldn’t continue my work due to my knees. I had a chat to a vendor, Donna, and she told me all about the work. I love the work, and The Big Issue helps me to get out of the house and out and about. I like chatting with my regular customers; it keeps my day interesting. In my spare time, I love to watch all kinds of footy. My favourite AFL team is Collingwood. I also like to go for walks to keep my knee moving and enjoy catching up with friends over a meal. I don’t like to look back too much to some of the bad times in the past, and instead focus on the good and my future. I want to stay happy in the place that I’m at and want to work on relationships in my life, especially on continuing to reconnect with my sister and my brother-in-law. I also would love to travel overseas, I’ve never been out of the country, but I’ve taken the Indian Pacific a few times, which was awesome.
Stories, poems and pictures by Big Issue vendors and friends
RETURN TO VENDOR PH IL SE LL S TH E BIG ISS UE
OW EN LE ND A HA ND S
I’ve been selling The Big Issue for a long time, 10 years now, straight. Owen has been buying from me for the last couple of years. We met at CEO Selling for International Vendor Week, two years ago. He was alright; he was quite cool. And last year, he was even better at selling The Big Issue. He was cool, calm and relaxed, and he doesn’t mind a chit-chat. I think he’s a good CEO. It’s just his personality, it’s quite cool. So later this year, when I do CEO Selling with him again, it will be a little bit more fun. I sell outside REA Group on Tuesdays, and he buys from me most of the time. We talk about how life’s going, how the week’s going and stuff like that. I get down to their office one hour early, cos Owen’s usually an early starter, before most people. I set up my stand with everything I need, and just wait till all the office people come through, and I usually listen to the radio or music, and then I just sing. I like 80s music. Owen and his colleagues at REA have been very good to me. They bought me a lot of stuff when I moved into my new place: furniture and bits of stuff, and vouchers from Woolworths and Big W. I was stunned because I wasn’t expecting it at all. It was just like Christmas every day.
I reckon I’ve been buying The Big Issue since it was launched in the late 90s. I was working in the city when it started, and I distinctly remember when it first launched. I just loved the concept.
I first met Phil through The Big Issue and we invited him to set up at REA. So many of us instantly struck up a rapport and a relationship with Phil. We wanted to make him feel at home. I get to the office early, and often before Phil. If I go in before him, I miss him, so I normally do two coffees on Tuesday morning, making sure I can get out and see Phil. He’s always got great stories. I love talking about what he’s been doing, how it’s been going, and how he goes about what he does. It’s always interesting. I’ve done CEO Selling with Phil twice now, and he has been really generous in teaching me how he goes about selling The Big Issue. It opened my eyes to the other benefits of selling the magazine, not just the financial ones. I love Phil’s philosophy: it’s also about striking up conversations and forming relationships, and I love the way he goes about doing that. At each site he goes to, he’s got different tactics about where he sits, what music he plays. It’s fascinating. I think he’s a really clever guy in that regard. I think The Big Issue has given him a purpose for so long. He’s had a really hard life and for him to have that purpose and that income stream – which has ultimately led to his forever place, as he calls it – you can’t put into words the impact that has had on his life and how it’s changed it for the better. And for Phil to be as connected with REA as he is, he’s got a little REA family that really looks out for him. We see him as part of the REA family.
PHOTO BY MARK AVELLINO
Phil struck up a friendship with REA Group CEO Owen Wilson and his colleagues while selling outside their offices in Melbourne. Now he’s part of the family.
Equal Access I’d like to send a shout-out to my customers in wheelchairs. It is great that you have taken the time to read our magazine. I get a thrill, as a blind vendor, when you park and start up a conversation. I can only imagine what your world is like. It makes me so aware when I walk into a shop with a set of stairs. We cannot change everything overnight, but at least new buildings have started to be more considerate. Again, lots of thanks for your support. ANDREW S SUSPENSION ESPRESSO CAFE, BEAUMONT ST, ISLINGTON I NEWCASTLE
Little Bit Country Some people judge the way I look or dress. Some people think I am a bit of a pain in the butt. Some people think I am funny, but I have a weird sense of humour. Some people call me a champion because they have seen me doing my sport. Some people think I am friendly and helpful and caring. I consider myself
a friendly city slicker as I live in the suburbs, but I love the country too. I grew up learning more in the country, plus I love country music as well. Glad to hear vendors are back over the other side of Australia! RYAN ROYAL PERTH HOSPITAL I PERTH
Mos Spesh Hi, my name is Mostafa. I am a vendor in Newcastle, and I have a secret talent: I create the most delicious snacks for vendors for our Vendor Cafe! The most popular snack is the Mos Spesh: chicken, mayonnaise and lettuce on a fresh roll. I enjoy doing this on top of my vendor work because it gets me out doing something. MOSTAFA MARKET TOWN I NEWCASTLE
A Great Honour My life as a vendor started in the 90s. A friend introduced me to The Big Issue in Brisbane. I didn’t know if I would be any good at
selling magazines, so off I went selling in Brisbane CBD. I found it a little scary, but I got the hang of it. I got offered a pitch at Queensland Uni; it was very friendly. In 2000, I moved to Victoria. I contacted The Big Issue in Melbourne. I like selling during the lunchtime peak – I make quick sales, and I can go home before the afternoon peak hour. Back in 2009, I started selling at the Star of the Sea school – they were very friendly; they gave me lunch and a lot of gifts. I felt very honoured to sell there. These days, I live in Bendigo, and I sell The Big Issue in Bendigo and Castlemaine. I’ve had my Vendor Profile featured in the magazine and once, I even had a story published, which won the runner-up prize in the International Network of Street Papers Awards. It was nice to get it, and it was a great honour. I love selling The Big Issue: it gets me out of the house, I meet people, it puts purpose in my day. The money I make helps me pay bills and go on trips. CLARISSA BENDIGO & CASTLEMAINE
The Sun Still Shines
GLENN F CENTRAL STATION, CNR ELIZABETH & FOVEAUX STS I SYDNEY S R ID M E E TIG S GLE NN
29 JAN 2021
2020 was a tough year for everyone, but my year was made when I was working on my pitch on a rainy Sunday morning on 20 December. A lovely lady came up to buy a calendar. Yes, it was a customer, and also one of Australia’s most talented actresses, Sigrid Thornton, who has also worked overseas. What made it even better is that I’m a massive Prisoner fan. I would watch it as a kid when Sigrid Thornton played Ros Coulson, and she played Sonia Stevens in Wentworth, a remake of the show, 35 years later. I have another photo to add to my collection of Prisoner stars I have met. Thank you Sigrid Thornton for the photo – I’m so glad I finally met you.
ALL VENDOR CONTRIBUTORS TO STREETSHEET ARE PAID FOR THEIR WORK.
Andrew Weldon Cartoonist
By collecting the baby blimp, we can mark the wave of feeling that washed over the city that day and capture a particular moment of resistance.
being farmed by a company too cheapskate to actually pay people to do data entry. It is a genuine collaborative project.” Abigail Brady, a long-term editor, on Wikipedia turning 20. THE GUARDIAN I UK
“People are spending less cash, but the total value of banknotes in circulation has increased as people appear to choose to hold more cash.” The Bank of England statement revealing that more and more people are stashing their cash under the proverbial mattress in the face of low interest rates and the fear of a banking system collapse. BLOOMBERG I US
Sharon Ament, director of the Museum of London, on its latest acquisition – a giant balloon that depicts Donald Trump as a screaming orange toddler, which flew outside the House of Parliament during 2018 protests against the former US president’s visit to the capital. REUTERS I UK
“I always say this: I may be the first to do many things – make sure I’m not the last. I was thinking of my baby nieces, who will only know one world where a woman is vice president of the United States, a woman of colour, a Black woman, a woman with parents who were born outside of the United States.” US Vice President Kamala Harris on making history.
VOGUE I US
“…no cohort may ever experience a reduction in life expectancy of the magnitude attributed to COVID-19 in 2020.” Theresa Andrasfay, of the University of Southern California, on her study showing that COVID-19, which has killed over 400,000 Americans, has already cut overall life expectancy in the US by one year, two years for Black Americans and three for Latinos. SCIENCE DAILY I US
“Last night I thought maybe we should have called him Donald. Maybe we could have gotten a presidential pardon or diplomatic immunity.” Melburnian Kevin Celli-Bird on finding a lost American racing pigeon in his backyard and naming him Joe Biden. Initially considered a biosecurity risk by the Department of Agriculture, Biden was spared death at the 11th hour after he was found to be an Australian pigeon wearing a knock-off US leg band. Now he’s free as, well, a bird. THE NEW YORK TIMES I US
“I think the key to its long‑term success has been its lack of commercialisation. Jimmy Wales made a decision that Wikipedia should be non-profit very early on, and stuck to it. There are no ads (beyond the odd pledge drive), and no sense that your labour is
“Listen, I have the most beautiful shoes in the world… But when you have been running around fashion week, that Ugg is the utilitarian boot with style. It’s chic and comfortable with a capital ‘C’.” Style icon André Leon Talley on the high-fashion appeal of the Aussie Ugg boot, the height of cosy lockdown chic. ELLE I UK
“The candle exploded and emitted huge flames, with bits flying everywhere. The whole thing was ablaze and it was too hot to touch. There was an inferno in the room.” Londoner Jody Thompson on getting more than she bargained for when she lit her Gwyneth Paltrow “This Smells Like My Vagina” candle. THE SUN I UK
“These trees are aliens. They’re the ones that absorb more water from Cape Town, like not only from Cape Town, wherever you find those trees, they’re the ones that drink all the water and then you end up not having enough water.” Tree-cutter Onalenna Matsididi on clearing non-indigenous trees around Cape Town, after the South African city almost ran out of water two years
20 Questions by Rachael Wallace
01 Which is the only Scrabble tile with
a value of five points? 02 The rooibos plant is indigenous to
which country? 03 What are the three secondary
colours? 04 What is the only big cat that can’t
roar? 05 What was the 2020 People’s Choice
Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year? 06 True or false: The chainsaw was
invented to aid childbirth? 07 In 1989, who was the first woman to
lead a state or territory government in Australia? 08 How many times did Arnold
Schwarzeneggar win the Mr Olympia title? 09 “Last words are for fools who
Quite a mash-up: a rugby league team playing a soccer team in a game of cricket. Overheard by Cheryl, in St Kilda East, Vic.
Virat Kohli, its complete first-string bowling attack and the hardships imposed by COVID-19 restrictions, to beat Australia 2-1. HINDUSTAN TIMES I IN
AFRICA NEWS I ZA
“On 3/1/20…[it was] discovered that a monologue performed by John Mulaney on Saturday Night Live was gaining considerable social media attention… Although no direct threats were made [to the president], due to the popularity, it is likely concerned citizens will report this.” A 27-page US Secret Service report on jokes made by SNL comedian John Mulaney that referenced a certain leader – Julius Caesar – being stabbed to death. Et tu, Brutus?
ROLLING STONE I US
“We have been outplayed by a better side this series.” Australian cricket captain Tim Paine, congratulating the Indian team, which overcame the loss of its captain
“The police became aware of the plants and eventually the seeds in circumstances which I think would cause most people to laugh out loud.” NT Judge Richard Wallace on sentencing Rodney Scott Casey to 48 hours of community service, after the truck driver’s efforts to teach his misbehaving stepson a lesson by calling the police on him backfired – instead his son dobbed him in for growing weed in the backyard. NT NEWS I AU
“Australia… I would like to clarify a few things.” Tennis star Novak Djokovic, clearing things up after his “suggestions” – better food, more fitness gear, maybe accommodation in private houses with tennis courts – about how better to quarantine fellow players.
haven’t said enough” are allegedly the final words of: Dorothy Parker, Leonardo Da Vinci, Karl Marx or Margaret Thatcher? 10 Which country was devastated by
Cyclone Pam in 2015? 11 What was the nickname of German
Field Marshall Erwin Rommel? 12 Who has received the most
Academy Award Best Supporting Actress nominations? 13 By population, what is the largest
non-capital city in Australia? 14 The English city of York was
originally known as what? 15 Who played the role of Polly in
Fawlty Towers? 16 Which country was the largest
exporter of rice in the world in 2019? 17 What is the name of the Australian
women’s soccer team? 18 By what name was Vegemite known
from 1928 to 1935? 19 Which number President of the
United States did Joe Biden become on 20 January? 20 In The Mandalorian, what is Baby
Yoda’s real name?
FREQUENTLY OVERHEAR TANTALISING TIDBITS? DON’T WASTE THEM ON YOUR FRIENDS SHARE THEM WITH THE WORLD AT SUBMISSIONS@BIGISSUE.ORG.AU
ANSWERS ON PAGE 43
29 JAN 2021
“I’m on the way to watch the cricket, the Melbourne Storm vs the Adelaide Raiders in the 20/20.”
ago, partly due to foreign trees, such as pines, soaking up underground reserves.
by Elizabeth Flux @elizabethflux
t’s been nine months since I’ve stood in a line, one eye anxiously on the clock, as the person in front of me hmms about whether they want to also buy a box of Maltesers to tip into their popcorn. It’s been nine months since I’ve sat in a darkened room, trying to block out the light of someone sneaking a look at their phone from my peripheral vision. It’s been nine months since I wondered What on earth were you thinking? as I watch a too-scary horror movie through my fingers, trying not to gasp and draw attention to myself at every jump scare. It’s been nine months, but I’m finally back in a cinema and, honestly, it feels like coming home. When I was six my parents made me a deal: learn all the times tables, up to and including the 12s, and they would take me to see Flubber. I was good enough at maths to know one thing – the faster I learned them, the faster we’d get to the movie. What resulted was a several-day blitz of frustration, rote learning and a nifty trick from a friend’s older sister that I still use when I need to figure out multiples of nine. I barely remember anything about the movie itself, but I can remember almost every detail of stepping into the cinema lobby: the dark wood; the cosy, art deco box office; and the posters of Golden Age cinema stars framed on the walls. The other thing I remember is the feeling. It’s the same one I still get now, every time I walk into a cinema. The moment I step through the doors, my shoulders loosen, just a little, and my mind settles down. The details of life fade away and for a few hours, as I sit in the dark, seeing the world through someone else’s eyes, there’s a sense that everything is going to be alright. I can name every film I saw as a child – it was always a big deal to me because it was rare, a treat. I loved every second, would count down the days. So, naturally, when I became an adult I massively overcompensated. Any spare change was spent on movie tickets – and at 18 I got a job at the local cinema and I worked there every summer and on weekends until it closed down.
It’s strange having been on both sides of the ticketing desk. I’ve gone to the movies in almost every mood and situation possible. Dates. Moments of sadness. As an escape and a reset in the midst of exam week. I’ve also ushered every type of customer. The regulars, who see every film that’s out, who plan their day so they can fit in four or five films with a short break for lunch. The adults who try to sneak their four-year-old kids into an R 18+ film. The people who apologise for coming alone. The couples who compromise and compromise until they end up seeing a film that neither of them is really excited about, but from which they emerge completely delighted. The person who knows their mind so well that they burst out of a movie five minutes in and ask apologetically if they can switch into a different session because “I’m really sorry but I cannot stand that Elaine woman from Seinfeld”. To me one of the great wonders of going to the cinema is the convergence of different lives. We all have different cinema routines – but suddenly a group of people who will likely never be together again find themselves in the same room, sharing an experience. In 2020 I spent a lot of time staring at screens. No matter how good your TV is, no matter if you put your phone in a different room, or switch off all the lights, watching at home just isn’t the same. Putting aside the distractions – the power to pause, the temptation to just quickly go do the dishes, to watch half now, half tomorrow – turns out that the magic is other people. There isn’t the joy of the man in the second row who laughs uproariously at every bad joke. We miss out on the person explaining a very obvious plot point to their incredulous date. You don’t have the tension broken by the woman who gasps at the jump scare. In the past 12 months our ways of being together have taken a huge hit. We are more conscious than ever of the space between us – both how far away we should be standing, and of the people we miss as borders slam shut between us. It’s hard sometimes to imagine ever feeling normal again. But as I sat (socially distanced) in that cinema, the lights dimming just before the credits rolled, the movies did what they’ve always done for me – provided a feeling of reassurance, and a few hours of escape. Elizabeth Flux is an award-winning writer and editor based in Melbourne.
The crunch of popcorn, the rustle of Maltesers – it’s the sound of movie magic. And Elizabeth Flux has a centre, back-row ticket to the grand reopening.
29 JAN 2021
Dim the Lights!
Letters to Our Younger Selves Big Issue vendors offer words of hard-won wisdom, compassion and love to the teenagers they once were.
ear 16-year-old Lesa, I know things are tough at the moment, but they will get easier. I know that you are disappearing from home, and you’re hanging out with the wrong crowd most of the time. I mean, don’t get me wrong – some of the people you have met are terrific people and you should keep them around you – but there are a lot of them that are no good for you. They will just lead you astray and if you follow, it’s very hard to come back from that. I know you are working, and that’s great! Keep it up, but please don’t be so eager to leave school – or if you really want to leave, please make sure that at least one of your jobs is secure enough to support you. Make the most of your time on holiday overseas with your mum and little brother, as this will be one of your fondest memories. Egypt and Rome are amazing places – so pay attention to everything you’re seeing and doing and just be appreciative of being there. It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Yes, you are a punk of a kid, but I want you to know that you are also smart, caring, loving and worthy. Don’t be shy; just be yourself and if people don’t like it, then that’s their bad luck. Don’t dwell on what people say and think of you; it’s really not worth the headache it will cause you.
Don’t go down the road of addiction, because it will get you nowhere. It will make you lose everything and leave you wondering what the hell happened. And when the time comes, there will be no-one willing to help you. Believe me: it’s a very long, dark road when travelled alone. I know you and I know you probably won’t listen to this, but please just keep this letter handy and read it from time to time. Don’t forget that you have dreams for your life and they are important. I think you would make a great lawyer, as you are really very argumentative – and good at it, I might add! And you would be an even better veterinarian, except for the fact that you would want to keep all the animals. Don’t let one person rule your life at any given moment, as it’s your life and you are the one that needs to be happy with your actions. This is the biggest lesson you will learn. Remember you are loved and you do matter and you are definitely smarter and stronger than what you (and a lot of others) give yourself credit for. I hope this letter finds you well, and I hope I have put some things into perspective for you. I hope it makes your life a bit easier to get through. Love, Lesa
photo by James Braund
You Are and You Do Matter
29 JAN 2021
SELLS THE BIG ISSUE AT BOURKE ST MYER AND IN BALWYN, MELBOURNE
SELLS THE BIG ISSUE AT MILTON AND SHERWOOD MARKETS, AND CENTRAL RAILWAY STATION, BRISBANE
It’s Okay to , Because Dreams Can Come True
some time. You’ll have some good times in your early twenties. Later in life you’ll be close to your sister again. You’ll find her through the Salvation Army’s missing persons unit. She’ll be married and have just finished her nursing degree. It’ll spin you out. It’ll feel like a dream come true. You’ll spend three Christmas days with her and her husband at their home in Sydney. And you’ll do City2Surf together a couple of times. So, life is going to get a lot better. Remember, it’s okay to dream, because dreams can come true. Visiting Perth is on your bucket list. You’ll get there eventually and the icing on the cake will be going to Rottnest Island. You’ll get to go to Cairns, Fitzroy Island and Kuranda. You’ll live in a nice flat and you’ll be able to rely on yourself to pay your bond and rent out of your own savings. You’ll have direction in life by selling The Big Issue; it’ll give you purpose. So don’t stress and remember that there is more to life than you see at the moment. I’ll meet you later.
29 JAN 2021
Love you and see you then, Eddie
photo by Barry Street
ear Eddie, This is your 51-year‑old self. Yes, you do live that long, surprisingly! Let’s talk about school. I know you’re not liking it there at the moment, but later in life some of your best memories will be of these years. You will even keep in touch with some of your schoolmates. They will have pretty good lives and you’re going to meet up with one of them in your late forties. You’re 16 now and about to get kicked out of home. You feel like the world is against you, but it’s not. You’ll figure that out later on in life. You blame yourself, but you’re going to survive. You’ll eventually be able to go back home but DON’T! You’ll regret it later. You’ll end up resenting some members of the family. Soon after you get kicked out, your sister will get kicked out too. The worst thing is that it’ll be some time before you see her again. It won’t feel good, not seeing her. But it’s not your fault. Life will go on. You just have to live without her for
ear Stacey, You’re a rebellious little thing, and a bit of a party animal. Have fun, but be careful, too. I know you’re trying to cope with stuff that happened in your birth family. It all looked pretty happy, but there was stuff under the surface. You’ll learn better ways. You’re still at school now, at Ocean Reef Senior High. I know you think it’s lonely and boring, but maybe try to avoid wagging school. And stay away from those kids who do the same – you don’t need that bad crowd. You’ll have a life-changing trip with your foster mum and her grandchildren, where you find out about Hotham Valley Tourist Railways. You’ll end up joining up as a coach captain and a cleaner. The job will make you feel important. It’s the first time you’ll feel like you’re part of a team – people who love and care about you. You’ll have fun and learn new things, and the joy you’ll get from meeting new people will be something that’ll come up all through your life. You’ll also learn there are good people in the world who don’t want to hurt you, or take advantage. This is where you’ll soon meet your now ex-husband. He’ll pick you up from school and together you’ll go clean the trains at Forrestfield Marshalling Yards. You’ll fall in love. You’ll find out you’re pregnant at 16-and‑a‑half. You’ll be shocked, happy, excited, scared. You’ll be head-over-heels in love with the baby’s dad – you’ll reckon he’s the best thing since sliced bread. When the kids at school find out, they’ll think it’s a lie and bully you. It’ll get you down, but you’ve got to ignore them. They’re just silly kids who don’t know nothing, and you’ll manage to rise above it. You’ll move in with the baby’s father and his parents. It’ll be a happy time. You’ll get engaged. You’ll get married and have another baby. If I could revisit any time in our life, it would be a few years after this –
at 18 with two children – when we were all still in love and happy. But don’t be such a people‑pleaser. You’ll think it’s the only way to keep a family together, and that if you don’t keep everyone happy you could lose your new family, too. Ask for help. Being a young kid, who’s never dealt with a lot of traumatic stuff, who’s learning to be a mum, leaves you a bit like a volcano ready to explode – the pressure is too much. Know that you are good enough for your fiancé’s family. And as a mum. Looking back now, you probably would have been better off going it alone with the baby. Maybe things would have been better if you hadn’t married the baby’s father. You might not have lost it all, kiddo – the kids, the partner, the family… But being part of it all will help you learn later in life that family’s everything. The biggest and only lesson I can pass on to you is that you can’t rely on others to provide you with anything. Happiness, love, togetherness: if you do have all these, you are lucky and you should keep it all, any way you can. When you get to 44, you’ll know to take better care of yourself, instead of putting other people first all the time. You’ll make a decision every day to look past the hurt; put a smile on your dial; put on some colourful, cheerful clothes cos it’ll make you feel happy – it’s a bit like your big, kind heart’s shining through – and head to work. You’ve just got to get on with life! Get into your garden because it’ll make you feel calm, and same for your knitting and art. Cook good old-fashioned stuff and enjoy hanging out with your awesome cousin, Kaia. You’ve got to be proud of getting on with it all, letting go of the hurt and making something of yourself. You’re worthy of the good stuff. Wishing you peace, love and rainbows, kiddo. Stacey
photo by Ross Swanborough
You’re of the Good Stuff
29 JAN 2021
SELLS THE BIG ISSUE AT ROYAL PERTH HOSPITAL AND VICTORIA PARK POST OFFICE, PERTH
SELLS THE BIG ISSUE AT WODEN TOWN SQUARE,Â CANBERRA
Life Is All About Making Mistakes, Learning from Them and
Love from Future Ricky (you) xoxo
29 JAN 2021
Stop wagging school! You have no idea how much you’ll miss school. It will prove to be the most fun time of your life. You need that education – it opens so many more doors when you have finished high school. Major in music and drama – these will be your aces for chasing your dreams in the music industry! Knowledge in music and acting are your weapons. And last but not least, have more faith in yourself. Don’t listen to those that don’t agree with your dreams and aspirations. They only want to see you fail. Also, ignore those that judge you based on what you wear. There’s nothing wrong with being alt-fashioned and wearing all black. You will never stop wearing black. Embrace our current motto: “Paint it black or take it back.” Basically, don’t do any of the things that future you has already done. If only you knew what I know now – life would be a breeze. However, life is all about making mistakes, learning from them and growing. You’ve got this!
photo by Rohan Thomson
ear 14-year-old me, Hey you! Yes, you! I need you to read this and trust my advice, because I AM you – but in the future. First things first: STOP running away from home! You have it a lot better than most kids in the foster system. Our foster mum loves the hell out of us and she’s an awesome woman who will stick with us through thick and thin. She will guide us in the RIGHT direction, but she won’t be here forever. Trust me. Take that leap! Go for your dreams of becoming a musician in the metal music industry. Don’t wait until you’re older to start chasing your dreams. They’re a lot harder to achieve and you’ll spend a LOT of your time very depressed that you didn’t chase them sooner. This depression will control your life. It sucks! Spend as much time with Nan and Pop as possible, because one day they’ll be gone and you will regret not picking up that phone or going for that promised visit. It will break your heart and the guilt will be almost unbearable.
Together We Stand All around the world, the pandemic has worsened problems already familiar to those living on the margins: food insecurity, unstable housing, social isolation, low income and reduced access to social services. To mark Vendor Week, vendors from street papers around the globe share how they’ve been coping – and their hopes for 2021. by Tony Inglis International Network of Street Papers
CA N A DA
Every morning at 11am, Li places his wooden stool just inside an entrance of National Chengchi University in Taipei, ready for a day of selling The Big Issue Taiwan. Since the pandemic began, social distancing has meant he’s had to move further away from his pitch, and no longer finds it easy catching the eyes of passing students. “Taiwan’s virus prevention results are very good,” says Li. “Unlike other countries, which have been locked down for several months. So, I have not been afraid from beginning to end. After all, there are few cases here, and I am also very open to life and death. I can tell you that people have great desires and great worries. Since this larger situation cannot be controlled, worry only adds to the trouble.” For additional support, LI T H E BIG ISSUE The Big Issue Taiwan is TAIWAN working with a local social enterprise to provide free rice to vendors.
SW E D E N
In British Columbia, Megaphone vendor Peter is feeling cut off from his family and heritage due to the pandemic. He’s been relying on the history and traditions of his Nlaka’pamux Nation community to get through. “My traditional medicines have played a big part in keeping me healthy during COVID-19,” says Peter. “I regularly smudge my home and I cook for myself to keep healthy. I have been using lots of garlic and lemons, and eating a lot of oranges and apples to keep my health good. I make a hot lemon, ginger and garlic drink that keeps my immune system strong. “My hope for 2021 is that the pandemic will end so I can see my family in person again. I am especially missing my family that live on my traditional MEGAPHONE territory near Lytton, BC. Normally I go back home every summer to see family and restock my traditional foods, like pine mushrooms, venison, fish and moose meat. I also gather my sage and cedar supply for the year. I wasn’t able to go this year, so if I can just see my family and visit home in 2021, I will be happy.”
TA I WA N
Sweden took a more hands-off approach to the pandemic than other countries. For those selling street papers, it has meant there has been little disruption to their income. Gothenburg-based magazine Faktum even saw an increase in sales as customers who would usually be away on holiday stayed in the cities. “We are in the front line when we sell the street paper, but I don’t have much choice. I need the money,” says vendor Thomas. “For a month now I’ve had my own apartment, but before I lived at a place which I shared with other people. And I knew they had coronavirus there. Food was served at a buffet table and that didn’t feel safe.” Thomas has spent the pandemic getting sober and writing his life story for a book Faktum is publishing. “‘Thank goodness,’ that’s what I feel for 2021. Hopefully COVID has calmed down and, since I’ve become sober, I can move on. I have contact with my children again. My daughter said, ‘Dad, it feels like you came back THOMAS from the dead.’ FAKTUM I’m so happy about that.”
ARGENTINA “If it hadn’t been for [financial] help from the government, I would be at the bottom of the river,” says Carlos, a vendor selling Hecho en Bs As, a Buenos Aires publication that has dealt with an extremely strict, prolonged lockdown and the sudden death of its founder. But Hecho has continued to support vendors throughout. The publication’s ties to organic food project A Cultivar Que Se Acaba El Mundo – which employs socially excluded people, many of whom are also vendors – has meant that vendors have had access to food. Plus, vendors have been able to continue their art workshops, and their artworks are soon to be auctioned off. “Yes, I feel safe…just worried that this will get worse, and with a little fear about the illness and uncertainty about the economic situation,” says Carlos, who hopes that next year “we can let this crap go and start a normal life again”.
M AC E D O N I A
I TA LY
“Working for me means not only earning money, but also communicating with different people, making friends, getting familiar with strangers,” says Igor, who sells Lice v Lice in Struga and lives with his family in the nearby village of Radozda on the banks of the UNESCO-protected Lake Ohrid. Igor has had long periods of not working in 2020 because of lockdown, and feels that social isolation has been more difficult to deal with than loss of income. But he feels good to know he has work with his street paper. “My wish is for the best sales at the magazine. I am working for that and I know in turn it will improve my life,” he LICE V LICE says. “Of course, I hope that 2021 will be better. Don’t we all? All the time? We live in hope even when life is uncertain.”
“This year has been very challenging and filled with sorrow for everybody. It was very hard having to stay home during the first lockdown, various thoughts were stressing me out,” says Lawrence, who started selling zebra magazine in Merano after the first coronavirus lockdown from March to May last year. “It was a big release in June when things got better for a time. Even if the restrictions were still very tough, like having to wear a mask at all times, I’m very grateful that I could become part of zebra. This time, at least, I have some support from the street paper during the lockdown, which is comforting me. “I hope 2021 will bring back a bit of normality and this crisis can be overcome, offering the possibility to all people to enjoy themselves again and to open new doors. I’m convinced there is something bigger to ZEBRA come and we will have a better life soon. What we couldn’t achieve in 2020, we’ll achieve in 2021.”
COURTESY OF INSP.NGO
S O U T H A F R I CA The Big Issue South Africa vendor Shadrack lives in Delft, a township in Cape Town, where crime and poverty is high. Since the pandemic began, crime has increased as unemployment grows. “I do not feel safe, as people are being killed every day due to violence,” says Shadrack. “In my community, people are suffering. Some people lost their jobs and people died from COVID-19. Since [the pandemic started] we do not have access to social services or health facilities. Everything is like watching a movie – so unreal.” Food security is the biggest concern for vendors and their communities. They are being encouraged to create their own vegetable gardens, and to apply the skills they’ve learned selling the street paper to selling arts and crafts or food items to earn extra income. “This year was hard – having little SHADRACK food, no work and my family suffering,” T H E BIG ISSUE SOUTH AFRICA says Shadrack. “I hope and pray that COVID-19 goes away.”
AU ST R I A In Vienna, Augustin magazine has found new ways to continue selling even as restrictions remain in place. “I’m very sad I can’t visit my family,” says vendor Susi. “My dad is more than 80 years old and I haven’t seen him in a long time now. I wish everything would get back to normal. I would like to visit the vendor lounge at Augustin to drink coffee and talk to my colleagues. And, of course, I wish more people would buy SUSI the paper again and we could talk AUGUSTIN properly without distance. I’m feeling a bit lonely.”
29 JAN 2021
HECHO EN BS AS
series by Arianne Clément
Photographer Arianne Clément visited blue zone Okinawa, Japan, and discovered that the secret to longevity is that there is more than one secret to longevity. by Sophie Quick
Sophie Quick is a Melbourne-based writer and editor.
The Big Picture
100 Not Out
EMIKO MIYAZATO, 95, PLAYS THE SANSHIN, A TRADITIONAL THREE‑STRING OKINAWAN GUITAR. “WHEN I PLAY I HAVE NO CARES.”
FOR MORE, GO TO ARIANNECLEMENT.COM.
29 JAN 2021
meto Yamashiro is now 100 years old, but when she looks back on her 80th year, she sees a woman embarking on a new career and a new phase of creativity. “When I was 80 years old I decided to realise my dream of becoming a dancer,” she told photographer Arianne Clément. “I approached a traditional Okinawan dance troupe that performs for tourists and, as I was truly determined to learn, they gave me a chance. Now I am the star dancer!” Umeto met Clément in 2019 when Clément visited the Okinawa prefecture in Japan to photograph local elderly people. Okinawa is one of the world’s five famous “blue zones” – regions that researchers have identified in Europe, Latin America, Asia and the US as having the highest concentrations of centenarians in the world. Clément, who is based in Quebec, Canada, first became interested in the subject when she visited another blue zone, Sardinia, back in 2017. Since then, she’s visited the other four regions armed with her camera: Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, Loma Linda in the United States, Ikaria Island in Greece and Okinawa in Japan. People in these regions have vastly different cultures and histories, but have certain things in common. They eat and drink moderately. Their diets tend to be high in beans and vegetables. And they move their bodies a lot, even in old age. But it’s not just about legumes and regular exercise. Dignity and community are also factors. In her travels, Clément has observed that elderly people in blue zones are highly respected and appreciated in their communities. It’s something Ryozen Tomoyose spoke about during their sessions together. “Since we have village feasts, [older people] have the honour of eating first,” he said. “It is a way of showing respect that I like very much.” Clément’s photographs capture her subjects in moments of exuberance or deep concentration. Her images express humour, energy, grit and optimism. And her subjects were happy to share wisdom and advice with their juniors. “Laugh, laugh and laugh!” Umeto advised. “Don’t let anger, hatred or worry live within you. Make an effort to love and accept all others.” Perhaps acceptance and forgiveness are longevity factors, too. Clément says these were common themes in her Okinawa interviews. After all, it’s not always easy, or possible, to laugh, laugh, laugh. When asked about their life stories and challenges, many people in Okinawa chose to reflect on the experiences and painful lessons of World War II, Clément says. “When I met the elders in Okinawa who experienced the war firsthand, I was deeply shocked and moved by the stories I heard… [They] taught me a deep lesson in resilience and forgiveness.”
HAMAKO KIKUYAMA, 92, TOOK UP GROWING FOOD AFTER SHE RETIRED AT 70.
UMETO YAMASHIRO, 100, TOOK UP DANCING AT 80 AND HER ADVICE IS TO “LAUGH, LAUGH, LAUGH”.
HIROKO TOUYAMA, 98, STILL PRACTISES HER CALLIGRAPHY AND WRITES IN HER JOURNAL EVERY DAY.
SMALL PORTIONS OF FOOD ARE OFTEN REFERENCED BY AGED OKINAWANS.
29 JAN 2021
RYOZEN TOMOYOSE, 89, WALKS EVERY DAY “IN GOOD WEATHER OR BAD” AND GROWS SUGAR CANE, WHICH IS HARD WORK.
We sat lazily in the tent, somnolent and snoozy, watching storm clouds congregate over the Ovens Valley and idly thinking about dinner.
by Ricky French @frenchricky
oodness it was nice to get away for a few days in early January. I normally try to get away for a few weeks, then a few weeks more, but with 2021 showing no early signs of deviation from the horror script of 2020, we thought it was sensible to constrain any holidaying to a minimum of days, within easy fleeing distance to home. So it was that we emptied the entire contents of the back shed into the ute and puttered off to that semi‑alpine, oh-so-pretty holiday town of Bright, in the Victorian high country. With so many Australians forced (forced!) to holiday at home this summer, I was worried it might be hard to find accommodation, but it was actually very easy, as Camp Crusty was the only place in the entire state of Victoria that had any vacancies. Yes, it was actually called Camp Crusty. And yes, I’d happily go back. It looked like the kind of place that should be in the local adaptation of National Lampoon’s Summer Vacation. We shunned the ancient windowless cabins with concrete-slab verandahs for a lopsided section of grass and dirt and threw up tents – big tents, little tents, a hurricane-force-wind-rated Ray’s Outdoors marquee – then got down to the business of trying to make our camping home as close as possible to the environs of our regular home, which of course is what camping is all about. Call us eager to judge, but we were expecting Camp Crusty to be bogan central. However, it was only the outskirts of Boganville. That’s because one of the pillars of bogan holidays, trail bike riding, wasn’t available. (Neither was another central pillar: being allowed to light a fire wherever you damn-well like.) Instead, there were mountain bikes, and a shitload of them. It seemed that Bright existed primarily to service bike people. Nothing wrong with that. Day after day families in fat-wheeled mud-coated mountain bikes came tearing down Mystic Mountain, all wholesome and healthy, while we sat lazily in the tent, somnolent and snoozy, watching
storm clouds congregate over the Ovens Valley and idly thinking about dinner. We got on well with the neighbours, the only incident being when one of them reversed into the Ray’s Outdoors marquee, which showed commendable resilience. Old Mate opposite us filled our dogs’ bowls from his water tank and we lent him a bottle‑opener. Noise was kept to a minimum after 10pm and in case anyone forgot, a text message went out every night at 9.45pm reminding us all of that golden rule of camping. We were so sad to pack up and leave that when we got home we watched two wonderful pieces of camping cinema. The first was the classic comedic 1976 British television film Nuts in May, where the uptight and rule‑obsessed Keith takes his docile wife Candice Marie camping on a farm in Dorset. The couple (Keith especially) manage to piss off everyone around them until Keith eventually loses it when a rowdy couple insist on lighting a fire illegally. So he packs up his tent and poor Candice Marie and they bail, only to suffer the ultimate humiliation when a cop pulls them over and finds the spare tyre is as bald as Keith’s pompous head. Far darker was the next camping show we watched, the 2016 British TV series simply called Camping, in which a group of friends go glamping in Devon to celebrate a birthday. The act of camping in this instance is merely incidental to the spectacular personal unravelling the group unleashes upon itself, until the whole weekend disintegrates into hilarious but hellish debauchery that quite frankly gives camping a bad name. Poor old camping. It never meant to hurt anyone. It just wants to play some board games, listen to the birds and make some bad puns when things get too in-tents. Bring on Easter.
Ricky is a writer and musician with a swag of good ideas.
by Fiona Scott-Norman @fscottnorman
PHOTOS BY JAMES BRAUND
t’s an open secret that cheese is the love of my life. It is the Camilla to my Charles – I would happily live inside it forever, licking the walls. Blue, or washed rind with a weeping centre, sharp and firm or infused with truffle oil, grated over pasta, folded into omelettes or provocatively splayed on a platter, nestled intimately into a dab of organic quince paste… Mate, I am there. Dribbling. A vegan friend noted that bacon is the deal‑breaker for people going vego, and cheese is the deal-breaker for vegos going vegan. My friend is wise. I’ve tried a few vegan cheeses, and they resemble cheese in the same way a pizza box resembles a pizza. The taste is of something industrial and vaguely salty that most decidedly does not belong in your mouth. The advantage to romancing fromage is that polyamory is not just permissible, it’s required. I have explored all of the cheeses, and am expert in their charms. I’m particularly drawn to anything that declares itself to be double or triple cream, is preferably organic, has adorable rustic packaging and a curling font declaring its regional provenance, such as “Gippsland”, or indicating a fancy extra processing step, for example “d’Affinois”. To put it another way: yes, I am a raging cheese snob who wouldn’t buy Coon to bait my mousetraps. And yes, gentle reader, I have led you with tasty curdled milk crumbs down a merry path towards an intersectional discussion of racism, where the intersection is racism and cheese. You’ve no doubt heard the best news so far of 2021, which is that Saputo Dairy Australia, Coon’s parent company, has announced the rebranding of their contentious cheddar as “Cheer” cheese, effective from July. I presume they’ve done the calculations and realised that a) academic Dr Stephen Hagan was not going to stop reminding them about the racist connotations of having a brand called Coon in *checks notes* the 21st century, and b) the biomass of Australians who care about racism now outweighs the biomass of
those clinging belligerently to “tradition” and objecting to “PC gone mad”. The pendulum must have swung, because that’s how capitalism works: it always follows the money. There have been two instant and predictable reactions. There’s been a backlash, obvs, largely orchestrated by the media. Radio 2GB in Sydney attempted to “gotcha” Anthony Albanese during an interview, raising the prospect of a “reactionary culture war”, Channel 9 held an “Are you happy with the new name?” poll, and a Murdoch finance journalist announced on Twitter that she wasn’t going to bow to minorities and would be “Bega all the way”. Equally foreseeable, because our number‑one hobby is nitpicking, was the response from progressives. Bypassing celebration, they’ve skipped straight to disappointment at the new name. I have friends who are woke as alarm clocks, and their first response was to bitch about Cheer. It’s stupid, apparently. Terrible. Not a good name for cheese. Wah wah wah. Good God, people: the new name doesn’t matter. They could have called it Ceiling or Blanket or Jacinta. The people who buy big blocks of bland cheese will continue to buy whatever is on special this week. Because they are students, or they have children, and because that’s how capitalism works. Cheese wankers like myself will continue to not buy Cheer because we are cheese wankers. Stop pretending to know anything about the branding of cheese aimed at six-year-olds and people needing a toastie at 3am after the club. As with every other step along the path towards decolonisation and inclusiveness, this will be a dead issue approximately 10 seconds after the new packaging hits the shelves. Remember how marriage equality was going to destroy everything, and didn’t? Relax, everybody. And be of good cheer.
Fiona is a writer, comedian and Big Cheese.
29 JAN 2021
I’ve tried a few vegan cheeses, and they resemble cheese in the same way a pizza box resembles a pizza.
Dead Poet’s Society There is no poet like Emily Dickinson, and no series like Dickinson, which brings rap, witchcraft and millennial slang to the 19th century writer’s tale. by Aimee Knight Small Screens Editor @siraimeeknight
ne of the reasons why the show is called Dickinson is that it’s about the patriarchy,” says its creator and showrunner Alena Smith. “It’s about a woman who resisted the patriarchy insofar as she did not get married and have kids and do those things she was expected to do.” But that meant the titular Dickinson – Emily, the godmother of American poetry – lived her whole life under her father’s roof, with her father’s name, and Smith’s series underlines this irony. When Edward Dickinson (Toby Huss, Halt and Catch Fire) declares that his ambitious daughter is ruining the family name, the joke’s on him. Emily (as reimagined by Oscar-nominee Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit) is the only reason anyone remembers it. A coming-of-age comedy and drama, Dickinson finds the reclusive yet rebellious young writer in her salad days. Set in bucolic Amherst, Massachusetts, it illuminates the literary ambitions and stifled sexuality that saw Dickinson dismissed as eccentric in her own lifetime, and several beyond. This judgement endures in the popular notion of Emily Dickinson as the hermit spinster, but Smith’s playful approach to the biopic uses humour, hindsight and horniness to redress the poet’s enigmatic legacy. “The show definitely creates its own voice, in the spirit of Emily Dickinson herself,” says Smith. A playwright
BU T JU ST IA GE HE LDDI CK IN SO N “T HE CA RR ”: EM ILY AN D DE AT H O UR SE LV ES EI NF EL D)IFA) (H AI LE E ST (W IZ KH AL
by trade, Smith first encountered Dickinson’s work in high school. In her early twenties, she read a Dickinson biography and clicked with the major themes of Emily’s life. “I love thinking about her connection to bees and birds and flowers, as well as her wrestling with, you know, this consciousness of death,” Smith says. “She was basically an outsider artist. She made her own rules... lived by her own code and, in a weird way, also invented a code. Her poems are written like a secret code, and it’s really fun to dig into that.” Smith is also fascinated by “the material realities of Dickinson’s work,” like the little books of poetry she hand‑sewed. “She kind of invented the zine!” Smith beams. “All those things drew me to her and made me want to make a show about her,” she says. In 2019, Dickinson debuted on Apple TV+, and now the fruits of Smith’s labour are ripening for season two on the platform. But this is not your nanna’s period drama. While Smith was entranced by the visual and sensory details of Emily’s oeuvre, she also saw scope for a more “metaphoric project”. Stylistically and spiritually, the show taps into the Gen Z internet ecosystem that exalts witchcraft, astrology, séances and “cottagecore” looks. If anything, Dickinson is a crystal ball, in which the 1850s presage the present day. “It was always the plan that the show would look like
a beautiful, elevated period show but there would be a hybrid quality to the dialogue,” says Smith. Just as the real Dickinson’s work was ahead of its time, Steinfeld’s Emily uses millennial slang and swears. She’s agitated by similar concerns to Nadine – Steinfeld’s old-soul adolescent in The Edge of Seventeen (2016) – only Emily does opium, not alcohol, at parties, while her frenemies krump in their crinolines to Carnage’s trap single ‘I Like Tuh’. Hip-hop is an anachronism deftly deployed. On the soundtrack, Lizzo and A$AP Rocky bring contemporary cred while underscoring their medium’s clear links to poetry. Emily and her coquettish sister Lavinia (Anna Baryshnikov) rave for Shakespeare and Dickens like they’re modern pop stars. And in a deliciously morbid turn, rapper Wiz Khalifa guests as Death personified. His lavish carriage kindly stops for Emily whene’er she has a midnight crisis. “If there’s anything I’m committed to as an artist, it’s probably surrealism,” says Smith, and flourishes like the show’s curious cameos prove it. In season one, Girls’ Zosia Mamet plays Louisa May Alcott – at least, a boss-babe version betrothed to the freelance hustle. Comedian John Mulaney appears topless as philosopher Henry David Thoreau, petulant and leeching off his family. These literary icons “wink at the audience,” says Smith. Though
DICKINSON IS ON APPLE TV+.
29 JAN 2021
ALENA SMITH ON EMILY DICKINSON
She was basically an outsider artist. She made her own rules…lived by her own code and, in a weird way, also invented a code. Her poems are written like a secret code, and it’s really fun to dig into that.
they never met Dickinson in real life, they “come into our world because they have lessons to teach Emily” on screen. This season, as the aspiring writer wrestles with fame’s allure, she meets the landscape architect who designed New York’s Central Park – Frederick Law Olmsted (Timothy Simons, Veep) – who helps her contemplate the long game. By contrast, the thirsty ghost of Edgar Allan Poe – revivified with exquisite sleaze by Nick Kroll (Big Mouth) – rides along in Death’s carriage, cruising for groupies, pining for his “cousin slash child bride”. “Those are exaggerations or caricatures of seeds that are true about historical figures,” Smith explains. “That’s such a fun game to play, to pick up any box of history and ask, ‘What’s inside that might speak to us and the way that we’re living today?’ “It’s also acknowledging that we all live online,” she adds. “We all live in a Wikipedia-verse where everything is laid out in front of us [but] the facts can get decontextualised.” While these tongue-in-cheek renderings pull at threads in the historical record, it’s Dickinson’s mix of both comedy and tragedy that reveals the hardest truths about white men deemed geniuses, and life in an era that demeaned women, queer folk and people of colour – at a time when death and disease were rampant. “The parallels between the 1850s and today can almost become too much to handle,” Smith admits. “We were in our Zoom writers’ room for season three this summer, all trapped in a pandemic, writing about the Civil War when people outside were tearing down Confederate monuments. “But I consider it a privilege to tell a story that’s shaking up ideas about history. If America doesn’t start confronting its own history in a more honest and authentic way, we’re not going to be able to move into the future. “Culture right now is a giant conversation,” she says. “To be a good conversationalist, you need to talk, but you also need to listen.” She hopes the show adds to cultural discourse, stirs viewers to respond, and maybe even inspires people to make art themselves. “The other day, I went on TikTok and searched for Dickinson and saw a bunch of awesome memes that fans were making,” she says. The show’s romantic arc between Emily and her best friend turned sister-in-law Sue (Ella Hunt, Cold Feet) evokes particularly personal responses in the online #EmiSue fandom. “All of us have an artist inside that wants to be heard and wants to connect,” says Smith. “We use stories to understand ourselves. That’s why representation matters, that’s why inclusivity matters – so people who see themselves in those stories will be able to use them as guides. “Actually, there’s a really beautiful Dickinson quote about that,” she says. “‘The Poets light but lamps,’” meaning they bring a little sparkle to the darkness.
Parks and Recreation She’s been described as the voice of generation Z, has made fans of Billie Eilish and Michelle Obama, and now wunderkind Arlo Parks’ debut album has landed. by Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen
Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen is a VietnameseAustralian writer based in Melbourne.
istening to Arlo Parks’ music is like flicking through a scrapbook or a diary. The artist and poet puts her thoughts, feelings and inspirations front and centre on her soulful debut album, Collapsed in Sunbeams, inviting the listener into her intimate world. Named after a line from the Zadie Smith novel On Beauty, the album traverses vast emotional terrain while inhabiting several musical spheres – from indie folk to soul, R&B and jazz. The result is a sensory journey that opens both the ears and heart with a bewitching new sound. “I take inspiration from a million different places,” Parks says from her home in London, rattling off artists as diverse as Radiohead, Broadcast, A Tribe Called Quest and The Velvet Underground. “I wanted this album to have energy. I wanted it to go to a different place on every song, but have a thread throughout.” Born Anaïs Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho, the young artist made her musical debut with the single ‘Cola’ in 2018. Even without a full-length album under her belt, she’d made fans of Michelle Obama, Phoebe Bridgers and Billie Eilish, and performed ‘Black Dog’ for last year’s online-only Glastonbury Festival. Collapsed in Sunbeams follows EP Super Sad Generation (2019) – an empathetic, honest portrait of young adulthood that The Guardian called “the sound of emo 2.0”.
Parks’ lyrics are alive with colour and detail, painting evocative images that awaken the senses: “I had a dream we kissed and it was all amethyst/ The underpart of your eyes was violet/You hung a cigarette between your purple lips,” she sings on ‘Eugene.’ “I’ve always been somebody who is very visual, and thinking about things like colours creates a more vivid picture, almost like I’m painting a watercolour as I’m writing,” she says. “I think it allows people to see what I’m talking about more accurately.” From falling in love with a straight best friend (‘Eugene’) to comforting a friend who has depression (‘Black Dog’), to being a third-person observer to strangers’ relationships (‘Caroline’), Collapsed in Sunbeams covers a wide spectrum of the human condition. Parks writes about real people and situations, balancing specificity with universal resonance. “I want to be talking about the smell of someone’s jacket, the specific red of the flower, exactly how the smoke from the candle moved when it was blown out – those kinds of small things,” she says. “But then, especially in the choruses, I try to highlight a sentiment that a lot of people may relate to. I can be writing about something that I’ve lived over here in West London, and then somebody in Thailand might feel that it speaks to their experience completely. I like how those two parallels can exist together.” As a result of these wide-reaching emotions and experiences, Parks’ fanbase is extremely varied. “I wanted to create a space where there could be a 30-year-old couple, some cool theatre kids and a middle-aged doctor,” she says. “I’ve met all of these people at my shows, and I think it’s beautiful the breadth of the people who connect to my music.” Parks’ songs are highly referential, weaving in nods to her favourite books, films, TV shows and music. She’s just as likely to name drop My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way or The Cure frontman Robert Smith on a song as she is Sylvia Plath or Twin Peaks. Though Parks is wise beyond her 20 years, her fanatical appreciation for art recalls the enthusiasm of adolescence. “I was rereading The Bell Jar when I wrote ‘Eugene’, and I delved back into listening to [My Chemical Romance’s] The Black Parade the day that I was writing ‘Cola’,” she says. “When I mention poets or musicians in my songs, I’m basically explaining the fact that those things were soundtracking my life.” Mental health is a big topic in Parks’ music, with many songs delving into the experience of depression. Parks, who’s an ambassador for mental health charity CALM, hopes her songs can act as a balm.
A few people have said to me that my music has helped them reach a point of acceptance within themselves, and I think that’s really beautiful… “I think it’s important to open up that conversation, especially because it’s something that so many people struggle with,” she says. “Being vocal about these experiences normalises them and gets rid of that shame. I’ve always been somebody who wanted to use my platform to let people know that what they’re experiencing is valid, and asking for help is valid.” Parks is a proud Black and queer woman, but she doesn’t intentionally centre these identities in her writing. “Those are the lenses through which I exist – I love writing about my experience and my life as a human being, and those two elements are integral to who I am,” she says. “But to me, it’s less considered and more emotional – I’m just writing about who I am. A few people have said to me that my music has helped them reach a point of acceptance within themselves, and I think that’s really beautiful to be able to inspire people in that way.”
PHOTO BY JACK BRIDGELAND
COLLAPSED IN SUNBEAMS IS OUT NOW.
G S, W RI T IN AR LO PA RK H O SH E IS AB O U T W
C W R IT E RA R LY F IN D L AY : , E D ITO R , A CT IV IST
Writes of Passage
Appearance activist Carly Findlay brings together a rich collection of funny, moving and vital stories from disabled writers. by Anna Spargo-Ryan @annaspargoryan
Anna Spargo-Ryan is a Melbourne author and editor. Her forthcoming memoir, A Kind of Magic, reflects on life with serious mental illness.
think people are surprised at the power they have when they tell their own story.” Appearance activist Carly Findlay is reflecting on her new book, Growing Up Disabled in Australia – a collection of essays, poems and graphic works from disabled storytellers that she has edited. It’s the fifth book in Black Inc’s series of “own voices” anthologies. Findlay has spent much of her life telling stories. Since the early 2000s she’s shared her own writing through blogs and social media, meeting others with similar hopes, fears and values. Promoting that sense of community and social connection is at the heart of this collection. She hasn’t always written about disability or found it easy to find disabled people who did. “I understood disability through storytelling as a child,” Findlay says, “but it was always through other people’s versions and a nondisabled lens”. Her view of disability was blighted by “inspiration porn” – the objectification of disabled people for the benefit of nondisabled people. “I only saw that.” Now, Findlay describes herself as a proud disabled woman. She’s written widely, including a 2019 memoir, Say Hello. Through her appearances on outlets including CNN, the ABC and myriad writers’ festivals, she has championed disability pride and promoted own voices narratives.
autistic representation, while Fiona Murphy gloriously, achingly comes of age in enormous black glasses. Some of these stories are funny. Many are moving. All are vital. As Findlay writes in her introduction, not everyone has disability pride. Almost every writer has been let down by policies and systems designed to exclude them. This is the social model of disability, which says people are disabled by attitudes, social barriers and a failure to meet their needs, not by their medical conditions. El Gibbs’ essay, ‘Chronic Illness and the Social Model of Disability’, brings this idea into focus. After becoming disabled at 19, she was put through the wringer with tests and treatments that only made her life worse. Finally, she pleaded with nurses to let her go home to do something her doctors had failed to understand – live life well as a sick person. “There are so many common elements to the experiences in such a diverse amount of people,” Gibbs says. “I think every doctor in Australia should read this book and weep that so many of our experiences with their profession were deeply traumatic.” Like many other contributors, she too had to fight the medical system to take control of her life. Gibbs says the book challenges many existing ideas
of disability. “Society privileges the stories of service providers, parents, carers, family members,” she says. “I’d like nondisabled people to read this book and really think hard about how they understand what disability means and listen to what we’re saying about disability being more than our individual impairments. We’re part of a social movement, a political fight.” Findlay agrees. “It was a turning point to meet other disabled people in my twenties,” she says. “I realised that we experienced the same barriers. The blame no longer lay with me.” These disability narratives will help readers to conceive of the writers’ whole lives. Not to erase the disability – “I don’t see your disability” is not the compliment you think it is – but to appreciate how those lives are actually lived. The obstacles, the bureaucracy, the quiet joy and bombastic pride. One hopes it will encourage readers to act for change, to create a more equitable, accessible world. “We don’t all think the same, look the same, have the same experiences,” Findlay says. “But there is great joy in discovering self-love and disability pride. I wanted the contributors to realise their worth.” GROWING UP DISABLED IN AUSTRALIA IS OUT 3 FEBRUARY.
29 JAN 2021
Growing Up Disabled is a deliberate move away from disability-as-inspiration, rejecting sentimentality, pity and objectification. These are real stories of life as a disabled person, running the gamut of hope, pain, betrayal, misunderstanding, pride, despair and optimism. Each piece gives a different perspective on what it means to be a disabled person in Australia, managing a fraught medical model and social barriers often compounded by race, gender and sexuality. “We often hear from white disabled people,” Findlay says. “That’s what we see in the media. While their stories are relevant and valid, we need to make sure that we get an intersectional approach in the way we see disability. It was a real focus of mine to make sure that there wasn’t a white homogenised view.” There’s a diverse group of contributors here, with representations of physical and cognitive disability, mental illness and neurodiversity. Findlay has acted as scribe to non-writers, to ensure their perspectives are included, and published established and emerging writers and artists from across the country. The collection really shines in pieces like ‘Free As a Bird’ as told to Findlay by Jane Rosengrave, and Gayle Kennedy’s ‘Red Dust, Jet Streams and Chanel Number 5’. Tom Middleditch writes hilariously about his work in
PHOTO BY CAMILLE CONDON
We don’t all think the same, look the same, have the same experiences…but there is great joy in discovering self-love and disability pride.
Annabel Brady-Brown Film Editor @annnabelbb
ong Kar-wai has been a darling of arthouse cinema since he splashed onto the scene in 1988 with As Tears Go By. Thick with cigarette smoke and a heavenly pop jukebox, that moody, sensuous debut is one of 11 films by the Hong Kong director screening in Sydney (16-31 January) and Melbourne (leading off ACMI’s grand reopening, 11‑27 February), with other cities to follow. Once called “the Jimi Hendrix of cinema”, Wong makes movies that are marked by bold stylistic flourishes and populated by rebellious, starry-eyed romantics, from Faye Wong’s proto manic pixie dream girl breaking into her crush’s house to redecorate in Chungking Express (1994), to Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung’s soulful dance in a Buenos Aires apartment in Happy Together (1997). But it’s the sumptuous, 1960s-set trilogy of love and longing – Days of Being Wild (1990), In the Mood for Love (2000) and 2046 (2004) – that has brought forth the greatest outpouring of adoration. Combining elements of melodrama and noir with a devastating eye for detail, Wong slows down scenes and cranks up emotions. He creates tales of missed connections and festering obsessions that play out like ghost stories. Meanwhile, Hong Kong is richly realised, from the street hawkers, to the glittering neon, to anxieties over what the the 1997 handover to China would bring, and the end of the “one country, two systems” rule in 2047. ABB
XXX IN THE MOOD FOR... WONG KAR-WAI
Twenty years after his acclaimed debut Yolngu Boy, director Stephen Johnson returns to Arnhem Land with High Ground. The intense revisionist drama begins in 1919 when soldiers, led by Travis (Simon Baker), discover a pair of escaped farmhands hiding with an Aboriginal family. After a shot is accidentally fired, they kill everyone except for a young boy named Gutjuk (Jacob Junior Nayinggul) and his uncle Baywara (Sean Mununggurr), who is presumed dead. Twelve years later, Baywara – now a powerful warrior – is rattling the settlers with a vengeful guerrilla campaign, which invokes Australia’s resistance wars. Chris Anastassiades’ script tempers the brutal clash of cultures with a refreshingly wide range of character perspectives. Sweeping aerial shots of Kakadu fused with traditional song emphasise connection to country. Heightened by strong performances and impressive tonal control, High Ground explores the lengths each side is prepared to go to, portraying Australia’s colonial past as an endless cycle of violence. FIONA VILLELLA OCCUPATION: RAINFALL
Great sci-fi proposes wondrous and stimulating “what ifs”: what if man and fly became one? What if our world were merely an illusion? Luke Sparke’s Australian space opera Occupation: Rainfall asks: what if bad movies got sequels? 2018 predecessor Occupation, a visually and emotionally dour riff on foreign invasion staples, checked every trope in the book. Rainfall picks up a few years into the battle for Earth, where a band of human survivors continue the fight in a war-torn Sydney. This time, the characters have matured into reliable archetypes – Star Wars stalwart Temuera Morrison makes an admirable appearance among a wonderfully diverse cast – and Sparke’s vision has been amplified by a bigger budget. Painted in vibrant digital strokes, it’s at its best when replicating neon-tinged 80s arcade games in vehicular-action set pieces: big jets, big guns, big lasers. While it’s heartening to see an Australian film this ambitious, Rainfall’s verbose narrative leaves its many interpersonal (and intergalactic) conflicts unsatisfying. SAMUEL HARRIS
Which side of history do you want to be on? This is the question Sally Ingleton’s documentary leaves with viewers after immersing us in the company of environmental activists, school strikers and everyday Australians of all ages who’ve said enough is enough and put their bodies on the line. Over the space of a year, Wild Things moves between key battlegrounds, from the monstrous proposed Adani mine in Queensland, to the ongoing campaign to protect the glorious Tarkine rainforest in Tasmania from logging, showing how those on the frontline are using non-violent action, day in, day out. Perhaps most inspiring are the youngsters from Castlemaine who took up Greta Thunberg’s call and spread the school protests nationwide here. Personalities like these fill Ingleton’s big-hearted film, shifting perceptions of activists as extremists to that of simply brave, ordinary folk who understand that what is lawful isn’t always what is ethical, and who can no longer sit back and watch our planet be destroyed. ANNABEL BRADY-BROWN
Small Screen Reviews
Aimee Knight Small Screens Editor @siraimeeknight
CALL OF THE SEA | PC + XBOX
DESIGNING A LEGACY
| 2 FEBRUARY ON ABC TV + iVIEW
| SBS ON DEMAND
Designing a Legacy is, ostensibly, about the role architecture has played in forging Australia’s identity. However, the only buildings featured are yuppie homesteads and the Sydney Opera House. Comedian Tim Ross (aka Rosso) opens doors for the bougie with a budget to flex and moan about how clever they are – see architect John Andrews, in his bathroom made of glass, showing the orchids his testicles – without telling audiences why we should care. It’s jarring to hear Ross speak to the virtues of Indigenous spatial organisation – such as custodianship in lieu of ownership – in a documentary with an exclusively white cast. Many homes featured have heritage-listed status, which further complicates the idea of national patrimony. The thing is, architecture is interesting: it tells us about who we are and how we live. But instead of getting into the nitty-gritty schemata of spaces most Australians can access, Ross restricts his gaze to society’s upper echelons, which alienates his audience on a public network.
Sweden’s frigid snowscapes are an ideal backdrop for exploring bureaucracy’s most chilling whims, but this eco-thriller about mining, money and Mother Nature might also leave viewers out in the cold. Tensions are high at the site intended for the world’s largest nuclear waste repository – already over budget and behind schedule before opening – when a bizarre accident injures and kills several workers. What’s more, the explosion reveals a beguiling white wall made of an unknown substance. It will, at best, further delay the facility’s launch, or, at worst, have disastrous repercussions for life on Earth. White Wall is slow to get going, with a slew of characters introduced across the repository’s staff, their families, local townsfolk and a group of vigilante citizens who oppose the site’s presence (though no-one really stands out as especially watchable). With trace elements of mystery and sci-fi, it brushes against down-to-earth themes like workers’ rights and corporate corruption, but it doesn’t truly deliver on the promise of its premise. AIMEE KNIGHT
o the words “Not the mama!” stir any televisual memories buried deep in the recesses of your lizard brain? The US series Dinosaurs (1991-94) is probably best remembered for its cache of silly catchphrases – if it’s remembered at all – which is a real shame. Revisiting the puppet-fronted sitcom over summer, I was delighted to see how well the show stands up today. In fact, a good deal of its commentary on gender, politics, the economy and climate change was an ice age ahead of its time (if only in the sense that meaningful progress in these spheres happens at a glacial pace). The place is Pangaea, about 60 million years ago, where anthropomorphic dinosaurs have recently evolved to live perfectly suburban lives. But for the Sinclair family (named after the oil corporation), some mammoth hurdles must be overcome en route to nuclear domesticity. As the bumbling patriarch Earl is increasingly sidelined by his wife and children, he tries and fails to retain his hyper-macho relevance in a modern world. Think The Flintstones meets The Simpsons, with the biting wit, incisive parody and practical effects you’d expect from a Jim Henson Company production. Unsurprisingly, the puppets got Dinosaurs branded a kids program back in the day, and the inexact label was even mocked by characters on the very meta show itself. Be advised: the subversive satire and coal-black humour would better satisfy adults who know that history repeats. Watch it, as Baby Sinclair says, “again!” on Disney+. AK
29 JAN 2021
DOMESTIC, SUBURBAN DINOSAURS – AGAIN!
With beautiful presentation and an eye for creative puzzle design, this indie adventure game sweeps players through an HP Lovecraft-tinged story of love, obsession and self‑discovery. Call of the Sea sets us in the shoes of Norah Everhart as she retraces the steps of her missing husband Harry, delving deeper into the mysteries of an unmapped Southern Pacific island, discovering fantastical truths about the place – and herself – in the process. From the minute and mechanical to the massive and the mystical, Call of the Sea’s puzzles are the true stars of the show (although an argument could be made for its beautiful environments). Puzzles manage to be logical regardless of their esoteric and ancient settings, so nothing here is absolutely brain-destroying, but a pad of paper wouldn’t go astray to jot down a note or two. Special mention goes to the performances of voice-over heavyweights Cissy Jones (Firewatch) and Yuri Lowenthal (SpiderMan), who imbue Call of the Sea’s sometimes love-sick dialogue with genuine charm and longing.
Isabella Trimboli Music Editor @itrimboli
ew Year’s Eve arrived with the tragic announcement that rapper and producer MF DOOM – real name Daniel Dumile – had passed away two months prior on 31 October 2020 (with no cause of death revealed). An uncompromising artist with a rare mystique (never seen without his gladiator‑inspired metallic mask), the 49-year‑old was an underground rap icon. I was too young to get swept up in the Madvillainy hype (his exceptional 2004 collaborative album with Madlib, released under the moniker Madvillain), but I came across it a couple of years later online. This was before algorithms dictated music discovery, where the internet could still surprise you with odd and esoteric music encounters via blog downloads and niche YouTube accounts. A bricolage of obscure cultural references and a grand, comic-book-inspired mythology, MF DOOM’s work unsurprisingly thrived on these platforms. His songs were loaded with samples that ranged from children’s TV shows to Malcolm X speeches. His rhymes could leave you winded with their density and weirdness. A sample: “Catch a throatful from the fire vocal/ Ash and molten glass like Eyjafjallajökull”. His arrangements were often complex, confusing and against convention, but that was their genius – when you listen to his songs, you’re never certain of where you’ll end up. No-one summed it up better than his collaborator Flying Lotus, who posted the cover of Madvillainy on Twitter, writing “All u ever needed in hip hop was this record. Sorted. Done. Give it to the fucking aliens”. IT
MF G O N E TD O O M , OO SO
P.M. JARRYD JAMES
In 2015, Jarryd James was everywhere – and the gentle R&B brooding of smash ‘Do You Remember’ can still be heard in cafes across the country. For the Brisbane singer’s second album, P.M., it’s clear he didn’t want to stray too far from the formula. The elements are all there within P.M., a perfectly on-trend collection of glitchy R&B electronica, paired with James’ superb, tender vocals. It’s all very pretty, if not simply too generic, as P.M. smooths down the more experimental, quirk-driven production hinted at on each track. Instead, usually exciting producers like M-Phazes and Clams Casino act on autopilot, and James settles for vague lyrics and played-out hooks. Occasionally, some grit arrives to wake things up, such as the live, erratic drums on ‘Problems’, or flirtation with dubstep on ‘Don’t Forget’, helped along by Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt. But for the most part, this is background music by design. Lead single ‘Miracles’ is a meta-ballad about striving to write the perfect song. P.M. suggests James overthought it, instead of feeling it. JARED RICHARDS
ON ALL FOURS GOAT GIRL
Dannika Horvat doesn’t mince words. On the debut album from the Melbourne guitar-pop outfit she heads, the expressions of empathy, exhaustion and quiet rage are depicted with searing clarity. The LP trades in the loose, melodic songwriting honed into an art by fellow Melbourne bands like Good Morning, whose members also play in Dannika. Their instruments clatter under Horvat’s matter-of-fact lyrics and understated vocals. “You’re a grown-arse fucking man/Maybe you should just learn how to take care of yourself” she asserts on ‘Giving It Up’, a dark and melancholic highlight. The album resists making a single artistic statement, instead offering a rich and personal time capsule, as though we’re getting a glimpse into a wide‑ranging group chat between friends that’s been running since 2011. Arriving four years after For Peaches, their lo-fi debut EP, Gems sees the group hit their stride, with lucid indie pop songs that are strengthened by Dannika’s unwavering sincerity.
Goat Girl debuted two years ago with a 19-song album that mixed self-aware alt-rock with shorter, less-developed numbers. By contrast, On All Fours commits to sustained jams that stack animated layers of synth and vocal harmonies atop sloshing guitars and intricate rhythms. If this sometimes sounds like two different songs playing at once, there’s a cumulative appeal to these offbeat arrangements. ‘Sad Cowboy’ detours into dance territory, while ‘The Crack’ stages a tug-of-war between gnashing post-punk propulsion and dreamy, string-swept languor. The result falls somewhere between Stereolab and The Raincoats, with ‘Jazz (In the Supermarket)’ referencing the latter not only in name, but also in its use of jumbled trumpet, viola and a droning outro. ‘Once Again’ pushes those instrumental impulses even further, with jazzy drumming. Thankfully Goat Girl come with engaging lyrics (via singers/guitarists Lottie Pendlebury and Ellie Rose Davies) and songs catchy enough to survive their twists. DOUG WALLEN
Thuy On Books Editor @thuy_on
ost people would have made (and broken) some sort of New Year’s resolution by now. I tend to avoid them because let’s face it, most of them smack of a virtuosity that’s hard to sustain (oh, sure, I’m really going to exercise for an hour every day and not eat too many cupcakes). In 2021 however, I’m trying to stick to some bookish resolutions. First up, I’m doing something that has eluded me for years: I’m making a list of all the titles I’ve read for work and pleasure in 2021, and breaking them down into categories of fiction, non‑fiction, YA and children’s books. I know I read a lot but I’ve never really had the figures to quantify roughly how many books per annum. It’s still not too late to make some book resolutions of your own this year. Aside from trying to make time to squeeze in some more reading, perhaps consider gifting or borrowing more books. If you particularly enjoyed a couple, why don’t you make a point of telling friends about them? Word-of-mouth reviews are just as valuable as professional assessments. I know lots of people are still a bit nervous about meeting IRL, so maybe consider organising a book club on Zoom with some of your friends. 2020 was a hard year for authors; you can do your bit to help them have a brighter 2021. TO
Don’t let appearances fool you. He may look like a heavy-metal rocker from central casting with his long hair and tatts (he is actually that) but this guy can also really cook. Nat’s been making random comedic videos for nearly a decade now, but it was only during COVID-led lockdowns that his culinary stints went viral as he took a well-aimed swipe at store-bought sauces and pre-packed foods, substituting natural ingredients instead. This book features some of his recipes but it’s more a general self-help guide, written in Nat’s inimitable style. And that means it contains “heaps of swearing & explicit stuff”. Uncook Yourself, which also comes with comic illustrations of Nat in the kitchen, takes the reader into a “ratbag’s rules for life”, including his coping strategies for anxiety and depression (one of which is “find someone you can have a good gasbag with”). It’s an irreverent, fun and helpful book. THUY ON THE SPIRAL IAIN RYAN
Working on a book about Choose Your Adventure-style fiction, Brisbane academic Erma suffers unusual trauma while under investigation for sleeping with some of her students. Fixated on what might have turned her own research assistant against her, Erma plunges into ever darker revelations, from possible underworld connections to a long string of missing women. The ensuing chaos allows author Iain Ryan to again map out the savage margins of uni life – as in his earlier book, The Student – while expanding on that book’s hard-boiled detective tropes with genre-bending self-awareness. Similar in spirit to John Darnielle’s Wolf in White Van, which also found ripe parallels in violent personal trauma and the interior worlds of analogue roleplaying games, The Spiral even adopts those serpentine, pick-a-path mechanics at one point, as the crime and fantasy elements start to bleed together. Writing in short, clipped bursts, Ryan’s meta take on the thriller won’t appeal to everyone, but this is an engrossing read that works on multiple levels. DOUG WALLEN
OUR SHADOWS GAIL JONES
Winner of the 2019 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for fiction for The Death of Noah Glass, Gail Jones has again shown herself as a master of style and precision with her ninth novel, Our Shadows. In this lyrical and complex, yet accessible and fast-paced novel, once-close sisters Frances and Nell, the third generation of a Kalgoorlie gold-mining family, start to unravel their family’s history to uncover the shadows of their past, which ultimately leads to their reconciliation. Jones’ whip smart and considered observations on war, colonisation and masculinity serve as a powerful backdrop and further entanglement to the sisters’ exploration, as the polished and poetic prose guides the reader effortlessly back and forth between generations. Jones is powerfully and beautifully rhythmic on the page, her imagery vivid. She has crafted something at once personal and universal, leaving the reader with an overriding sense of both the banality of life and its great importance. MANDY BEAUMONT
29 JAN 2021
UN-COOK YOURSELF: A RATBAG’S RULES FOR LIFE NAT’S WHAT I RECKON
IT S IN G IS R E A D R E WA R D OWN
Public Service Announcement
by Lorin Clarke @lorinimus
One: Sometimes the universe will shift you out of yourself, just slightly, by perching a delightful tiny bird on a tree branch near you, or having a bloke walk past your house pushing a baby’s pram with a sixpack in it, or playing a piece of music in a cafe that you just have to listen to again. Seize these opportunities. Robots don’t provide them. Two: People are the worst. This is true. But the following is also true: people are the best. Humans are social, even the least social versions of a human. There are very social humans – the ones who enjoy even the slightest human interaction and feel emotionally soothed after a chat with the postie. There are less‑social humans, those who wait until the postie is gone before going out to get the mail, but who leave a chat with a friend feeling buoyed and strengthened and all the richer for it. There are persons bordering on antisocial – and I count myself among them often enough – who instead of actually talking to people, like to study them in different ways, such as watching films, reading books, sitting on the porch and watching the ones who live up the road playing kick-to-kick in the street. Wherever you sit on the spectrum of being social, chances are contact with another human will shift you sometimes, like a reminder going off on your
wristwatch, saying “Oi, the entire world isn’t what’s happening in your brain. There are other bits – look!” Three: I was out of the city recently and I heard the sound of kookaburras interrupting the day at irregular intervals. I don’t know why humans haven’t bred kookaburras and scattered them throughout the country. The sound of a riot of kookaburras (I looked up the collective noun and was not disappointed) is a gorgeous thing entirely. It’s cheeky and funny and bold and completely outrageous and I swear it slows the pulse down. You can’t, when you hear that sound, not pause what you’re doing and smile. Four: There are – and you won’t know this if you live in the city – stars in the night sky. There’s something about the vastness of them, and how far away they are, that places you to scale, like if you were standing next to a ruler you’d be half a millimetre high, and something about being half a millimetre high does kind of mean the planning report being overdue isn’t quite the intergalactic disaster it might feel like it is. Five: Having a reminder on your wristwatch that tells you to breathe is all well and good, especially since it’s probably good to interrupt you when you least expect it. You know what else does this though? Your own mind. Sometimes you’ll be sitting there, focusing on something, and the daydreaming will kick in. Your mind, making its own movies, by you, for you. This can be frustrating. There are many books on how to avoid it. They use the word procrastination a lot. Thing is though, a bit of healthy daydreaming may just be your subconscious telling your mind to slow down. Six: If you’re finding yourself distracted for too long, you can always enact the other great chill-out reminder: literally, walk away. There’s nothing like a good walk. Public Service Announcement: listen to life’s little reminders. Be distracted from the central narrative occasionally. There are stars and kookaburras and movies to watch. It’s worth it, sometimes, I promise.
Lorin Clarke is a Melbourne-based writer. The second season of her radio series, The Fitzroy Diaries, is on ABC Radio National and the ABC Listen app now.
was given a very generous present recently: a smart watch. If you don’t know what a smart watch is, let me tell you: it’s the stuff of science fiction. It tracks your exercise, gets your text messages and emails, tells you the news, and won’t let you sit down for too long. The person who gave me the watch installed a bunch of apps on it that do things like remind you to drink water, remind you to go to bed on time, and remind you to relax. Literally, there is an app that reminds you to breathe. Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying my new present a great deal. It also does another amazing thing, by the way: it tells me the time. All of this does have me thinking, though – society is a bit weird these days, isn’t it? When you have to be reminded by a robot to relax, perhaps you’re doing it wrong? Public Service Announcement: the universe provides its own reminders. Listen to them.
29 JAN 2021
Time for Distraction
Tastes Like Home edited by Anastasia Safioleas
FOOD PHOTO BY ALANA DIMOU
Tastes Like Home ArChan Chan
Serves 8 2 corn cobs, washed 1kg pork bones 2 carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces 400g daikon, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces 4 dried red dates, rinsed Fine sea salt
Method Cut each corn cob into four or five pieces. You can keep the husk on if you wish – it will certainly contribute to the flavour. Give the pork bones a good wash to remove any excess blood. Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan, add 3 litres of water and bring to the boil over high heat, skimming off any impurities on the surface. Boil for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium, cover with a lid and simmer for 2 hours. Remove from the heat and leave, covered, for another 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and ladle into bowls. You can eat the soup with the pork and vegetables left in, or just the broth by itself.
aving lived overseas for almost 13 years now, I do miss my home in Hong Kong. There are dishes I eat every time I go back – same eatery, and same dish – but if you ask me which dish says home to me, it’s the humble, simple, yet very comforting Cantonese soup. Cantonese soups usually have clear broth and are very light, yet flavourful. They are also made to improve one’s health. That’s why a lot of medicinal ingredients go into different soups for different purposes. Most mums and grandmas have a vast wealth of knowledge about the health benefits of each soup and each ingredient, both from cooking daily and from speaking to food vendors. My grandma would make different soups for tired eyes from studying, feeling sick due to cold weather in winter or dehydration in summer, and so on. This recipe is good for when you’re feeling “heaty” from eating too much fried or spicy food. The dried red dates are very delicious and often used in Cantonese soups, as they are high in fibre and iron, contain antioxidants, and also promote digestion. Whenever we have family gatherings, soup is a must have. I remember when I made this soup the first time for my staff at my Singapore restaurant LeVeL 33, they loved how comforting it was. When I tasted it, I couldn’t help but comment, “It tastes like home.” This recipe is quite achievable. For an honest soup, the most important ingredient is love. As long as you make it with love, you can achieve anything. Meat contributes the flavour of the soup – you can use chicken instead of pork. Then, add carrots, corn and dates which will contribute to the sweetness. I remember asking my grandma once if she added sugar to the soup because it was so sweet – silly me! If you can’t find dried red dates, add a small amount of sweet apricot kernel, or dried yam, dried figs or dried coconut depending on your preference. To be honest, there are no rules – each ingredient contributes a bit of flavour and depth to the soup without overpowering it. Just give any dry ingredients a rinse before you put them in. ARCHAN CHAN’S HONG KONG LOCAL IS OUT NOW.
29 JAN 2021
Carrot, Daikon, Corn and Pork Soup
ANSWERS PAGE 45
By Lingo! by Lauren Gawne lingthusiasm.com CUSHY
S R A E
Each column, row and 3 x 3 box must contain all numbers 1 to 9.
CLUES 5 letters Alternative name for saltpetre Michaelmas daisy Noise of a pig Step Took exams again 6 letters 19th century French painter Au__, with cheese Literary ridicule Meat substitute Wrench 7 letters Corroding Keeps More horrid Odd, weird Red gemstones 8 letters Most annoyed Structures for motorway signs Thankless people Xenon, for example (2 words)
2 3 5
1 9 7 9
4 1 7
5 2 2 4 8
Puzzle by websudoku.com
Solutions CROSSWORD PAGE 45 ACROSS 1 Pay dispute 6 Opus 9 Mired 10 Nips 11 Semi
13 Cancellation 16 Mandating 18 Rotor 19 Amigo 20 Detesting 21 Retrenchment 25 Earn 26 Et al 27 Oxbow 28 Tide 29 Grenadiers
DOWN 1 Pump 2 Yard 3 Indiana Jones 4 Panic 5 Top-flight 7 Paediatric 8 Seignorage 12 Harrison Ford 14 Impairment 15 Unfiltered 17 Indicator 22 Melon 23 Able 24 Owls
20 QUESTIONS PAGE 9 1 K 2 South Africa 3 Orange, green and violet 4 Cheetah 5 Karen 6 True 7 Rosemary Follett, Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory 8 Seven 9 Karl Marx 10 Vanuatu 11 The Desert Fox 12 Thelma Ritter (six) 13 The Gold Coast 14 Eboracum 15 Connie Booth 16 India 17 The Matildas 18 Parwill 19 46 20 Grogu
29 JAN 2021
Using all nine letters provided, can you answer these clues? Every answer must include the central letter. Plus, which word uses all nine letters?
Denoting either the easy life, or someone who is soft or ineffective, the word cushy is a feature of Anglo-Indian slang that has made its way into the general English vocabulary. It’s a slight twist on the Hindi word khush, meaning happy or pleasant. Although cushy shares many features with cushion, the words are historically unrelated. Cushion comes via French, where it originally referred specifically to a seat cushion. Although they do not share an origin, it’s possible that cushy has had a successful career in English because it’s so similar to cushion, like a friend who you have so much in common with they just become part of the family.
by Steve Knight
THE ANSWERS FOR THE CRYPTIC AND QUICK CLUES ARE THE SAME. ANSWERS PAGE 43.
1 Disagreement between workers and
employers concerning salary (3,7)
1 Siphon (4) 2 Imperial measure (4) 3 Adventure movie hero (7,5) 4 Anxiety (5) 5 Highest rank or level (3-6) 7 Relating to branch of medicine
Cryptic Clues DOWN
1 Wage war within Palestine’s borders as “tidy up”
1 Tap shoe (4) 2 36-inch wagon wheels (4) 3 For part of 12dn Jan travelled north through
feature… (5) 28 …bound to be reported as current (4) 29 Guards exotic garden that’s oddly rosy (10)
from issuing currency (10)
12 American actor who played 3dn (8,4) 14 State of being weakened (10) 15 Raw (10) 17 Gauge (9) 22 Fruit (5) 23 Adept (4) 24 Nocturnal birds (4)
6 Soapsuds occasionally work (4) 9 Stuck on M1 near Auburn? (5) 10 Shots with backspin (4) 11 Half assembled beacon emits signal in seconds (4) 13 Repeal ancient local orders (12) 16 Commanding chap not yet engaged? (9) 18 Foils from both directions (5) 19 PAL cut back for dog I’m adopting (5) 20 Teed off former policeman feeling hatred (9) 21 Ditch me during cost cuts! (12) 25 Make ashes container sound… (4) 26 …and others will come back from the dead (2,2.) 27 Ring Times with hunch for meandering river
dealing with children (10)
8 Profit made by a government
ravaged Indonesia (7,5)
4 50% of demand lost from COVID anxiety (5) 5 Cream and lemon close, according to Spooner
7 Grandad uncovers media trick to care for kids
8 Green sago I whipped to make mint cream (10) 12 Rocky Horror fan is daughter to famous actor
14 I’m two-over guys, true to handicap (10) 15 Until freed, criminal hadn’t been processed (10) 17 Popular authoritarian ruler takes time out for
good measure (9)
22 Fruit bats on elm… (5) 23 …strip cables to get fit (4) 24 Nocturnal birds or headless chooks? (4)
SUDOKU PAGE 43
3 4 9 7 6 8 5 2 1
8 1 5 3 2 4 6 7 9
6 7 2 5 9 1 8 4 3
5 6 7 2 8 9 1 3 4
9 2 4 6 1 3 7 8 5
1 3 8 4 5 7 9 6 2
2 8 3 9 7 5 4 1 6
7 5 6 1 4 2 3 9 8
4 9 1 8 3 6 2 5 7
Puzzle by websudoku.com
WORD BUILDER PAGE 43 5 Nitre Aster Grunt Stair Resat 6 Seurat Gratin Satire Seitan Strain 7 Rusting Retains Nastier Strange Garnets 8 Angriest Gantries Ingrates Inert gas 9 Signature
29 JAN 2021
6 Artistic work (4) 9 Stuck (5) 10 Bites (4) 11 Prefix denoting half (4) 13 Annulment (12) 16 Prescribing (9) 18 Spinning set of blades (5) 19 Friend (5) 20 Loathing (9) 21 Staff cuts (12) 25 Gain income (4) 26 Abbreviation for “and others” (2,2.) 27 Curved river feature (5) 28 Periodic variation in water level (4) 29 British soldiers (10)
Johnny Carson, Ed McMahon
words by Michael Epis photo by Getty
efore the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020, there was the Great Toilet Paper Run of 1973 – which started with a joke, by late-night talk‑show host Johnny Carson. Late that year the US was in the midst of the first oil crisis, when an embargo on exports by OPEC countries to punish the US for supporting Israel in the Arab‑Israeli War meant the nation ran short of petrol. When the petrol was rationed, its price quadrupled. US politician Harold Froehlich warned against a looming toilet paper shortage, which he said could “touch every American”. On 19 December, Carson, looking as if he got dressed in the dark (maroon blazer, heavily patterned brown-and-white tie, check‑patterned brown-and-white pants), joked about this latest shortage, which brought a laugh. “You can laugh now,” Carson said. But soon enough, no-one was laughing. Replicating the same logic as every other run – I better buy some before everyone else does – soon there was an actual toilet paper shortage. Rationing was introduced. Toilet paper manufacturers explained there was no problem with supply – just a sudden explosion in demand.
News anchor Walter Cronkite reassured the nation via a ‘CBS Evening News Special Report’ that supply was plentiful (when not telling them about the oil crisis or the Vietnam War or Watergate) but reported there would be an “allocation system for the national distribution” of toilet paper. On 16 January, a somewhat contrite Carson (check‑patterned white-and-fawn blazer; grey, white and brown diagonally striped tie; blue shirt!) referenced the topic, counselled against panic-buying and said “I don’t want to be remembered as the man who caused a false toilet paper scare”. But he is – and he referenced the episode on its anniversary 12 years later (above). This wasn’t his only problem with toilets. A toilet maker wanted to use the phrase “Here’s Johnny” – the phrase with which sidekick Ed McMahon introduced Carson every night – to advertise their product. Carson took them to court, and, over a series of cases, won, under the so-called right of publicity, which protects celebrities from advertisers appropriating their image and likeness. When Carson died in 2005, the toilet maker tried again, unsuccessfully – the court deciding that a person’s right to publicity survives them beyond the grave.