Issuu on Google+


Free Brekkie For Students UTS STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION’S

Brekkie Bar Tuesdays, 8:30 - 11:00 AM Haymarkets Moot Courtyard Wednesdays, 8:30 - 11:00 AM Tower Building Foyer www.sa.uts.edu.au


CREATIVE DIRECTORS

EDITOR IN CHIEF

Lachlan Mackenzie

EDITORS

Larissa Bricis Rachel Eddie Andrea Huang Tom Lodewyke Lily Mei Nathalie Meier Hattie O’Donnell Nicola Parise Kristen Troy

News

Alex Barnet Emma Sprouster

CREATIVE TEAM

Bella Ali-Khan Samantha Louise Haviland Mitch Hockey Sam Langshaw Jacqui Lee Natalie Shue Haley Reeve

COVER DESIGN

Goblyn

08

10

UTS Students’ Association Spotpress Pty Ltd, Marrickville

12

13

14

17

18

20

22

23

28

30

32

34

36

38

40

45

46

50

52

54

55

A Brief History of: Aphrodisiacs

Mixtape & Podcasts

Andrew Hansen, Terrible Company

Tips to Surviving Sharehouse Life

The Defamer

Puzzles (yay!)

Joe McKenzie Emily Meller Li-Mei Russell Brittany Smith Courtenay Turner Bella Westaway James Wilson Laura Wood Rachel Worsley Tish Worton

WITH SUPPORT FROM

The Truth about North Korea

Zinegeist: Beef Knuckles

Fringe

CONTRIBUTORS

Eunice Andrada Patrick Boyle Nathan Brasier Vail Bromberger Ben Chapple Rachel Clun Daniel Comensoli Josh Dye Madeleine Er Siobhan Kenna Mina Kitsos Madelyn Lines Frances Mao

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Do They Still Call Australia Home?

Culture

ADVERTISING

Stephanie King

The Power of Things Left Unsaid

Fancy or Offensive Dress?

Justice League: Coltan

Science, Tech & Gaming

Let’s Talk About Gender, Baby

Voluntourism: Selfish Selflessness

Peter Pain

Getting it on (un)like Donkey Kong

Ball Park Music

Showcase: Goblyn, Ben Chapple & Eunice Andrada

Reviews

Rookie’s Guide: Pop Culture News

53

Grad’s Guide

Collectives & SA Reports

Vertigo is published by the UTS STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION Proudly printed by SPOTPRESS PTY LTD, MARRICKVILLE Email us at advertising@utsvertigo.com for advertising enquiries. Vertigo and its entire contents are protected by copyright. Vertigo will retain reprint rights; contributors retain all other rights for resale and republication. No material may be reproduced without the prior written consent of the copyright holders. Vertigo would like to show its respect and acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Land, the Gadigal and Guring-gai people of the Eora Nation, upon whose ancestral lands the university now stands. More than 500 Indigenous Nations shared this land for over 40,000 years before invasion. We express our solidarity and continued commitment to working with Indigenous peoples, in Australia and around the world, in their ongoing struggle for land rights, self-determination, sovereignty, and the recognition and compensation for past injuries.


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

EDITORIAL THANK YOUS: Everyone who likes us Everyone who submits to us You Empty trains True m9s

FUCK YOUS:

“They edited my magazine, I edited their lives.”

Feelings Drunk feelings Deadlines People who don’t stick to deadlines Brandy and Bolty

Hey there Verti-friend, Happy Vertigo to you. Welcome to NERDSEX, a look at gender, sex, technology and a little bit of a lot of things. I don’t really have a good story about how the title came to me. I was walking through my kitchen thinking about how I wanted to expand the tech and gaming sections for my issue (and being sexually frustrated) and then I was all like, “NERDSEX. Yeah that sounds good. Nice work Lachlan.” Lately we’ve seen some of the most fervent protests of recent years. Despite it being mostly ignored in popular media, the March in March was a huge success, attracting thousands of protesters across Australia to basically say “this is all a bit shit.” Students are pissed too, as we showed at the NUS National Day of Action, and more recently the Villawood protests. There are clearly problems with our society right now, ones that are compelling more people to, you know, actually care. There’s a lot of anger, but also a lot of hope. In the wake of all this, we hear from Frances Mao on the power of the media in silencing protest, and Josh Dye tells us about what’s really happening on Manus Island. But(t) to the sex: we have an amazing cover courtesy of Samantha Louise Haviland aka Goblyn who has also let us showcase some of her artwork. Emily Meller gives us a brief ol’ rundown of the history of aphrodisiacs, and Daniel Comensoli invites us to his pants party. But because sex is more than just a verb, we hear from Brittany Smith about the dissonance of sex and gender, and James Wilson gives us an insight into sexuality in games. And if we’re just looking at plain old brilliant, we have Eunice Andrada’s poem, Ferrum. NERDSEX was a beautiful collaborative effort and it wouldn’t be the same without each and every contributor. I’m crazy proud to have the chance to showcase the sheer amount of talent that goes around our university. Love, Lachlan and your Vertigo babes

4 / EDITORIAL


CALENDAR MAY MON

WED

THURS

FRI

SAT

SUN

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

1

19TH BIENNALE OF SYDNEY until 9/6

SYDNEY COMEDY FESTIVAL until 17/5 COMEDY: Tom Ballard @ Factory Theatre, 8:45 pm - $25 COMEDY: Chris Taylor & Andrew Hansen @ The Concourse Chatswood, 7:15 pm - $38

2

COMEDY: Chris Taylor & Andrew Hansen @ Metro Theatre, 7:30 pm - $38

3

TUES

MUSIC: Lorde @ Hordern Pavilion, 7pm - $75

5

STORYTELLING: My Mumma Dun Told Me @ Giant Dwarf, 7:30pm - $20

6

MUSIC: Arctic Monkeys @ Qantas Credit Union Arena, 8pm - $99.95

7

MUSIC: Dizzee Rascal @ Enmore Theatre, 7pm - $84

13

COMEDY: Reginald D. Hunter @ Factory Theatre, 7:15pm - $28 MUSIC: The Naked and Famous @ Metro Theatre, 8pm - $51

15

22

THEATRE: Cain & Abel @ Belvoir, until 8/6 - $38

MUSIC: Dustin Tebbutt @ Newtown Social Club, 7:30pm - $20

16

23

19

ART: Soapbox @ Surry Hills Library Park, until 24/5 - FREE

COMEDY: Wil Anderson @ Enmore Theatre, 9:30pm - $45

ART: Micro Parks @ Parks in Surry Hills, until 18/5 - FREE

SYDNEY WRITER’S FESTIVAL 2014 until 25/5

MUSIC: DMA’s EP Launch @ GoodGod, 8pm - $12

VIVID SYDNEY until 25/5

24

THEATRE: Clubsingularity @ Performance Space, 7:30pm - $30

25

28

OTHER WORLDS ZINE FAIR @ L3 Central, Broadway, 11am-4pm - FREE

30

MCA ZINE FAIR 2014 @ Foundation Hall, MCA, 11am-5pm - FREE

Music: St. Vincent @ Sydney Opera House, 8pm - $49

27

MUSIC: Ms. Lauryn Hill @ Sydney Opera House, 8pm - $79

DANCE: Stones In Her Mouth @ Carriageworks, until 30/5 - $35

MUSIC: The Paper Kites @ Enmore Theatre, 7:30pm - $37.80

31

MUSIC: DZ Deathrays @ OAF, 8pm - $16

psst: for a more indepth and detailed calendar head to utsvertigo.com.au

CALENDAR / 5


s k o o b t x e t r o Call out f Unlike other providers, the UTS Students’ Association’s second-hand bookshop is an KPJQWUGPQVHQTRTQƂVUGTXKEGPQVCRTQƂV driven business. We’ve been in existence for a good 20 years now with the sole purpose of saving students money by facilitating the purchase and resale of used textbooks. Well, due to some high February demand we’re short on books and we want yours! So why not wipe off the dust jackets and make UQOGOQQNCJCVQPGQHQWTQHƂEGUVQFC[!


ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ABC

VERTIGO

OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND. IN 2001, A SMALL, OBSCURE ISLAND NEAR THE EQUATOR BECAME A FOCAL POINT IN AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT POLICY. THIRTEEN YEARS LATER, IT REMAINS SO. JOSH DYE REPORTS ON WHAT’S REALLY HAPPENING ON MANUS ISLAND. Jungle covers most of Manus Island, which is just 100km long and 30km wide. Currently a PNG naval base and previously the site of an Australian World War II base, Manus is home to about 50 000 people. The island is also home to one of Australia’s notorious Regional Processing Centres, used to detain asylum seekers who arrive by boat. This centre, resurrected under the Labor government in 2012, is the same one that was used between 2001 and 2004 during the Howard government’s infamous Pacific Solution. Recently, the centre went under the microscope following the death of 23-year-old Iranian man Reza Berati on Monday, 17 February. Mr Berati was killed during violent confrontations between locals, camp staff and asylum seekers. It is alleged that Mr Berati was thrown from a balcony, before being beaten to death. According to PNG police, he died from a blood clot in his brain following multiple blows to his head. Liz Thompson, a whistle-blower and former Manus Island migration agent, said: “There had been protests every day for months” leading up to the tragedy, including demands for a resolution to the indefinite detention. Ms Thompson’s role at the centre, where she worked in August 2013 and February this year, was to assist detainees putting together claims for asylum, a process she described as “fake”. She was the first person to publicly resign from Manus Island following Mr Berati’s death. According to Ms Thompson, asylum seekers became upset on Sunday, 16 February after being told by Australian Immigration officials they would be resettled in PNG,

8 / NEWS

despite PNG having no provisions for resettlement. She said: “Protests started up again on Sunday night and were brutally suppressed by the riot squad.” Contrary to reports that the asylum seekers initiated the violence, Ms Thompson believes otherwise: “What has been described to me by detainees is that on Sunday they were attacked … On Monday, many of my young clients had broken hands, defensive wounds from shielding their heads from rocks thrown by guards.” Ms Thompson described the incidents as: “A coordinated assault by security staff and locals. Monday night has been described to me as an organised attack: the attackers went room to room in some compounds, guys were attacked in their rooms as well as outside of them.” Azita Bokan, an Iranian translator working for the Australian Immigration Department at the centre, was the first person to speak out about the attacks, leading to her suspension by the department. She described the scene as “horrific” and alleged that PNG locals, including employees of security contractor G4S, initiated the attacks. “There was blood everywhere. The number injured was horrific: people with massive head injuries, at least one with a slashed throat,’’ Ms Bokan said, adding that detainees had only plastic chairs to shield themselves. Since the outbreak of violence, Ms Thompson holds grave concerns for the asylum seekers remaining at the centre. “People are in despair,” she said. “They are frightened and sleeping in shifts: keeping guard over their sleeping quarters in fear of another coordinated assault.”


Another source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said eyewitnesses to the murder have received death threats and are fearful for their lives. Some detainees have asked for protective custody, but are yet to receive it. Ms Thompson concurs: “Those who witnessed Reza’s death fear reprisal. The killers know the witnesses very well. While [the witnesses] live with no protection from reprisals from outside the centre and under the threat of being resettled in PNG, they don’t feel safe to speak.” The anonymous source described the mental health of detainees as “absolutely dire” and said there have been multiple suicide attempts, instances of self-harm and mass hunger strikes. While the Australian Government is conducting an inquiry, they have refused to make the results public, and Australians will be denied the opportunity to learn the truth about the violence. At the time of writing, no arrests have been made following Mr Berati’s death. Two human rights inquiries into Manus Island, set up by PNG judge Justice David Cannings, have been blocked. Ms Thompson said the level of interference by the Australian government into the inquiry is “extraordinary”. “Australia is responsible for what happened. The [detainees] want that acknowledged and they don’t want to stay on PNG,” she said. As well as having concerns for the detainees’ safety, Ms Thompson said: “The conditions are extremely hot and humid, disease spreads easily [and] whole compounds have zero Internet access so they can barely keep in contact with family. Guys spend hours every day lining up for everything in the hot sun.” Detainees are stripped of their dignity, too. “They don’t have a change of clothes—they met with us in their pyjamas, which

some people found deeply humiliating,” said Ms Thompson. The conditions described mirror those detailed in an Amnesty International report into the detention centre from November last year. The report asserts that asylum seekers in one compound are denied sufficient water, with each detainee receiving just 500ml per day. In an example of the punitive rules in the centre, detainees are only allowed to go on excursions outside if they are wearing covered shoes. But despite requests for covered shoes, no one receives them. The issue is not the conditions the asylum seekers endure. The issue is the existence of detention centres in the first place. “Those inside the camps don’t want nicer cages—they want freedom,” said Ms Thompson. Refugees are entitled to Australia’s protection under the Refugee Convention, which Australia was one of the first countries to ratify in 1954. Consistently, over 90% of asylum seekers arriving by boat are found to be genuine refugees in need of protection. The fact that just one asylum seeker from Manus Island has been processed since the centre reopened in 2012 is both a travesty and a disgrace. Successive government policies of mandatory detention have created a system where people are simultaneously punished and denied their rights. “Offshore processing is inhumane, deliberately cruel and a breach of our obligations under the Refugee Convention,” Ms Thompson said. The tough, uncompromising policy on asylum seekers only exists because a majority of Australians either support it or don’t make enough noise criticising it. And Ms Thompson’s advice to create change is simple. “[Find] a way, where you are, to do something practical to dismantle the camps.”

NEWS / 9


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

THE TRUTH ABOUT NORTH KOREA WORDS BY VAIL BROMBERGER The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK): need I say more? We know that there is less Internet access in North Korea than in Somalia, and that insurance fraud, bootleg cigarettes and methamphetamine are the major sources of income for the country with a population of 24 million. Google Earth proliferated satellite imagery and revealed prison and labour camps hidden away in the mountains, which the government swore did not exist. American Kenneth Bae, is not due to be released from the hard labour camp he is imprisoned in for another 28 years for his “serious crime” of enjoying Christianity. And retired NBA player, Dennis Rodman calls the Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un a “dear friend.” Something’s not right here. The Commission of Inquiry In response to the concerning history of diplomacy with the nation, in March of 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Council finally created a three person Commission of Inquiry. The inquiry was tasked with producing an evidentiary report concerning possible crimes against humanity occurring within the DPRK. Michael Kirby, a retired High Court judge from Australia with an eminent body of judicial work behind him,

10 / NEWS

was appointed chair of the panel. Sonja Biserko and Marzuki Darusman joined him, both formidable in their own careers in Serbia and Indonesia respectively. For the first time in the diplomatic history of the DPRK, things were looking bright. For so long, North Korea has managed to get away with denouncing the world around them as a legitimate response to serious problems and allegations. It was thought that this group would trigger some significant change. The Methodology There were two key questions that the Commission was required to answer in their report. Firstly, was there sufficient evidence that crimes against humanity were occurring within the DPRK? If this question was answered positively, the Commission had to recommend who should be held accountable for these crimes. But how do you gather evidence on a nation’s activities when you aren’t permitted entry into that nation? The Commission of Inquiry gathered its evidence entirely through public hearings that were centred on the concepts of transparency, due process and protection of witnesses. They were held in Seoul, Tokyo, London and Washington DC. People who had managed to escape North Korea was invited


to publicly testify before the Commission, and share their stories. These hearings were filmed by local and international media and uploaded to the internet for everyone to see (except people in North Korea). Even before any work had commenced, Kim Jong-Un and his government vowed to, “totally reject and disregard” the Commission’s work, which it considered to be, “a product of political confrontation and conspiracy.” In spite of this, the Commission extended the DPRK a right of defence; to scrutinize the evidence given, to cross-examine witnesses and to provide counter-arguments where appropriate. They ignored the Commission’s invitations.

The Commission adhered strongly to the laws of evidence, ensuring that no witness was guided or lead in questioning. UN General Assembly nations also submitted reports and academic works on the DPRK, out of the growing global concern. The Findings The Commission’s work made several grave findings, not only are these people being denied the rights to free thought and choice of religion, but the entire political and governmental system is choking its present and future citizens. Mass starvation North Korea is starving. Whether in a labour camp or Pyongyang, a soldier in the army or a prisoner, everyone is hungry. The DPRK government has implemented actions, decisions and policies known to have led to mass starvation, death by starvation and serious mental and physical injury. Many people who have escaped the labour camps did so out of immense hunger, rather than desire for freedom. Stunted babies are being born at an alarming rate attributable to the hunger of mothers during pregnancy. Starvation has been a grim, recurring theme in the DPRK’s history. A national campaign to encourage people to eat two meals a day was disseminated in the early 1990s due to an impending famine. Despite this disaster, the government prioritised the preservation of their political hierarchy over feeding the people, and refused international aid in favour of autonomy and isolation. Famine has also been caused by an over-reliance on an industrialised economy, with little concern given for national production of food – it’s well known that the DPRK is more concerned with launching missiles into the sea.

Songbun System and Three Generations The DPRK has an incredibly politicised social strata consisting of three core groups. The inner class makes up 25% of the population, and is composed of people who have strong links in their heritage to the Communist revolution. The hostile class comprises 20% of the population, and include people with capitalist occupations in their family (for example, being a landlord). The wavering class are those who are not considered either incredibly hostile or incredibly loyal to the party. It’s impossible to improve your class, though very easy to worsen it. These three classes branch out into over 50 subgroups that are also diverse and complex. The practical upshot of this system is that the government has intimate control over every citizen’s life. Families can be relocated away from the main cities where tourists visit, or sent to a labour camp for innocuous misdemeanours by their ancestors. Actions that are rather harmless by most standards (for example, not having enough political enthusiasm) garner demotion to hostile subgroups. It’s especially concerning in the context of the three-generation policy. This is a policy whereby the punishment exacted on a person is extended to their siblings, spouse, children and parents. It’s a holistic attempt to rid North Korean society of that person and their legacy, and remove threats to the political order. Children are born into these camps, where they live their whole lives, until they die, never knowing what it means to be satiated or schooled. The Future In a startling development, the Commission recommended prosecuting Kim Jong-Un and his associates in the International Criminal Court. But this coupled with the appalling findings by the Commission seem to have had little effect on the DPRK. At the submission of the report, the DPRK was quick to claim that, “the ‘human rights violations’ mentioned in the socalled ‘report’ do not exist in our country,” but refused to provide any evidence to this effect whatsoever. The future of North Korea is still clouded. We can only hope this report pushes the sluggish machinery of the UN to act.

NEWS / 11


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

THE POWER OF THINGS LEFT UNSAID THE MARCH IN MARCH WAS CONSIDERED BY ATTENDEES TO BE A HUGE SUCCESS, WITH FACEBOOK, TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM AWASH WITH SCENES OF PROTEST. THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA PRETENDED IT DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE, FRANCES MAO ASKS WHY THEY SO BOLDLY FAILED JOURNALISM 101. I went to March in March and I’m proud of it. I’d heard about it, not from any of my activist friends or journalist colleagues, but from the girl I worked in a shop with. She wasn’t very politically savvy or particularly interested in activism, but she was disheartened by so much of what she has seen this government do, and she thought it wasn’t right. “We need to do something about it,” she said. “We need to voice our dissent.” She invited me to come along. I’ve been to a few protests before, both as an attendee and a reporter, but the scale of March in March far surpassed anything else I’ve experienced. I can’t tell you the feeling of being part of that great wave of people streaming down Broadway. There were thousands and thousands. Many had never protested a day in their lives, but they showed up in the rain with their family and friends, people whose dismay and frustration and yes, anger, manifested on the streets in cries for change and not just through amorphous dribbles of thought bubbles on Facebook. It was peaceful, there was music and the sun came out. To describe the mood, I’ll steal the words of the great gonzo journo himself.1 Quite simply, “There was a fantastic universal sense

Although more than 100 000 people across the country voted with their feet that weekend, the mainstream media sat on their hands and took no note. In Sydney, coverage of the event was stingy and snarky. The AAP story made a note of the fringe elements in the crowd like the Illuminati references and vulgar signage, but ignored the diversity and intention of the multitude marching. Last year, Channel Nine sent a senior reporter and camera team to cover a student rally that drew up to 300 people, yet failed to adequately cover March in March, an event almost a hundred times larger. Politics aside, the mainstream media simply failed Journalism 101. We weren’t looking for a gushy feature, we were looking for record keeping. This was the biggest march Sydney, and indeed Australia had seen in recent years. If journalism is supposed to be the first draft of history, well then the grand institutions failed us and would rather shamefully blame their ineptitude than their ingrained bias. The Sydney Morning Herald’s apology to readers for not covering the march in print was pretty damn poor. The chose to present themselves as a news organisation behind the times and out of touch with the zeitgeist rather than acknowledge how it’s shunning of the events was an implicit editorial decision to uphold the status quo.

that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning.” A couple of hours later I went home, had a post-march nap and then hopped online, bright-eyed and eager to read up about the response to the march. And I learned rudely and rather clearly, that in the eyes of the mainstream press, we weren’t winning. We didn’t even exist. 1. Hunter S. Thompson

12 / NEWS

Even in this digital age, the mainstream media still sets the nation’s agenda, and it’s through the mouthpiece of the Fourth Estate that citizens hold their governments accountable. Despite the declining standards of those evening bulletins and front pages, many people still look to them to see which way the wind is blowing.


DO THEY STILL CALL AUSTRALIA HOME? AFTER CONSISTENTLY LOSING A LOT OF MONEY, QANTAS LOOKS ALL SET TO LEAVE AUSTRALIAN SHORES. SIOBHAN KENNA LOOKS AT THE TREND TOWARDS FOREIGN OWNERSHIP AND ASKS IF WE CARE. A collective ’Strayan groan was let out as Qantas, everyone’s favourite overpriced and under-utilised airline, announced cuts to local jobs and wages. But why do Australians care about this all of a sudden? Because Qantas is ‘The Spirit of Australia.’ Our Aussie nationalism manifests itself in Qantas – this is emphasised by the current government debate surrounding the company’s debt. Essentially, the ALP wants to support the airline by nullifying all of its debts, while the Liberal Party believes that Qantas should not be given exclusive treatment. Over 5 000 employees are on the chopping block to lose their jobs, joining legions of Aussie workers who have been laid off as local companies resort to using cheap overseas labor. Australia lost ownership of Bonds in 2009, and is set to say goodbye to Holden by 2017, resulting in a total loss of more than 4 000 Australian jobs. This loss is intensified further by the latest Qantas funding catastrophe – a trend that has begun to significantly impact the Australian psyche. Traditionally, Australians care about working hard and earning good money, making us appreciate a good bargain. It’s easy to understand why Qantas is struggling to compete in the aviation market: The cheapest single-fare Qantas flight from Sydney to Melbourne in June is a ridiculous $145, compared to $45 with Tiger Air. Qantas is losing out to domestic and international budget airlines and the only realistic way to keep the airline remotely Australian is to increase foreign ownership to 49%, from the current 39%

Three visionary men, who had a dream of connecting Australians, nationally and internationally, established Australia’s largest airline, and the second largest in the world in 1920. However a lot has changed over the last century and there is no denying that the forceful change instigated by globalisation. The sooner Australia steps into the 21st century and accepts this, the sooner we will find ways to manage this omnipresent problem. Qantas are doing everything they can to can to save the airline from going under, reworking their frequent flyer system even axing their contract with the florists responsible for the orchids in the First Class Lounge. “Qantas is in a transformation period to make our business better and stronger,” words of Alan Joyce, CEO, in last years Qantas Annual report. The federal government announced in February that they were going to provide Qantas with a debt guarantee. The Australian taxpayers who will underwrite the airline’s push to increase its foreign ownership will uphold this plan. Ultimately, this will make the public liable for Qantas borrowing in the event of default. These are the foundations being laid by the government to make way for a bigger plan of majority foreign ownership of the airline. As citizens we can make ourselves responsible for the potential sinking of Qantas, but it should be remembered that one airline does not dictate who Australians are – the losses being suffered are a just a reminder that times are changing.

NEWS / 13


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

FANCY OR OFFENSIVE DRESS?

THE FINE LINE BETWEEN COSTUME AND CULTURE SOMBREROS, MOUSTACHES, PONCHOS AND LET’S NOT FORGET THE TEQUILA! SOUNDS LIKE A PARTY, BUT AT WHO’S EXPENSE? LI-MEI RUSSELL INVESTIGATES. It’s time to start the conversation: Where does a joke start and when does it hurt?

are harmful to other students and our photo campaign is to raise awareness of this.”

Students from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), University of Sydney (USYD) and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) have come together to challenge the mocking of cultures at university social events.

Despite student concerns Shelley Valentine, the events manager of ARC at UNSW, said UNSW’S past Day-of-the-Dead theme and upcoming Jungle Week, are themes that have been chosen through Facebook polls. She said: “They are both repeats of themes that have been very successful in the past.”

The controversial parties in question are USYD’s Gender Bender party, UTS Business Society’s Mexican Fiesta and UNSW’s El-Dorado theme and upcoming Jungle Week. “We have collaborated our efforts in order to raise awareness of the offensive misinterpretation of cultures, which has no place in our universities,” said Jess Xu, Welfare Officer of UTS Students’ Association. At UNSW’s El Dorado week students wore excessive fake tan, fake facial hair and dressed as stereotypical ‘Mexican’ gardeners. Such stereotypical costuming has led to student complaints and ultimately the cross-campus Offensive Parties Group. Inspired by Ohio University’s poster campaign, “We are a culture, not a costume” led by the group, Students Teaching About Racism in Society (STARS). STARS have given permission for Sydney students to use their posters. The posters have people of various ethnicities holding up photos of young people in costumes. The slogans read: “This is not who I am and this is not okay” and “You wear the costume for one night. I wear the stigma for life.” One photo includes a person impersonating a member of Al Qaeda. Olivia Lanier, the events director of STARS, acknowledged that party themes aren’t necessarily a deliberate attack on certain cultures: “People wear offensive costumes unaware that they

14 / NEWS

Jess Xu disagreed: “Culture shouldn’t be a fashion trend and racism doesn’t just happen in university, but our campaign is one step in making some kind of change in our attitude to people who don’t necessarily have the same experiences as us.” Elisha Benbow, a student at UNSW said students are choosing to avoid social events, as they are uncomfortable with their peers’ choices of costumes. Miss Benbow, who is West Indian Australian said, “Subtle racism still exists today, for example, choosing to wear a sombrero and a moustache and thinking this is a justified representation of Mexican culture.” Jennifer Pham, the Ethno-Cultural Collective Officer at UTS felt themes such as the Mexican Fiesta and Jungle Week need to be reassessed across all campuses: “There has been a history at these parties where people associate the jungle with tribal groups and native peoples as a generalised group of dark-skinned, less-civilised people and that’s just not accurate.” Students aim to implement procedures that will review the themes of upcoming events across campuses, liaising with respective minority groups. Despite student concerns and complaints, the relative societies and organisers are yet to apologise or withdraw these events from university calendars.


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

FOODPORN When you’re sexually frustrated you start to see all kinds of things, inappropriate things. We don’t take the time to appreciate good, wholesome food anymore. Fresh, nice looking food, now that’s trending.

16 / CULTURE


THE BEEF KNUCKLES CREW IS A THREESOME OF DUDEBURGERS – HON BOEY, BRYN DESMONDJONES AND ROB MORAN. THEY MAKE A PRETTY (IN A BOYISH KIND OF WAY) ZINE FILLED WITH HAT POEMS, COMICS ABOUT CATS, BASKETBALL, AND OTHER ADORABLY GEEKY THINGS. THIS ISSUE, THE GUYS CHAT TO ANDY HUANG ABOUT THEIR ZINE (COINCIDENTALLY ALSO CALLED BEEF KNUCKLES). Tell us about yourselves, how did you discover zines? Rob: We’re Beef Knuckles. Bryn, Hon and Rob. We draw, write and try to come up with ideas over beers and rambling emails. Hon: I discovered zines by listening to punk music in high school. Every time you read about 70s punks they always went on about some zine called Sniffin’ Glue so I went to the library and borrowed a book about it. Which came first, Beef Knuckles or Beef Knuckles? What brought you guys together and made you want to create a zine? Rob: Hon and Bryn have been illustrating stuff for years. Hon’s also a designer. I write stupid shit. We figured we could put our powers together like Captain Planet kids and make something. But mainly Hon had a Gocco printer he brought back from Japan, and this was a way to make use of it.

You’re up to issue five now, right? Can you tell us what’s in your latest issue? Rob: I think it’s six, or seven, no-one remembers and it’s so far away, I can’t reach it. Hon: Well, we never know what’s going to be in it until before it goes to print. But our last issue had great illos and a funny story about when Robbie went to see Michael Jackson. “Illos”? Uh, illustrations? It’s just that I had to Google it and it came up with something in Spanish… Rob: Yes, illos = illustrations. Beef Knuckles is an awesome name for a zine, what’s the story behind that? Hon: No story unfortunately, but I’ve copied and pasted the email convo that led up to it: Rob: Yo so what should we call it? I was listening to a Guided By Voices song this morning called Exit Flagger. The words look good together but I don’t know what it means. I also like the sound of “face rake”. Hon: What about “Have you ever been close to tragedy or been close to folks who have? Have you ever felt a pain so powerful so heavy you

collapse?” No! Rob: That’s too long. Bryn: 1. We Fix Computers, 2. Beef Knuckles, 3. apple john’s yeasty tales, 4. Tarred and feathered: the humiliating quarterly magazine Then again, I’m better at drawing Hon: I like ‘face rake’ and ‘beef knuckles’. Rob: Beef Knuckles sounds tasty. Btw did you watch the Bulls-Celtics game today?? Amazing happened. What are you working on now? Rob: At the moment we’re organising an alternative zine fair to MCA’s annual fair. Because of their relationship with Transfield, a bunch of us aren’t comfortable being part of it. Instead we’ve organised an alternative that’ll happen on the same day (May 25) at Level 3, Central Park on Broadway. Ah, fudge. I was actually looking forward to the MCA zine fair. Rob: Come to Other Worlds, it’ll be better, everyone’s gonna be there instead. Also, it’s in a shopping centre, which is nicer than an art gallery. Mmm, yeah. Burritos…

Who: Hon Boey, Bryn Desmond-Jones, Rob Moran What: Beef Knuckles Where to get your copy: visit Kinokuniya or your local zine shop, or head to beefknuckles.wordpress.com and shoot the BK dudes an email

CULTURE / 17


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

COLTAN JUSTICE LEAGUE IS A REGULAR COLUMN WHERE GLOBAL SOCIAL ISSUES ARE RAISED AND VARIOUS PERSPECTIVES ARE EXPLORED. IN THIS ISSUE, TISH WORTON REVEALS JUST WHAT GOES INTO MAKING THE DEVICES WE COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT. Right now, my guess is your phone is within arm’s reach, or even in your hand. It’s your connection to the world. Admittedly, when I lose mine it’s like I’ve lost an extension of myself. That little device, however, is partially responsible for the death of almost 5.5 million people – the highest death toll of any conflict since WWII. Or, if you prefer animals to people, a part of your phone is rapidly culling gorillas. Have you ever heard of coltan? I hadn’t really; it even comes up with a squiggly red line when you type it into a Word document, but it is in almost every single electronic device you own. Coltan is short for columbite-tantalite, a black, tar-like mineral generally found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). When coltan is refined it becomes a powder which is heat resistant and especially good at holding an electrical charge.

Association, “In Kahuzi Biega National Park… the gorilla population has been cut nearly in half, from 258 to 130”. Rebels and miners have cleared large quantities of rainforest in order to have greater access to coltan. Gorillas and many other animals have lost their habitats, and the national parks are shrinking as the Congolese government is too weak to protect them. Miners and rebels also hunt the gorillas for food, sold as ‘bush meat’. Many phone and computer recycling campaigns highlight the impact of coltan mining on gorillas and their habitats. One example is Fauna and Flora International, who partnered with UNSW in 2012 for a phone recycling initiative. Recycling your phone is a practical way you can reduce the coltan mined, and every little bit counts.

Coltan is mined using a similar method to that of the gold miners we learnt about in year six Australian history. People wash the earth, then scoop up the mud and slosh it around a container so that the coltan falls to the bottom and the rest can be decanted off. The price of coltan varies depending on supply and demand – during a technological boom it has risen to US$600 per kilogram, but averages US$100 per kilogram. These high prices have meant that many of the DRC’s neighbouring countries (and resident warlords) have moved in to exploit the trade.

Impact on the People (not just statistics) In the documentary Blood Coltan, the mayor of a local town identifies two aspects of the problem coltan mining has created: “the political side, and the economic side.” The political side refers to the occupation of Congolese mines and land by non-Congolese people. In the documentary, we follow the journalists as they travel into land controlled by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), while still on Congolese soil. The villagers in the area live in fear of the militia group. These trespassers on national sovereignty tie into the economic problems.

Say Goodbye to the Gorillas According to an article from the American Broadcasting

The FDLR seize the coltan and sell it for profit, giving little to the villagers, while also forcing them to pay taxes. In this way,

18 / CULTURE


the wealth of the DRC is not going to its people, but in fact to Rwanda, or any of the numerous other nations which have seized Congolese mines. It is estimated that in an 18 month period Rwanda made over $250 million from coltan, even though it is not mined within the country. This has been going on since 1994, and eleven years on from the period known as the World Wars of Africa, the DRC is still highly unstable. Many nations and militia groups are fighting over the coltan mines, including the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Muslim group from Uganda; the Lord’s Resistance Army from Uganda; the Mai Mai militias from Congo (who are against the Congolese government and UN); the M23, a Tutsidominated group which recruits militia from DRC, Uganda and Rwanda; and the FDLR – a remnant of the Hutu people who committed the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Funding for these groups comes largely from the sales of coltan. During the wars it is estimated that 5.5 million people were killed. Militia groups murdered, raped, enslaved, and stole from the Congolese people, and continue to do so in areas uncontrolled by the Congolese government. However, in 2013

the United Nations were able to make significant progress through regional cooperation to defeat one of the rebel groups, the M23. The combined forces of the UN peacekeepers and Congolese army were able to overcome M23 forces late last year by attacking M23 strongholds until the militia group called for a cease-fire. As previous negotiations resumed, many of the members fled into neighbouring Uganda and were disbanded. Unfortunately, there are reports that the group are attempting to reform. Amongst all this murder and violence is the small black mineral, which sits like silt in muddy puddles. We, with our phones, iPods, and laptops, are so far removed from the chaos we help to fund. I’m writing this on my laptop now, and people died for the coltan that powered it. But this article isn’t a guilt trip. You can’t boycott technology, but you can be aware. If you ever see a ‘gorilla friendly’ phone, aim for that one. Foucault talks about how knowledge is power. I don’t think he particularly meant it in this sense, but if we spread awareness, then maybe someday we’ll have the power to make a change.

CULTURE / 19


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

PETER PAIN JOE WRIGHT’S UPCOMING REMAKE OF THE CLASSIC TALE OF PETER PAN SPARKED CONTROVERSY WHEN THE DIRECTOR CAST ROONEY MARA – A WHITE GIRL – TO PLAY A NATIVE AMERICAN CHARACTER. MADELEINE ER TALKS BACK, MAYBE IT’S TIME HOLLYWOOD GREW UP? “Heck yeah” was my immediate reaction when I first heard that there was a new Peter Pan movie in the works. Who doesn’t love a story about flying boys, pixies, and pirates? But when I read the press release stating that Rooney Mara was cast to play Tiger Lily, my reaction was “hell no”, because who would want their Indigenous culture to be (mis) represented by a white person? By someone who does not experience racial oppression? According to a statement by Warner Brothers, director James Wright is “planning to create a world that [is] very international and multi-racial, effectively challenging audiences’ preconceived notions of Neverland and reimagining the environment.” An interesting concept, considering the fact that all the lead roles for Pan have been cast, and all the lead actors for these roles are white. But what is most disconcerting is the fact that a white woman has been cast to play a woman of colour. “Is this even a problem?” you might be asking. ‘Rooney Mara is a really great actor, they wouldn’t have cast her if she wasn’t the best actor for the role!’ Yeah. I’ve considered that, but I still think it’s wrong. And the reason is because this isn’t a matter of merit – it’s probably safe to say that Rooney Mara is an objectively good actor. This is more about the fact that a white woman has been cast to play a Native American woman, and that ain’t right. It’s not just a movie. It’s not just a fantasy world with fairy dust and mermaids. Cinema – and the film industry as a whole – is a reflection of society, irrespective of what the movie is about. Having a white woman cast to play the role of a Native American woman means that Hollywood is perpetuating a subtle form of racism, and contributing to the white washing

20 / CULTURE

of people of colour, their cultures and their histories. It is actually a serious, and alarmingly mainstream, form of misrepresentation. How hard is it, really, to find a Native American actor to cast in this movie? Why don’t talented people of colour get offered these same opportunities? All this tells us is that we apparently value entertainment over the serious implications of white washing. It sends a very clear message to people of colour that their cultures, and ultimately their voice, just don’t matter. Because, by Hollywood’s standards, it’s perfectly fine to cast the token black friend as a supporting actor, but never should they be the leading role! It’s totally okay to cast an Asian as a ‘nerdy girl’ (because all Asians are nerds, riiight?), but never should an Asian fill the leading role! And apparently, it’s perfectly fine to cast a white person as a person of colour because, you know, she’s a good actor. Why is it that people of colour are supposedly never good actors (or directors, or dancers)?

This is what it’s all about – the way people of colour are seriously under-represented and inaccurately represented. I can hear the faint echo of someone shouting, “but they cast a black girl to play little orphan Annie! That’s reverse racism!” But that’s not reverse racism. Things like that are actually responses to blatant over-representation of white people in mainstream media, and cannot damage white ‘culture’ (which is everywhere and we are all ultimately part of). It’s an attempt to balance out what currently is an imbalanced representation of black people. Whereas, casting a white person to play a person of colour is misrepresentation (and therefore racist)


because they are not part of those cultures. And this is why it’s a problem that Rooney Mara has been cast as Tiger Lily. She is not Native American. She has no true understanding of what it means to be part of those cultures, or to feel the ramifications of the damage colonialisation has had upon native peoples, and continues to have even today. Basic under-representation of people of colour aside, it just isn’t good enough. We all look back at the days where blackface was acceptable in cinema and cringe, so why is this okay? You should never cast a white person to play a non-white role, and you especially shouldn’t do it in children’s movies. Being half Chinese, growing up was not easy for me. I never had famous actors that I could identify with or look up to. Sure, there was Mulan and Lucy Lui, but let me ask you how many white actors you can think of? More than two, I’m sure. And do you think it’s acceptable for all Asian people – not even, you know, country or culture specific, just all Asians in general – to look up to one or two actors? Growing up in a world where being white is presented as the pinnacle of beauty is one which messes with your sense of identity and ideas of what conventional beauty is. And it sends a clear message that tells you it is different for you to be something other than white.

The message this movie will likely send to its audiences – which will presumably include Native American children – is troubling. With no Indigenous actors (or directors, for that matter) given a chance to represent their cultures or peoples, Peter Pan’s portrayal is likely to be utterly inaccurate. It needs to stop. This, the subtlest form of racism, is incredibly damaging on so many different levels. People of colour need greater, and more accurate representation. It really isn’t that hard to do and it’ll save us from having to witness what is a truly offensive and problematic representation of Indigenous cultures as a whole. But cultural appropriation is a whole other conversation.

CULTURE / 21


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

A BRIEF HISTORY OF:

APHRODISIACS FOR CENTURIES, THE HUMAN BODY HAS BEEN THE SITE OF EMBARRASSMENT AND SHAME. IT SHOULDN’T BE IN THE 21ST CENTURY, BUT DAMN IT’S AWKS WHEN THINGS GO WRONG IN THE BEDROOM. EMILY MELLER LOOKS AT SOME OF THE WAYS WE’VE BEEN KEEPING IT UP. Have you ever wondered who discovered the first aphrodisiac? Did some impotent old man start munching on plants in a desperate search? Did an unfortunate adolescent get aroused at the dinner table one time? Did some creepy naturalist follow bonobos to their secret chimp sex trees to see how they got it up? It seems that one of the most unifying aspects of human civilisation is a desire to control our sexual organs. We cajole, restrict and discipline them to fit our conscious will, especially when things don’t go to plan. Enter the trusty aphrodisiac, the human answer to those pesky biological impulses that cause such embarrassment and goddamn awkwardness. Greeks get down, but they get up again. The word aphrodisiac is from the Greek aphrodisios, “pertaining to Aphrodite, the Goddess of love and beauty.” The aphrodisiac of choice for Ancient Greeks were raw oysters. “Why”, you ask? You see, the Greek poet Hesiod (750 BC) believed that after a quarrel between Uranus (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth), Uranus’ son snuck into their bed-cave and cut his father’s penis off with a sickle. The little twat then threw it into the ocean, where it squirted semen uncontrollably for a few hundred years. That’s where the waves get their foam.

(You were expecting an anus joke, right? Wrong. This is Vertigo, not an expensive kind of toilet paper). People eat the darndest things. Following the Ancient Greeks, Western society’s relationship with sex got a little fucked up. What with all that repression, aphrodisiacs also became a bit of a taboo topic. Alcohol was (still is) the people’s drug of choice. In Macbeth, Shakespeare (that old sexual deviant) observed that, “it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance.” Ja feel, Bill. So it became necessary to start eating other things that didn’t come with this unfortunate, err, downside. Spanish fly, when ingested, increases blood flow ‘down there’ and makes it feel like you have an erection. In 1772, French aristocrat Marquis de Sade gave some to an orgy of prostitutes, killing a few of them in the process. Lesson: Don’t eat mysterious powdered offerings from creepy French revolutionaries. Or, anyone. Meanwhile, tiger penis is still believed (in certain circles) to cure erectile dysfunction. Balut, from the Philippines, are duck eggs containing a semi-gestated fetus, flipped upsidedown and slurped raw. If that doesn’t get you screaming “take me, now,” I don’t know what will.

It’s also where oysters were created, in the exact shape as Uranus’ tragically severed balls. When Aphrodite was born, it was on a bed of oysters, which made her the Goddess of love and sexual pleasure. Cute.

Down Under, we export kangaroo balls, but tend not to consume them ourselves. Coles, you need to up your meatisle game.

The Ancient Greeks slurped those oysters down as fast as they could, believing they could get a little piece of Uranus’ virility. Later, Venetian lover Lord Casanova reportedly ate 50 oysters a day to aid his manhood (cough, insecurity complex).

Lessons learned? Aphrodisiacs might be useful, but after all - this is about nerd sex. There is no substitute for your brain, kids. Learn to flirt (there’s an app for that), read some literary erotica, and leave the tiger penises alone.

22 / CULTURE


SCIENCE, TECH AND GAMING

FOGGY JOURNALISM WENDY BACON, A UTS PROFESSOR OF JOURNALISM AT THE AUSTRALIAN CENTRE FOR INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM (ACIJ), SPOKE TO KRISTEN TROY ABOUT THE SCEPTICAL MEDIA CLIMATE, AND HOW IT’S IMPACTING THE PUBLIC’S PERSPECTIVE ON CLIMATE SCIENCE. Please describe the nature of your research, and briefly outline your findings. In 2009 the ACIJ decided to investigate climate change coverage to establish what techniques are used to obscure the truth about the reality of climate science. We used content analysis and case studies to reveal patterns in reporting by ten major Australian publications. Seven of those publications are owned by the Murdoch family’s News Corp, the biggest media player by far in Australia. We found that the coverage of the carbon policy, especially News Corp’s, was extremely biased against the then Gillard Labor Government’s emissions trading scheme. Even more worrying was our finding that 32% of articles published between February and April in 2011 and 2012 that referenced climate science, either dismissed or questioned the proposition that human activity is causing dangerous climate change. The patterns, however, are uneven. Fairfax media, which owns the Sydney Morning Herald in Sydney and The Age in Melbourne, publishes hardly any scepticism, while nearly two thirds of articles referencing climate in the Daily Telegraph and the Herald Sun questioned or outright rejected the existence of anthropogenic climate change. Earlier research has already established that climate science coverage has declined in recent years and that some big media outlets actively encourage audiences to disbelieve the research finding of more than 97% of climate scientists that human beings are contributing to dangerous climate change. In other words, the media is failing to perform its democratic role of informing the public about a hugely significant contemporary process that is predicted to cause massive damage to health and property and cost millions of lives, especially in less developed regions.

In your opinion, is there a strong relationship between the Australian political and economic landscape, and the media’s treatment of climate science? The explanation for our sceptic media is to be found in the political economy of Australian media rather than in notions of balance and fairness. We found that there is a strong connection between media support for the fossil fuel industry and the coverage of science. The publications that were most biased against the carbon emissions trading scheme policy were also the most sceptic. Fossil fuel sources were far more often quoted than NGOs, scientists and other business sources who supported the policy. How does our experience of climate change in the media differ from that of other nations? Based on the ACIJ reports and other international research, we can confidently state that Australian media have a higher proportion of climate scepticism than any other in the world. Media scepticism barely exists in Europe (outside the UK) or Asia. While News Corp officially says that it accepts that human beings contribute to climate change; in practice, its journalism promotes scepticism in the United States, the UK, and Australia. There is a strong connection between News Corp’s dominance in Australia and our high levels of media scepticism. The role of science in informing critical policy debate in government seems to have taken a back seat in Australia. How do you think this state of affairs could be rectified? It is not hard to demonstrate that Australian media are failing the public in its reporting of climate change, but how do we change this? We need to turn the coverage of climate science into a public issue and use social media to promote high quality climate change reports and websites that expose climate scepticism. We need to find clever ways to bypass mainstream sceptic messages through independent media and educational institutions. We should oppose any moves that increase concentration of our media and support moves to strengthen media accountability and diversity.

CULTURE / 23


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

SCIENCE, TECH AND GAMING

CITIZEN SCIENCE: THE POWER OF THE PUBLIC KRISTEN TROY UNDERLINES HOW CROWDSOURCING INITIATIVES ARE REVOLUTIONISING PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT IN CONTEMPORARY SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH. The recent search for missing flight MH370 is a poignant example of the utility and importance of online crowdsourcing. A US-based satellite company, DigitalGlobe, crowdsourced help to cover millions of square kilometres of terrain in what undoubtedly constitutes history’s most expansive recovery effort for a missing aeroplane. Along with online platform Tomnod, the projects involve the creation of satellite images, to be visually scanned by crowdsourced volunteers. These kinds of projects are becoming commonplace, and are implemented as a powerful technique to harness resources contributed by enormous numbers of volunteers. The Citizen Science Alliance (CSA) is the key online scientific crowdsourcing organisation, championed by a collaboration of scientists, software developers and educators who advocate for the civilian contribution to science. The CSA emphasises that the increasing quantity of these projects has profoundly enhanced the accessibility of science, and refreshed the public’s perception and understanding of the scientific process. Not only are these projects affording ordinary citizens the opportunity to make amazing new discoveries, they are also revolutionising the technological and scientific landscape of research. If you’re interested in getting involved in the citizen science movement, here are several awesome CSA projects you can get behind and support: Galaxy Zoo (Zooniverse) Galaxy Zoo is an online astronomy project that invites volunteers to classify millions of digitalised images of galaxies based upon morphological characteristics. In its first year (2007), more than 150,000 people helped to classify over 50 million galaxies. It’s incredibly interesting and really easy to get into, with a simple tutorial guiding you through the classification process. The project is definitely a stellar (and worthwhile) procrastination tool.

24 / CULTURE

Cell Slider: Click to cure Cancer Research UK and Zooniverse teamed up to form Cell Slider, a project that asks participants to visually assess cancerous tissues and cells. The aim of Cell Slider is to optimise the time it takes to analyse tumour microarrays. Cell Slider allows researchers to gain valuable insights from clinical research samples more rapidly. Since its launch in late 2012, approximately two million images from breast cancer studies have been classified. Whale FM The most adorable crowdsourcing project you’ll find on the internet, Whale FM encourages participants to listen to a series of different whale calls, and to then group them together based on their similarities. The tagline of the project is, “You can help marine researchers understand what whales are saying”. Stop it, we can’t even. Old Weather You can help scientists build more comprehensive climate science models and projections by transcribing the logs of US mid-19th century ships that explored the Artic and the world. Your transcriptions will assist historians to piece together the stories behind the ships’ movements, and the origins of the people on board.

For more info, visit: citizensciencealliance.org.


SCIENCE, TECH AND GAMING

THERE’S A PARTY IN MY PANTS AND YOU’RE ALL INVITED ...WELL, AS LONG AS YOU’RE ON A PAIRED SMARTPHONE, WE’RE CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET, AND WEARING TECH UNDIES. SOUNDS SEXY, RIGHT? DANIEL COMENSOLI WRITES ABOUT THE LATEST TREND IN WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY. Yeah, we made them too – ‘Fundawear’ is actually an Australian invention, created collaboratively by the people at Havas Worldwide Sydney for Durex, the world’s largest condom manufacturer. While it isn’t launching any time soon, Fundawear has been listed as one of Wired magazine’s “need to know” tech trends for 2014, and was recently featured at South by Southwest in Texas, where models wore the prototype underwear for a room full of tech-savvy/salivating people.

Crush, but have to worry about maintaining your relationship? Just quickly switch apps, press a few buttons, and be safe in the knowledge that you and your partner are rock solid. Out with the guys and forgot it was your anniversary? Same thing, only this time your wife will definitely stay with you forever because you remembered to charge your phone. Maybe someday we’ll even be able to do the deed without having to be near anyone at all.

Fundawear was designed predominantly for long-distance relationships (apparently), and uses a series of tiny electromagnetic vibrators within the underwear to mimic the touch of a loved one. Partners can control the vibrations their lovers receive by pushing on the screen of their smartphone app, thereby connecting people the way we were always meant to be: wirelessly.

Honestly though, if vibrating underpants seem like another essential in your busy, over-hyped and over-sexed modern life, then props to you. I can see the appeal, and wish you all the best for the future in your long distance threesome with Ketut1 and Durex. It’s just not for me I guess. I’d rather fall in love with my operating system.

While it may seem like I’m taking the piss – and I am – Fundawear has accrued some seriously impressive stats: more than 8.5 million YouTube views, $2 million worth of free media, over 12 000 news and blog articles, and a 4000% increase in Facebook fan growth rate, equating to a 35:1 return on investment according to a statement by Havas. These figures mean that Durex are now seriously considering releasing the thing. Just don’t expect it to be cheap, or particularly wearable. If, like me, you don’t have your very own Ketut1 pining for you on some faraway beach, you can also use the technology on yourself. This won’t make you feel at all lonely or sad, and will more than likely help reintroduce you to the real world of dating… on eHarmony or RSVP. Or on Marital Affair Australia… (which is actually a real thing.) Importantly, technology like this opens us up to a world of possibilities in and out of the bedroom. Midway through Candy 1. The dreamboat from the AAMI ads

CULTURE / 25


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

SCIENCE, TECH AND GAMING

(FAIR)SHARING IS CARING LACHLAN MACKENZIE SPOKE TO CO-FOUNDER AND CEO OF MELBOURNE APP START-UP FAIRSHARE, JULES MALSEED-HARRIS, TO STEAL HIS WISDOM ABOUT THE WORLD OF START-UPS AND FIND OUT WHAT IT TAKES TO GET A SUCCESSFUL PROJECT OFF THE GROUND. You come home after a long day of work, you’re pissed off and you want nothing more than to have a hot shower and relax. You go to the bathroom and there’s hair all over the sink –your housemate shaved and didn’t clean up… again. Ordinarily you couldn’t care less but today you get so mad you gather all the hair and maniacally mix it into the dinner you passiveaggressively make him. Jules feels your pain, and so he made Fairshare to help solve these problems. “Our goal has always been to create better relationships and more shared activity within the home,” he says. Eight years ago Jules got tired of the small problems that are consistently blown out of proportion in share houses and started working on a system to help iron out the social tensions around domestic tasks. Fast forward to today and, with the help of a talented and dedicated team, Jules has created Fairshare. The app helps you organise and share tasks, keeps track of bills, rent, and shopping expenses, and helps you stay in touch (and on the same page) with all your housemates. It was by no means an easy road, and working on a start-up is a huge life and time commitment, as well as a big financial risk. Start-ups are typically internet-based products and services, starting small but with huge potential to scale up. Think of Australian successes like Carsales, Bigcommerce, and 99Designs. Like any other business they need money. Unlike other businesses the value they’re offering investors is often intangible, and it can be a while before they turn a profit. Jules and his co-founder, Oliver May, have independently financed Fairshare for a year now, allowing time to get the product and team right and making sure their shared vision would not be diluted by the wrong investors. Now on the market for external funding, he spoke of the need to balance priorities, “I think one of the most important things to never 1. Good guy Jules has no plans to monetise through charging users or selling ads and user data.

26 / CULTURE

forget is that a business’ purpose is to create value in the world, and that value has to be distributed between the people using the product, the team who have created the product and the investors who have financed the company.” 1 For Jules, the user comes first; once you win over the users the other two will come. But convincing investors in Australia to commit is hard, whereas in Silicon Valley there is a greater appetite for high-risk, high-return investing with a long-term mindset. This has prompted a lot of Australians, including Jules, to consider moving to be able to continue the work they love. It isn’t a hopeless situation however, and Jules is of the view that, “capital will flow to where the greatest recognisable opportunities are.” The start-up scene is booming right now and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Jules had this advice for young entrepreneurs – you need to have at least one of the following three things: 1.

The technical skills to build something yourself.

2.

Enough capital to focus on the project full time and fund the team. A clear vision of an idea that you believe has huge potential, because if your vision is accurate there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find others who also believe in its potential.

3.

Fairshare is available for both Android and iOS. The app is still developing and the most important thing is user feedback (you can legitimately help develop the app, so get on it). Check them out at getfairshare.com and facebook.com/getfairshare.


SCIENCE, TECH AND GAMING

CAPTURING SOMETHING REAL EVER WONDERED WHAT VIRTUAL STREET PHOTOGRAPHY WOULD LOOK LIKE? VERTIGO SPOKE WITH GRAND THEFT AUTO V STREET PHOTOGRAPHER FERNANDO PEREIRA GOMES TO GET THE INSIDE SCOOP. The latest installment in the Grand Theft Auto (GTA) franchise gave players the ability to take photos on their smartphones within the game, capturing moments of virtual reality. It seemed like an innocuous, gimmicky add-on but then Fernando Pereira Gomes came along, and brought his skill as a street photographer into the digital world to capture some beautiful images. His work has created quite a buzz online and he’ll be showcasing some of his work at a show in Sao Paulo later this year. In amongst the preparation for this he took the time to answer some of our questions. What do you find are the limitations of the form of in-game street photography and what are the freedoms? There are definitely more freedoms than limitations. One limitation would be the inability to change perspective from landscape to portrait, but that doesn’t really affect me. In terms of freedoms, it’s great to be able to sprint across a busy street for a photo, completely blocking traffic without consequences. Also, although the characters will sometimes appear to notice my presence, they do not react to being photographed, so there is no real confrontation – as occurs more often than not on the streets IRL. Whose story do you feel you are telling when you take photos? I am telling the story of the characters in my photographs. These are scenes that depict their lonely, alienated, and brief existence. I say ‘brief’ because of the game’s nature and the use of Procedural Generation. This is a term used in video game production for when content is generated algorithmically, depending on the player’s position on the map. It is a process used to save memory usage and make gameplay smoother, but to me it goes way beyond that. The existence of the characters in my photos relies on them being within my field of vision; if I turn a corner, they will vanish. It became apparent to me that they are aware of their predicament and their melancholy is thus evident in these photographs.

I’m also really interested in the notion of this video game and my photographs being a direct representation of our own realities, and have spoken about it in my artist statement: The culture industry exists to keep us preoccupied with things other than our trodden lives. Still, it becomes evident that this entertainment is an authentic simulacrum of our realities, and reflects its melancholy. As stated by Baudrillard, the “simulation threatens the difference between the ‘true’ and the ‘false,’ and the ‘real’ and ‘imaginary.’” My subjects are meant to represent reality, so their lives and stories are also ours, and vice versa. This all makes for confusing, but very interesting thinking. Would you be able to tell us a bit about your latest project Procedural Generation? Procedural Generation is the title of the entire project. To take the work further, I began to experiment with GIFs in an attempt to demonstrate the notion of procedural generation and the inevitable disappearance of these characters, as shown by their fading away. Ultimately, I am using this process to demonstrate the nature of their ephemeral realities. Read the rest of the interview at utsvertigo.com.au, and more of Fernando’s work can be found at streetphotov.tumblr.com.

CULTURE / 27


VERTIGO

ISSUE TWO: THREE: PARTY NERDSEX

SCIENCE, TECH AND GAMING

GETTING IT ON

(UN)LIKE DONKEY KONG JAMES WILSON EXPLOWRES THE GROWING LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL AND TRANS* GAMING SCENE. We all know the story: Donkey Kong, that brutish arch-villain, has kidnapped Mario’s girlfriend, Pauline. Seeing nowhere else to turn, he climbs to the top of a rather unstable building, and starts throwing barrels at the heroic plumber, who is desperate to be reunited with his true love. For a long time, video games have followed this simple premise. When Bowser kidnapped Peach in Super Mario Galaxy 2 (2010), it sold over 7 million units worldwide. If people are still willing to buy a game that has had the same storyline for 31 years, why change now? What’s in it for game developers, and why doesn’t the market just accept the way things are? Does the lack of diversity in games matter?

Meadows continues, “Part of it is the perception by a lot of developers that their paying base is only straight white men. And for those developers who do believe that their customers are more diverse, the perception that the loudest and most vocal of them is the straight white male puts fear in them of doing anything to upset them.” Graeme Ashe, a creative designer for video games, thinks things are improving. “There has systematically been more content and character personalities that allude to an alternative sexuality. More recently, many games have begun to embrace the idea of queer characterisation, whether that be through Non-Playable Characters (NPCs) or through user choice with the main character,” he said.

Joshua Meadows, a gaming writer and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans* (LGBT) activist doesn’t mince words. “There’s a lack of diversity across the board, whether we’re discussing LGBT representation or lack of representation by women or people of colour, or any minority at all,” he said. Representation of people who aren’t straight, white males, has progressed in leaps and bounds since the early days of gaming; from the leather-clad gay men of Vendetta, who would attack (read: rape) you from behind, to the cringeinducing Custer’s Revenge, that has to be seen to be believed (hint: it also involves rape). The 90s brought us heroines in the form of Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft and Joanna Dark from Perfect Dark, who were kick-arse, in control and didn’t need a man to justify their existence – at least in theory. During development, Croft’s breasts were accidentally enhanced by 150% by the all-male (bar one) creative team, and surprisingly they liked them so much they kept them.

28 / CULTURE

Of late, a slew of American games have given players the opportunity to live in someone else’s skin. Bioware’s Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises have allowed the player to decide the sexuality of the protagonist through the romantic relationships they pursue. Japanese games have a strong history of representing LGBT characters, particularly through Role-Playing Games (RPGs) such as; Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series produced by Square Enix, as well as Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei series that have regularly explored different notions of sexuality and gender.


As Dr Rebecca Suter, a Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies at University of Sydney comments, this is not surprising: “Japanese popular culture has a long tradition of portraying gender and sexual ambiguity—not just gay but queer in the sense of breaking down rigid categories and norms more broadly.”

Josh Meadows agrees, “Translation certainly plays a part in the ‘straightening’ of otherwise androgynous or effeminate characters — Birdo from the Mario franchise was specifically considered trans until the games migrated over to the West, and the character has dropped that label ever since.” But do some games even need Queer characters? Would a gay Troll Berserker in World of Warcraft or a transgendered zombie in Plants vs. Zombies be seen as a step forward, or tokenism?

A recent example of this is Atlus’ Persona 4, which was praised online for its portrayal of one of the protagonists, Kanji Tatsumi, who struggles with his sexuality and what it means to be a ‘man’, while avoiding any of the usual stereotypes of the ‘not-so-straight’ character being villainous, or campy - or both - and directly challenging those ideas. In an article on Gamasutra.com about Persona 4, Dr Antonia Levi, an academic and author, says, “There is an understanding [in Japan] that you can play with fantasies that you might not want to live out in your normal life. Americans see things in very black and white - you’re either gay, or you’re not. The Japanese are more comfortable with the concept of being gay and not being gay at the same time. In this case, it makes sense that, in the end, the game is not telling you what to think about Kanji or even if he is gay.” Max Lauer, a student of Game Programming, says the localisation that occurs when Japanese media is translated for an American audience is part of the problem: “[American] localisation tends to mysteriously remove a lot of LGBT characters - Sailor Moon provides us with two examples: Neptune and Uranus were one (transformed from being lovers to cousins), while Zoisite (changed from male to female) and Kunzite were another altered pair.”

UTS Students’ Association President and avid gamer, Andy Zephyr, thinks it’s necessary: “Any setting can accurately represent queer characters. Any other answer is a cop-out. People are sexualised by their appearance and actions – it must always be taken into consideration.” As to why we should care about LGBT characters in gaming, Joshua Meadows is direct: “Seeing yourself reflected in games, or books, or music or television is vitally important — I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard from young kids that seeing something of themselves in entertainment made them feel less isolated, alone or afraid. It might seem silly to think of video games on a civil rights level, but all of this stuff has a humanising effect. People should care about that, and want to see it happen, if for no other reason than simple humanity.” The positive representation of minority groups in video games is a gradual process, but change is happening. And if you can’t wait that long, there’s always the option of gaying up your pre-existing games. After all, who’s to say that Donkey Kong – a bear if ever I saw one – wasn’t just saving Pauline (who was in the middle of transitioning), from her abusive, womanising boyfriend Mario?

If you’re LGBT and a gamer, and want to meet more likeminded people, visit sydneygaymers.net

CULTURE / 29


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

MIXTAPE: AURAL SEX

HATTIE O’DONNELL TALKS GETTING DOWN AND DIRTY WITH JAMES MANSON FROM SYDNEY BAND DEEP SEA ARCADE. READ ON AND FIND WHICH TUNES WILL MAKE SWEET, SWEET LOVE TO YOUR EARS. When you first picked up an instrument, did you originally think that being in a band would get you more lady/man fans? And if you did think that, did it work? (Our editors need some serious tips) I started playing guitar when I was about 10. The initial motive wasn’t to impress girls, who by that stage I was sure had cooties. It was more that after watching the brilliant film Doin That Thing You Do, (featuring Tom Hanks as a 60s rock band manager), it became clear that the coolest thing you could ever possibly do was play in a band.

Blur features some particularly sexy 90s girls prancing about a life size game of mouse trap. Six year old me is high fiving present me as we speak.

Is there a song or album gets you in the mood? In the mood for...? Well I think one in particular that covers all angles of “mood”, sexy and otherwise would be B.B King’s ‘Live at The Regal’. You’re pretty well covered there.

Have you ever had a sexy dream about another musician? Once again the answer to this question is Nick Weaver.

What’s the coolest/most sexy moment you’ve had on stage at a gig? (Insert stories of fans throwing underwear at you if relevant.) Ok I’m starting to see a theme with these questions. We’ve had quite a few bras thrown onstage. I did have a girl grab me offstage after a set once and take me out the back of the venue...To have a lovely chat about politics of course... Is there a song/album that specifically turns you off? Ooooh. Good question. That list really is endless. I’ve definitely left a few people’s houses after putting on terrible overly emotional indie music ala Fleet Foxes, Mumford and Sons, Matt Corby and the ever so dreadful and dreary James Blake. His music especially makes me feel that the end of the world couldn’t possibly be far away. If we were to ask you to list your top 2 sexy (or super notsexy) video clips, which ones would instantly come to mind? Well you really can’t go past David Bowie – ‘China Girl’. All those sexy shenanigans on the beach. Also ‘Country House’ –

30 / CULTURE

Which band member of Deep Sea Arcade is the sexiest? By a long mile it’s definitely Nick Weaver on the bass guitar. The way he plays that thing every gig has broken women’s (and men’s) hearts all around the world. One word, “Dayyyyummm”. But seriously, grooviest/sexiest bass player in the land. Oh dear, now it looks I have a man crush doesn’t it?

What song would you put as number one on a playlist to woo your object of desire/current muse? Well I actually did try this on the weekend wearing a sequin jacket and underpants. The song was Tom Jones ‘It’s Not Unusual’. If that doesn’t get your juices flowing, you’re in the morgue. Finally, can you give us 5 tracks that you’re into at the moment? 1. 2.

3.

4. 5.

Bryan Ferry – ‘This Is Tommorrow’: Ultimate class. Bunk Johnson – ‘Franklin St Blues’: Sexy music of yesteryear. Your grandparents probably got down to… stopping that thought now. Mick Fleetwood – ‘You Weren’t in Love’: Great tune. Also worth noting, the African kids on percussion. Being out of time sometimes works. Chic – ‘Funny Bone’: One word…GROOVE. Roxy Music – ‘2HB’: Beautiful song, fantastic lyrics, and some Eno brilliance thrown in.


PODCASTS

THAT WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU SEE THE WORLD

RACHEL WORSLEY RECOMMENDS THREE NERDY PODCASTS GUARANTEED TO FILL YOU WITH WONDERFUL, SEXY KNOWLEDGE, WHICH WILL COME IN HANDY IF YOU’RE LOOKING TO IMPRESS YOUR DEAR FRIEND, LOVER, MOTHER, CAT, OR WHATEVER (NO JUDGEMENT). *Interlude* A Short Note From A Sad Adult
 This section no longer exists.1 Radiolab: Sperm Broadcast: December 1, 2008 If curiosity hasn’t killed you already, then prepare yourself for Radiolab, a show about science, philosophy and human experience. Among the more popular shows on the National Public Radio (NPR) network in the US, it’s one for those who just can’t get enough of knowing about things that matter in the world. Like, sperm. Yep, sperm. In this rollicking adventure through the animal kingdom, the episode candidly discusses flying pig sperm, duck sperm and whippoorwills (whatever they are). We then take a look at the human world, with a discussion about frozen sperm, and whether fatherhood can be preserved for the ages. Definitely one not to miss for the gents, and interested ladies. 99% Invisible: Purple Reign Broadcast: July 13, 2012 99% Invisible is hard to miss, especially if you’re a design fanatic. This “tiny radio show about design, architecture & the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world” is in the top 50 best iTunes podcasts as of January this year, so it’s definitely not invisible when it comes to reaching its audience. The best part: it’s completely funded by its listeners, through a ridiculously successful Kickstarter

campaign (over $80 000 raised) and occasionally by their podcast underwriters. In this episode, we look at a very purple hotel in Illinois, USA, which is so purple, purple-lovers think it’s built just for them. Also, famous Americans like Michael Jordan and Barry Manilow have stayed there. But alas, it’s now run-down and dilapidated after it became associated with drug-fuelled orgies organised by dodgy Chicago politicians, and one time, someone shot a mobster in its parking lot too (no, we’re not making this up). Now, architects believe that they can restore it to its former glory; first by making sure the purple bricks stay in place. Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything: Artifacts (2 of 2) Broadcast: January 16, 2014 Benjamen Walker isn’t afraid to tackle Einstein for the title of the inventor of the “Theory of Everything”, except he divvies up his time between media theory, art, technology and underground culture. So, not quite physics, but his results can be just as mind-bending. In this episode, we ponder the idea that photography may quite literally be moments of time that disappear the instant you finish clicking the button. Snapchat is the new way of taking moments in time. Or is it? With the rising popularity of Snapchat, this episode jumps straight into the question of ephemerality versus physical permanence, and as we make the transition from analogue to digital, is there really a need to ‘preserve’? Well, that is, unless you believe all your photography is too embarrassing and deserves to disappear down a time hole.

1. The notes were not, as they stated, “short”, and were also much too dark and upsetting, apparently. Apologies for any sadness this may or may not have caused you, but it is probably all for the best.

CULTURE / 31


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

LET’S TALK ABOUT GENDER, BABY LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS, MUMS AND DADS – THESE ARE CATEGORIES WHICH DEFINE US. BUT JUST HOW DEEPLY DO THEY REFLECT WHO WE ARE? AND WHAT ABOUT THOSE OF US WHO IDENTIFY OUTSIDE OF THE GENDER BINARY? BRITTANY SMITH BREAKS DOWN THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER IDENTITIES. Boys will be boys and girls will be girls. Right? Wrong. We may like to believe that boys enjoy science, whilst girls revel in romantic stories and irrational arguments, but these stereotypical qualities have nothing to do with sex. There is a clear distinction between sex and gender. Sex is biological; it depends upon which chromosomes you have. Gender, however, is a social construct. My love for The Notebook and Ryan Gosling isn’t inherent in my status as a woman. Similarly, the fact that I enjoy screaming for my team at a Rugby League match doesn’t mean I’m secretly a man. Gender is about learned behaviours and socialisation; it’s something that’s ingrained in us from the moment the words ‘it’s a girl’ or ‘it’s a boy’ are spoken. A 1988, study by Stern and Karraker, found that adults expected female babies to be better behaved and more eager for cuddles, whereas they expected male babies to be more assertive and strong. These expectations continue throughout adulthood. We are taught how to perform within a certain gender. Women should sit with their legs shut (even when wearing pants), and men should control their emotions. The behaviours which form gender can be restrictive enough for people who identify as male or female, but what about individuals who don’t fit the gender binary? The intersex, transgender and queer communities are full of people who

32 / CULTURE

are made invisible by this system. Our society is literally telling them: “You don’t exist, something is wrong with you.” How would you feel if you had to choose between male and female public toilets, despite identifying with neither? If you had to choose between ‘he’ and ‘she’, and both seemed equally oppressive? For Andy, the lack of control they had over which gender they were assigned affected the way they were brought up. “When I grew up I was socialised as a man… I feel like I resent that a lot. I feel like I had absolutely no control when I was a child over which sort of kids I’d be put in the same group as, or what kind of skills that I would be taught. People are put in a placeholder and they don’t have a choice and they don’t have the power to move out of that,” Andy says. “In my family, women were taught how to cook and men sat together and they would drink. And so for me I was always pushed out of the kitchen... In a way I perceived it as a gendered thing, I just didn’t understand why everyone was treating me in a way I didn’t expect.”

You might think that we live in an equal world, where everyone is treated the same regardless of their sex. In reality, the assumptions we make regarding the perceived gender of


others can result in unfair treatment of those around us. Anyone who has ever had to buy a present for someone they barely know will understand that a very ‘gendered’ gift is usually the ‘safe’ option. If the person you’re buying the present for appears to be a woman, you might buy them chocolate-scented moisturiser and a nice face mask. But this present would be fraught with assumptions.

“People immediately assume that because they perceive me as masculine that, one, I identify as a man, two, I have a penis, and three, often they have weird connotations about my sexuality which, once again, you can’t tell just by looking at someone,” Andy explained. Just because someone is petite and feminine doesn’t mean they have a vagina and it especially doesn’t mean that they will like loofas and scented skin care products. It’s actually quite amazing that something as elusive as a social construct can so deeply affect every aspect of our society, the way we treat people, and the way we expect them to behave. But the cis-gendered domination of our world reaches even deeper. Through the assimilation of the concepts of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ our perceptions of both are altered.

This assimilation benefits no-one. Everyone, whether cisgendered or not, is typecast into a role which they must perform their whole lives, a role which is reinforced not only through the media but through the people around them as well. How many genders did you learn about in school? Did teachers explain to you that not everyone is a girl or a boy, being endowed with specific genetalia doesn’t have to define you? How would you feel if you weren’t cis-gendered when your primary school teacher taught you that there are only males and females? “We now have spaces constructed for people who identify outside of the gender binary,” Andy said. “It’s where I first kind of started to accept that that’s where I sit with my gender. And it’s always changing. There are some days where I wake up and I look at my body and I just feel like a puppet, I feel wooden, this isn’t my body. There are other days I wake up and I feel like there are certain parts of my body that I identify with and there are certain parts of my body I don’t.” Understanding is the first step to inclusion, and 1,000 words can only scratch the surface of such a complex and culturally imbedded oppression. We must remember that gender is only a construct; it is merely an idea. Through striving to be more inclusive we can remove the invisibility cloaks which society has forced over those who don’t fit the mould.

CULTURE / 33


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

THE BALL IS IN THEIR COURT FOLLOWING AN INTERNATIONAL TOUR THEY (RATHER MISTAKENLY) THOUGHT THEY’D MESSED UP, AUSTRALIA’S INDIE POP CRUSADERS BALL PARK MUSIC ARE BACK WITH A DAZZLING NEW ALBUM THEY RECORDED IN A LESS-THAN-GLAMOROUS FIBRO SHACK. MINA KITSOS SPOKE WITH SAM CROMACK ABOUT TOPPING THE LIST OF PEOPLE YOU WISH YOU WERE FRIENDS WITH, AHEAD OF THE RELEASE OF THE BRISBANE BAND’S THIRD LP, PUDDINGHEAD. With an online ‘About Me’ section that reads “strum strummer strum. gonna make the rock and da roll for ya earz,” you can guess that Ball Park Music (BPM) are straight-up kinda people. And you’d be absolutely right. The instrumental and lyrical honesty that defines their previous releases percolates through their whole process, and after blitzing through their sophomore effort, lead man Sam admits it was a relief to wind the tempo down a notch.

“We had to really focus. That’s the concept of this record – it’s just uncut. It is what it is. The second album happened so quickly and was, in many ways, a retaliation to the first. [This time] I was in a really good headspace. I felt like I could think about what I wanted to do more quickly. There’s more anticipation and a little bit more pressure, but I’ve enjoyed that and definitely not let it pollute the process – it all felt really natural.”

“We didn’t really stop at all during that period, or take time out to think about what was happening – whether it was good or bad or whether we were going well or not. Going into this third record has been the first time that we’ve really had a serious opportunity to pause and reflect,” says Sam.

Rather than hiring a polished tech-ed out studio in Brisvegas, BPM rented out a 70s pad up north. Not a sassy Donna-EricFez-Kelso-sharing-a-joint kinda place, though. More like a shabby sweatpool of sorts, complete with bird poop feature walls and leaky taps. Sam says it worked a treat.

Following the success of ARIA top 10 Museum, their J Awardnominated 2011 debut Happiness and Surrounding Suburbs and a string of sell-out shows, BPM have carved their way through the Aussie circuit, cementing an eclectic persona that has become synonymous with success – something Sam says made it a little easier this time around.

“The place we went to, we were the only people that showed up for the inspection, so there wasn’t really any competition. It was a shithole. It was on a massive block of land, the neighbours were a long [way] away, it had carpeted floors, heaps of rooms – it kinda had a nice vibe on the inside even though it was pretty run down. Though it was a bit dingy, it worked well. It felt like we could let our hair down.”

34 / CULTURE


Teaming up with Grammy-nominated mixing engineer Tony Hoffer, who has previously worked with Beck, The Kooks and M83, the band soon had all songs tracklisted and ready to roll. Or so they thought. Having already cut and pasted, merged and melded their favourite bits of old, unheard demos, the band were satisfied with their initial product, says Sam. “Six months ago, we thought we’d finished the record, and just as I thought the process was done, I started writing a handful of songs. I think, because I thought it was finished, I [was] delib-erately writing songs that were very different to what we were doing. I didn’t necessarily think that they would be BPM songs, [but] I ended up showing those to my bandmates and they really loved those as well. So we ended up throwing [them in] right at the end, and kicking some of the other ones off the record.” The album’s title, however, was picked up years ago. “‘Puddinghead’, I originally discovered in high school when we were doing Shakespeare. It’s an insult. We looked it up on Urban Dictionary and it said a Puddinghead is someone who fucks up the most basic tasks. We thought that was really funny and loveable,” Sam quips. ‘She Only Loves Me When I’m There’ spearheads the record with a tangy hook and refreshingly blunt lyricism. You can hear the excitement in Sam’s voice as he divulges its bizarre origins. “I sort of wrote the bulk of the song about an experience I had five years ago in Brisbane. A guy followed me and it was

a really scary and traumatic experience. During the writing process, the chorus of this other song just kept fitting in so well - I had that tune ‘doo doo doo doo’ and I had no lyrics … [Guitarist] Dean’s grandfather always said to him that your partner only loves you when you’re present. I ended up having to go back to all the other lyrics and changing all the ‘he’s’ to ‘she’s’,” he laughs. For the lucky humans who have attended a BPM show, you’ll understand that it’s more of an all-out sonic romp than anything. From NYC to the UK, the band have recruited fans worldwide, winning over crowds both in smaller venues and on festival main stages. The Netherlands, however, proved a jarring experience. “[Audiences there] were so respectful and really just keep quiet during a song, to the point that we were like ‘Do these people even like us? Are we fucking-up here?’ One night, we were so confused as to whether we were going well or not, but every time we finished a song they clapped so loudly and you could hear praises for an encore. We were sort of like ‘What the hell?’” he chuckles. As for what to expect from BPM this year? Well, anything really. “It’s hard to know. We could be a global sensation at the Grammys next year, or it could fucking flop and we could be having to rethink everything [we] do. And I think that’s some of the excitement of being in this industry. You never really know what’s coming up,” says Sam. Puddinghead is available now through Stop Start/Inertia.

CULTURE / 35


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

TERRIBLE COMPANY:

ANDREW HANSEN EMILY MELLER SAT DOWN WITH ANDREW HANSEN TO CHAT ABOUT SILLINESS, BEING A TERRIBLE DINNER DATE, AND HIS UPCOMING TWO-MAN SHOW, ONE MAN SHOW. Andrew Hansen, also known as the “hair” and musical mastermind from The Chaser’s War on Everything, makes a terrible dinner companion. At least, according to Andrew Hansen. “If you’re unlucky enough to have a meal with me I am very boring. The real me is terrible, terrible company.” Based on our conversation so far, I find this hard to believe. Hansen comes across as down-to-earth, charming and genuinely funny. The former Chaser is known for a slightly quirkier kind of comedy than his co-stars, largely based around composing absurd songs and sketches. So is this what we can expect from his new One Man Show, with Chris Taylor? “There is a little bit of satire,” he says, “but it is more of a chance for Chris and me to exercise our silliness, that old style British absurdity which is something that him [sic] and I are particularly into.”

Audiences can expect to hear from a variety of characters, including a pair of gay policemen who are secretly in love but cannot get married because of the law. Hansen also plays an elderly audience member who is very upset by a joke, even though he doesn’t understand it, and complains incessantly about it to anyone who will listen. This particular scenario is “a phenomenon we have experienced firsthand.” So the show lies somewhere between “freewheeling absurdity” and satire? “Our silliness is always linked to real life in some way,” he says. “We anchor the blimp of silliness in something profound and relatable.” Considering the turbulence of The Chaser years, it’s understandable that the members have each started working on projects that are a little less publicly controversial. But, as Hansen points out, comedy is never really devoid of political undertones. “One of the weirdest criticisms is being called stupid or childish,” Hansen says, “because that is what I strive to be. To me, it’s an ironic compliment. To me, comedy should be puerile and silly and childish.”

Having started in comedy, “kind of just accidentally”, it seems fitting that One Man Show is a return to Hansen and Taylor’s comedy roots. It veers away from the biting satire that made The Chaser such a runaway and controversial success. This is more of an “old school revue show – sketches and songs and us dressing up as all sorts of particular characters and wearing bad wigs.”

36 / CULTURE

There is no doubt that silly comedy can also appeal to intelligence. Probably what makes so much of Hansen’s humour unique is his taking of smart ideas and turning them into scenarios so ridiculous they cannot help but provoke thought. And yet apparently, some of the most common angry tweets he gets are from people who complain their intelligence has been insulted.


“But I always had this sneaking suspicion that people who bang on about ‘respecting my intelligence’ actually don’t have much intelligence to respect.”

spending so much time in other characters does makes it difficult to switch off the idea that everyone is just playing a role. Fitting then that even the One Man Show is actually written and performed by two men. “It’s just a very simple, stupid joke,” says Hansen. “I have no explanation for it.”

It is an interesting theory, and leads to a more fundamental question about when satire crosses the line. It seems like a lot of what Hansen says, even when in character, gets taken a little too seriously by some. He agrees that a lot of people tend not to differentiate between genuine opinion and overidentifying with ridiculous arguments for the sake of irony.

Which may be true, but as with most of Hansen’s humour, I think there is something there that deserves to be unpicked. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with enjoying silliness for the sake of it, especially if it involves bad wigs.

For this reason, Hansen says that he prefers playing characters – even when he is “himself” it is an exaggerated version. “I am much better off pretending to be a prickly, difficult, quirky version of myself behind a desk,” he says. It makes me wonder which version of Hansen I am talking to right now – prickly and boring don’t seem to fit the bill. But it does help to explain his self-deprecation, which is perhaps simply another version of Hansen. Perhaps to some extent,

Who: Andrew Hansen and Chris Taylor What: One Man Show, as part of Sydney Comedy Festival Dates: Thursday May 1 at The Concourse, Friday May 2 at the Metro Theatre, and Saturday May 24 at Factory Theatre Tickets: via ticketek, or head to sydneycomedyfest.com.au

CULTURE / 37


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

VOLUNTOURISM:

SELFISH SELFLESSNESS TRAVEL IS A WONDERFUL THING IN AND OF ITSELF, LEGITIMATE WITHOUT A DASH OF FEEL-GOOD ALTRUISM. NICOLA PARISE LOOKS AT THE IMPACT OF VOLUNTOURISM AND ASKS, EXACTLY WHO BENEFITS FROM THE LATEST TRAVEL CRAZE? These days, an increasing number of us are combining travel with service, participating in the rapid growth of the industry known as voluntourism. Predominantly Western, affluent individuals set out to change the world one toilet block and a couple of orphanage visits at a time – all in a couple of weeks. As globalisation shrinks our world and we are exposed to diverse cultural experiences, we are no longer satisfied with approximation. Now, more than ever, we are obsessed with the authentic. Simply learning about a traditional village in northern, rural Thailand is not good enough. We must live there. And maybe teach English too. In December 2010, I spent four weeks in Nepal, living with a local Tibetan family and volunteering at a primary school. As much as it irks me to admit it, I was a voluntourist – and I have the obligatory Facebook photos with smiling children to prove it. The wellbeing of others is something I have always genuinely cared about and so the idea of helping people while seeing the world, learning new things, and making friends seemed to have no downsides. Dara Denney, an aid worker living in Ghana, is generous in her explanation of the causes of voluntourism. She says “The reason why it happens is because we aren’t soulless creatures wandering the planet only intent on our own personal survival, and we recognise our common strings of humanity. And I don’t think that should be discouraged.” Recognising one’s privilege and wanting to share that with others is virtuous. But where is the line between virtue and being patronising? Is it wrong to want to help improve the living conditions of some of the planet’s poorest people? Is it wrong to care that such radical inequalities still exist today in

38 / CULTURE

our supposedly advanced world? No, of course not. But is the desire to do good, good enough? If history has taught us anything it’s that the best intentions do not always ensure a positive outcome. The critics of voluntourism are numerous. A quick Google search of the topic returns countless opinion pieces on why this style of travel often causes more harm than good. Some feel - with valid reason – that voluntourism is just another form of colonialism in disguise, a case of the Western saviour coming to rescue people in developing nations from the “horror” of their poverty. This colonialist view arrogantly disregards the historical, social and cultural complexities of a given country and risks disrespecting or reducing local people to the helpless exotic.

On a practical level, the extent that a group of generally unskilled, unqualified people can contribute to effective and sustainable growth and development of any given community is questionable. A friend of mine spent three weeks in Tanzania building a classroom. Neither she, nor anyone else on her team had any skills in construction or engineering. The same scenario flipped on its head would be met with nothing but outrage. Imagine the reaction if an Australian parent was told, “Your child’s teacher for the next month is not a trained or certified teacher. But don’t worry, they are really nice and they’re foreign!” Voluntourists often take jobs that could be filled by local residents who have a much greater need for employment, far outweighing the pursuit of happy warm-and-fuzzies. A great


number of these projects also fail to consult and collaborate with community members, leading to wasted resources and the perpetuation of disempowering power structures, which ultimately feed the poverty cycle. Many of the destructive elements of voluntourism are driven – surprise, surprise – by profit, with organisations looking to tourism to increase funding. A prime example is the growing number of orphanages in Cambodia. In 2011 a UNICEF report found nearly three quarters of the country’s “orphans” actually had at least one parent living. Moreover, substantial research has demonstrated the negative impacts that frequent influxes of new people have on young, vulnerable children in these orphanages. During a child’s development, routine, regular contact and continued, stable relationships are crucial.

Yes, there are positives to be had from this form of travel. The teachers I assisted in Nepal were almost all welcoming and glad to have us there. But at the end of the day, is this exchange not possible with a simple trip, without the volunteering? The most important thing if you are considering volunteering in a developing country is to do your research. Are you going to go with an organisation? If so, how do they use their funds? How much of your money will actually end up in the local economy, providing jobs and stimulating growth at a grassroots level? One young American who has recently denounced her voluntouring ways is Pippa Biddle. With a wealth of experience in the area, she says “It is imperative that young people are smart about where they travel, how they travel, and who they travel with. By embracing your role as a visitor you can, I have found, create a power dynamic weighted in favor of the locals.” So, should we stop spending university holidays mixing cement in Kenya? No, I don’t think so. Should we be critical of voluntourism and seek to make participation in it as ethical as possible? Absolutely.

Ignoring the fact that all actions have consequences is a very dangerous thing indeed. As individuals in positions of privilege and wealth (the average wealth of Australians was ranked second in the world last year in the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report), we have a responsibility to ensure that our actions do not exploit those in positions of disadvantage or vulnerability. The thought of exploiting poverty leaves a very nasty aftertaste.

For more information on voluntouring responsibly check out these resources: matadornetwork.com/change/why-you-shouldnt-participatein-voluntourism www.theethicalvolunteer.com www.idealist.org/info/IntlVolunteer www.whydev.org/learning-services-alternatives-tovoluntourism

In all honesty, the party who benefits most from voluntouring is the voluntourist. It’s all very well to discuss the issues associated with voluntourism, but where does that leave us? The issues around voluntourism are not straightforward.

CULTURE / 39


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

SHOWCASE: ART

GOBLYN

Goblyn is a second year Animation student with a passion for creating simple illustrations with big stories behind them. Find more of their work at: goblyntheking.tumblr.com

40 / CULTURE


CULTURE / 41


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

SHOWCASE: WRITING

FACING THE FIRING SQUAD WORDS BY BEN CHAPPLE

I spend more time with myself than I do alone. The men live behind the fog and dust in dimensions where I dare not venture. Their dimensions are no place for the elderly. They stand like centurions, laughing, listening, licking their lips and baring their fangs. Walls of glass separate us but it’s never enough, their taunts remain both heard and seen. Above the doorways into their worlds stretch long wooden rafters coloured a deep brown, dusty and rotting. They run along the ceiling in a pattern like bars, poking through the darkness high above my head. Dust hangs in the air and makes it thick, almost opaque. The longer I sit the dustier it gets, and the dustier it gets the less I want to stand up. Furniture and cabinets scatter the room, their once polished surfaces cloaked with dust, bearing markings from places most will never see. The smell of timber veneer hangs in the air. All around the room the men stand behind their glass walls as though awaiting orders. I avert my gaze; they do not look at me if I do not look at them. Instead I stare at the ceiling, high above the ruptured wooden floorboards. The ceiling bubbles in places and every day the bubbles seem to move. The one in the left corner near the door was quite large yesterday; now it has moved to the middle near the third rafter, crawling like the spiders that live in the shadows. The spiders aren’t much company. They usually leave me to myself: watching, weaving, whispering, waiting. Sometimes they join the centurions in their laughter. They’re moving now, I can see them. Like a black cloud they descend from the ceiling, hanging from the paint by threads of silver, creeping through the air towards my neck. Their feet are cold as they touch my skin, tracing across my protruding spine and swollen

42 / CULTURE

joints in little pattering movements. Soon there are hundreds – no, thousands burrowing beneath my skin, nibbling at my nerves and muscles like rats at a wire, and it isn’t long before their poison strikes. “You old fool.” I twist to my left and make eye contact with one of the men behind his glass wall. His eyes are green and youthful. His face is full of colour, jaw shaven and stern. “You did this,” he whispers again, his voice clear behind the elaborate golden frame. “I – I don’t know what you mean,” I huff, before shuffling further down the room, shaking my head as I go. “All this is your fault,” comes a hiss to my right and I jump backwards, floorboards creaking beneath my weight. Glancing up I can see another one of the centurions behind a thin black frame coated in dust, slightly older than the first. His eyes, too, are green but in them the light is dimmer. I shake my head again and move away, watching the dust settle on the old floorboards under the soles of my leather slippers. “No, no it wasn’t me, I swear it.” Patter patter patter. The spiders claw their way into my chest and I feel them weaving through towards my heart, leaving trails of black poison in their wake. With every spider bite another one of the centurions takes aim, in line with the rest of the firing squad. “How dare you. She needed you.”


“Please. I had no choice,” I say to the third. His eyes are paler, the green has faded from them. A dark beard grows around his jaw like a shadow and his hair is longer and greyer than the previous two. His voice is gruff, roaring through the murky room like the rumble of an engine. “She was the only one who loved you, and you betrayed her,” comes another voice from behind a rich oak frame. “I loved her.”

“I’m sorry, my friend.” Ding. The bell chimes and a cool breeze flushes through the chamber like a tornado. It turns the spiders to dust and scares the centurions away from their foggy doorways, replacing them with the smells of petrol and autumn leaves. The shrill laughter drops to silence and all that remains are the sounds of cars, wind, and chattering people from behind the woman at the door.

“She trusted you,” says another. “I tried to help.” “You left her.” “I had no choice.” Every voice has a face, with eyes that fade from green to white, a beard that sprouts from their chins, each longer than the last, striking black hair that gradually drains of colour, and skin that drags down their faces. Their growls bounce off the walls and scratch at my ears. I spin around, tripping over the dark antique furniture from Spain and Italy and Columbia, until I stand face to face with the last of the centurions. His eyes are wild, his face gaunt and tattered. He moves slowly and his hands tremble with mine. We each stare into the other. I step towards the man and stroke the light pinewood frame, as the spiders finally bore into my blackened heart.

“Excuse me sir, is this Fredric and Nina’s Mirrors?” asks this pretty young lady, her face peeping behind the door. She peers around the room at the mirrors: the one with the elaborate gold frame, the foggy mirror with the thin black frame, and the dusty mirror beside me with the simple pinewood border. The centurions have left their posts; only the reflections of the furniture and dust that scatter the storeroom floor remain. I turn away from the mirror where the last centurion stands, a reflection. My reflection. My beard quivers as I shake my head. “Just Fredric’s now. Can I help you with anything, dear?”

Ben studies Law and Communications (Writing and Cultural Studies). His stories focus on rich settings and multidimensional characters. Ben also plays rugby and hosts the film and TV podcast The Fiction Fix, which you can find on iTunes.

CULTURE / 43


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

SHOWCASE: POETRY

FERRUM WORDS BY EUNICE ANDRADA

Feet dusted off from failed crusades, we drag weatherchewed limbs to the whetstones we ground into softness and called home. wearing the stench of wars, tainted by prayer, we come naked with shoulders that grieve the burden of armament dreamt of dawn -ing costumes to retrace the grandeur that we were, of resembling the white -washed tombs robbed of ash and sulfur. evenings afloat on bloodlines to numb the ache of mother tongues but these handfed fables have earned their rust in the clutches of amalgamated kings. When the springs fester beneath us and the barren quells our bloom, when the contraband sings us unclean, will these infidel hands be something to marvel at in museums of stoic loss?

Eunice Andrada is a first year Cultural Studies student, writer and spoken word poet.She has performed in numerous literary festivals and slam events across New South Wales. Her poetry has appeared in the interactive graphic novel Parranormal, Deep Water Literary Press, 2SER and the IndieFeed Performance Poetry Podcast. 44 / CULTURE


A GUIDE TO SOMETIMES STRANGE ROOMIES, AND TIPS TO SURVIVING SHAREHOUSE LIFE LIVING AT HOME IS HARD. BUT OFTEN, NOT LIVING AT HOME IS HARDER. RACHEL CLUN OUTLINES SOME OF HER TRICKS OF THE SHAREHOUSING TRADE. John Birmingham’s He Died With a Felafel in His Hand is a tale of the craziest shenanigans that can occur in sharehouse life. Reading it as a teenager, I thought no one could be that nuts and Birmingham’s experience must have been a once-off, not-so-ordinary account of life with others. However, after living in eight sharehouses myself, I can attest to the bizarre and sometimes disturbing nature of sharehouse life and the nightmare that is finding a new one.

generally also means ‘slob’. Never expect an arty type to do much cleaning of any sort. Also, bill payments seem to be optional.

Choosing flatmates is really hard. I was lucky (ish) with my last sharehouse because my flatmates turned out to be people who were usually sane. Their worst habits included plugged-in jam sessions late at night and blindness for bathroom scum. This might sound bad, but in all honesty it was one of my best sharehouse experiences.

One of the worst types of person to live with is the Note Leaver. Even John Birmingham agrees with me on this one: it’s bad. Often the same sort of person as the Clean Freak, the Note Leaver takes passive-aggressiveness to a whole new level. Instead of asking you to please take the bins out next time, or do the washing up, or to pay a bill, they will leave notes. Everywhere. On the fridge. On the counter. On your door. Sometimes even in email form. EVERYWHERE. If you get even a whiff of a potential Note Leaver when you are house hunting, run. These people are the worst because they will act like everything is fine, and then BOOM. New note.

You usually find some crackers while house hunting, and as a seasoned sharehouse resident, I’ve compiled a list of the various types of roomies you might come across – and ones you should avoid – in your travels. The Clean Freak is a roommate to avoid like the plague. I like a clean bathroom as much as anyone else, but OCD clean people who get pissy when you leave your keys on the bench are not fun to live with. On the other end of the spectrum you have Arty Folk. These people are generally awesome to hang around and super chill. They can be great roomies as they are often cool sharing their beer or jazzy cigarettes with you, and usually have great pirated movie collections. However, the downside is that ‘chill’

There are Hermits, who never leave their room, or Ghosts, who are never home. You will be left with the occasional clue that they are still alive, like an extra dirty bowl by the sink, but actual sightings are rare, and conversations rarer still.

So, my tip for successful sharehousing: Don’t. My tips for surviving the experience: Try to live with people who keep similar hours to you, make sure you have your own space in the fridge/bathroom/kitchen cupboard – GUARD THIS SPACE WITH YOUR LIFE – and only leave your roomies notes if you want them to hate you.

CULTURE / 45


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

REVIEWS: MUSIC & BOOKS

WHITE DEER PARK - PAPA VS PRETTY BAD TEETH SOUNDS LIKE: THE ENERGETIC APPEAL OF THE STROKES WITH A DASH OF JET’S LAIDBACK MELODIES AND A SMIDGEN OF FOALS. Having successfully captured Australian hearts (and ears) with their popular debut, United in Isolation, Papa vs Pretty have done it again with their second album, White Deer Park.

Bad Teeth, Dustin Long’s second novel, is made up of four stories set in different American cities - Brooklyn, Bloomington, Berkeley and Bakersfield - interconnected by a central plot line. Judas, the protagonist, in the pursuit of his next professional project as well as a personal sea change, travels to each city as he searches for the mysterious Tibetan author Jigme Drolma, whose new novel he seeks to translate.

Fans of the alternative rock scene will be happy to hear its influence on tracks like ‘Smother’, with distorted guitar riffs and an energetic vocal line somewhat reminiscent of The Strokes. The rock and roll track ‘To Do’, though less outstanding, emphasises the band’s ability to move between genres. ‘Million Different Ways’ is relaxed in tone and showcases a poignant vocal line by front man, Thomas Rawle. Despite the tender falsettos, the chorus remains catchy as hell, proving that music need not be loud or flamboyant for it to become lodged in your brain. Similarly, ‘My Life is Yours’ showcases the band’s diversity and skill with tentative piano melodies and an acoustic feel that complements the song’s profound lyrics.

The plot lies secondary to Long’s ability to develop characters that are rich, original, and intensely human. It is his awareness of their seemingly insignificant quirks and idiosyncrasies that bring the characters to life and drive the story forward. The continual use of footnotes provides additional commentary on the characters’ lives, and reinforces the feeling of having a well-rounded understanding of every character’s truth; the subtle complexity of their lives and loves. There is a feeling of scattered sophistication consistent throughout the novel. The narrative voice shifts between the four stories, ensuring a dynamic read. The tone is light and comical, yet Long’s observations on human nature, love and relationships are profound.

The album seems to lose momentum mid-way with ‘Rain Check’ as the tone lacks the complexity and thoughtfulness implicit in the rest of the album. Any minor hiccups are quickly redeemed through the album’s later tracks, particularly ‘Dementia Praecox’, which manages to be tender, poppy and powerful. From a soft and dreamlike beginning, the song transitions between delicate harmonies and exquisite piano work before developing into an upbeat chorus driven by a strong performance from Tom Myers on drums.

The four stories are linked by the continual reference to an activist group called SOFA, a movement that underpins the story in a way that holds all of the other mundane but meaningful occurrences together. Long neglects to explain the acronym itself, let alone expand on the purpose of the activist movement. This omission forces the reader to question not only the motive behind the movement but the motive behind the author. By including something so supposedly controversial, so pervasive, yet so ambiguous, what question is Long trying to ask us? After having read this amusing yet intellectual novel, this will be up to you to decide.

Overall, the many sounds and styles of White Deer Park are a pleasure to listen to. It’s not exceptional, but promises good things and is a strong and appealing second album. Words by Courtenay Turner

46 / CULTURE

Words by Madelyn Lines


REVIEWS: BAR

EASY TIGER Ever imagined where your parents were hanging out in the 70s? Well, Paddington’s newest small bar, Easy Tiger, should give you an idea. Complete with shag carpets, orange vinyl couches, a foosball table and even a disco ball, this bar takes a step back in time. Located in the basement of Oxford Street’s Unicorn Hotel, you’d be forgiven for walking straight past it. Like most of Sydney’s small bar scene, there is limited to no signage, so only those in the know venture inside. Having only opened mid-March, Easy Tiger is still establishing itself, but its retro theme makes it like nothing else in Sydney at the moment. The bar staff are enthusiastic, young, and keen to shake you up one of their signature cocktails. Don’t be surprised if you are waiting a little while though, as they work slowly and carefully, but it pays off when it’s your turn. All the mixes are fun and original and you’ll be hard pressed not to order them just based on their creative names. Standouts include: ‘The Bloody Carrie’, ‘A Marvin Gayetime’ and ‘Oh No, Yoko’. Specials change weekly. The cute bartender convinced us to try ‘The Weird Mexican’ (alright, it didn’t take much persuading), a combination of Campari and lemon: Tangy and refreshing. This proved more popular than ‘The Burt Reynolds’: a bit too heavy handed on the cinnamon, making for a sickly sweet drink. If cocktails aren’t your thing (or the $16 price tag intimidates your student budget), the bar staff will be sure to find you something that takes your fancy amongst the range of beers, wines and spirits.

The array of seating areas and dim lighting makes for a comfortable vibe. However, with no outside area and low ceilings it could feel stuffy if the place got too crowded. With such a diverse mix of furniture, you may find yourself on a white leather couch or a leopard print fur chair; it’s really a lucky dip. This unique style may prove intimidating for some. Though it might not be to everyone’s taste, it’s worth a try just because it is so different. I can guarantee it won’t make for a boring night. Be sure to head there on a Thursday for the weekly club night with live music and 70s style food and drinks. If that doesn’t pull you in, maybe the complimentary Sailor Jerrys on arrival will? Other nights include Walkie-Talkie Wednesdays with roller-skating waitresses and Come On Get Happy Hour Fridays with $10 punch bowls and $10 fondue from 5pm-7pm. Easy Tiger is only open Monday to Friday; so don’t plan to head there on the weekend. Its central location on Oxford Street makes it easily accessible and a great meeting point. If you’re after a comfortable seat, a fun cocktail, a quirky vibe and the novelty of a shag carpet, this is the place for you. Words by Laura Wood

What sets Easy Tiger apart from the rest, and gives it a charm and authenticity that is rarely found in small bars, are the details. Not only are vintage National Geographic magazines displayed on some tables, but upon further inspection, are from different years in the 70s. Now that’s impressive. The bold wallpaper covers the bar walls and some have framed old-school pictures of naked women hanging from them. The little eccentricities will keep you constantly looking around to see what else you can spy.

CULTURE / 47


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

“Wouldn’t it be cool if you could give words to a magazine and they could put it on paper for a whole heap of people to read? You can ya dingus. All you gotta do is email it over here” SUBMISSIONS@VERTIGO.COM.AU Find us at:

facebook.com/utsvertigo twitter.com/VertigoMagazine

48 / FRINGE


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

NOW 98% FACT FREE

MAY 2014

WORDS BY CLEM IDIYA

medical drawbacks. Professor Firenze of the Society for the

Investigations undertaken by the Defamer have revealed that Australia’s Attorney General, George Brandis, sustains himself by drinking the blood of unicorns. The Attorney General reportedly directs his staff to hunt the mythical creatures in the wilderness surrounding Canberra and keeps their carcasses in a fridge at his house. The Attorney General’s office refused to respond to the allegations. However, a former staff member has confirmed that Brandis frequently consumes the creature and often drinks unicorn blood in the office, though he generally prefers the specimen to be “fresh.”

WORDS BY SIR PATRICK BOYLE The right-honourable Tony Abbott, Prime Minister and fan of Queens everywhere, has received bipartisan backlash after reinstating the Order of Australia.

50 / FRINGE

“Often Mr Brandis will drink particularly large quantities of unicorn blood before stressful events like Question Time or a press conference. He will usually scull two pints before a Q&A appearance and often forces the

makeup department to clean the excess fluid off his face.” Unicorn blood is broadly known for its restorative powers, giving its users an unnatural health and longevity, however the substance does have significant

But in an elaborate ceremony at the Lodge today, an esteemed audience gathered to see Sir Clinton Smith bestowed the first Knighthood of the millennium. Sir Clinton is most remembered for his appearance on Highway Patrol in early 2013. Clinton was found intoxicated behind the wheel of a crashed car, informing police and cameramen he was, “just waiting for a mate.” Sir Clinton was knighted by Governor General Peter Cosgrove, before taking the sword for himself and using it to make wild, phallic gesticulations. His characteristic

larrikinism was applauded and the newly-knighted Clinton proceeded to piggy-back Gina Rinehart and smash multiple beers with Bob Hawke. It is not known whether his mate James was in attendance. When asked why Sir Clinton was bestowed this extraordinary honour before other noteworthy Australians, the Prime Minister had this to say: “Clinton’s outstanding commitment to his friend James strikes at the very core of what it means to be a good Aussie bloke. He willingly risked drink-driving charges to see his friend home safe.

Protection of Magical Creatures condemned Mr Brandis’ use of the substance: “The blood of a unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an inch from death, but at a terrible price. You have slain something pure and defenseless to save yourself, and you will have but a half-life, a cursed life, from the moment the blood touches your lips.” It is not known precisely what the Coalition’s response to this allegation will be, and it follows the damaging revelations last week of Eric Abetz’s former career as a prison guard in Azkhaban.

If that mateship isn’t worthy of a Knighthood, then I don’t know what is.” Other Australians rumoured to be in line to receive the honour include prominent-racist Pauline Hanson, journalist Karl Stefanovic and Gold Medalist Steven Bradbury.


UTS Student UTS Student Legal Legal Services Services

Free legal advice service for UTS students

Opening times:

Tuesday Wednesday Wednesday Thursday Thursday

10am - 4pm 10am 10am -- 4pm 4pm 11am 11am -- 8pm 8pm

To To make make an an appointment appointment with with a a lawyer, lawyer, email studentlegalservice@uts.edu.au, email studentlegalservice@uts.edu.au, call 9514 2484 call 9514 2484 or visit building CB01.03.15 or visit building CB01.03.15


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

ROOKIE’S GUIDE: POP CULTURE NEWS NET SAVVY

TIRED OF TRAWLING THROUGH THE INTERNET LOOKING FOR POP CULTURE BLOGS WORTHY OF YOUR TIME AND ATTENTION? DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START LOOKING? BELLA WESTAWAY HAS DONE THE LEGWORK FOR YOU. HERE’S THE LATEST AND GREATEST OF THE GEN Y BLOGOSPHERE. YOU’RE WELCOME. Please note: ratings are out of 5 For the hipsters: Your Friends House yourfriendshouse.com

For the chicks: Yen Magazine Online yenmag.net

Alternative, provocative and “ahead of the social curve,” Your Friends House is the online hub for 20 something hipsters who want to read beautiful prose chronicling the intricacies of their meaningless existence. Written by Gen Y for Gen Y, YFH publishes the work of Internet savvy, culturally attuned undergrads, who write about music, sex, pop culture, art and adolescence with unique rawness and unapologetic humour.

Yen, you beauty. One part girlie mag, one part indie look book, Yen Magazine is for “smart, creative cookies who love to be inspired.” Don’t expect to find the headlines – Yen is about features, food, music, art, beauty and fashion. Oh, the fashion! It is elegant, user-friendly, and jam-packed with quality content for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.

Potential for time wasting: 5 Potential for brain development: 4

Potential for time wasting: 4 Potential for brain development: 4

For the nerds: Reddit reddit.com

For the clever cookies: JUNKEE junkee.com

My first thought on my initial visit to Reddit was “holy FUCK this is an ugly website.” But it’s also rather awesome in a nerdy, time-wasting kind of way. Essentially, Reddit is a source of what is new and popular on the Web, like an online bulletin board. Registered members can submit content, such as images, texts, posts or links, and users then vote submissions “up” or “down,” positioning content on the Reddit home page. It’s frenetic, addictive and has more links than you can poke a virtual stick at, taking user generated content to a whole new level. Perfect for mindless procrastination.

Junkee is pretty damn cool. As Australia’s newest online pop culture title, Junkee is kicking some serious blogger arse since its launch in 2013. It’s rejecting the tabloid celebrity garbage and bad grammar saturating the Internet these days, and reporting pop culture and current affairs the way Gen Y wants to read it: with sass. On the downside, the site contains Girls spoilers and a picture of Miley eating a G-string. (I. Just. Can’t. Even.) It does require a fair amount of brainpower, so not highly recommended for hangover days, but it’s definitely my pick for quality writing and some sweet viral vids!

Potential for time wasting: 5 Potential for brain development: 3

Potential for time wasting: 3 Potential for brain development: 5

52 / FRINGE


GRAD’S GUIDE: ARCHITECTURE

NATHAN’S GUIDE TO #GRADLYF ARCHITECTURE GRAD NATHAN BRASIER TALKS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF VALUING YOUR SLEEP, AND STEPPING OUTSIDE YOUR PROFESSIONAL COMFORT ZONE.

Where do you work, and what’s your job like? I am currently working at an engineering firm in Chippendale. Originally, I was employed as a design technician to work on the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout. After 6 months my position expanded to supervising a small team of 8 designers (mostly UTS engineering students) working in my previous role. Much of what I now do is facilitating communication between the team and the client, and ensuring that the quality of work meets the standard required by the client.

What has been your most rewarding work-related experience so far? This February I was fortunate enough to travel to New Zealand in order to establish a new design team in Auckland. My responsibility was to train 4 new staff to the Sydney team’s level in just over a week. The work was very tough, but the opportunity to represent the company internationally and independently establish the operation of a small team was amazing. And an all expenses paid overseas trip, free taxis to work? Pretty freaking cool.

How did you land your position? After submitting many applications to architecture firms in Sydney, I came across an advertisement for the job online. At the time it was definitely not the ‘dream job’, but I ticked all of the boxes for job requirements and thought I would give it a shot. I took the application process for this job much more seriously and aggressively than I had others, and I found myself somehow enjoying competing with engineering students for a position in an engineering firm.

Do you have any advice for pulling through studio-related all-nighters? I’m going to say something controversial here: For the love of god, don’t do them. Learn to manage your time and value your sleep. Ignore those who tell you it is a part of being a successful architect; they are doing neither you nor the profession any favours.

Enthusiasm was the strongest tool I employed in my application for the job. My cover letter was modified and personalised to be specific to this job, and I called to follow up on my application to show that I was excited at the prospect of working in the office. If you really want a job, you can’t be shy.

What career goal are you working towards now? My current job came very much out of left field, and yet it has opened me up to a completely different side of the construction industry. While many of my friends joke that I have jumped ship, I have no doubt that I am going to seek employment in an architectural firm in the future. Experiencing the engineering perspective has given me a unique insight that will definitely inform my future in the architectural profession. So I would recommend any jobseekers to be open to the idea of applying for jobs outside your direct field of study, especially while still studying. You’d be surprised how rewarding it may be.

What university experiences were most helpful in preparing you for the real world of full time work? You don’t realise this at the time, but the design studio prepares you very well for working in the real world. Your tutor is your manager. Your classmates are your team. The design critique is more or less a presentation of final design work to the client.

But if you feel you must, don’t do them consecutively.

FRINGE / 53


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

PUZZLES

54 / FRINGE


COLLECTIVES Wom*n’s Collective Report FREYA NEWMAN Maybe it’s because the new federal government has furthered the institutionalised oppression of Australian wom*n, and organising amongst ourselves feels more important than ever. Maybe it’s because $2.3 billion dedicated to higher education is under threat. Whatever the reason, we’re stoked that over fifty new UTS students signed up to join the UTS Wom*n’s Collective on O’day this year. Thank you to all new members. On March 8, members of the collective marched in honour of International Women’s Day, and on March 26 we gathered again to protest against cuts to higher education on the National Day of Action. We also organised a stall for Harmony Day on March 21, and collaborated on a ‘mood board’ which summarised some of our thoughts about inclusiveness and anti-oppression within wom*n’s spaces. Our inspiration came from Audre Lorde (not for the first time), who said: “The oppression of women knows no ethnic nor racial boundaries, true, but that does not mean it is identical within those boundaries.” We’ve also recently elected two grievance officers for the UTS Wom*n’s Collective. Congratulations to Jess and Nidhi, who are both wonderful activists with much experience between them. Congratulations also to Drew, the new President elect of our sister-group RU4MyChoice? (updates on https://www. facebook.com/RU4MyChoice?). Currently, we are busy making arrangements for students to attend the annual NOWSA (Network of Women Students Australia) conference, which is taking place in Perth for a week in July. If you are interested in attending this conference, please email utswomenscollective@gmail.com for more information. We are also beginning to work on a zine about safety at UTS, and developing a mini ‘library’ for our beloved wom*n’s room (CB 02.03.05). If you have any books to donate, please bring them to the Students Association Office or email utswomenscollective@ gmail.com to arrange for them to be collected. As always, we’ve also been discussing feminism on our online group. Here’s a summary -

We love: • Our sister group RU4MyChoice? • USYD-based Critical Legal Studies Network • Dr Mehreen Faruqi • Alice Walker, who is speaking at the Sydney Writers Festival this May (go to http://www.swf.org.au/) • USYD Woco’s RPAH We hate: • Tony Abbott speaking at the UN Women International Women’s Day breakfast • Lily Allen’s racism • Joe Hildebrand’s comments on domestic violence • Jared Leto’s transphobia Environmental Collective Vertigo Report LARA PAIJMANS & OGNJEN ASKOVIC The UTS Environmental Collective is a student activist group on campus working hard to support sustainable and responsible environmental practice within business, government and society. It is currently heavily involved in the Fossil Free universities campaign, a cross-campus collaboration between universities all across Australia seeking to pressure our universities to sever ties with damaging fossil fuels industries and develop more environmentally friendly practice. The collective is demanding that the university provide the students with information for where it is investing its money and to redirect any investment lodged in business that damages the environment. As part of this the environmental collective is hosting a Fossil Free Carnival on the 1st of May, where students can come have a laugh, play some games and learn how they can stand up to help the cause. The collective has also been deeply involved in the community, supporting the Leard State Forest Campaign which uses nonviolent direct action to disrupt the Whitehaven mine expansion and support the local communities affected. For more information about the campaigns visit http:// fossilfree.utsenviro.com/ or join us on facebook UTS Enviro Collective.

FRINGE / 55


VERTIGO

ISSUE THREE: NERDSEX

STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION

PRESIDENT’S REPORT

I’m going to use this space to publicly answer some of the FAQ’s I’ve received since elected.

this question I shoot one back: What would you like to change about UTS?

Do you know a bulk-billing doctor/counsellor? If you’re a UTS Student, we’ve got the above services in Building 1, level 6 or at Kuring-gai, level 5 room 1.519 or can be contact on 9514 5342. If you’re queer, trans* or have a uterus and are looking for a particularly friendly, not stigmatic doctor you should get in contact with the Queer or the Wom*n’s Collective.

The Students’ Association aims to find what students want, and create services and campaigns to target those needs. This year we’ve had students do the following:

Where do I find free condoms/dams/sex-info on campus? Some uni students have a lot of sex. Remember that consent is super important, and to not pressure or assault others into doing things they don’t want to do, which also includes STI preventative measures such as dental dams and condoms. Whether you’re going to risk potential STI’s or not, know that there are several places to get sexual health products and information on campus (like the UTS Students’ Association, Building 1, level 3, room 22). I need to find out where to get a sexual health check, err, for a friend. I personally go to the RPA Sexual Health clinic in Camperdown. It’s a really short bus away from UTS, but I know a lot of other students go to Sydney Sexual Health Clinic. Check them out online (Google is an evil corporation, but is also your friend in this situation). They’re both super close to uni, and have simple check-ups, to services for sex workers, HIV-rapid testing and know contacts to support for those of any sexuality. Someone on campus has been harassing me. If you are being harassed on campus by someone right now, go straight to security. They can be phoned from any place in campus by simply dialing ‘6’. I’d encourage all students to put this number in their mobile for On-Campus security: ‘1800 249 559’. The other body on campus that can help with long term harassment or bullying is the Equity and Diversity Department. They can be contacted on 9514 1084, or found in Building 1, level 17. How can I apply myself/get more involved at UTS? I get this question the most. Usually, if a student asks me

56 / FRINGE

Publications such as Vertigo, zines and the UTSSA 2014 handbook. Start a food bank for hungry students at UTS, expanded services at the Bluebird Brekkie Bar, designed posters and t-shirts, hosted parties and socials, painted banners for Indigenous rights, Queer rights, saving the reef, for student welfare, for better university funding, for our uni to divest from fossil fuels, pro-refugee banners, pro-medicare banners, anti-abbott banners, general UTSSA banners (all of which have been used at events, actions and rallies!), we’ve supported UTS Staff with their fight for better rights. We’ve had students start organising welfare initiatives, and scavenger hunts. And those are just the things I’ve been involved in. If you’re still wondering how to apply yourself, email me with what you’d like to change at UTS. Andy Zephyr President UTS Students’ Association president@utsstudentsassociation.org


STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION

STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION

EDUCATION VICE PRESIDENT REPORT

SECRETARY REPORT

I sat on a panel last week with the university’s upper management to discuss StuVac – the one week break before exams that other universities get and UTS students (overwhelmingly) want.

Have you ever wondered ‘What the heck does the SRC do?’ If so, dear reader, you have come to the right column.

What a pleasant surprise then, that our DVCs opened the forum by declaring that they support StuVac, and have already begun implementing it. But wait… There’s more to this story. The real reason they now have room for StuVac because of their ‘academic year restructuring’ plan. This means moving from two semesters (plus summer school) to three full sessions. Instead of two semesters separated by a short break and a long break over summer, three trimesters separated by short breaks will cover the entire year. The exact model isn’t decided, but simple maths suggests that to fit three trimesters in an academic year, plus StuVac, orientation and breaks, trimesters will be significantly shorter than semesters. Management suggested courses will remain unchanged, meaning they will be crammed into a significantly shorter period as early as 2016, with quality of teaching suffering accordingly. The official line is that the change is about ‘flexibility’ and ‘shifting from teaching to learning’. Students should be deeply suspicious of this. Moving to three semesters allows the university to churn out graduates more rapidly, reduces teaching time for students, and lumps greater workloads onto staff. The trimester model seems like a way to generate more fees at the expense of quality. Don’t swallow the corporate spin. Quality education means actual, face-to-face teaching with permanent teaching staff, and there’s no magic substitute. The Students’ Association will be demanding to know more about these reforms, and we’ll be keeping you informed as we find out more. I for one, am not convinced – in fact, I’m angry. If you want to talk about how we respond to this ‘trimester’ plan, come along to an EAG meeting, 2pm on Mondays in the room behind the Students’ Association.

There has been one SRC meeting and two executive meetings since last edition of Vertigo. In those meetings we have: •

• • • • • •

Set a budget for Vertigo and passed printing quotes Set up a committee to construct formalised grievance procedures Set up a committee to start a food bank Heard reports from the President, Education Vice President, Postgraduate Officer, and Bookshop Liason councillor Made plans for Harmony Week and Green Week Discussed conference funding Passed spending for Wom*n’s Collective, Queer Collective, and the Welfare Department Re-afffiliated the RU4MyChoice Club to the Students’ Association Passed spending for furniture, kitchen supplies, and craft supplies for the office Passed spending for staff training

These SRC actions might sound boring, but they are all steps towards providing services and events for students, and allowing collectives and PERC Clubs to thrive. I encourage you to pick up a free Students’ Association handbook from in front of one of our offices (Tower Building level 3, and Kuring-Gai near the library) to read up on what these services are and how they can help you, or come in and say hi anytime. Secretary out. Andie Yates Secretary UTS Students’ Association secretary@utsstudentsassociation.org

Disclaimer: This represents the views of the Education VicePresident only. The Students’ Association is still in consultation and has not yet taken a stance on the issue.

FRINGE / 57


en hn ,thte % , 0 % 5 0 o 5 t o t p u p u e v e a BBuuyyaannddssav vveenn! ! e e k k a a e e r r b b o o t t ll ll e e RReess


Issue Three - 2014