Togatus. October 2010 FREE!
Washington . Fear and Loathing, Hallelujah . Seasonal Depression
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Alexandra Gibson firstname.lastname@example.org
Jessica Lyndon, Anita Whittle
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Jenny Davson-Galle, Tom Friend, Lesley Halm, Jessica Hancock, Ella Kearney, Simon Lee, Jessica Lyndon, Hannah McConnell, Bourne Milano, Aaron Smith, Hannah Stevens, Alex Stuart, Michael Voss, James Walker, Anita Whittle, Stephanie Zito Printed on Impress Gloss (FSC accredited, ECF [Chlorine Free] and PH Neutral) by GEON. Togatus PO Box 5055 Sandy Bay, Tas 7006 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Togatus is published quarterly. 1
Photo by Alison Gunn
From The Editor H
ello Togatus readers! Welcome to the last issue of Tog for 2010! It is a scary thought that we have well and truly entered a brand new decade.
It seems like only yesterday I was wearing my Spice Girl inspired platforms and slap-on wrist watch while I sat and watched my younger cousin William do somersaults around my Grandma’s backyard to Jebidiah’s ‘Animal’ in celebration of the year 2000. One of my crazier New Years. For those of you who still enjoy pumping your fist in the air to Silverchair’s ‘Year 2000’ — it’s time to let go. Man we had some good times. Moving on through this decade, what should we expect? More of Kyle Sandilands spot-on calls on X Factor; the red silhouette of Abbott’s genitals haunting my dreams and making me scared to close my eyes longer than the time it takes to blink the residual image away; and another gaol stint for Paris Hilton. There have been some changes though. Our first female Prime Minister, the bad taste in my mouth when I reflect on the latest Sex and the City movie, and perhaps some progress in the archaic legislation that prevents equal marriage rights. The 14th of August this year saw 15,000 people across Australia stand up and rally in a National Day of Action for marriage equality. According to the Australian market research company Galaxy, 60% of Australians support same sex marriage: a statistic which confirming that 2
TOGATUS WINS PICA
Congratulations to you all for surviving yet another winter in Tasmania! Ella Kearney, Michael Voss and Alex Stuart give us an insight into how they made it through the cold in their joint article Seasonal Depression. Get excited because we’ve just entered summer festival season! Tom Friend was lucky enough to get a ticket to Splendour in the Grass this year and he happily shares the Hot Chip highs and Verve tantrums. Important announcement: A massive congratulations to the Tog design crew who have just received a Silver 2010 Printing Industries Craftmanship Awards (PICA) in the overall magazine category! We are so lucky to have such a ridiculously talented design team working for us. Good work guys!
Australian politicians are well out of touch with what the people of Australia want and believe in. In this Tog, one of our writers has shared with us their experience of growing up gay in Tasmania. It stands as a good reminder that before you decide to stand by an opinion, first walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Jessica Hancock writes about her experience of living below the line. She gives us an insight into what our local pollies are doing about world poverty, and talks to two Nepalese refugees who grew up in an environment that didn’t give them the luxury to decide whether to participate in poverty or not.
And on that note, we are sadly saying goodbye — for now — to our Design Editor, Pete Saunders. He is leaving us to fulfil a contract in America: working in the ski industry, as a designer and ski instructor. Pete is one of those disgustingly talented people that help to distinguish the good from the exceptional. While the rest of us are begging for a chance to participate in our prospective fields, Pete is constantly being asked to contribute, teach, work, offer advice and has been interviewed and featured on the Australian Graphic Design Association website. Not only that, but he is the most professional and accommodating person I have ever had the privilege of working with. He is always open to suggestions and ideas, and not only is his work impeccable; he goes way over and above what is expected of him. He will leave a massive hole in the Togatus design team; the Fine Arts campus; and in the Tasmanian league of designers. Good luck Pete!
Ever wondered what it must be like to cut open a dead body? Hopefully the idea brings unpleasant thoughts rather than arousal. Either way, Hannah Stevens describes how she has dealt with death throughout her degree in Medicine. Aaron Smith takes us on a journey through Latin America — for the majority of the time on some kind of hallucinogen or another — in search of the meaning of life. If you’ve ever dutched out your mum and dad’s car and thought you were awesome — you’ll want to read this. Heck, you’ll wanna read this anyway.
Alexandra Gibson: Despite appearances, can wiggle her ears. She wishes she possessed Bernard’s watch, but wouldn’t be nearly as ethical with it. 3
o Cn Photo by Jacky Ho
PROFILES / 8 Washington FEATURES / 12 Ginger Hate 14 I See Dead People 16 Fear and Loathing, Hellelujah 22 Islam Fashion 24 Sandpit Lovinâ€™ 26 TO LIVE BELOW THE LINE 30 Seasonal Depression 33 On Tuesday I Am Going To Divorce My Husband 35 Hobart Hombre
Q&A / 37 Clare Bowditch REVIEWS / 43 Movie Review 44 Game Review END NOTES / 45 ILL COMMUNICATION!
Design Editor Pete Saunders - .... .. -. -.- ... .... .- - .. ..-. -.-- --- ..- -... --- - .... . .-. . -.. - --- - .-. .- -. ... .-.. .- - . - .... .. ... -.-- --- ..- -. . . -.. .- .... --- -... -... -.--
Reviewers Simon Lee would choose the blue pill any day over fighting mechanical octopi in dank underground sewers with little hope of success.
[Saunders, p. 1, 30–33, 46–49]
Design Team Jacky Ho and Stéphane Miroux were meant for each other, however, recent rumours confirmed that it was all just a dream. [Ho, p. 4–5, 14–15, 22–23, 34–35, 38–39]
Stephanie Zito is on the home straight of her five year degree, only three more months and she will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Law. Lets cross our fingers and do a round of the rosary to be safe.
Sam Lyne recently tried to prove his badassery by playing Plants vs. Zombies whilst listening to Rage Against the Machine. If it worked, please mail him the appropriate street cred. [Lyne, p. 2–3, 12–13, 16–21]
Eloise Warren knows some German that may come in handy for future travelling, such as, “das Meer ist voller Haie”, which translates directly to, “the ocean is full of sharks”. [Eloise, p. 6–11, 24–25, 36–37]
Emma Ismawi is “direct from the secret garden, next to my hovering castle, I break it down fresh like the crunch of an apple. With my satchel, my lasso, I jumped on my camel, set forth with my pallet and my colouring pastels.” — Bliss n Eso [Ismawi, p. 26–29, 40–45]
Featured Writers Jessica Lyndon adds already completed tasks to to-do-lists, so she can cross them off and enjoy a sense of self-satisfaction.
Alex Stuart was the first person to think double denim was cool, and unfortunately, the last.
Lesley Halm thinks she’s tough, like Tom Waits rolled in gristle, but she’s really a big whimp hiding behind a stack of books which other people wrote and which she wishes she’d written, and is trying, but might never get there…
Ella Kearney I would like the bassoonist next door to know that their rendition of Vivaldi’s concerto in G minor is lacking a little punch on the last bar. Desist or depart.
Bourne Milano is a former commerce student, who has settled into a top four accounting firm. Bourne’s bone structure should prevent him from a life in accounting, but his work with numbers is as beautiful as the Sistine Chapel.
Michael Voss is a strong scorpio. He invented gay chicken, has a full blown heroin addiction, and dreams of one day wrestling a fully grown grizzly bear only to become an accepted member of a Native American tribe.
Jenny Davson-Galle loves her backpack, camera and notebook. She writes about things that interest, fascinate and frustrate her. She hopes to educate herself while educating the world.
Hannah Stevens won a $500 voucher for Toyworld when she was 12. She bought a Discman and some hair mascara — both of which were quickly going out of fashion. This started a crazy love for things which were definitely made for previous decades, including Fleetwood Mac, perms and shoulder pads.
Anita Whittle is completing a Master of Journalism, making a documentary about butterflies and flowers as part of her denial of our global meltdown.
Photo by Trent Binning 7
WASHINGTON It took me three attempts, over about two weeks, to interview Triple J darling Megan Washington. On the first attempt she didn’t answer her phone, the second she had lost her voice, and by the third I was ready to give up and accept the fact that the interview just wasn’t going to happen. However, third time lucky! Megan answered the phone this time around and her voice was back. At 24 years old, Megan sounds mature and down to earth. Our conversation started on the topic of Splendour in the Grass, where Washington had just played. This year’s Splendour will remain in people’s memories as the year that The Verve frontman, Richard Ashcroft, lost his cool and stormed off stage, unhappy with the small crowd. Megan Washington on the other hand, loved the experience. “Splendour was so exciting! It was the day that we launched the record, and I had a new pom pom dress,” says Megan. “I met some cool people. I met Laura Marling, that was pretty great. I also met the guys from the Scissor Sisters. I felt a bit guilty though because I’m not overly familiar with the Scissor Sisters’ repertoire! Also my boyfriend came and his band was there.” Megan’s boyfriend is Yves Klein Blue frontman, Michael Tominson. Washington’s debut album, I Believe You, Liar, was released at the end of July this year to great critical
acclaim, and was the Triple J Feature Album. Megan says that she enjoyed the three year process of making her album immensely. “It was quite a long process,” she explains. Before putting together her first album, Washington had released four EPs. “I guess the reason that we released so many EPs before the album was mainly because when I started Washington, it was a recording project, I didn’t really have a plan for it.” That all changed shortly after Washington won the Triple J Unearthed competition. “About a month after I put a song on [the Triple J website], we got ‘unearthed’ and had to play Big Day Out! Suddenly I needed a band, so we just sort of made a set out of whatever I had lying around. But then all of a sudden we were touring, and I never really conceptualised what the band would be. I guess releasing those EPs was like a process of experimenting and working out exactly what it was,” says Megan. Megan Washington’s musical influences are a bit unexpected. “Growing up I listened to a lot of old jazz, like Billie Holiday and Annette Hanshaw. Also people like The Andrew Sisters, and Cab Calloway, really, really old sort of music,” she says. “Then when I was about eighteen I heard Rufus Wainwright for the first time. The song was “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk” and I was completely undone by it. I just couldn’t believe that this music existed. I guess the only time that I was really plugged into what everyone 8
“I’ve never done a travelling festival. I have a mental image of it being like the Von Trappes…”
else was listening to was in grade nine, when I was obsessed with Eminem.”
As for favourite songs to perform, Megan says that her pick is Underground.
Megan says that the kind of musicians that she likes now are “really sort of idiosyncratic and uncompromising. Musicians that sort of stick to their guns.” She recently sang for You Am I on their new record, which is set to be released in October. “I have a feeling that it’s going to be my new favourite album, because it’s sounding so fucking good.”
“Actually, Blues has become a bit of a favourite. I enjoy being able to belt it out. It’s really fun. I feel like a proper rock and roll singer for about three minutes!”
The last time that Washington played in Tasmania was in July, as a support act for The Beautiful Girls. This show turned out to be eventful for more than one reason. “At the Launceston show Paulie’s bass guitar got stolen!” says Megan in disbelief. “We got it back, but it was this huge nightmare.” Megan explains how they asked the cab network to ask if any of the drivers had picked up anyone from the venue with a guitar not in a case.
Next on the agenda for Megan Washington is the Parklife festival which kicks off in Perth at the end of September. “I’ve never done a festival run before. I’ve done one-off festivals like Splendour and Falls, but I’ve never done a travelling festival. I have a mental image of it being like the Von Trappes, like all these musos travelling around together.” When I ask if there is any particular musician she’d like to meet who’ll be playing, Megan is quick to respond. “I want to meet Missy Elliott! I don’t think she’ll be into wanting to hang out with me, but I’m gonna try.”
“This cabbie had just dropped off this really, really drunk dude with the bass. So the cabbie went back to the guy’s house and knocked on his door, and got the bass back!” With her first major stint of touring behind her, Megan says that she finds it hard to pick a favourite venue to play. “I do like The Zoo in Brisbane, I also like The Toff in Melbourne. It isn’t so much about venues as it is about the crowd. I know that sounds like a cop-out, but the crowd is so important. I’ve played at amazing venues when the crowd has been not really into it, and it’s just a bit of a nightmare.”
Hannah McConnell avoids writer’s block at all times. Except when asked to write something about herself… 11
HATE Lesley Halm
“Ginger hate is only about two degrees away from being the same as any other racial hate. Imagine if someone had tried to organise a Smack a Black Day or Flog a Wog Week.”
With the recent debacle in the Australian government, opinion seems to be tied as to whether it is more shocking that our new Prime Minister is “gasp” a female or “faint” a ginger. As a member of the folically challenged group largely referred to as rangas or gingas — pronounced like ‘ringers’ but with a G in place of the R — I am often obliged to stand there with a docile smile on my pale face while I am constantly and universally mocked. And for what? The colour of my hair? Yes, it has come to this. To begin with I even got into the ginger hate, laughing along and making jibes aimed at myself and those more orange, more ranga, than me. I picked up delightful phrases like ‘fanta-pants’ and ‘ginger-minge’. But what have we, or the humble orangutan (from which the ‘ranga’ moniker came), done to elicit such mirth? I see it like this: everyone loves having someone to hate. It is the measuring stick by which we value our own movements, judge our own worth, decide upon our social grouping. Now we can’t take the piss out of people based on race, social backgrounds, religion (unless of course you’re Richard Dawkins), sex or disability without appearing like an ignorant jerk. It seems it’s time to start making up our own, more PC reasons to discriminate. It is a common phenomenon that if you say something enough times at least a few people begin to believe it’s true — somewhere in the core of their blonde and brunette hearts. And with the creation of the Facebook page declaring 20th November to be National Kick a Ginger 12
Day * (don’t rush out to have a look, it’s no longer there) the problem with ginger-whingers seems to be snowballing. As a backlash against this popularised discrimination, there have been events such as Hug a Ginger Day where gingers group together for a little self-love. Facebook is now peppered with pages such as ‘Against Kick a Ginger Day’ and popular vendor Wendy’s has been mobbed by, well, mobs of angry gingers for their misuse of a redheaded media mascot. This is all sounding awfully familiar to me, like a black rights rally or a gay pride mardi gras. Ginger hate is only about two degrees away from being the same as any other racial hate. Imagine if someone had tried to organise a Smack a Black Day or Flog a Wog Week. What’s the difference? That being said I do like to joke around like anyone else. I appreciate the value of humour and not taking oneself too seriously. It is important not to let society become too regulatory and stiff-backed. But if you do start taking the mickey — be wary. You know what they say about a redhead’s temperament. And according to some studies, gingers also have higher pain tolerances.
“I am often obliged to stand there with a docile smile on my pale face while I am constantly and universally mocked. And for what? The colour of my hair? Yes, it has come to this.”
Ever heard of revenge of the nerds? Well, look out. The Revenge for Australian Natural Gingers Association is coming to Hobart. And we’re as fiery and robust as our hair looks. * The story goes that that particular 14 year-old Vancouver boy, who ran the Kick a Ginger Facebook group, has been ‘probed’ (hopefully roughly) by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for possible hate crimes. 13
I SEE DEAD PEOPLE
I SEE DEAD PEOPLE
Death — it’s not a subject that we as a society are particularly comfortable with, and it’s certainly not something that I’m good at dealing with on a personal level. Every day there are multiple news reports of people being murdered or killed during natural disasters, but most of us can just take all of this in our stride. It’s not happening right here, so it’s much more difficult to comprehend the colossal impact that these issues are having on people close to us. My first experience with death was at the very start of medical school, when we were told that we would be learning about human anatomy by slicing into cadavers. My initial reaction was to freak out, but the complete dissimilarity between these plastic-looking bodies and a ‘real’ human being zapped me of any emotion I expected to feel. Plus, some of them didn’t have heads; it’s absurd how much sentiment we place on a face. Looking back, I think all those involved tended to distance themselves from the situation — how can you dissect a body, and at the same time keep in mind that it is someone else’s mother, aunty or sister? A couple of years later, I was called to the wards with one of the doctors to pronounce a woman dead. Again, I found it was incredibly difficult to deal with the fact that this woman would have been alive and pottering around her house not long ago. And just like that, she’s gone. Thinking too much about these things just raises way too many questions about the big issues that I don’t want to, and don’t know how to answer. When you see a dead body there’s nothing there — no life left, but we attach so much meaning to what a body means. It’s the vessel for a conscious, 14
intelligent being that has lived a life of unique experiences that will never be repeated. A small spark goes out of the world every time someone dies. It also raises philosophical questions, about the nature of life, death and religious concepts like a ‘soul’; do we even have a soul? I guess I would say that my opinion on death has changed over the last few years. It’s unfortunate that in the world of medicine many doctors become desensitised to death. I am left seething with anger every time I watch a doctor give a diagnosis of a terminal illness and waltz out of the room like he’s just delivered the newspaper — it’s truly disgusting. However, I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that sometimes it’s better for someone to die; they don’t need to be lying in bed, totally incapacitated and struggling to breathe, just because those left behind are not ready to deal with what comes next.
patient’s family — but I would feel like I’m cheating them if that empathy wasn’t genuine. I think we all need to remember that everyone dies eventually, and being with someone in their last hours is an amazing privilege, whether a doctor, family member or medical student.
I still need to cry every time someone dies unexpectedly. How do you explain to the parents of a teenager that yesterday their son was happy, comfortable and complaining about how ward rounds were way too early in the morning, and now he’s been diagnosed as brain dead after an unexpected bleed to the brain. Oh, and on top of that, we need to ask if we can harvest his organs. There is no way to describe it other than unfair — but then, does anyone really deserve to die?
“…the complete dissimilarity between these plastic-looking bodies and a ‘real’ human being zapped me of any emotion I expected to feel. Plus, some of them didn’t have heads; it’s absurd how much sentiment we place on a face.”
Part of me hates the fact that I get so upset about the death of people that I don’t know, when there are so many others around the world dealing with much worse everyday. I hope, however, that it will make me a better doctor. I don’t want to be a doctor who nonchalantly declares ‘you’re going to die’ and then walks out of the room and continues working like it’s nothing. I want to be a doctor who empathises with a
Photos by Jacky Ho 15
Fear and Loathing
What does it all mean? What is the purpose of this existence? Is there a reason we are on this mortal coil? Basically, why? Ever pondered this while gazing at your navel lint? Aaron Smith I’m not pitching this to Philosophy 101 students loitering in Plato’s Cave, but rather to all of us — the suburban, sitcom watching, vote swinging, fast-food munching masses. That is, the everyman (or woman) — that bit of beige in all of us. I’m going to go out on a limb here. I have asked the questions above and having been raised as a strict atheist — dare I say — I sought the dirty ‘G’ word. God, or at least some sort of cosmic divinity? With nothing more than a copy of Carlos Castaneda’s The Teachings of Don Juan in one hand and Hunter S Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in the other, I set out on a three year odyssey through every country in Latin America to seek these answers. Beginning in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, my Quixotic quest then led me over the Andes; all through darkest Peru; the jungles of Ecuador and Colombia, down the Amazon River; and all the way to the deserts of northern Mexico. Travelling exclusively by bus, boat and donkey, I was feathered and tarred by every bad-ass brujo I encountered along the way, as I followed my own meandering shaman’s path. Now, I’m not going to try and bamboozle you with a lot of New Age bullshit, nor bedazzle you with self-conceited travel wank. I’ll just try and tell it as it is, from the point of view of a burnt-out X gener’. I was looking for more than the flicker of enlightenment glimpsed from years of hanging in the androgynous group sensuality of the rave scene, the grunge years and generally howling at the moon in the perpetual puberty my generation suffers. At the end of a round-the-globe gap-year travel jaunt,
and two weeks before my flight back to Australia, I decided I wanted to see the world. That is, not the endless array of hostels and backpacker watering holes I had up until then mainly frequented. So I ditched my ticket, moved into a favela (ghetto) in Rio de Janeiro and started teaching English illegally. I was, as my Brazilian boss described, the white Mexican. It was here, living like a regular Brazilian, that I began to uncover an incredible mosaic of belief systems that are entwined into the South American mainstream. African, Amerindian and European deities and spiritualities all became part of my new normality. I became quite passé about the midnight slaughter of roosters at the crossroads near my house, the offerings to the malevolent spirits of Macumba, the Brazilian voodoo. I learnt to listen to the ethereal advice of spirit-writing — accessed by tranced out mediums, followers of Spiritualism that was all the rage in occult-obsessed Victorian Europe. But all this wasn’t conducted by a bunch of crystal freaks in too much crushed velvet and black nail polish, but rather by regular folk — bus drivers, tax collectors, cooks, anybody and everybody. However, I guess my noodle only started to really fry when I encountered the Santo Diame. Starting at the beginning of the last century, a rubber tapper in the jungle one night believed the moon turned into Mother Mary and offered him an orange, then enlightenment. This religion is now spreading around the world. By drinking a psychoactive sacrament, ayahuasca, the Santo Diame combined an eclectic mix of Christianity, African deities and Amazonian animalism. They believe the foul tasting brew is actually the second coming of Christ and all who drink it gets God inside. 18
Photos by Aaron Smith
"Then at dawn I was instructed to strip naked and, shivering with hypothermia, jump in the lake while he ranted incantations to cleanse my dirty soul.” During bi-monthly marathon all-night singing and dancing, the followers work themselves into a trance-like frenzy. Think Kum By Ya crossed with Age of Aquarius and lashings of Timothy Leary. To say the doors of perception were flung wide open would be an understatement — it tore me a new inter-dimensional arsehole. I’m not going to go into the metaphysics or head mechanics the brew put me through, other than to say that it contains the most active hallucinogen known, DMT, and lasts all night. I’ve heard that one night of ayahuasca is equivalent to ten years of psychotherapy and over the couple of years I drank it with the Santo Daime, I certainly worked through some shit. But the altered states triggered something deep and archaic in me, the visions seemed more real than reality. There was a grace to the madness — a guiding light I wanted to follow. Race memory, Jung’s collective unconsciousness, whatever it was it felt far greater than constraints of a Christian hybrid reality — I wanted to delve deeper. With a lineage of more than 5,000 years and possibly the jet-fuel used by the Inca birdmen, I decided to get back to the ayahuasca source — the Amazon Jungle.
The 60’s Beat writer William Burroughs, author of the Naked Lunch, was one of the first from the West to document ayahuasca, or yagé, as it was known then. In a book called the Yagé Letters, revealing his correspondence with poet Alan Ginsberg, Burroughs blazed a trail into South America looking for the “kick of kicks” and hopefully a cure to his junk habit. Although his smack habit prevailed, I discovered a guide book for the misguided and the impetus to follow his footsteps. Slipping out the back door of Brazil on The Death Train, an old smugglers route, I traversed Bolivia dodging a revolt where the goose-stepping neo-Nazi elite were trying to overthrow the country’s first indigenous president. In La Paz the country’s capital, a yatri, (coca leaf fortuneteller) told me I needed to find God and to continue northwards. So I did. I followed the Pan American all the way up the Peruvian coast, through Ecuador and into southern Colombia. It was there I headed east into the Amazon Jungle retracing Burroughs’s footsteps into some of the most dangerous back-country of South America — the stronghold of the FARC guerrillas. I found a renowned shaman and artist, his ayahuasca was thick as molasses. Lying in his backyard I gazed at the world through a fisheye lens. I watched him jump, dance and sing his spirit songs as the kaleidoscopic Milky Way swirled above while the FARC fought the military in spats of gunfire in the surrounding hills all throughout the night. Meandering southwards, I ended up back in Northern Peru in the Andes Mountains. The single lane black-top thinned out to a gravel path. The old chicken bus (the colloquial term for the old 60’s US Dodge school buses 19
sold off south of the border), pitched and creaked around switchbacks that climbed above the clouds. There were only inches between the tyres, worn smooth as river stones, and the soft shoulder that bordered drop-offs to rocky ravines far below. At the end of the road I continued by donkey up to 3600 metres to Lake Shimbe, the spiritual source of the Amazon River. I consumed San Pedro, a cactus containing mescalin, with the first of many shamans I was to meet called Don Juan. He made me do spiritual calisthenics all night — jumping around under a full moon while he doused me in talcum powder, spat perfume over me, waved a sword around my head and insisted I snort tobacco juice from a scallop shell. Then at dawn I was instructed to strip naked and, shivering with hypothermia, jump in the lake while he ranted incantations to cleanse my dirty soul. With my slate wiped clean I continued east, back down into the Amazon Basin and into the once stronghold of the Maoist guerrillas, the Shining Path. There I boarded a river boat and swinging in hammock class, floated three days down a tributary of the Amazon River deeper into the jungle. I spent the next few months bouncing between shamans, magic men and brujos in the jungle like a cosmic pinball. I stayed at up-market ‘space camps’, the ayahuasca retreat for the upwardly mobile but burnt-out executive, as well as the more rustic, backwater Indian lean-tos where I purged my demons — vomiting and shitting like a trooper (a nasty side effect of the brew). I shape-shifted into jaguars and condors, was swallowed whole by the giant cosmic anaconda Sachamama (a rainbow serpent with a bad attitude) and travelled along the roller-coaster
"Even the village chief, who ate the last of the area’s Christian missionaries, warned me he was nuts.” of my own double-helix. I explored the outer edges of the universe as well as my own sanity. The locals call it Jungle Television. I also saw others fall by the wayside — tree-huggers who stripped naked and disappeared into the jungle, a middle-age woman screaming that aliens had ripped off her head — while others writhed ecstatically in pools of their own vomit. Still wanting to go further down the rabbit hole, I found myself in a dugout canoe with an ex-Vietnam vet in a Texan ten-gallon hat and an ex-cannibal Indian. Leaving the last remnants of civilization, I travelled still deeper into the jungle to live with a tribe of remote and little known Amazonian Indians — The Matsé. Like Conrad Joseph’s seminal Heart of Darkness, and Francis Ford Coppola’s post-modern homage to it, Apocalypse Now, I putted up a river analogous to my own internal journey and the unravelling of the urban mind. I lived in the tribe, hunted and fished with them and was initiated as a Matsé warrior. This involved catching a Giant Monkey Tree Frog, strapping its limbs to four posts and anally raping it with a twig until it secreted its milky white poison — poison the Matsé use on their fatal bow-darts. The Matsé chief then took a branch from the fire, burnt six holes in my chest and smeared the poison into my open wounds. Searing pain, vertigo, tunnel vision, collapse, with still 20
Feature. more vomiting and I was officially part of the tribe. But I became afraid. Not of the cannibal Indians, piranhas, anacondas, alligators, drug resistant strains of malaria or that we were hundreds of miles from civilization. No, it was my guide I feared and his perpetual ‘Nam acid-flashbacks and machete gesticulating madness. Even the village chief, who ate the last of the area’s Christian missionaries, warned me he was nuts. Ten years too long in the jungle and desiccated like an old leather boot, I realised he was the ghost of my Christmas future. It was time to get out of the jungle — both of my subconscious and of the Amazon basin. Over the ensuing months I meandered northwards up the isthmus of Central America, all the way to deserts of Northeast Mexico. I paid an old vaquero a fistful of pesos to drive me out into the spiritual heartlands of the
Huichol Indians, the desert under the Sierra de Catorce Mountains. The old cowboy promised to return for another wad of pesos in the morning. In Carlos Castaneda’s old stomping ground and on my last night in Latin America, I chewed peyote beneath a full moon and howled to the Great Spirit that embodied me. I howled with the packs of coyotes — until I remembered that coyotes are a vicious marauding desert wolf that hunts in packs. For not the first time I felt hopelessly under prepared armed with nothing more than a pen knife and a banana. Why, you may ask. Why the psychedelic anguish, the self-induced insanity, the joyriding through the multidimensional universe, or ‘multiverse’? Good question. The same one I asked at the beginning of my journey. There is a malaise in Western society, a vacuum, a cancer eating away at each and every one of us, with cynicism apathy and ambivalence. Drastic times call for drastic measures. The answer to life, the universe and everything has already been provided by Douglas Adams, but if 42 isn’t cutting it, maybe the question needs to be dissected. The one thing that kept coming back to me from all of my journeying was firstly a sense of humility — my insignificance in the grand scheme of the universe. And gratitude, for the luxury of this existence and all of the amazingly complex and mysteriously wonderful things in it. But if there is one thing that still resonates with me it’s that there is in fact no ‘why’ at all, only ‘is’. Much like the epiphany Aldous Huxley had, author of The Doors of Perception, had while on a peyote trip. He called it ‘isness.’ In a nutshell, the multi-dimensional complexity of everything simply exists and interacts in ways we may never fathom, and from humanity’s minuscule viewpoint — there is no reason or rationale. It’s within accepting this that we can find liberation, enlightenment, or for want of a better word, God. Hallelujah.
Aaron Smith Studying: a MA in Journalism, but a perpetual undergraduate in the University of Life. Ambition: to be a Hack that never lets the truth get in the way of a good yarn. Favourite Buddhist quote: “Everything in moderation, including moderation” So tequila for breakfast sometimes is good for you, salute! Website: www.jetsetvagabond.com 21
ISLAM FASHION Anita Whittle
“We want to showcase that wearing hijab and being modest doesn’t mean you have to look drab!”
Twenty-six-year-old Ahlam, from Saudi Arabia, is wearing a red leather jacket that nearly touches the floor. She bought it in Melbourne. Ahlam’s slim legs are donned in knee-high black leather boots with wooden platform heels, teamed with a matching red leather handbag and a red umbrella. And she has covered her head with a gauzy hijab. Hajar, also 26 and from Saudi Arabia, is in Tasmania to complete a Master of Chemistry. She wears a white fitted jacket and a baby pink hijab. Her handbag gleams with the metallic capitals, DKNY. She describes her style as classic, but likes to dress up more on weekends. “I like high heels,” says Hajar. Then she turns to Ahlam, “I think your style is more casual.” “Our style depends on the personality [of each person],” she says. Their friend walks past; a petite girl in a black and white check jacket, a silky white hijab and distressed grey skinny-leg jeans. For Islamic women living in Australia, the clothing adjustment can be difficult. Working out how to incorporate hijab — the term for both headscarf and the Islamic practice of dressing modestly — into everyday Australian life takes time. For many women our sense of style forms part of our identity. How do Muslim women find new ways of dressing in Australia yet still feel like themselves? Having lived in Tasmania for one and a half years, Hajar has had time to adjust to the different dress code. In Saudi Arabia the women attend a segregated university, which means that while they don a black full-body abaya in the presence of men on the way to campus, they take it off once on the university grounds and wear whatever outfits they choose among fellow female students. Moving to Australia, Hajar and her friends felt more exposed while lacking fashion freedom. They’ve made many clothing adjustments, including binning the abaya; Hajar says she doesn’t feel comfortable wearing it here. 22
Instead, she wears a hijab that covers her head and hair and leaves her face exposed. “It was strange at first to wear the hijab and show my face,” says Hajar. She wasn’t sure if she could buy suitable clothes here in Tasmania. “At first it was hard,” she says. “I brought many of my clothes from Saudi.” Now, Hajar has found labels that she likes and shops at Hobart stores Myer, Valleygirl and Temt. Long pants and skirts and full-sleeve tops now take Hajar and her friends from home to university to the street. Worldwide, women who adhere to the hijab dress code can shop online, gain ideas from style forums linked to facebook, twitter and access blogs from fellow Muslim women. Breathe Hijab is a blog for women seeking ideas and fashion inspiration. “We want to showcase that wearing hijab and being modest doesn’t mean you have to look drab!” writes Faye Abdullah, the blog administrator. The blog features a fashion editorial from Vogue Paris set in Morocco and showcases Hermes, Chloe and Louis Vuitton scarves worn in various hijab styles by twiggy models. Breathe Hijab also sites Ashley Olsen as a style inspiration and picks the wide-leg trouser as the latest ‘Hijab-friendly trend’.
“The blog features a fashion editorial from Vogue Paris set in Morocco and showcases Hermes, Chloe and Louis Vuitton scarves worn in various hijab styles by twiggy models.”
“Muslim women are like any women around the world: they love fashion and love shopping,’’ says Beljafla, 24, who sells designer brand abayas in Dubai. Fashion houses in Milan and Paris have caught on to Muslim women’s want for up-market fashion items. London fashion institution Harrods now sells the black Islamic robes with a range of patterned and colourful trims. A Paris show at Hotel George V displayed made to measure abayas worth up to $10,000 embedded with Swarovski crystals. Women from wealthy Middle Eastern countries team embellished abayas with Gucci sunglasses. They carry Coach handbags with the classic grace of Audrey Hepburn.
When I was six years old, I fell in love. The kind of love that would make Gene Kelly blush. Our eyes met over the sandpit and all the chaos of the playground seemed to fall away. I forgot I was in the queue for the monkey bars; life was wonderful. I started to walk towards her — the girl of my dreams. I was so close; the music began to play. Yet, while I was navigating the treacherous hills of the sandpit, he got there first. It was then that I realised Greg had been behind me the entire time. It was at the age of six, as a pre-pubescent girl, that it became apparent my concept of love wasn’t culturally appropriate. This deafening concept has become clearer with each year; and for a long time I accepted it. I went on awkward dates with boys whose hands sweated in movie theatres and who snorted when they laughed. I owned ribbons and wore them in my hair. Sometimes I bought Dolly Magazine so I could ‘ooh and ahh’ with my friends over the letters about the foreign land beneath boys’ shorts. I did all this, the whole time craving that I meant it. It took me a long 24
Reflection. time to end this little hetero story I had created and I didn’t do it until I met someone who made me want to hold their hand. The concept of coming out infuriated me. I find that the community expects all non-heterosexual persons to announce their presence. We have to tick a box, voice our difference. Does my coffee taste worse after you find out? Do you have to know in order to ensure we never make eye contact? Coming out implies that it is not normal, or that there is something to be ashamed of. Furthermore, you are not forced to come out once — but on a day-to-day basis. You have to sit your parents and family pets down — a moment that will forever be more awkward than having to watch a five minute long sex scene on TV with them. Then you have to tell your friends and work mates. Or trying to explain to your 60-something family doctor that no, you don’t need the pill, and yes, you do understand the importance of contraception. And after the fourth appointment, they still don’t get it and you end up having to ask if they have a daughter and if so, are they single? I think that perhaps this feeling becomes more prominent and isolating in a country town such as Hobart. But of late, I have realised that it isn’t until gays get out of the dark cupboard by themselves that change can become a reality, and a feeling that used to be shame becomes pride. You have to be seen in order to exist. This contributor wishes to remain anonymous.
“I went on awkward dates with boys whose hands sweated in movie theatres and who snorted when they laughed…Sometimes I bought Dolly Magazine so I could ‘ooh and ahh’ with my friends over the letters about the foreign land beneath boys’ shorts.”
Photos by Eloise Warren 25
To Live Below the Line Jessica Hancock
Photos by Jenny Davson-Galle 26
The Challenge Individually, nationally, globally. To live on only the food that can be bought at the wage of the extreme poverty line. Between 2nd – 5th August 2010, this challenge was met. Participants 1,500 Australians, including 200 Tasmanians. Materials $10 worth of food over five days, or $2 a day, the Australian equivalent of the international Extreme Poverty line of US$1.25 a day. Procedure Participants to consume no food or drink (besides water) except that bought with their $2 a day allowance. No spices and oil from the pantry, no food snuck from friends — all food in the world costs someone, somewhere, something. Results Over $440,000 raised nationally. And counting…
1.4 billion people currently live in extreme poverty — 60 times the population of Australia. 24,000 children, removed from the scrutiny and conscience of the world, die quietly each day due to poverty. Most of us are aware of this economic discrepancy and when the topic is raised many of us even care enough to offer abstract sympathy. But in Tasmania, the majority are removed from such fiscal deprivation. There are students who do live in appalling conditions, with less food, less money and less access to the basics than the rest of us. But few of us can comprehend living in extreme poverty. Take Mi goreng noodles, that beloved student staple, for example. A packet of five, from Woolies, costs about $2.80. Seems pretty cheap, eh? But somehow living off wheat flour and palm oil, even five packets a day of it, doesn’t seem all that satisfying (certainly not in terms of nutrition anyway). Worse still are the prices of coffees at Lazenbys, or alcohol. Suddenly the world has shrunk to rice, dhal, oats, and of course, Mi goreng noodles. Still, this week of deprivation was a pittance compared with
the gains made by the challenge. And coffee on the first Saturday after the challenge was a truly glorious experience. The whole concept started with the meeting of two men in the slums of Bangladesh. Richard Fleming, of the Global Poverty Project, and Nick Allardice of the Oaktree Foundation were both deeply passionate about the issues surrounding extreme poverty. But like most of us, the extent of the limitations of extreme poverty was beyond their experience. So Richard decided to experience it for three months, at the end of which the rest of the nation could join him. Soon word spread. In a Hamish and Andy interview, Hugh Jackman invited Australians to support the cause and take the challenge. Local names such as Adam Cousens, Ben Wells and the Middle Names, Zac Slater and Matt McHugh from The Beautiful Girls also offered support for the cause. The Make Poverty History Meet the Candidates evening allowed the local politicians to show their support, and their commitment to ending global poverty. Independent member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie called the eradication of global poverty “a fundamental moral imperative,” and both he and the then Liberal candidate Cameron Simpkins reminded us that poverty is a relative concept. Even within Australia there is considerable poverty that needs addressing, and many families and individuals desperately need help. Then Greens candidate, Dr Geoff Couser also offered his unambiguous support for the movement and the Democratic Senate candidate, Timothy Neil, declared that, in regards to battling poverty, “there is a time and a place for everything. And the time and place is now.” When fighting poverty, both in Australia and abroad, every minute and every dollar counts. As raised by the politicians that evening, throwing money at the problem alone isn’t the most effective answer — the funds need to be well spent. Knowing this, the major aim of the Live Below the Line challenge is education. Volunteers of the Global Poverty Project began travelling across Australia to teach more people from schools, churches and businesses about poverty. Awareness of the issue is the first step in tackling domestic and international poverty, because today’s youth will be tomorrow’s leaders. The money raised from Live Below the Line was channelled into The Oaktree Foundation who are using the funds to open three schools in some of the poorest areas of Cambodia. In the Kampong Chang province, 1350 students will be given scholarships for their education, instead of being forced to make the impossible choice between starvation and a future. 27
“The cost of the challenge was nothing compared with the possibility of not attending, and not making a difference.” But funds for these integral projects are most often raised at a local level. At Utas, students organised a cake stall that raised more than $400 and the Engineering Society Barrel was forecast to raise more than $6,000. Chris Letchford, head of the School of Engineering, took an active role in raising awareness of the campaign, and participated in the challenge himself. The Tas Oak Tribe raised more than $6,500, and across the state, $40,000 was raised. The challenge wasn’t easy. Cooking for the cake stall was particularly challenging after several days below the line, and the blandness of food was unbelievable. Even so, everyone supported each other. Maddi Charles, a participant of the challenge, admits that “it is really humbling to have so many mates support the work you do — it really means a lot and affirms the impact and integrity of your beliefs and actions.” Others found that the cost of the challenge was nothing compared with the possibility of not attending, and not making a difference. Maddy Pillans, another participant, said “I can’t help but think of a 19 year old girl on the other side of the world who not only doesn’t have the same opportunities as me but cannot even make the choice to have them.” Furthermore, this challenge was only including the food. The cost of tap water and the electricity for cooking the food weren’t taken into account, let alone the costs of rent, transport, medicine and education. This campaign was about raising awareness, but we will never know what it is to live in extreme poverty until we have experienced it: unlike Meena Khadka and her husband Indra. Though they’ve now been in Australia for 10 months on a humanitarian visa, they spent the last 19 years in a refugee camp in Nepal. Meena, who was four or five when her family fled from war torn Burma into Nepal, has no memories of her birth country except of her family crying as they left. As Meena and Indra grew up, the camp around them changed. From living in tents with only public toilets they were eventually upgraded to bamboo huts, though the charcoal fires that they had to cook on were harmful to their lungs. Even so, conditions in the camp deteriorated 28
over the last few years — fortnightly vegetable rations had once lasted for several days. Now they went without vegetables for two or three months.
Neither of them are yet 30 years old. Though their English is more than adequate for conversation, they will struggle to get employment in Australia.
Growing up in the camp the Burmese refugees were given a free education up until year 10, an advantage that they had over the Nepalese children on the outside. Through scholarships some were even able to complete university by correspondence. Indra and his brother were in their second year of a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Commerce when his brother was murdered within the camp.
“If we had come here years ago we could have done many more things, a chance to study more. But our minds are already full of things that we did in Nepal.” Says Meena.
“One night, about 8 o’clock at night, he was murdered by some unidentified people,” Indra explains to me.
This is the life of extreme poverty. It’s not about the lack of food, medicine, justice. It’s about the lack of choice. It’s about the inability to dream of a future, for themselves or their children, until they get out. As explicitly put by Jess Jacobson, one of the participants of Live Below the Line, “I could not live in extreme poverty. And I’m not talking about not wanting to live in poverty, or not being able to cope mentally. I literally wouldn’t survive in the conditions of extreme poverty. Live Below the Line has taught me that.”
“Maybe some local people, we guess, but we don’t know because of our status. Who can look after the refugee and who can give justice to the refugee? Nobody.” Less than two years later, lung cancer killed Indra’s father. Indra never returned to university studies. Yet despite the opportunity for education, Meena talks of a complete lack of conception of the future — in the camp, the future couldn’t exist. “When we were students in the class our teachers used to ask us what we wanted to be in the future. But it was only a saying ‘I’ll be a doctor, I’ll be a pilot’, only a saying to practice English. Future is what we were doing in the day; we didn’t have any future in the camp.” Even now they have no idealisations of their prospects. “We are aging, day by day,” laughs Indra. “We are not capable and able and things because of our age,” adds Meena.
“Our life is secure here, and we can have justice,” Indra reassures me. “There is peace here, and it is good.” And they have hope, for the next generation.
This is what is it to live below the line. This is why we must act.
Jessica Hancock lives for the day when she shall raise up an army of young, idealistic students (or pandas) to purge all written statements of their grammatical inaccuracies, particularly with regards to misusing semicolons. Until then, she bides her time drinking coffee and reading Icelandic Sagas. 29
Photo by Pete Saunders 30
Ella Kearney Some people suggest that their mood is in sync with the seasons and that they can only be happy with the sun on their neck and a West Coast cooler in hand. I say to these people, go prepare yourself a sausage sandwich, a nice big mug of whiskey and take a leaf out of Peter Cundall’s book. As he recently enthused, foam emanating from the corners of his mouth, “I love frosty nights. It’s great to sleep warm and snug, then wake up to a white crispy world”. For those of you who can’t quite pick up what PC is putting down, try some of my winter activities: Inside… bored… drunk on whiskey… sound familiar? There is no better time to explore your identity and test out alter egos. Yes, acid could greatly assist you with this activity, but if you don’t feel like seeing through people’s skin* or collecting “treasures” (an assortment of pinecones from the garden), your imagination will suffice. I have a couple of characters: Harry Latte (Gay, Art curator, spends a lot of time in provincial France), Dominic Chutney (Also gay, Harry’s boyfriend, loves fabrics) and John Paul (Gay…). I just realized all the characters I like to play are homosexual. Anyway, you should refer to yourself as this character and only respond to people when they use your character’s name. Leave little notes around the place from your character. This may agitate your housemates and your work colleagues. However, it will also help you determine the ‘food scraps’ from the good friends. Good friends will always play along. Everyone has a daily web routine (everyone who’s COOL). This may include checking the weather, Facebook, Redtube…I mean Youtube, webmail. During winter, this daily routine can be extended. Using your computer for hours on end becomes far less guilt inducing. Fantastic. There are a number of blogs (The Sartoralist, Garance Dore and Jak & Jil) that I flitter in and out of. I also enjoy Vice magazine online (viceland.com). If you feel like stepping back to the year 2000, you might want to reignite the flame with the computer game The Sims. It’ll take you a good 2–3 hours to build your house to the standard your Sim family deserves, that leaves about an hour playing time and half an hour to think up ways of getting rid of the family. Fire or a pool with no ladder works well. This is also the time that true gamers (the ones who play multiplayer online etc) can let out a long, satisfied sigh. It’s ok guys, “game on!”. Don’t roll your eyes, I know you guys say that. The other positive about winter is thinking of ways to keep the body guessing — food & drink wise. Winter is definitely a brown liquor type of time. Push your vodkas and gins to the back of the liquor cabinet and hit the beam (yes, I realize 99% of students wouldn’t have a liquor cabinet). If you’re feeling indulgent you may want to purchase some
other dusky, winter drink such as a port or Amontillado sherry. Winter also invites such delicacies as olives, cheeses, salmon and fudge cake. Gorge yourself and fall asleep by the fire, occasionally twitching like your dog does when it’s dreaming. The key message is that winter doesn’t have to be shit. It is a good time to work out what’s hip hop and happening in your life and what’s not, as PC notes, “Every winter I divide the clumps of prairie rose into small pieces and discard the disease ridden woody stuff”. *I can’t guarantee that you will attain this power, different strokes for different folks.
Michael Voss I love winter. Someone once said to me “Everyone looks so warm”. Winter is an opportunity to wrap yourself up like a cocoon in layers of coats and scarves. It’s a time for Snuggies and climbing into duvet covers. I think it’s easy to hate winter. Legs get hairy and bathing suits are thrown into the back of the cupboard. The sumptuous buffet that is the exposed skin of sunnier weather finds itself tightly encased inside layer upon layer of grey and black. Some people see winter as depressing and dreary. It’s a time when the uni blues come knocking on the door and everyone legitimately considers quitting what they’re doing. But to me, winter is special. It’s the welcome warmth of someone beside you in bed. Of sleeping until 2:30pm because outside it’s grey and cloudy and there’s rain dancing on the tin roof. It’s a time of colourful 80’s blankets and childhood doonas wrapped around you as you try to study in freezing cold temperatures, heater free in fear of receiving a power bill that makes eating for the next month appear unlikely. It’s hundreds of cups of tea. Hot water bottles and heat packs thrown into freezing cold sheets. It’s those first two minutes when you get into bed and start spasming in the hope you can warm up with some vigorous activity. It’s the only time you find yourself trying to type notes with gloves on. Or having emergency smoke breaks in furry hats, while clouds of cold mist sit and hug your breath. Trying to jog in layers of Deep Heat and beanies. Sport in sleet and mist and rain. Misted over windows and pretending to be a dragon with your breath. A time when people display their best knitted jumpers and opshop coats dragged from bargain bins. A time when the Uni overheats lecture theatres to the point that you lose consciousness three minutes in, during classes that only just begin when it’s already dark outside. For me, winter is self-proclaimed sick days off uni when you do nothing but drink chicken noodle soup and watch 31
an entire box set of DVDs. When you go out with friends and find yourself drunk and sitting in piles of wet leaves among frost and shivering. It’s waking up early to pour water over the car windscreen to remove the ice. A time of white mornings and mountain adventures. Snowmen, and the cold trickle of melted snow down layers of clothing. It’s cold shivers, snow days, goosebumps and the huge expenditure of willpower it takes to actually get out of the warm bed you find yourself waking up in. When you try to swim at the beach when the sun comes out, even if it’s only about 15 degrees, and every piece of you hurts. A time when the more foolish of us rub ourselves with olive oil and lie on the veranda when it’s sunny in the misguided hope that we’ll have a distinct tan advantage come beach season. Winter to me is dreamlike. White and grey and pure. Slow and lethargic. It is a time of imagination. And want. Filled with mulled wine and mittens. Fires and good books. Curled up warm in everything warm that you own.
Alex Stuart Speaking as a lifelong Tasmanian, I can say that constantly underestimating how horrible winter is may be taking a toll on my patience and hope. I’m not the only person to march directly into the heart of winter thinking everything is going to be fine. We Tasmanians seem to think that one winter things are just going to magically get better. Misinformed phrases such as “Global Warming”, only gives us hope. It’s not a good situation. “It’s more like spring!” exclaimed the taxi driver without the least amount of provocation. It’s true, the sky was blue and the birds were singing and his hope proved to be infectious. If I picked up my “warm winter” hope off anyone it was him. I must have looked like a madman, just three days later, as I was cursing in the rain and spraying aerosol into the wind in the hope for a warmer tomorrow. Now, having been informed that the climate is changing rather than just warming, I have come to the conclusion that not even environmental disaster on a global scale will save us from the cycle of summer-hope-despair. Winter always starts off alright. There isn’t a switch on the wall that takes us from autumn to winter, it creeps in. It starts by making everyone extremely dull. Even before it has set in it begins to subdue imagination. “Maybe we can get a few more days of this sun, eh? Eh?!” people say nervously and quietly as if not to anger the winter gods. But soon enough the gods will unleash their wrath. Families are sent back to the Stone Age as they are forced to limit the majority of their activities to the confined area around wherever the heat comes from. The necessary task of emptying your bowels becomes a fearful journey into the arctic. All the while the small fan heater in the bathroom is eating your money and only providing enough warmth to make sure it’s too difficult to pick up and move. I get sick of having to squint when walking along in the rain, only to see some tough guy — who isn’t squinting — letting all the water run right into his eyes. Is he dead inside? Is that the cost of accepting an inevitably cold winter? I get sad when I see a busy white collar professional speed-walking down the street, with an upturned umbrella that provides only mental protection from the rain. Is that broken umbrella their only hope? Perhaps if they had expected a winter like the one we have year after year they would have been better prepared. Well I hope we’ve learnt our lesson this time. Winter is as oppressive as ever, balance is restored. But not to worry, we will all be back to complaining about thirty degree heat in no time. 32
Photo by Alison Gunn 33
TUESDAY I AM
Jenny Davson-Galle She tells me in the morning. “On Tuesday I am going to divorce my husband.” Her daughter, Nani, sits on the one wooden stool; her little legs swinging. We sit on our haunches, seeking the early morning shade, slapping at mosquitoes. Every now and then, the sharp plop of a falling mango breaks the early morning calm. It is Monday. The curve of her nose is strong and her piercing eyes are set deep. She wears her hair pulled back in a ponytail; her purple Nepali dress rests in the dust as we squat. She wears two silver toe rings. Her husband is not an educated man but neither is he a harsh man. He respects her and he loves their child. He is a Nepali citizen and she is a Bhutanese refugee. Nepal and Bhutan are neighbouring countries to the north of India. Their marriage was a strategic match. He got a wife and she got the chance to apply for Nepali citizenship; a chance for the future. She already knew of the third country resettlement plan for Bhutanese refugees when she became pregnant with Nani. The United Nations High Commission has begun a process to resettle Nepal’s Bhutanese Refugees on humanitarian grounds in countries including America and Australia. But she did not know her husband could not come with her and that she could not go if he remained her husband. Because she has married a Nepalese citizen she is now ineligible for international protection through the UNHCR resettlement plan.
She tells me that many Bhutanese women lie about being married. “They leave their husband and go to a third country. If there is no child they say, ‘we are not married’ and they go to another country.” She could have lied too, but now she is a mother lying is not an option. Her hut in Nepal is small, its narrow strips of bamboo carefully interlaced, like the huts close beside it. There are flowers and some vegetables in her small garden. On Monday evening it rains. Inside the hut, father, mother and child sit together as thunder echoes overhead. Nani goes to her mother’s breast for comfort. I wonder what her husband is thinking as he sits, arm draped across her shoulder. Tomorrow is Tuesday. Later, when he is sleeping, we sit talking across the form of his body. I want to understand her story. I ask her why she married. “At first there is no [resettlement] process, everybody is thinking, if you marry Nepalese citizen, you can do some work and your life is good. I have no money at that time, I have no father. We are six children and my mother is working very hard.” Then I ask about the divorce. They have made their decision. He is uneducated, she is a Bhutanese refugee, and their daughter Nani is just a daughter in Nepal; a poor daughter. She will have a better future in America. She has been told that divorce is the only way. I wonder what her husband is dreaming. He is getting a divorce not out of lack of love, but a belief that it’s the only way. 34
Photos by Jenny Davson-Galle
That night I listen. Insects hum. Music plays over the top of more music. Someone in the next hut talks softly. A dog barks; his friends join in. There is frustration in this close living, but also precious beauty. Doors are always open to friends. On Tuesday morning it is still raining. She explains that her husband is a good man but he has no means to provide for their future. “If he has enough money then…but I want to give an education to my daughter, that is why I feel I have to leave my husband. My husband understands I think, and he is helping with everything,” she says.
her husband’s hands. This is a lie, but a well intentioned lie. I stare at the letter, spread on the bed in front of me. My eyes move to Nani, happily sitting on her father’s knees. He is helping her eat. She knows nothing — only that she loves him. But she will forget his face, and he will not know her smell as it changes from milk and squashed food to perfume. One day she will marry. He will not be there to hand over his daughter. He knows this and accepts it. The letter does not speak of the tears of a father or husband. Nor does it speak of a woman’s fears, as wife and mother, of becoming a single mother and a divorcee. Her eyes meet mine. She gently holds the single sheet of notepaper that will determine the futures of three people.
“I am going to take this baby there to America and I want to get my husband [there too].” But she accepts the futility of her second wish. She does not believe they will meet again. I ask her if she worries her process might be rejected. “If my daughter not go? This is a huge problem — I love her too much,” she says. She will complete the application letter and hope “When I bring that form and put it here then he will leave,” she says. When people ask of him? “I will say he is working. If I am saying I am making [this] process, then too many problems [will come].” Folded four times over, her application for resettlement lies pressed inside a notebook by their bed. She opens it and smoothes it flat. It speaks of her supportive family in America and her husband’s acceptance for her to keep their daughter. It also speaks of the things that ‘forced’ her to seek divorce; the abuse and neglect they suffer at
“It also speaks of the things that ‘forced’ her to seek divorce; the abuse and neglect they suffer at her husband’s hands. This is a lie, but a well intentioned lie.”
Bourne Milano Affordable and stylish blokes’ fashion is difficult to find at the best of times. If you don’t have a trip to Melbourne planned any time in the near future, sooner or later you are going to have to roll the dice and spend your hard-earned cash on the fashion wares that Hobart has to offer. Knowing where to shop is the best way to get the most bang for your buck and can save you the embarrassment of being visual pollution to your mates, so here is a rundown of some of your options: 1. Sodium: This place stocks some of the best new fashion in Tassie. The only problem is that if you want to be able to afford their clothes you’ll need to be prepared to put food on the luxury spend list. The tip is to buy from the sales section; you can find some good bargains as their ‘out of season stock’ is the ‘in season’ stock for many of the other retailers in Hobart. Great for: Unique items, latest fashion trends Affordability: 5/10 2. Roger David: These guys often stock a classier, modern look at a reasonable price. While the price may come at the cost of quality for some of their threads, there are few better places in Hobart that can make you look like a dapper London gentleman while on a budget. Great for: Casual suits, jackets, accessories Affordability: 8/10
Photo by Ally Gibson
3. Cotton On: Ideal if you are in the market for a plain coloured tee to fit under your signature shirt, or when 36
you are in desperate need of filling out your wardrobe, as they are great on price. The problem is they stock in bulk, so be prepared to bump into someone wearing the same shirt as you. Great for: Basic tees and fast fashion Affordability: 9/10 4. Klued In: The guy who runs this place knows his shit and is always happy to give advice. They are generally at the forefront of Hobart’s fashion curve and regularly get new stock through the door, so you’ll be sure to find something that your date will be happy to wake up wearing. Great for: Tees, jeans and jackets Affordability: 7/10 5. Jetty Surf/Red Herring: It’s no surprise that surf and skate is the bread and butter for these guys, and while you can set yourself up for summer, just know that wearing surf gear for 12 months of the year when you don’t have the tan and blonde dreadlocks to back it up just makes you look like a try-hard. Great for: Skater hoodies, boardshorts Affordability: 7/10
7. Billie-Joe: A bloke’s wardrobe is not complete without a signature shirt or jacket for those big occasions; these guys have got you covered on that front. They have brands from Australian and international designers on their books and they stock only a few of each item, so it’s worth parting with a few pennies. Great for: Unique clothes, signature items Affordability: 6/10 8. Pitbull Mansion: Sometimes you can’t afford to buy cheap clothes. If you want to buy a staple that you will wear every day for years, these are your people. Originally an online store, Pitbull Mansion has recently opened a tiny store in Criterion Street. This place is into minimalism; they stock one size run, if that. Drop in for a range of unique tees as well as some one-off pieces which will guarantee you instant street cred. Great for: One-off, trend-orientated pieces Affordability: 5/10
6. Myer Basement: The fact that the guys’ section takes up only 25% of the floor space in Myer Basement says a lot about their strategy towards catering for the Hobart male. They have a high turnover of stock and regularly have sales, which is enough to justify the descent. Great for: Skinny jeans, t-shirts Affordability: 8/10 37
Clare Bowditch, mother of three, amateur journalist, and that redhead up the front of Clare Bowditch and the New Slang, talks to Togatus in between interviewing the Prime Minster and touring her new album, Modern Day Addiction. What motivated you to start writing for your new album, Modern Day Addiction? I was restless and annoyed and hurt by the world — and in love with the world at the same time. I was observing myself and saying “What is going on? What is it that I’m struggling with?” I think I was, and still am, struggling to find a place where someone who thinks and talks and acts like me can simply be, and where my music and ideas fit. Where did you get your inspiration, were you sitting in cafes, observing people living their lives? I was talking to addicts of all different varieties throughout the making of the album, and reading books about addiction. I know we’ve all got this tendency to desire distraction, to desire something that makes us feel good. We all have a different way of playing that out, whether you’re addicted to meditation or exercise, coffee or cocaine, falling in love or tabloid magazines. We live in the kind of country and world where everything is on offer all the time. It’s no wonder that we’re anxious for meaning — because that, very often, is what we are finding hard to find. I know I’m guilty of some of those addictions! Same, I’ll put up my hand! But it’s almost the smaller ones, the way of thinking about ourselves, like we’re not good enough; they’re the ones that are really the most interesting to me. And they’re the most insidious ones, the addictions below all the other addictions. That’s kind of what I’ve discovered in this adventure of research. You spent six months of the year travelling to and from Berlin to make the album, bringing your kids with you. How has being a mother changed your music? We only started touring and releasing albums in a serious way when I became a mother, which was when I was 26. I’d been taking music very casually before that, thinking that it was my little side/love project and that it was too precious to try and make a living out of. I only really got inspired when I realised I was making humans in the world! [Laughs]
So that’s what inspired me to have an opinion and to create music. It’s what I call ‘delicious chaos’, it’s our normal. So we all just roll with it, and [the kids] are into it. We love a Tassie connection here at Togatus — Tassie tap dancer Jared Bryan was in the very vintage-cute ‘You Look So Good’ film clip from your last album. Do you have a video theme in mind when you’re writing a song, or is that something that comes after? Sometimes they are really clear, like the “Modern Day Addiction” film clip which is coming out this week. We knew that it was a song about people having conversations in their heads with their egos, so we’ve got gigantic puppets and me in a cage. I [invented] Lady Bodo, the double-sunglasses character. It’s a really fun collaboration with the director. Togatus readers would have seen you on Ten’s Good News Week not long ago doing a perfect imitation of Julia Gillard. Talk us through the process of ‘becoming Julia’. I actually have been doing that impersonation for a little while, and last week I was invited to interview her and spent an hour with her. It was always the hands that I struggled with [Clare slips into the perfect Julia drawl] but the voice was more straight-forward. I asked her if she could give me a few hints but she got terribly selfconscious, it was very cute actually. You’ve interviewed Julia Gillard, and have written for ABC’s Unleashed. You also made history by performing on Q&A too — did you ever think these sorts of opportunities would arise from your music career? No I didn’t, but I’m really glad it has. I’ve always said there is a role for artists in society to add to discussion. You get to be bi-partisan and have an opinion. You don’t have to defer to a political party. You can just be a normal human being, and yeah, I’m happy [laughs], I’m happy that I get to be normal. It’s Monday morning after the election, how did you react to the weekend and are you going to reveal who you voted for? I was confused but slightly liberated by the weekend… I’m in shock! My best friend said it was like watching Faulty Towers! My political preferences didn’t change 38
Q&A. all along. I went into the election looking for vision leadership, creativity, and really struggled to find it within the major parties. Not because Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard aren’t both intelligent and determined people in their own right… we’re just so lucky that there are no suicide bombers exploding themselves at the local polling booth. As someone on twitter said it was all sausages and cupcakes! We’re lucky to live in Australia and have options. The interesting thing was watching the trend of people going towards the Greens and saying we need someone who is speaking up front about their policies, we don’t want someone who is fucking mule-trading and pandering to [certain segments of society]. I live 3 km outside the Melbourne electorate so I can’t claim it! As a budding journo, if you were in my shoes right now what question would you ask yourself? I seem to know quite a lot about myself already! I would ask ‘how do you feel about yourself after finding out that you’ve got your first top ten hit in your 14 years of making music?’ [Wow, congratulations! How do you feel about that?!] We just found out just before the interview started, the chart just came out! I think it’s funny and lovely because it means people are listening to the album and that’s why we make them!
ClarE BOWDITCH Jessica Lyndon
And what’s the most inappropriate question a journalist has ever asked you? ‘Did you give birth vaginally or by caesarean?’ It was fine, but I didn’t know this person and it was within the first three questions. I’ve talked a lot about birth in my career, but I didn’t think I’d be talking about my vagina with this bloke at that time in the morning. I understand curiosity but it strikes me as incredible. It’s never anything to do with music. You’ve got a couple of Tassie shows coming up, at the Country Club and Wrest Point. What’s the plan for the rest of the year? The plan is to tour for the rest of October, stay in Australia, do lots of festivals over summer and have a really fun year, and then take the album overseas next year. We can’t wait to come [to Tassie]! We thought it was quite ironic that we’ll be playing “Modern Day Addiction” in a casino! My kids will most likely come, unless my mum can stay over for the weekend and we can be footloose and fancy free. Footloose and fancy free…at the Casinos?! Woo! Put it all on red! Catch Clare Bowditch at Country Club Casino on Friday October 1, or Wrest Point Casino Saturday October 2. Tickets for purchase online at tixtas.com.au.
Festival Season Splendour Review Tom Friend
Photos by Trent Binning 40
Welcome to that time of the year when the sun starts to warm your bones. That time of the year when mates are globalising themselves, and you become so distracted by summer festivals that you forget what monument they were inspecting in whatever far away country. The influx of performers to Australia has seen the creation of new festivals and line-ups that rival the likes of Coachella and Glastonbury. Maybe the ease of committing musical piracy has led musicians to play more shows in order to uphold their rock star lifestyles (or habits). Whatever the reason, we should embrace summer festivals. Splendour in the Grass, the three day event in August, marked the start of the festival season and provided a seriously high benchmark for summer festivals to follow. Imagine for a minute a massive outdoor casino. Splendour in the Grass is like a Las Vegas casino without concrete, cheesy lighting and gambling. Although the two are slightly different, Splendour resembles a casino with its beautiful leisure pirates, themed bars, entertainment to amaze and an eclectic mix of services to stimulate. You may even spot Raul Duke and Dr. Gonzo from Fear and Loathing running around in outlandish attire on all manner of diverse nourishments. The most concerning difference between Splendour and a Vegas Casino are the licensing restrictions on alcohol. Queensland’s rum clowns have prevented common punters without V.I.P tickets from drinking full strength alcohol. An assortment of mid-strength pre-mix cans only serve to induce stomach cramps on unsuspecting interstate patrons. This anti-booze regulation would never happen in Vegas. The nature infused Vegas casino is like a maze for the first two days. Pathways walled with foliage intertwine around dams and through food and other miscellaneous market stalls. Sculptures, lanterns and other ornaments beautify the vast corridors of this uniquely dusty casino. Best of all, the pathways occasionally open out at a picturesque stage or marquee or both. At the pinnacle of Woodfodia’s valley site is a massive semi-artificial, semi-natural hillside amphitheatre. An amphitheatre Julian Casablancas from The Strokes described as a ‘cauldron of humanity’. Basically, Splendour in the Grass has all the lights and glamour of a Las Vegas Casino in the quirky Australian bush.
For a festival that sells out every year without fail there was something about this line-up that made it more special than recent attempts at the Byron Bay site. Included in the 227 act line-up were some amazing international bands with a quality spattering of Australia’s best. The likes of The Strokes, Florence & the Machine and Grizzly Bear were reasons to entice attendance, while the Australian contingent was not to be overlooked with The Temper Trap, Angus & Julia Stone and Tame Impala to name a few. The loosely termed newish electro genre was out in force this year with Delphic, Midnight Juggernauts, LCD Soundsystem, Yeasayer, Art Vs Science and Mike Snow. These and many more facilitated hordes of punters to energetically display unique dance shapes as the cowbells and synthesisers pumped out a charming racket. Hot Chip threw out quirky funk tunes that instigated clouds of steam to flow out from under the Mix-up tent. As the first international headline act, they reassured Splendour audiences that the time spent and distance travelled getting there was worth it. Passion Pit drew one of the bigger crowds of the festival. It didn’t take long before the mood quickly livened up in the pit with tracks like ‘Higher and Higher’ and ‘The Reeling’. Not known for their poetic lyrics or exquisite musicianship, Passion Pit definitely gave the crowd some of Roger Ramjet’s ‘proton energy pills’. The highlight to close their set came with ‘Sleepyhead’, and it was simply splendid.
“Halfway through his first song the geezer threw his microphone down, smashed a cymbal into a speaker and jumped off stage to try and fight someone. We could have seen The Pixies or Midnight Juggernauts DJs, thanks pal.” 41
When convinced by a persuasive individual to see Richard Ashcroft I agreed (after a brief reminisce about The Verve). Halfway through his first song the geezer threw his microphone down, smashed a cymbal into a speaker and jumped off stage to try and fight someone. We could have seen The Pixies or Midnight Juggernauts DJs, thanks pal.
Avoid bizarre people who smell like incense, they often tongue lash publically and this can invade your right to enjoy an important festival meal. Embrace all costume wearing individuals, but avoid men that get around in tight, shiny body suits — these men create the stories you hear about around the campsite.
So no matter whether you were whacked in The Tipi Forest, tripping in The Very Small Mall, doofing in The Jager Cube or blowing out at Ibeefa’s DJs on-a-boat-on-a-lake, remember just a few things to embrace and avoid at your next festival: Don’t hang out with an enthusiast of rum. I saw the clowns in all sorts of strife, partaking in all manner of annoying activities.
Tom Friend: How novel is my father Richard calling his two children Tom and Harry. Thanks Dick! 42
Toy Story 3
It has been a while since we’ve seen Sheriff Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Cowgirl Jessie and the gang, so there was much excitement when we heard they were returning in the third Toy Story movie and in 3D nonetheless. This was my first experience with 3D and I don’t think it really added to the film; I wasn’t blown away. In fact, I believe some of the pre-feature advertisements utilised 3D better than the movie itself. Having said that, the movie didn’t need any special effects to be a success. This instalment sees the toys’ owner Andy grown up and ready to move to college. During the clearing out of Andy’s room the toys are accidentally taken to a local daycare instead of going to the attic for safe keeping. At first, daycare seems like a walk in the park. However, things take a turn for the worse when the toy in charge, a strawberry scented teddy bear named Lotso, turns out to be an evil dictator. The movie follows the toys as they try to escape from daycare and get back to Andy.
derive from the consent of the governed, not from the threat of force!” proving she is not the dumb blonde many had assumed she was, stumping a perplexed Ken to boot. I was a little apprehensive at first, as often a third movie has a lot of hype but little substance. But wow, was I impressed. Disney-Pixar has made another fabulous movie that anyone and everyone is sure to enjoy. There is humour dedicated to a wide range of age groups and even a few moments when a tear or two is shed. There is no doubt that children and adults alike will enjoy the film; many lines are heavily laced with innuendo. A particularly witty sequence is when Buzz is switched to Spanish mode and carries on like a real Casanova. I was entertained for the entire length of the film and cannot wait for it to be released on DVD; it is definitely one I want for the collection.
There are some fantastic new characters introduced in this instalment and I was especially excited to see Barbie have a significant part. As a Barbie fan I was thrilled to see her take the reigns from Ken and come up with some very intelligent one liners. At one point she quotes something similar to that of Thomas Jefferson saying “Authority should 44
StarCraft II Wings of Liberty
BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X
I’ve heard it being described as ‘Age of Empires 3 with aliens’, but the reality of it all is that Starcraft 2 is just downright awe-inspiring. The once stand-alone game ascended to the status of a series, when the sequel was released in late July this year. And breaking the theme of bad sequels is certainly not something to be ashamed of. Blizzard has created a stellar re-imagining of the original Starcraft game, and you shouldn’t think of it as a game in its own right; it is a face-lift of the original, as the game play is almost identical to the first game. Rest assured that the transition from 2D into 3D has not dragged this classic game into the depths of video-game hell (like Dark Reign, Metal Gear Solid, or Worms etc). Blizzard has found a sweet medium of graphical deliverance which caters for the broader community of gamers, but doesn’t leave the high-end gaming PC unsatisfied. That being said, there are a lot of different models. They discarded the fluoro-purple Zerg creep and provided a cool organic moving texture. The siege tank has ten times more moving parts when entering siege mode, and the seemingly out-ofstyle Dragoon, with almost too organic limbs for a Protoss unit, has been replaced by the enigmatic Stalker. The single player mode in SC2 is a wonderful collation of missions that introduce each of the Terran units to the player, showing strengths and weaknesses.
The Missions themselves are refreshingly unique as no two are alike. Plus, in between the missions you have the ability to purchase upgrades and research different tech for your army (sorry the science vessel is not a given in the campaign!). A number of new and exciting units offer a glimpse at the imagination of the Blizzard development team. The races are nicely balanced, making it hard to spam just one unit or just the one strategy, as your Mutarush can be countered easily by a Thor build. The entrance into the multi-player realm is cushioned by a series of 50 practice league games that are unranked and designed to let the player find their perfect build strategy. So don’t be afraid to jump into the deep-end, as water wings are provided in the form of map enhancements and balancing tools. One of the major problems with the new Starcraft game is that Blizzard scrapped the ability to connect your computers directly through a LAN, opting instead to get everyone onto the Bnet servers. Of course if you have SC2, you need to have the internet anyway, however now you are required to communicate through the Bnet servers, as opposed to something only a few feet away. Blizzard put a lot of time and effort into improving this gaming avenue, and the result is certainly worth it. Playing the single player alone is bang for your buck, but duking it out against other players on Battle.net makes the experience out of this world! 45
ILL COMMUNICATION! James Walker Most people don’t like, respect or trust politicians: they think politicians are bastards. This might explain why ‘keep the bastards honest’ is regarded as one of Australia’s best political slogans. An entire ‘persuasion industry’ has emerged to overcome the average voter’s instinct that politicians are bastards. With their help, Australian political parties construct images and messages for reproduction in political advertising and media management. As hacks of a range of persuasions poke through the intestines of the Federal election they will reach a relatively standard list of why things happened the way they did. It was the leaks, it was Kevin Rudd being removed, it was Labor’s failure to sell it’s record and success during the GFC well enough, or whatever. What seems to be missing is a desire to attack the root of the problem; the shallow nature of image politics. This is a story about how politicians and their strategists use the ‘persuasion industries’ of marketing and advertising to prevent media criticism and try and fool us into electing them. Voters do not get regular face-to-face contact with politicians. There is little opportunity to build a real relationship with our elected representatives based on trust, mutual respect and a mutual understanding of role expectations and responsibilities. “That’s all very well,” you might say, “because once they get elected they should be working their fingers to the bone trying to make our country a better place.” Fair enough, I’d agree. Problem being, politicians need to build a relationship with voters in their electorate to stay in office. If you’re the party leader, you need to build a relationship with the electorate as a whole. This relationship can rarely be authentic. Instead, it is communicated to mass audience through advertising and the media. As the boundaries between the public and private lives of politicians (and their antics) disintegrate, scandal has become a part of the electoral cycle. Building
relationships with voters has become increasingly difficult. Australian political parties have reacted by moving away from ‘trust politics’ and embraced ‘image politics’, a phenomenon that has become more and more prominent since the Watergate era. As a culture of scandal has developed, political parties have realised that the integrity of their image relies on differentiating themselves from scandal. Tony Abbott exploited scandal ruthlessly during the Federal election campaign. By the end of the campaign, who remembered that Tony Abbott was elected Liberal leader by only one vote and that the Liberals had changed leaders twice in two years? Next to no one, because Abbott tarnished Labor’s image with the scandal of Kevin Rudd’s removal from office. To mitigate the effects of this scandal-culture, politicians engage in careful media management and spin. They limit the number of journalists invited to launches and announce media conferences without giving journalists time to read through complex policy documents to prevent detailed questioning. Other favourites include the release of a ‘positive’ policy timed to deflect attention away from a damaging media event and the release of a ‘negative’ policy released at a time when no one will notice, like Melbourne Cup Day or Grand Final Day. Or, the time of a prime ministerial debate might change so it doesn’t clash with MasterChef. Managing the media is an arcane art, crucial to minimising criticism which could damage image and cost votes. The policies and values that drive a party become images, reduced to simple slogans to reproduce the same image for each party candidate. This is a by-product of another innovation in media management strategy; the presidentialisation of politics — of election campaigns in particular. The presidentialisation of politics, constructing policy and the image of a party entirely around the leader, is something we have imported from the US. That said, it fitted perfectly into a political culture where disunity is viewed as equivalent to death. These are all parts of the permanent campaign, where the distinction between campaigning and governing no 46
Everyone’s a Winner!, Jamin, 2010, wall painting & vdeo. More info @ www.jamin.com.au
longer exists, because parties are always campaigning, always trying to discredit their opponent, regardless of whether the criticism is valid or not. The permanent campaign and triumph of image over policy is instructed by a set of assumptions designed to win votes. Sally Young, in her book The Persuaders: inside the hidden machine of political advertising, explains the strategies that breed the advertising that we see analysed on the Gruen Transfer/Nation. Young argues that key assumptions in campaign strategy are that voters are not “particularly active or interested” in politics but that they have an “innate ‘bullshit detector’”; compulsory voting forces voters to go to the polls; and their disinterest means they will not engage in considered analysis of policy and political issues. It is
a bundle of impressions or ‘image’ and not ideology or policy that voters use when voting. According to Catherine Needham, a campaign analyst, a successful image combines three components: “internal values, external presentation and consumer (voter) perception.” It must be simple, unique, reassuring, aspirational and credible. Television is the favourite means of delivering advertising and suits such images perfectly. Over time however, voters have become increasingly sceptical of television political advertising. I wonder if this scepticism will ever reach a level where television advertising becomes irrelevant. Political advertising uses many mediums, increasingly new media. The image-layering process constructing the image of a politician or party is complex and thorough. 47
King Makerz, Jamin, 2010, wall painting & panel. More info @ www.jamin.com.au
The construction of a political image is particularly important for swinging voters and winning votes in marginal seats. Parties realise this segment of the electorate is vital to winning elections and believe that to influence swinging voters, details are less important than image. There is some hope, as the success of political imagery is challenged by media professionalism as well as by voter scepticism. That said, the last election campaign hasn’t exactly inspired faith in the media either, with the focus on polling data, earlobes and other distractions from key policy issues. As the campaign discourse is broken down into smaller and smaller blocks within the 24 hour news cycle, communicating a complex policy response becomes even more difficult. It could well be argued that image politics is a reaction to evolution in telecommunications and media, whereby the amount and increased distribution speed of information available to voters, has increased. The lasting impact on voters of being exposed to the news cycle, artificially constructed politicians and the permanent campaign seems to be rising dissatisfaction with both the major parties. This Federal election, a national swing of 5.6% against Labor saw a 2.1% swing to the Coalition but a swing of 3.8% to the Greens. The so-called ‘rise of the Greens’ appears to be overstated, but it is clear they have also mastered image politics. Their success in creating an image that differentiates itself very clearly from the negativity of the major parties should be instructive for the next election campaign. The Greens have made the most of
the persuasion industries upon which the major parties have lavished hundreds of millions of dollars to create; an image that fits voters’ desires, but minimises reality. It is becoming ever clearer how determined the major parties are to win votes at any cost, with their almost absolute reliance on image politics (informed by focus groups). The bland and uninspiring nature of the campaign — and the poor choices made during the campaign — reflect their reliance on the persuasion industries. Image politics damages our electoral system and system of government by taking away the identities of politicians and replacing them with cookie-cutter media constructions, but the permanent campaign is here to stay. While the independents negotiate in Canberra for a ‘new paradigm’ for Australian politics or other sweeping reform, there is a simpler solution that should be canvassed alongside those grand ideas: making a deliberate and sustained move towards positive messages and campaigning on policy. Win voters over by presenting them with a vision for Australia’s future, not a shallow critique of the failures or flaws of the other side. While this pipe-dream lingers, the cost and superficiality of image politics raises many disturbing questions about the priorities of actors within our political system.
James Walker was recently given a television with a remote control. The novelty of a remote control is unlikely to ever wear off and he enjoys sitting in bed with his cat drinking tea, regularly changing the channel. 48
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