Edition 6 Volume 82
New Model Jazz GLi from drive per $16,990 away^ or $53 week > 1.3 litre i-VTEC engine > 5-speed manual > Bluetooth phone > USB/iPod audio 5.8 > Front, side & curtain airbags
> Stability control > 5.8 litres per 100km*
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466 845 www.burswoodhonda.com.au 1300 A/H: 0414 666 029 ^ Recommended promotional driveaway price available to Burswood Honda, while stocks last, on vehicles purchased and delivered between 01/08/2011 and 30/09/2011. Finance offer only available to approved applicants. Repayments cannot be made weekly. Weekly equivalent repayment is $229.06 monthly, based on a 60 month consumer loan agreement, drive away price of $16,990.00, 9.00% interest rate, 25% deposit and a 30% balloon payment (to approved applicants only). Total amount payable under contract is $22085.60. Fees and charges apply. Offer ends 30/09/2011. A comparison rate schedule is available from Burswood Honda. WARNING: This comparison is true only for the example given and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees and other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate. Finance provided by Esanda, a division of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited ABN 11 005 357 522. All applications for credit are subject to Esandaâ€™s normal credit approval criteria. Terms and conditions are available on application. *Fuel consumption figures are based on ADR81/02 080911-189 combined test results. (B) $16,990 â€“ 12MY Jazz Gli manual with flat paint. Pic for illustration purposes only.
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INTER-DUELS: Tom Adolph goes head to head with Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop
15 farewell aunty 16 UK riots 17 kids corner 18 decay of language 20 intense shit 22 adult braces 23 rome looks like crap 24 peter pan 26 guild catering 28 freo decay 30 3dk
CATERTING TO OUR AUDIENCE: Dan Pillar’s looks at UWA’s Catering problems
Splendour in the Grass 2011 – Josh Chiat continues Pelican’s yearly quest to Splendour Mecca!
Oh hai Pelican! – Callum Twigger talks movies with Tommy Wiseau
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Credits Editors // Koko Wozniak & Patrick Marlborough Design // Wayne Chandra Advertising // Alex Pond Cover Art // Evelyn Froend Arts Editor // Sarah Dunstan Books Editor // Ben Sacks Film Editor // Callum J Twigger Music Editor // Josh Chiat Politics Editor // Thomas Adolph
Sub-editors // Kiya Alimoradian, Mark Birchall, Josh Chiat, Kevin Chiat, Elizabeth Howard, Richard Ferguson, Lachlan Keeley, Alice Mepham, Sarah Motherwell, Kate Prendergast, Elisa Thompson.
Contributors // Thomas Adolph,
Motherwell, Michael O’Brien, Daniel Pillar, Kate Prendergast, Ben Sacks, Melissa Schober, Callum J Twigger Lauren Wiszniewski.
Simon Agnello, Kiya Alimoradian, Mark Birchall, Liam Blackford, Yvonne Buresch, Josh Chiat, Kevin Chiat, Fay Clarke, Jakub Dammer, Ed Fearis, Michael France, Kat Gillespie, Alex Griffin, Annabel Hennessy, Lachlan Keeley, Zoe Kilbourn, Sarah Lam, Katrin Long, Hannah Lyles, Bill Marlo, Alice Mepham, Deblina Mittra, Sarah
Illustrators // Louise Abbott, Steph-
anie Ball, Hannah Farleigh, Evelyn Froend, Emily O’Keeffe, Hayley Moore, Alice Palmer, Ena Tulic, Camden Watts.
WHAT’S ON CAMPUS? 2011 Cruickshank-Routley Guild Ball The magic of the Guild Ball is happening on Friday, October 21! At this year’s Guild Ball you’ll be spellbound when you enter Hogwarts (aka Guild Ref)! Last year’s Ball completely sold out, so if you don’t want to be a Muggle, make sure that you get your ticket as soon as they go on sale! Tickets go on sale on 29 August at the Guild Student Centre. Time: 7pm – Midnight Tickets: $90 Gold Guild Members / $100 others 8:30am – 4pm weekdays at Guild Student Centre. On Sale until Mon 17 October 4pm
Pelican needs an editor for 2012! Pelican editors are appointed by the UWA Student Guild and are required to put out eight editions of the student paper per year. You can get as creative as you want with the paper, but here are some key objectives that you might like to consider: • Getting students to pick up the paper • Representing a variety of different viewpoints • Painting a picture of campus life in 2012 • Getting people involved with the paper • Creating an intelligent, funny and immensely readable final product
A candidate must: • •
Have been a Guild member for two years (or as long as they’ve been at UWA) Not have run in the Guild Elections in the last two years
• • • • • •
An evident passion for Pelican and what student press stands for Creative flair A strong vision for the content and design of next year’s paper Ideas about ways to get writers involved, retained and motivated Demonstrated time management skills and strategies for meeting deadlines Experience in writing, sub-editing, art directing and co-ordinating
Things that will definitely help your application: The Solid Gold Committee of 1971 invites you to the 19th annual SOLID GOLD BALL THIS FRIDAY (9.9.1971) Live Music till 9.30pm DJ Sets from past Solid Gold Presidents Tix available from Oak Lawn or call Dave on 0439031288
African Café – brought to you by ASU (African Students Union) Experience the ambiance of African culture, cuisine and LIVE entertainment. Most proceeds will go towards charity for the drought affected zones. Keep your eyes and ears out for more information or email us on email@example.com
Guten Tag, The Computer Science Student’s Club is running its annual quiz night on Thursday, September 15 in the UWA tavern. The questions are not specifically on computer science and the event is accessible to all. Contact Tyler at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. JAZZ ON THE OAK LAWN The UWA Jazz Club, in association with JazzWA, is proud to present Jazz on the Oak Lawn! From 1pm on Tuesday 25 October, a group of Perth’s finest jazz musicians will perform some funky modern jazz on the Oak Lawn. Come and hear what your lunch hour has been missing.
Your application will consist of:
• A portfolio of all relevant work • An application that includes your vision for the paper Editing Pelican is traditionally a solo job, but the last two years, we’ve had two editors working in a partnership to edit the paper. If you intend to apply with a partner please present strategies for how you will divide/share the workload and how you will handle
For more information, contact Alex Pond, Memberships Officer at email@example.com or pop by the Memberships office on the first floor of the Guild hall. APPLICATIONS DEADLINE: 5PM FRIDAY, 7 OCTOBER 2011. Submit applications to the Memberships Office or Guild Student Centre.
Evelyn Froend Looking for a fun, exciting show to go to? Looking for something to inspire your creative juices? Passion UWA presents Search for a Star 2011! Happening at 7.30pm on 17 September, at the Winthrop Somerville Auditorium. Tickets are $10. For more information, go to http://on.fb.me/ncupIH
Evelyn has been drawing and painting since before she could talk and now studies Architecture at UWA. She particular loves oil painting and pencil drawings of the human body. Feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Melissa Schober
My father describes my love for The Bold and the Beautiful as “diarrhoea” for my mind. He doesn’t mean it as a negative. In fact, if he’s home in the afternoon, I will see him waddling around the kitchen, looking at the clock. Eventually, in a soft voice he will ask, “It starts at 4:30, right?” Together, we watch the show with great reverence, occasionally grinning at one another as the camera closes in on Brooke Logan’s tear-stricken face when she realises that she has, yet again, accidentally slept with her daughter’s first love. If I spend my day procrastinating and focusing on too much “crap” – soap operas, Facebook, reading Daily Telegraph interviews with Katherine Kelly Lang and noting that the author got his facts wrong; Brooke slept with Bridget’s husband not Hope’s – I feel incredibly guilty and that my day has wasted away. It’s a dilemma that affects most students, Frequently, I find myself exclaiming “I am simply a lazy person” because I procrastinate and use it as an excuse for not going ahead and doing things (like writing this editorial). But procrastination is a learned habit and it’s something that I believe can be changed. Long term goal planning hardly ever works, but setting realistic goals and getting into the habit of doing them straight away can help re-wire how you think. Simply being aware of your foibles can have a remarkable effect on your work habits. Having said that, procrastination in moderation can be a great thing. You can’t spend your entire day learning about Compton scattering or memorising toll-like receptor pathways, so there’s no point feeling guilty. Spending an afternoon in the Pelican office singing the lyrics to ‘Party Girl’, or watching Brooke Logan collapse on a deserted island with your father is a way of strengthening relationships. Sometimes, a little “diarrhoea” can be a good thing, like colon cleansing. Koko Wozniak
I’ve been to so many funerals that I consider myself a connoisseur. Sure, they are all sad. My earliest memory is my grandfather’s funeral. I was stuffed into a tiny suit by my father. I vaguely remember following the procession down to the lot in Fremantle cemetery, asking Dad to carry me on his shoulders. Since then I’ve been to about 20 or more funerals. Death is such a big part of my family. My parents have such a boggling collection of friends and comrades from the “golden years”. Many they haven’t seen in decades. As a kid I’d watch them casually reading the death notices each morning, and about once or twice a week, there’d be a “Joe Smith has died”, “old Joe? He was such a lovely man”. This ritual as well as my frequent visits to hospitals to see elderly relatives essentially desensitised me to the notion of death at a young age. Decay is similarly an odd thing to ponder. I was a bit like Benjamin Button in my childhood in that I was always surrounded by the elderly. A lot of my dearest friends were in their 70s or up, and I’d spend every afternoon with my Grandmother. She died at the age of 91 but remained as sharp as a whip her whole life. She’d tell me stories of how she used to work as John Curtin’s secretary when he was the editor of the Daily Worker. Wrinkles and wisdom were everywhere in my formative years. University students, I believe, fear Decay more than most groups. Our existence is filled with distractions – be it a dissertation or editing the student paper. Our minds are kept from death. We look five years into the future and are told to imagine our career path. Where will our degrees take us? I ask you, dear reader, how important is that essay you are writing this week? The case analysis? Will you mount your degree on your tombstone? Perhaps the reason that I can never take such things seriously is because I look at life from the perspective of my casket – my grandson in my funeral procession, on his father’s shoulders. I hate to think that as I lay dying of some disease (gonorrhoea) that my thoughts will turn to the disappointment I felt when I missed out on getting a HD by one mark. Anyway, if you embrace the inevitability of death it becomes a lot easier to laugh at life, if not the Pelican.
People are often surprised when I tell them I’ve never been arrested. But the truth is, I’ve never had the opportunity. I’ve never been issued with a draft card I can burn, I’ve never been attacked by riot police during an anti-apartheid rally. Some say I’m a failure of a student politician. A lot has been said in recent years about the so-called “death of student activism”. But I disagree. Student activism isn’t dead. It’s changing and it’s stronger than ever. The political space has changed. It’s no longer a physical space like Whitfield Court where a red-faced student condemns the tyranny of the institution from his or her soapbox. Those students existed in a time where things like war, racism and sexism called for a radical response. Today, students engage in an increasingly virtual space. We don’t march or rally because we don’t need to be in the same place at the same time to achieve our aims. Our education campaigns are conducted almost exclusively online – polls, surveys, petitions and key information all at the click of a mouse. In this sense, the technology of today has allowed the Guild to engage with students on a level beyond contemplation in the 60s and 70s. I’ll admit that our campus is not as ideologically charged today. But just because students aren’t breaking things doesn’t mean we’re less passionate about the issues. Instead of confrontation, we now favour consensus building. Radicalism has been replaced by a moderate and levelheaded approach. The Guild is a professional organisation still run by passionate students but focused on the delivery of highquality advocacy and services for its students. In this sense, it has become more than a breeding ground for future Labor and Liberal politicians. In the past few years the Guild has redefined student activism. We now have a Volunteering Hub that offers a range of volunteering opportunities. We run a range of cultural events that access the largely untapped musical, literary and artistic talents on campus. We work with the University through faculties and committees to get the best outcomes for students. In 2012, this University will enter the most ground-breaking era of its 100-year history. New Courses, a new Vice Chancellor and a new Campus Plan are just several of the immediate challenges we face. During this time, the Guild will continue to advocate proudly for students. We will continue to produce politically-engaged leaders. And we will continue to explore and define new avenues of student activism. I’m reasonably confident no one will get arrested.
Why All the Fuss Over Syria? –––– Simon Agnello ––––
Since its awakening during the Arab Spring, Syria has followed in the footsteps of its regional neighbours by flocking to the streets in protest against the dictatorial regime of Bashar al-Assad. The leadership of Mr al-Assad, whose family has ruled Syria for over four decades, has been met with relentless opposition. Seeking civil reforms, democratic rights and his resignation, protesters have staged demonstrations, self-immolations, and hunger strikes since March this year.
The demands of the Syrian revolutionaries and alAssad’s single-party regime are irreconcilable. It is clear something has to give.
Unlike some of its Arab counterparts, the Syrian uprising has been characterised by oppressive violence against demonstrators, in acts that Amnesty International has said constitute crimes against humanity. Amnesty has received reports estimating that since March this year, 1500 protesters have been killed by the Syrian military forces’ draconian efforts to quash the contagious revolutionary fervour.
Attempting to play down the worsening tensions, alAssad has issued statements denying any involvement of the Syrian military in the reported deaths, hoping to shift the blame to anti-protest insurgent groups.
Fearful of the tumultuous power of social networking sites in harnessing support for revolutionary movements, the al-Assad regime blocked internet-access in June. Since then, it has been difficult to establish the severity of the situation in Syria, with most estimates based on information collected by Syrian human rights bodies.
It’s all too tempting to stop reading at this point. After all, these events are taking place in a country some 11,000 kilometres away, in a culture that is entirely foreign and involving people we do not know. There’s a
Letterz Rant on altruism A pox on altruism, and all such –isms, feel-good ideologies and intellectual abstractions propagated by privileged university students on state-sponsored allowance, for no other purpose than to befuddle the wad. I mean, if you are thinking of others before yourself, how can you have anything to give others who have not? How does the asymmetry between the haves and have nots come about, creating the altruistic opportunity, if we are all so noble and generous? How can a society maintain an ideology of altruism without first ensuring that some have while others have not? Is the purpose of civil society to maintain a poverty stricken underclass, only to have the prosperous feel better about themselves with the occasional handout? Is that what we call a greater happiness purpose? I say, stick it fair up yer nether orifice! Two possible solutions. One, support a general prosperity that enables individuals to trade equitably with one another through fair exchange and a free market; and/or, two, put what you don’t want out on the verge during household cleanup week, then allow any who wish to come along anonymously and glean freely what they will, and let the rest go to the tip. At least, save people the ignominy and embarrassment of having to beg. That would be nice. Better again, save the planet, produce comparative to what you consume and live frugally. Whichever way you decide to live your life, at least cut the crap. Gil
good chance you read a similar story yesterday or will read one tomorrow. Repetitive news lacks the raw edge of a breaking story but that should not detract from its importance. The situation is continually changing. Since Amnesty’s last article on this topic, 130 Syrian protesters were killed in a single day of protesting. We must not respond with complacence. Fortunately, as Australians most of us have never encountered the challenges faced by today’s Syrian revolutionaries. Our domestic political landscape is exhaustingly adversarial but stable. Unemployment is at 4.9%, our government bonds are rated AAA (the highest), and we have not yet suffered a terrorist attack on home soil. At times it is often easy to overlook the peace and fortune with which we as Australians are blessed. We should set an example and remain ever grateful for our ongoing peace and security; we can all do this by using our voice to defend the rights of those who cannot do so themselves. If you want to take action condemning the oppressive acts of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, sign a petition online at amnesty.org.au/action/action /26204/ and make your voice heard. If you’d like to campaign with us on campus, drop us a line at email@example.com or find us on facebook (Amnesty International UWA Group).
to the EDZ
A poopy error Dear Editors I was shocked to discover the sad decline in the quality of your film reviews showcased in edition 5, ‘altruism’. I refer specifically to the work of P.R. Poopy, (alias Phillip Rapee Glass Glass alias Black Santa alias Rapee McChildren alias Lachlan Keeley), whose review of The Trip left me horrified, baffled, perplexed, disgusted, mildly aroused and above all, reaching for my thesaurus. I hope, for the sake of your publication’s little remaining dignity and the mental health of the reading public that efforts are made to improve the standard of the Pelican’s content. Sincerely , A concerned patron of the arts North Fremantle. P.S. could you also pass on to Mr. Poopy my desire that he maintain his facial hair.
ott uise Abb on by Lo Illustrati
Have something to say? Email Koko and Patrick on pelican@guild. uwa.edu.au or come to our final writers’ night on September 19 at 5pm in the Guild Meeting Room. Final edition’s theme is ‘Crass’.
How to eat cheaply: A student’s guide --------------------------
Liam Blackford --------------------------
It is a myth that all students who live away from their parents are forced into eating poorly through no fault of their own. In reality, if you spent the majority of your money on food you could probably eat very well, but you wouldn’t have money for other things. Eating cheaply as a student honestly does not have to involve frequently skipping meals or only eating Mi goreng, but it does involve some basic and pretty reasonable sacrifices. These are a few things I’ve learned.
1. Exploit cheap items at uni In general, most food at uni is fucking expensive. You can get cheaper and tastier Asian at Broadway or a $5 roll at the deli at Broadway. Having said this you CAN get roast potatoes for about $4, or steamed rice for about $2, which you can add tuna to (see rule 10). Note that these prices immediately become unreasonable if you don’t have a Guild discount. 2. Always choose the cheaper option What this means is that if you want to buy a food item, check if there is a generic brand alternative, and always buy that. This is not a hard rule to follow. Get into the habit of telling yourself how amazing it is that the generic brands taste exactly the same (which they do). The rule does become harder if you have ethical concerns which you want to cater to. Get rid of them. One day, when you’re not on a student budget, you’ll be able to get on your high horse about $2 Coles brand milk putting Australian dairy farmers out of business. The same is true for things like fair trade coffee, free range eggs, organically or sustainably produced food, etc. Ethical concerns are fine, but unless you’re all talk and no action, they are inevitably something you have to regularly fork out for. 3. Never, ever, turn down free food If you feel self-conscious or shameful about being a scavenger, you need to move back home, or get used to going hungry. There is such a thing as a free lunch. Just say yes.
Illustration by Hayley Moore.
4. Anything over $5 is now a treat Treats are something you have once in a while and which you really appreciate having. For example, cheese is now a treat, as is meat that’s not mince or tuna. Dessert is always a treat. Bananas used to not be a treat, but at $14 a kilo, are now like three treats at once. Pre-mixed salad bags are a
treat. Anything that comes in a jar or packet that costs over $5, but can be used a few times, is borderline depending on how many times you can use it (which means that vegemite is not a treat, but cream cheese and non-generic brand cereal are all treats). I’ll take this opportunity to talk about 3-star mince. 3-star mince is the best as it is cheapest. Obviously it comes with bonus material in it, but 3-star mince is so special to me. It is usually under $5 and my God, it is always a treat. 5. Embrace fast food I think this rule speaks for itself in so many ways. The following are the four best fast food options: a) Subway: You could get an overstuffed Ref roll that fits in your palm and costs you $8, or you could get a delicious foot-long sub from Subway for $7 (see rule 1). Don’t forget the delicious undercooked cookies. b) Chilliz: $4 for chicken and rice, a price as mouth-watering as the meal itself. I’m a pussy but I reckon the chilli sauce is out of control hot. c) Red Rooster: Not exactly temple food but the best value fast food out there, and, gun to my head, the best chips available anywhere in Perth. If you just got your Centrelink, splash for a pineapple fritter. d) McDonalds: Definitely not temple food but a lot of the outlets are open 24 hours so they win by default if you need to eat at 4am. To be honest, I’m very wary of people who say they don’t like McDonalds. Unethical business practices, bad for your health blah blah blah we’ve all heard it. If you enjoy telling people how much you don’t like McDonalds, you need to ask yourself: am I really just an idiot? Fast food outlets to avoid: a) KFC: Overpriced, and very stingy with their portions. My friend bit into a KFC burger once, and there was a pocket of hot oil inside the chicken breast. It burst out onto the side of her face and caused her third-degree burns. (Note:
Say goodbye to foie gras, and start telling people how happy you are that you just discovered that you can microwave frozen vegetables to steam them faster.
10. Finally, a good, cheap shopping list The rumour that KFC chicken will turn green if left out in the sun is not a reason why I don’t recommend eating KFC.) b) Nando’s: Sigh. So delicious but at $15 for a meal and a drink, way too expensive to eat on the regular. c) Hungry Jack’s: What are you doing? Go to McDonalds. d) Grill’d: “Healthy burgers” for people who can’t count calories. It makes me sad that fast food can get this pretentious. If you’re going to pay over $10 for a burger, get a real burger at Jus Burgers (west is best). 6. Lower your standards You know the people on MasterChef who talk about how they have an enormous passion for food, and how they can’t stand bad food? This is not an attitude which people without money can have. Eating should be something worth doing only to the extent that it prolongs your life. So say goodbye to foie gras, and start telling people how happy you are that you just discovered that you can microwave frozen vegetables to steam them faster. Or how many loaves of stale bread you can fit in your freezer. Or how you can suppress your appetite until dinner by drinking a litre of green tea (it doesn’t work for everybody). If you’re the sort of person who can’t stand eating leftovers, or who would never google the remaining three ingredients in your fridge to see if there is a possible meal to be made out of them, you are offensively wasting money. You should stop eating out and start cooking for yourself as much as possible. Dropping more than $10 on meals throughout the day is ridiculous when you can spend less than $50 a week on groceries for pack lunches and meals at home. Yes, I know, pack lunches suck. Anyway, you can get that $50 down to $40 or $30 pretty easily if you are resourceful and start taking rules 1, 2 and 3 seriously. Finally, while I am obviously an eternal supporter of fast food, for the sake of your health and your wallet, have fast food
1. Bread 2. Milk 3. Tuna (The beginning and end of a budget diet. I have at least 10 cans in the cupboard at any one time.) 4. Rice 5. Cornflakes (reminder: generic brand) 6. Tinned soup 7. Apples 8. Frozen vegetables 9. Yoghurt 10. 3-star mince
no more than a few times a week. 7. Vouchers Develop a habit of not eating out unless you can use a voucher. The more often you eat out without using a voucher, the more money you are wasting. This is actually not a habit that I’ve developed as a student but a cardinal rule that my family lives by, and it begins and ends with the Entertainment Book. For about $50 you can buy this book that is full of incredible 2-for-1 deals. I understand that $50 is quite a lot, and it’s full of really nice restaurants where you shouldn’t be going, so what you need to do is get some respectable adult to buy the book and get them to give you the fast food vouchers (don’t forget to laugh politely when they say “better off on your hips than mine!” or something). Vouchers are always available in junk mail and on the back of receipts. My favourite voucher is for Siena’s in Leederville, which on Thursday and Sunday nights entitles you to half-priced main meals (ending up around $9; note rule 4), and Siena’s is a bloody good restaurant. You will find this voucher on the back of supermarket receipts in the Town of Vincent. Taking advantage of good value is not just a shield; it is also a weapon. My mother and her friends were quick to get in on this deal
that a fancy restaurant in Victoria Park offered, where if you paid $150 for this special key you would have half-price on your bill for an entire year. Offering this deal was a big mistake. This voracious pack of ladies, more than 10 in a group every time, descended on this poor restaurant at least 3 times a week, reaping the savings but demonstrably costing that restaurant hundreds of dollars with every bill. That restaurant has since closed and is now a Dome café. 8. Stay away from Mum and Dad If you live out of home but regularly creep back to your parents’ house for dinner, you are not trying hard enough. I mean, I could go home and face the rolling eyes and the “I knew he’d be back” looks, or I could be an adult and just eat those tinned pineapples for dinner. 9. A last word about Mi goreng I don’t know how true the myth is about students eating Mi goreng all the time. All I know is that I personally eat it all the time. But it really isn’t necessary to have to do this and for a food that is very high in fat, MSG and sodium, moderating your Mi goreng intake is probably a really good thing (however, if you are worried about the carb content of Mi goreng you should move back home with your mum and dad because you are not cut out for budget eating). The Asian supermarket on Charles St in North Perth will sell a box of 12 packets of Mi goreng for $14, which is $0.2333333 per packet. That is a great deal, but once there was a worm in my noodles. The worm was fried, so it probably wasn’t the supermarket’s fault. What IS the supermarket’s fault is the fact that it is on the list on health.wa.gov. au of food outlets in breach of WA food regulations for selling expired food all the time, so beware if you start shopping there on the regular.
British McNuggets have 25% less fat than those in the US.
Illustration by Evelyn Froend
DUELING INTERVIEWS – PART 1 Stephen Smith is the Federal Member for Perth and this country’s Minister for Defence. For the first time on the pages of Pelican, Thomas Adolph presents this special interview edition of Evil Eye.
After several weeks of negotiation, I had managed to wrangle a sit-down interview with Mr Smith. His organiser informed me that he would be available for a brief window between 10:45 and 11:20, one morning late in the university holidays. The day before the interview – which I had expected to take place at Mr Smith’s office – I was informed by a staffer that the Minister wanted to meet me on campus. Classes were yet to commence so the conference spaces would be closed and the Pelican editorial office is not a place to take members of Federal Cabinet. Panicking somewhat, I tried the Matilda Bay Restaurant; no such luck. They don’t open till 11:30. Thankfully, I discovered that the Law Library staff are big fans of Mr Smith. “Oh, Stephen, he’s so handsome isn’t he? I might have to do up my hair!” fluttered one helpful librarian. We had arranged an interview room with all the good chairs and were waiting as the Minster arrived by car service. He wore a grey suit and a businesslike expression.
to refer to Gough [Whitlam] as the member for Werriwa, that he was no longer Prime Minister. The island immediately divided. It was Gough who had really charged the enthusiasm of my generation for politics. “I wanted to be a Labor member of parliament for as long as I can remember. My interest in politics, current affairs and public administration was instinctive, but I also knew that the one certain thing about politics is its’ uncertainty. I knew it was important to get some experience and a qualification under my belt before I had a dash at politics.” Mr Smith took perhaps the ‘classic’ path into public office. He had practiced law, became principal private secretary under state Attorney General Joe Berinson and then finally State Secretary before taking the leap into electoral politics. More recent trends have seen people entering Parliament younger and younger,
Mr Smith breaks into a wry smile as “If you don’t reform as a Labor he picks up a copy of Pelican from the table; by chance he has opened to a page Government, there’s no reason for you prominently featuring a large number of to be in power. I’ve initiated reform in four-letter words. Throughout our chat he prefers to lean forward, lacing his fingers procurement, capability and acquisition, in with his elbows on his knees. He often gazes cultural change and force posture out across the Oak Lawn, commenting that the library was much smaller and darker review – but when you reform, you get into when he attended law school here. We’re short-term difficulties lucky, he says with a chuckle. “UWA is becoming a bit of a tradition in my family you know,” he begins as we settle in. “Our son Hugo is in third year Law/Arts and our daughter Maggie has just started first year Law/ jumping from university, to union or party office, Arts.” The Minister himself studied law between then straight onto back benches. 1973–78 and attended Masters at the University of London while lecturing in public international “Yes, well I don’t know if that will last. Public law. I ask him about the path to politics, his policy really asks for people with experience motive and inspiration. in other things, the best time really being somewhere between age 35 and 40. Now “I recall that we were all at Rottnest at the end that’s not to walk away from my own political of our second-year law exams in 1975 and we experience, but that was legal experience also. turned up at the basin. For some strange reason I remember I was patiently waiting for Rick everyone was listening to the parliamentary Charlesworth to retire when I got the call to party broadcast. I realised that the speaker had begun
office. The next surprise was that Paul Keating called me and said ‘come work on my staff ’.” At the Labor Conference in June, Mr Smith gave an address stating that longevity was the truest currency in politics. Having been involved in the campaigns of every modern Labor leader since Hayden, he has taken his own advice seriously. I ask him whether – given his involvement in the installation of Paul Keating and Kim Beazley as leaders – he might ever put his own name forward for the top job. “No,” he says, “I’m very happy doing what I’m doing now, and I don’t think that day will ever come.” Mr Smith has been praised and criticised in equal measure for his firm and controlled manner. Though this often enables him to rise above the usual juvenile exchanges in Canberra, some call it humourlessness. The Minister doesn’t seem to mind. Shrugging, he says that’s just the way he is. “I pride myself on careful attention to detail and on being professional. The single worst thing I can say to or about a public servant is that they are unprofessional. It’s always been my nature to be forensic and to try to get things right. And I think when you’re dealing with foreign and defence policy that’s a very important thing.” One of the rare occasions in which we have seen Smith’s characteristic poker-face slip was during the 2008 visit of Condoleezza Rice. Having personally hosted her stay, he positively lights up as he describes the great, defining impact of her visit to Perth. “You have to possess some especial attributes if you’re a black woman in America and you end up being Secretary of State. Personally, we got on terribly well, though I must say that both as Foreign Minister and as Defence Minister I get on equally well with Hillary Clinton.” When Kevin Rudd was sacked in 2010, the new Government had the tricky job of ‘handling’ their former leader. Peter Beattie said that at the time it would have been better for everyone if Rudd had politely retired. Mr Smith may feel the same; having been acknowledged as an excellent foreign minister, he was nevertheless moved
sideways out of his job to make way for the leader he had strongly supported. It was reported that he had free reign to choose his next portfolio; I ask whether that was necessarily true. “The Prime Minister came to me and said ‘apart from Treasurer and Foreign Minister, you’ll take your pick.’ I told her, ‘Well that’s not really the choice is it, because there are several other Ministers doing a very good job in their areas’.” In fact, there were only two real choices – Finance and Defence – due to the retirements of Lindsay Tanner and John Faulkner. Mr Smith clearly feels he’s moved up in the world; he boasts that “Defence is foreign policy with assets, capability and cash.” Smith has been one of the most active Defence Ministers in years. He has begun a ‘force posture review’, including plans for a possible defence base in the north of WA. The Government’s 2009 White Paper offended the Chinese Government when it implied that they were a threat to Australian security. Mr Smith’s paper, which will be published in 2014, is not, he assures me, aimed at China or any one country. Despite this, China looms large in our policy debate. When Julia Gillard visited Beijing in April this year, she faced strong pressure to ease the restrictions on Foreign Investment Review Board applications. The 2007–8 financial year saw the value of these proposals leap from 100 million to 2.5 billion. Another five billion dollars’ worth has been submitted since then, mostly by Chinese companies. That same year, the Bush administration blocked the purchase of American oil on national security grounds. Mr Smith avoids the question of whether we should do the same. He tells me that it is open to the Treasurer to refuse buyout applications on those grounds. Since he came to office, however, it has only been done once, when Wayne Swan asked for amendments to a mine purchase close to the Woomera prohibited zone.
After all, “Since we came to office there have been billions of dollars of investment offered by China for Australian development.” Perhaps the defining event of Mr Smith’s tenure in Defence was the Australian Defence Force Academy scandal. Mr Smith was criticised in some media when he leapt to the defence of a cadet alleged to have been sexually assaulted in her barracks. It was reported that the tribunal overseeing the matter had allowed questions of character and other non-disciplinary matters to be raised in the course of the proceedings, raising concerns of intimidation. Mr Smith jumps in with an answer before I finish the question, Did you overstep? “It is not appropriate in the modern day for the innocent victim of a potential sexual assault to have her character brought into question. I’ve called a number of inquiries both generally into cultural issues and also a formal defence inquiry being run by Mr Kirkham QC into the circumstances and treatment of the cadet at ADFA. Maybe it comes from me receiving my legal training in the mid 70s, but if I had the chance to take it all back after three months, I would do it exactly the same.” The reason for the criticism is that active Defence Ministers rely heavily on the cooperation of a fiercely autonomous body. Combined with his strong reformist agenda, he risks alienating the most opaque institution under public control. “Where I’ve seen inefficiency, where I’ve seen taxpayer money wasted, I have acted. There’s not enough personal or institutional accountability in Defence. In the near future I’ll be releasing a review – the Black Review that deals with accountability. The more accountable you are, the more people own decisions
and the more likely people are to be rigorous.” He may face a hostile audience. He is less interested in talking about the rumoured second-round Northern Territory intervention. When administrated by Howard in 2007, the involvement of the armed forced was roundly criticised by Labor. I ask how it will be different under a Labor flag. “There’s no point in being coy, I’m not the one you should be asking about the detail of that plan. It’s very much an indigenous affairs matter, a matter for Jenny Macklin.” Stephen Smith and Kevin Rudd remain two of the most popular figures in national politics. Yet current polling shows that if an election were held today, both would lose their seats. The Malaysian Solution, and more pressingly the Carbon Tax are weighing heavily on Labor at all levels. “It’s a tough time for us, and we’re not pretending otherwise. When any Government starts to affect major structural change, there are always difficulties and challenges in the transition. The message that I give is that the next election is not going to be now. The next election is going to be late 2013.” I get a clear sense of Smith’s frustration; it is the frustration of a strong performer working hard on a sinking ship. “If you don’t reform as a Labor Government, there’s no reason for you to be in power. I’ve initiated reform in procurement, capability and acquisition, in cultural change and force posture review – but when you reform, you get into short-term difficulties” As the interview winds down, I reflect that the Minister’s controlled manner does not come across as humourless. Instead, it strikes me as rather primeministerial. He gives me a roguish wink as we finally shake hands and part ways. “We’re two and a half years out from the poll, Tom. I wouldn’t be counting out the Labor Party just yet.”
Illustration by Evelyn Froend
EVIL EYE: DUELING INTERVIEWS – PART 2 Julie Bishop is Deputy Leader of the Federal Opposition, Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and member for the seat of Curtin. For the first time on the pages of Pelican, Thomas Adolph presents this special interview edition of Evil Eye.
A steady flow of people is moving with purpose, up and down the corridors at Bishop HQ. It’s clearly an Opposition office. A wall-sized map of her constituency, exhaustively detailing her exact margin in every suburb, is prominently displayed in her conference room. As you would expect, Ms Bishop looks very secure in her own seat. As I wait, I can hear her having a firm conversation with someone in the next room; she’s thinking Senate options re Mining Tax. I notice a number of damaged garden gnomes sitting on her reception desk, props from the Chaser’s 2010 satire Yes we Canberra. Cleverly, she seems to have taken their mockery in her stride. “Yes, the death-stare gag,” she laughs as she explodes into the room. “That one really haunts me.” Anyone
who has observed Julie Bishop recently will know that she’s taken on some image advice. The severity of her old manner is gone, though it occasionally surfaces for parliamentary question time. Instead, she seems authoritative, a confident executive. She is still forceful; she locks down eye contact and maintains it throughout our interview. She assumes an assertive posture, slightly inclined, engaged, with her hands free to gesture. Mostly, she points and taps to punctuate her views. After 20 years of practice in corporation’s law, Julie Bishop had become well and truly engaged with public policy. Yet it was during a sabbatical at Harvard Business school that she decided to make the leap into party politics. “The professors in Boston spoke a lot about giving
back to your community, in that inspirational way they talk about these things in the United States. I think it was really then that I knew, yes, that’s what I’d like to do.” Like many federales, Ms Bishop walked away from a lucrative position and salary at a major law firm to pursue public office. Australia is on the far lower end of the international scale in terms of politicians’ salaries. This is often cited as a reason that highly qualified, high calibre people choose to stay out of the race. Ms Bishop describes her entry into politics as unplanned and says she would never have done it if money were what drove her. “I veered into politics quite unexpectedly. I thought public office was a higher calling – one of the highest in fact – so money wasn’t in the mix in the decision. We have an independent tribunal that takes into account a range of factors including public opinion in setting the salaries of Australia’s politicians. Now there are other models around the world, but we have a very robust system in this country. It works and I wouldn’t want to see it change.” Ms Bishop’s position as Deputy Leader has been uncontested since she took it in 2007. Speculation has followed, however, that her erstwhile opponents Andrew Robb and Chris Pyne have been marinating a challenge for the next opportunity. Ms Bishop clearly feels secure in her role. “The Liberal Party has a number of very ambitious members, and that’s the way you would want it to be. The fact is, we had an election and nobody has challenged me. I think the reason for that is, everybody in the Liberal Party can count.” Indeed, her consistent electoral performance has given rise to the rather vicious moniker among her colleagues - “the cockroach” – as in unkillable. She doesn’t seem too offended. “At any one time in a two-party system, you know that half the people you meet don’t approve of you
and don’t want to see you elected. It’s just part of the business. Nobody forced me to go into politics and I knew what I was in for.” She is aware that women in her position face some additional scrutiny. Julia Gillard has been subject to unusually venomous criticism since taking office, and not necessarily on policy. Double page editorials are dedicated to her appearance and choice of partner, among other things. I ask whether Ms Bishop has experienced the same, particularly given her high profile partner. She is currently paired with Peter Nattrass, former LordMayor of Perth. “I’ve been with Peter for 15 years, so that’s as long as I’ve been in politics. I’ve worked in male-dominated fields for many years and I’ve never played the gender card. I don’t complain about the way I get treated, I don’t complain about the scrutiny. If you have been appointed or elected on merit, then that’s all you need concern yourself with.” Ms Bishop’s Coalition colleague Bill Heffernan generated controversy in 2010 by calling the Prime Minister “deliberately barren”. This is in reference to the strong, masculine demeanours often adopted by female politicians in Australia. Ms Bishop responds, “Now I asked Bill to apologise for making that comment and he did. That was an unfortunate comment and he’s apologised and that’s the end of it as far as I’m concerned.” Not unexpectedly, Julie Bishop is absolutely razor sharp on immigration policy. During her time as a Minister under John Howard, the prevailing policy was the Pacific Solution. Specifically, that meant detention and processing centred on the island of Nauru. At the first hint of a Malaysian question, she leaps in with an answer. “The Malaysia solution is a truly awful piece of public policy. I am amazed that members of the left of Labor are allowing it to survive. Julia Gillard was desperate for any sort of solution, because she refused to admit that the change in policies from the days of the Howard Government was contributing to the pull factors. When it became evident after two or three years that the policy was attracting the people smuggling trade, they started bandying around these half-cooked solutions.” She lists the various local nations the Government has propositioned, raising the PM’s infamous gaffe in calling the wrong East-Timorese decision-maker when doing so. Julia Gillard’s arrangement with Malaysia is currently a five for one body swap. In exchange for 800 unprocessed refugees, Australia has agreed to take on 4000 processed ones. The problem is that Malaysia exerts a far greater degree of autonomy in the terms of their detainment processes. Ms Bishop paints the alternative Nauru facility as a kind of ‘slice of Australia’ out in the Pacific. “It was built by the Australia taxpayer, funded by the Australian taxpayer, operated, managed and oversighted by the Australian Government. It was staffed by
Australian officials and representatives, we knew where the asylum seekers were at all hours, we provided the education, provided their health, security and protection. This government is sending unaccompanied women and children to Malaysia, and then just washing their hands of it. I hope you ask any Labor politician you interview how they can sleep at night while sitting on that policy.” The Liberal Party are on the offensive at the moment, climbing in the polls on the back of the Carbon Tax. Tony Abbott has staked his political life on its abolition, yet the first contact his party will have with it will be after an election. By that time, Labor will hope to have compensation money flowing thick and fast into voter pockets. Once they are getting something for free, it seems unlikely they’ll be pleased to give it up. Ms Bishop intends to try though, sticking to her guns on the plan to remove all trace of the tax. “I don’t necessarily accept that the Carbon Tax will pass the House of Representatives. On the assumption that it
This is in reference to the strong, masculine demeanours often adopted by female politicians in Australia.
does so, and then we win the next election, it is plain logic that if there is no tax, then that the scheme of compensation is not needed to alleviate it’s effect.” She has nothing to say on the matter of more permanent measures, such as the income tax bracket adjustments floated recently. I ask whether operating from WA has obstructed her efforts in Canberra, after all only one Prime Minister in a hundred years has been West Australian. “As deputy leader I find myself in a different state every week, so where you’re based is probably not as relevant as it used to be. Kim Beazley was the leader of an east coast based party when he was leader of the Opposition. I’m deputy leader of an east-coast based party as well and I’ve been doing it for four years.” I posit whether being West Australian may have played some part in Kim’s failed Prime Ministerial bid. “I would reject that”, she admonishes. “There were a lot of other reasons that Kim Beazley didn’t become Prime Minister and it wasn’t because he was West Australian.” Indeed? Then might she envisage herself as the first West-Australia based Prime Minister since Curtin? “You know what I would like to envisage? Being the first female Foreign Minister of Australia.” We move to another topic on which Ms Bishop has
been outspoken – universities. During her time as Minister for Education, Ms Bishop held a reformist stance on the topic of performance-based pay, and the establishment of the $5 billion endowment fund for universities. She remains vocal on tertiary standards, becoming impassioned as she outlines her views on our flagging universities. “I want our universities to be more diverse. We need more differentiation, more competition to drive up quality and provide better choices. I’d be very keen to see specialist universities in Australia, as they have overseas. Too many universities are offering law degrees, business degrees, arts degrees, and science degrees.” In an interview for edition six of last year’s Pelican, Colin Barnett offered a very similar vision on the topic. This included a School of Mines in WA and a dedicated medical University based on the US model. Back in 2001, there was tension between Barnett and Ms Bishop on the topic of leadership of the State party. I ask whether her relationship with the Premier has been influenced by these old factional rivalries. “Oh, we don’t have factions in the Liberal Party, certainly not in WA. No, Colin and I work extremely well together, I’m very proud that he’s the Premier. I remember the day after Colin was elected leader, Alan Carpenter called for an election; that same night Colin and I were at a school function at Christchurch, sitting up the back of the hall talking strategy to make sure the Liberal Party won the next election. At that stage not a lot of people thought we could do it. At any rate, if you talk about factions, we, both Colin and I, would be considered as moderates in the Liberal Party.” My last question is on nuclear power. Julie Bishop is among the more outspoken proponents of these technologies, though Fukushima and the escalating carbon debate have changed the climate on that topic somewhat. Though she has tripped up on technicalities in the past, today she is firm, concise and certain. “Let me put plainly what I have said: if it is the view that climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our time, then Australia should be looking at ways to reduce its contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions. Under this Government’s Carbon Tax, Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions will increase by 2020. If you have low emissions power, the only known technology that provides, today, base load power with zero to low emissions is nuclear. The fact that we have such vast resources in alternative power sources to nuclear presents a dilemma to who talk about low emissions energy; nuclear is available. The Liberal Party is open minded about it, the Labor Party currently isn’t. Until the Labor Party changes its views, we’ll continue to argue about fossil fuels.”
PUBLIC NOTICE UWA GUILD ELECTIONS
GUILD PRESIDENT AND SENATE REPRESENTATIVE, STUDENT GUILD COUNCILLORS AND NATIONAL UNION OF STUDENTS
Nominations are invited from interested and eligible students for the following positions: A B C D E F G H I
PUB UW LIC NO A T ELE STUD ICE OF Purs CTION ENT G UILD UW uant to S A
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R Reg Studen egulat i ulati t ons Guild ons 623 Ele & ctora
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ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR ALL POSITIONS Candidates must be an enrolled student at the University of Western Australia as at 5:00pm Friday, 5 August 2011 and who is a member of the Guild
NOMINATION AND GROUP REGISTRATION FORMS must be submitted on the official form and lodged with the Returning Officer by 5:00pm Friday, 26 August at Guild Finance, 1st floor (Guild Administration) Guildhall.
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DEPOSITS A deposit of $10 is to be paid in cash or banker’s cheque (not a personal cheque) by midday Monday, 29 August, 2011 at Guild Finance.
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DRAW FOR ORDER OF POSITION ON THE BALLOT PAPER Will take place in the Sue Boyd Room at 2:00pm on Monday, 29 Aug 2011.
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LODGE NOMINATIONS and DEPOSITS AT GUILD FINANCE – GUILD ADMINISTRATION – 1st FLOOR LOCATION
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Farewell, Aunty? The demise of the Public Broadcaster ------------------------------------------
About a month ago I attended the opening night of the Revelation Film Festival at the Astor theatre. The film, an inoffensive documentary on the West Indian cricket team, was no cinematic masterpiece, but my schlep from Fremantle to Mount Lawley was rewarded in a way I hadn’t imagined. As I stood by the upstairs bar surveying (read: judging) my fellow moviegoers and enjoying a fine, but more importantly free, glass of red, my eyes fell upon a fine figured man ascending the velvet staircase. My legs turned to jelly, my breath grew shallow and I broke into a cold sweat as my brain tried to comprehend the image before my eyes. It was David FUCKING Stratton, the silver fox of my dreams, perhaps more widely known to others as Margaret Pomeranz’s sex/sparring partner on ABC’s At The Movies. Now, in my ecstatic state of disbelief I may have imagined this, but I swear that we locked eyes and shared a knowing nod. Needless to say, in that moment, my life became complete. Given the personal significance of this event, you can imagine my terror when only a few days later I heard rumours that the ABC had made the decision to axe a host of established programmes. Okay, so admittedly, I could probably live without Margaret’s squeals of delight and displeasure – a sound I have come to identify as an abrasive hybrid between the call of a velicoraptor and the bray of a donkey. But how the hell am I supposed to fall asleep on my couch on Wednesday nights without the dulcet tones of David Stratton? Sure enough, an announcement was issued in the following weeks; thankfully my worst fears weren’t realised and I would still have adequate fodder for my weekly sex dreams.
responsibility and is tipping firmly in favour of private production houses. In short, this policy has essentially decimated what was once boasted as the nation’s finest arts and entertainment programming, leaving only a handful of shows to fulfil this promise. The latest victims of this on-going cleanout are Sunday’s Art Nation, The New Inventors and The Collectors. To put that in perspective, they join Talking Heads, Can We Help? Sunday Arts and the Einstein Factor, which have all suffered a similar fate in the past year under Mr Dalton’s direction. These programmes filled a void left by the commercial stations. Personally, I was most dismayed at the cancellation of Art Nation, the ABC’s last remaining dedicated arts show. Indeed, several commentators have claimed that this termination is in breech of the ABC’s charter which declares that the broadcaster must “Encourage and promote the musical, dramatic and other performing arts in Australia”. Evidently, such a feat is impossible to achieve when you have absolutely no programmes devoted to this task. More disturbingly, Australia’s national broadcaster is not the only victim of such budget cuts. Its plight is symptomatic of a growing global phenomenon in which public broadcasters are coming under increasing financial and political pressure. In fact, one could argue that the ABC is faring much better than its international counterparts.
Take for example the mercifully failed attempt by right wing Republican Senators Tom Coburn and Jim Demint in March to push a bill through the US Senate that would However, my delight was short-lived as I realised the full effectively defund the Corporation for Public extent of the cuts revealed by director of television, Kim Broadcasting, the agency that provides Dalton, particularly when they are viewed as part of a finances to NPR and PBS. Both are larger trend. Under Dalton, the corporation has adopted fantastic broadcasters that offer the sort the approach of slowly reducing in-house production in of fair and in-depth coverage needed to favour for outsourcing to the independent sector. Whilst counterbalance the fear mongering bullshit a mixed-production model is necessary for any television offered up by the fuckwits over at FOX provider, the balance is rapidly moving away from shared news. Although this bill was unsuccessful, both providers are still facing the difficulties of increasing BBC World Service has been ordered to cut its budget by 16 per cent slashes to their respective per annum, forcing the provider to pull out of many international markets resources. Moreover, if the in which it is almost the lone reliable news source, not to mention leaving Republican Party returns to power next year as many hundreds out of work. What’s worse, at a recent business summit, Margaret preliminary polls suggest Thatcher’s Hocrux and A-grade cunt, David Cameron, described these (I assume they use Bill O’Reilly’s smug grin as a state of affairs as “delicious”. barometer), they may face
the prospect of zero government funding. Even global giant The BBC is not exempt from this political hammering with the reinstated Conservative party making cuts at every possible point when it comes to the international broadcaster. Following recent policy implementation, the BBC World Service has been ordered to cut its budget by 16 per cent per annum, forcing the provider to pull out of many international markets in which it is almost the lone reliable news source, not to mention leaving hundreds out of work. What’s worse, at a recent business summit, Margaret Thatcher’s Horcrux and A-grade cunt, David Cameron, described these state of affairs as “delicious”. Perhaps some of you may ask, why is it important that the taxpayer continues to subsidise public broadcasters? Well, in brief, they perform an essential task, offering serious and unbiased (okay, mostly unbiased) coverage. When the recent amoral shenanigans of Murdoch and Co. at News Limited and the shallow coverage of most commercial stations are taken into account (can somebody please explain the appeal of Karl Stefanovic to me?), it becomes rather obvious that this is an important service. One that the Australian public would be remiss to simply see weakened beyond repair. Want to do something? Go to getup.org.au and sign the online, “petition for ABC to return to its charter” and do your bit to ensure that ‘Aunty’ isn’t further compromised.
THE UK RIOTS:
A FIRST HAND ACCOUNT (SORT OF)
Yvonne Buresch, foreign corresPelican By the time you read this it will all be over. I was supposed to write this article yesterday but I decided to leave it for another night in case something newsworthy happened. I’d have looked pretty silly if I’d turned it in yesterday and then my flat burned down. Anyway, nothing happened and politicians are crediting the increased numbers of police on the streets. I’m crediting the fact that it rained. No point in going out and looting yourself a new flat screen TV if it’s going to get wet and the electrics short out five seconds after you steal it, is there?
things were bad in my area. When I checked my email I noticed she’d also sent a slightly less panicky email an hour earlier, which was interesting because it meant that (a) she must have heard about it in Vietnam not long after I had, which wasn’t long after it actually happened; and (b) she probably worried herself into a frenzy before giving in
Illustration by Camden Watts
I’m going to be completely honest with you and tell you I didn’t really know or care that anything was happening at first. Asked by a friend on Facebook about the riots after the first night, my reply was “Something about a guy getting shot because he shot at a police officer? I haven’t watched the news in ages.” To someone in Australia where everything is a million hours’ drive from everywhere, London seems quite close to Nottingham. From an English perspective it’s practically a world away. I studiously avoid watching TV news. My philosophy is no news is good news and all news is bad news, unless it’s a dog surfing or a cat using chopsticks. The next morning it was all over Facebook. Every second status update was about London and how it had degenerated into full-blown looting. I paid a bit more attention then. I’m supposed to be going to London in two weeks. The next night it spread around the UK to cities as close as Birmingham, an hour away from me. I was supposed to go to the movies with a friend but we decided to cancel in case it reached Nottingham. A few days earlier she’d had to break up a fight at the café she works in and wasn’t keen on potentially having to explain to her mother why she’d been injured by rioters after promising to be careful. It turned out we were justified in cancelling. At 10.30pm, around the time the bus would’ve gone past it after our movie let out, Nottingham’s Canning Circus police station was firebombed. A police station getting firebombed is definitely not on my list of top ten things to see while in England. I’m glad I didn’t. I was at home watching Antiques Roadshow in my jarmies, and I read about it on Twitter. About an hour later I got a panicky text from my mother demanding to know that I was alright because she’d heard
door and a flight of stairs before you even get to the front door, which shoots about nine bolts into the doorframe when you lock it. This means I’d probably be doomed in sudden fire, unless I went out the window. What if there was nobody to catch me? We discussed ways we could defend the shop downstairs (and thus ourselves) if it came to it. My boyfriend has an airsoft rifle which shoots tiny plastic pellets and he could pick looters off, sniper style. When he first got it he asked me to shoot him in the stomach with it so he could see how much it hurt (boys!) and it left a red welt for three days. Alternatively, I could put the kettle on and pour boiling water on them out the window. Throughout that night fire engines took shortcuts through the pedestrian part of the high street underneath my lounge room window. It was patrolled by two radiowielding Community Protection officers, kind of policeassociated non-police. I stayed up, keeping track of things through Facebook and Twitter. This was much faster than published news outlets. The Nottinghamshire Police even has an official Twitter feed which they updated with every incident. The next fastest thing was Al Jazeera English and then, bizarrely, Sydney Morning Herald. Eventually I went to bed, reluctantly signing out of Twitter and leaving my passports and shoes within easy reach in case we had to get out in a hurry.
and texting even though she’d have known I was probably asleep. I stayed up after I heard about the police station because I wasn’t sure how worried to be. I live on the high street, which is a row of shops. I wasn’t that concerned about the shops, but I was fucking terrified of fire. Over coffee that morning I’d seen a photo in the newspaper of a woman in Croydon jumping from the window of her upstairs flat because of fire in the shop below. I live in an upstairs flat. I wasn’t worried about people breaking in because there are three sets of doors including a coded
In the daytime it’s business as usual. Last night was quiet except for a gang of boys on bicycles who just shouted a bit. The Notts Police Twitter spent the whole night denying rumours of unrest in various areas and a solitary policeman patrolled the street. He wasn’t a Community Protection officer but a proper policeman, a bobby with a funny pointy hat. All police leave has been cancelled by the government until things are brought under control. I’m going camping in Wales on the weekend and the wellies I ordered over the internet haven’t arrived. The company’s website says their warehouse is in London. Maybe my wellies were looted? This is a very minor inconvenience compared to the policeman outside who may have been called back from holiday to wander a high street in the rain, alone, waterproof high-viz over bullet-proof vest.
Learn Yourself a Thing of Facts! 5.
Donkey Kong is a haemophiliac! Silly monkey!
The word decay comes from the Latin decaius, which means butcher! This happened because of the great Vegetarian Uprising in Rome back in 120 AD! That’s more time than can fit in a watch! When all the people stopped eating meat, butchers didn’t have any customers anymore and began to die in the streets, decomposing all over the place! Inconsiderate! Mobs of vegans would round them up and leave them in piles! Eventually everyone forgot about butchers and just called things that were rotting decaius, and now it means anything that is decreasing over time!
6. STATS Attack
Ever wondered why the Acropolis looks so crummy for such a big important thing that is in history books? It’s not because it’s a million years old or that mean Mr Acid Rain; it’s because it has the move FORESIGHT, which it learns at level 42! Noctowl and HootHoot also learn this move! Using FORESIGHT, it pre-cognised the Greek debt crisis (this is a thing which happens when Greek people spend all their money on spas!). By the time the Greek nation becomes a subsidiary of Aldi Supermarkets in 2018, the clever Acropolis will be worn down to a big pile of dust, avoiding the Great Shame Of It All! Catch your own Acropolis on Route 34!
G . A A
Your soul has a radioactive half-life of 80 years! This means that as time goes by, it gets smaller, and the good and bad things you do when you’re old don’t have as much as an impact on God because your soul gets harder for Him to see! All the bad things you did when you were a kid count for the most because your soul was at the biggest size! You can’t take any of them back now and you’ll be punished forever, but the good things you do from now on won’t make as much of an impact on God! This is why adults are so bad, because it doesn’t matter what they do anymore since they’re all going to hell and this makes them Angry!
7. SCIENCE NEWS!
I ate a whole loaf of bread once! Mum and Dad were arguing in the front seat and the car was swerving a lot so I scoffed it down so I could weigh more if the car crashed so I wouldn’t fly so far!
4. Consumed by Slow Decay is a lovely record by grindcore innovators Gore! Be the first at school to learn all the words to songs like ‘Cannibal Zoophilism With Extreme Sexual Aberration’ and ‘Hysterical Extraction of Facial Tissue’! Kids will like you for what you own and for what you tell them you like! If they don’t, you’re doing it wrong :(
Words by Alex Griffin
Ever wondered why English people have such smelly and ewwy teeth! Some very Important Scientific Research* done recently has shown us why, and it’s very interesting indeed! A high percentage of British people carry a gene in their DNA, which makes the gums around their molars hypersensitive to touch, exactly like a clitoris! This is due to a weird science thing called the Founder Effect! The original intrepid group of 600 Germans who discovered England in the year 1638 had a higher than usual proportion of this gene which made them have the funny gums – 1/12 of them had it, compared to 1/500,0000 in the rest of the world! So their descendents today are far more likely to have the sensitive gums! This includes Prince Charles! Combined with the repressive Protestant (it’s a kind of religion where people don’t like fun or anyone) atmosphere of the country, this means people feel real guilty about the happy good brush times so they don’t brush much ever! This is why they’re icky and die in tunnels!
Illustration by Ena Tulic
WHEN I WAS YOUNG The Decay of Language ------------------------ Kiya Alimoradian ------------------------
“What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?” Plato, 4th century BC Recently I visited my great uncle and aunt at their home in Castiglione Del Lago, Italy. I’ve always enjoyed spending time with the two; they’re extremely cultured and speak perfect English (not so common amongst the older members of my family). We spent hours chatting. Conversation topics would vary but on this particular visit it would seem that there was one issue focussed on more than any other: how bad the language used by youth has become. Bad grammar, poor spelling, constant swearing, they both seemed convinced that the younger generation no longer spoke “proper” English. While I don’t exactly want to agree, there are definitely moments were it would seem that this really is the case – people talking about party’s on Facebook, best friends called bitch, the list goes on – and soon I found myself wondering, do the youth of today really have a lessened knowledge of grammar? Is our use of the English language becoming more and more crass? Does the mainstream language of youth today
represent decay of the English language? To help me answer these questions and a number of others that follow, I spoke to Dr Celeste Rodriguez Louro, a member of the linguistics faculty here at UWA and a specialist in sociolinguistics. MASTERS OF INNOVATION In general, youth can be said to be the most innovative when it comes to producing new slangs and vernaculars, finding new spellings for words or challenging the current meanings of terms. But what is it that makes us so good at this? A main point here is that one’s language is strongly connected to one’s identity. As youth, we are always looking for ways to distinguish ourselves from previous generations – to form our own identity. “In a way it’s good for young people to have this whole thing happening because [younger generations] do
want to rebel against what’s in place. It’s kind of nice for young people to go ‘oh ok we’re saying something that’s not actually seen as a great thing, well… great!’ That’s what they want it to be.” Youth slang is a means of differentiating from other generations and age groups, but are the youth of today any more innovative in their language use than previous generations? “I wouldn’t be able to say what was going on in the 17th century, but I would say that the spirit of being young is to try and do things differently...there are a lot more public reactions to the way young people speak nowadays. I think that [language innovation] has always happened.” What about the common idea that the youth of today have a lessened understanding of grammar and a smaller vocabulary than any previous age group? “Firstly, I have no empirical support for this, so I wouldn’t say yes. I don’t think that you can say [that] people have less of a vocabulary; sometimes you hear in Australia that grammar instruction has changed and that people don’t learn grammar at school. That’s a change in the educational system. If you think about grammar as a knowledge of language, you wouldn’t be able to say that someone has less knowledge than someone else. Ideally, every native speaker of a language knows the same amount.”
Illustration by Grace Mckie
So it’s about whether people choose to use the grammar correctly or not? “It’s whether you’re aware of the rules. Even if we say that young people today are not taught grammar in the same way as before, many people study other languages and will say that doing so has helped them learn the grammar of English, so people may be learning grammar later on in their life. I would say that [youth having a lessened knowledge of grammar] is a myth.” GUTTER-MOUTHED YOUNGENS Ask any older person and they would most probably agree with the idea that mainstream language is becoming more and more crass over time. It would seem to be a correct observation, with vulgar terms in increased use, especially by youth in casual speech, but is this actually the case?
while language evolution is definitely natural, attitudes to the change that we observe in language are not really derived from that communicative aspect of language. It’s more to do with taking language to be something that you can prescribe or control in some way “I think [that] older people would say that language is not as refined as it used to be when they were young but we can’t really judge how unrefined present day language is using standards that were used back then.” Why? “Because we write different things; we use different sorts of channels, we interact with so many more people these days, across a range of different geographical and social settings. I wouldn’t feel comfortable using a standard that was used in the past to refer to what is going on these days. “Language is becoming more colloquial. It is easier to interact with people; you are much more available [these days]. This means that you have different types of linguistic interactions with more people. I wouldn’t say language is becoming more vulgar – there has always been vulgar language – but how accessible it was to everyone, that has changed.”
language innovations and vernaculars today? “Global connection is crucial; I think it does contribute to the expansion of vernaculars. I think you may pick up something that’s being used in the States and begin to use it here, for instance. However you may be using what you think is the same form with very different functions, so you actually get a layering of all those different functions.” So it would perhaps aid the spread of a word, but not necessarily the definition. “Exactly. I would say that yes it spreads [vernaculars] but then how do you know that it is the exact same use? Think of something like ‘dude’; some people might be using it in Australia but is it really used in the same way [as in other places]? When you have words like ‘mate’ already in place, how does that influence the meaning of ‘dude’? You may not interpret what we see as the same in the same way.”
THE LANGUAGE OF TOMORROW? Allow me to introduce you to one of today’s more bizarre youth slangs: Le Verlan. A common style of speech amongst certain youth circles in France, Verlan (a play on l’envers, literally meaning “the inverse”) sees a switch in the order of syllables in a word, placing the last at the beginning of the word, or as in monosyllabic words, a full inversion of the word itself. For example, femme (woman) would become meuf, while bizarre would become zarbi. Though not spoken by all youth, it is surprising just how widespread and understood Verlan is amongst younger generations. This brings me to my next question: As youth vernaculars become more and more established, is it possible that these slangs will one day become ‘standard’?
THE GOLDEN AGE Language change, language innovation, is completely normal. We are by no means the first generation to challenge the standard use of our languages.
“I think yes; it may become mainstream. If you and your generation continue to use what was an innovation when you were young into your gown-up years and teach it to your children – who will probably rebel against it – it may enter the mainstream language. But it takes a long time for non-standard language to become standardised. I don’t think it’s impossible, but it takes a long time.”
“When you look at language as a social entity, as in good language and bad language, it is different. You usually get some part of society guarding or watching language in some way and this tends to be people in authority. So while language evolution is definitely natural, attitudes to the change that we observe in language are not really derived from that communicative aspect of language. It’s more to do with taking language to be something that you can prescribe or control in some way.”
One aspect of life that would surely set the younger generation of today apart from previous is, of course, the internet. At no point in history have we been so globally connected; never has communication between people in different geographical locations been so simple a task and never have we been able to instantly access so much information on any place or subject. How does this world-wide connection affect the spread of
Commonly referred to as the ‘Golden Age Principle’, this frequent disapproval of youth language use by older generations is really not so hard to understand. If the standard and “proper” way of communicating is readily known by practically all members of a society then it makes sense for anything outside of this to be regarded as “bad English”. Given that a speaker’s language says so much about his/her identity, perhaps any language use they do not identify with (let alone properly understand) could be viewed negatively in concern of it potentially becoming representative of their society. So there you have it folks, I can confidently say that language is not decaying. Though it may not always be approved by our elders, language innovation is here to stay. Over time we can only expect old meanings to change and new words to form while some slip out of use, and thanks to the ever-growing global connectivity of today who knows what will spread? Language innovations should be welcomed, though I must admit I am starting to get a little anxious about what youth slangs will develop over the years to come…
“If you think of language as a means of communication, it is natural for language to change because you use it all the time.” As Plato‘s famed quote would suggest, it is actually not unusual for older generations to scorn upon the actions, values and language use of younger generations, we can only expect to do the same when we are “old”. But why is this?
“piems” are poems that use the numbers in pi for structure. For example, “one / A poem / A raven” corresponds to 3.145. The first word has three letters, the next 1, etc. Not a Wake, a 10,000-word book written by Mike Keith, has been written using this technique.
The Age of Dissonance ------------------- Anonymous ------------------I have a recurring dream that bothers me. I’m 16 again and on a school band tour. I’m huddled with my friends but my conductor stops me. He tells me that I’m not allowed to leave. The other teachers whisper amongst themselves and look at me with pity. My conductor takes me to his room and forces the door shut. He presses his body up against mine and kisses me. I resist. He tells me that this is what I have to do, but I run away from his room. I have often wondered what it would have been like for a “normal” teenager blessed with a tight-knit group of friends and a high school sweetheart. Instead, I was a highly introverted 16-year-old with a mouth that landed me in trouble with the school bullies. Naturally, I didn’t have a posse of girls following me and in year 12 spent the majority of my time in the music room with my 36-year-old conductor.
Illustration by Alice Palmer.
He was a teacher that a lot of girls lusted after. It wasn’t that he was particularly attractive but that we wanted someone more mature and worldly than the boys our age. A group of us would stay back after school stealing music off his laptop, batting our eyelids. The possibility that he would be interested in any of us seemed remote but not for Molly*, a girl in the year above me. She was the sort of girl you were envious of – slender, full-lipped, arrogant. The year before our affair, she started emailing and texting him a lot. She would contact me about their recent interaction and thread-by-thread we would analyse the sub-text of their conversations. When it was happening, I was incredibly jealous. On her last day of high school, she walked into his office and asked if he wanted her. He told her that that was neither here nor there because he had been her teacher. I thought that he was a man of strong ethics so when he texted me on a rainy night in June the following year, it took me by surprise.
I came and whether I was a virgin. I was excited by the attention. Every night, I’d go to bed with my mobile under my pillow and patiently wait for him to start the interaction that would go on until four in the morning. Sluggishly, I’d get out of bed three hours later and go straight to the music room. It was thrilling seeing him the next morning with red, puffy eyes. Only I knew why he looked so rotten. Within one week of that first text, we arranged three oneon-one music classes. Texting had provided us with an impersonal domain in which we could interact outside the teacher-student relationship, but I wanted more. I ached for his touch. One afternoon, I stayed back after school, telling him that my home was too loud to study in. I twirled my pen in my hair and talked about his girlfriend. It was pathetic, really. I was mimicking actresses I’d seen in the movies. At four, I decided that it was time to go home. As I stood up, he pulled me in for about a minute and stood hugging me in his office. Shakily, I pulled back. I looked up at him as we held hands; he felt like a man, with coarse hands and a firm grip – it was different from holding hands with a boy my own age. It sounds cliché, but I felt safe. We stood quietly, processing what was about to happen, when a noise in the corridor startled us. The cleaners walked into the building. I briskly left the room, smelling of his cologne. A week later, he invited me to his apartment. It was small and dingy. I had pictured what it would be like in my teacher’s home. He always wore designer suits and matching ties, and I thought that his home would look the same. It didn’t. There were pans sitting dirtily on the kitchen bench tops and the bed sheets were crinkled. For a while, we sat on the couch listening to Miles Davis. He slowly creeped his hands up my inner thigh and I reassured him that it was okay. Opposite the couch, there was a framed picture of my teacher’s girlfriend of two years.
I was completing my final year of high school and had stayed up finishing an assignment when the text arrived: “It’s perfect hugging weather”. My music teacher had come home, inebriated, from his regular gig. We had a concert on Sunday and I remember him texting me and asking “can we fit in a ‘lesson’ sometime before then?” I humoured him but didn’t read into his texts. I thought that the flirtatious interaction had been the product of one too many drinks and that it wouldn’t repeat. I was wrong.
I’d always seen my virginity as a bother – something that I wanted to get rid of. My girlfriends at school had always talked about waiting for someone special. I just wanted it gone, like a fluid-filled blister on the bottom of my foot that I had to pop with a needle. I remember him driving me home – and he always dropped me off two streets away so that he never got caught by my parents or neighbours – and his hands were quivering because of what he’d done. I told him that we didn’t have to do it again.
During the concert, my teacher avoided me but he kept texting, asking obscene questions like how loud I was when
For six months it went on. It wasn’t glamorous, it was never romantic. My teacher would make me skip school and take me to his apartment. I hated the feel of his uneven skin
and rarely touched him during sex. He always guided my hands for me. He came quickly, always in missionary, and afterwards avoided touching me. I cried once after sex. You’d think that a man 20 years my senior would have realised have deeply chaotic I felt at that moment but he simply placed his cold hand on my shoulder and said nothing. Yet I stayed with him. My grades fell because of the late nights and tension with my parents grew as I spent hours on the computer talking to my teacher on MSN. I felt superior to those around me because I had a man old enough to be my father. He offered me something that I’d never had before – utter devotion. He would pick me up from any place at any time of the night and drop me off at home. He texted me every day and would get so angry whenever I had sex with other men closer to my age. Eventually, keeping the secret was too hard and I decided to confide in Molly. When I told her that my teacher had feelings for me, she was outraged. She revealed to me that a year earlier, he had told her that he loved her. It was devastating to hear that I wasn’t special or unique – that I was part of a pattern. When I confronted him about it, he admitted to it, but said that I was different. That I actually meant something. For the first time, I felt preyed on and I broke it off. A week later, however, after getting drunk at home, I invited him over. I felt low and needed to feel something other than worthlessness. He was terrified that my parents would return prematurely but I led him to the beanbag in the room and spread my legs. He told me that he loved me sometime in December, but I didn’t care. I don’t think he ever loved me; he was infatuated and addicted to the thrill of an illicit relationship. It went so far that for Leavers, we planned to go on a trip to Singapore. I was to tell my parents that I was staying at a friend’s place and my best friend had initially agreed to be my backup. My teacher and I sorted out our flight details and accommodation, but then my best friend pulled out. At the time, I didn’t want to divulge any information about my travel companion and she didn’t like the secrecy. In January, after my teacher split with his girlfriend, I ended it. He told me that he wanted to be with me; said that he would keep me a secret until I was 21 at which stage he would introduce me to his family. The thought that I would stay in that relationship for another month, let alone four years, made me incredibly nauseous. He could tell that I was starting to lose interest in him by that stage. He’d even bought me sex toys to cheer me up. With the end of high school, the allure of fooling around with an ex-teacher faded. We tried staying friends but his hungry gaze and suggestive remarks were too excessive. I started seeing a shrink and slowly dealing with what I’d done when at 18 I found out that my teacher had touched the inner thigh of another girl.
I plummeted. I got in contact with another teacher from my school and told him about the affair. The principal found out and my mother had to leave work immediately to attend a meeting with him. She was expecting some sort of bombshell to explain my anti-social behaviour, so it didn’t surprise her. I couldn’t tell my father about the affair so I lay on the bed and listened as my mother explained the situation to him over dinner. He came into my room, rested his hand on my limp arm and laughed, “Well, you really screwed up.” Getting over what happened was the hardest thing that I ever had to do. I made him lose one job and blackmailed him via email for a while. Both the Police and the Child Protection Squad (CPS) got involved but I never gave a name and my teacher was never charged. The CPS once asked me if I would turn the person in if they told me who they thought it was. I was sitting in one of those white, windowless rooms that you see in police dramas. As they interrogated me, I would rest my forehead on my arms and hyperventilate. Knowing that I had the power to absolutely ruin someone else’s life disturbed me profoundly. And so I said no. I’ve been through six shrinks, four years of therapy, severe bulimic episodes and I still break down when I think about him touching me. The nightmares are the worst. Even something small like watching the conductor of WASO can trigger the feelings of trauma. Being able to have sex again has been a particularly difficult obstacle and for two years after the affair I couldn’t touch another man’s penis. I’ve analysed every moment, every email and have tried to piece it all together. Did he want to deflower a virgin? Is he pathologically messed up? It’s only now that I can see it for what it was: sexual abuse. It happens much more frequently than we’d like to acknowledge and the thought that my actions have perhaps left a child molester unaccounted for is sometimes debilitating. The scene changes in my dream and I see myself walking down a street with marked apartments that all look the same. I walk up and down the street, looking down at the number I’ve written on a piece of paper in my pocket. I see numbers 17 and 21 but not 19, the number I want. I know that I will walk up and down that street until my feet hurt under my weight, waiting for that number to appear before me. Because I want him back. Despite how much he fucked me up, I want to be with him. I always wake up feeling drained. The dream transports me to how it felt when I was 16 and I feel revolted by the thought that once upon a time, I wanted to be with him. It’s funny how something almost half a decade ago continues to bother you. I wonder if it’s something that I will ever be capable of detaching from. * Not her real name.
Brace Yourself --------------------- Kat Gillespie --------------------
Opening my mouth widely, I ignored the woman prodding my teeth and tried to concentrate on the stock photograph of a sunset stuck to the ceiling. Orthodontic surgeries really need to up their game when it comes to keeping customers entertained because it was a pretty boring picture – one that would give little consolation to anyone having sharp metal objects shoved into their gums. I heard a voice from above and a gloved hand shoved a colour chart in my face. “What colour were you thinking, honey?” My lack of response, involuntary given that there were currently four fingers and two metal rods being forced into my mouth, was met with the suggestion of “Maybe pink on the top row, blue on the bottom row?” I jerked my hand in horror at the dental nurse, in what I hoped was enough of a gesture to remind her that I was neither 12 years old nor retarded. This was to no avail. I walked out of the surgery half an hour later with lurid yellow plastic stuck to my genetically cursed teeth, which now resembled those of someone with severe gingivitis. She’d given me fake tooth decay.
So began the ordeal of adult braces. Robbed of an angsty high school orthodontic experience, I got to walk around university as an 18-year-old freak amongst thousands of former bracefaces who now sported straight, white sets of molars. Welcome to social hell, I thought to myself. No one will ever buy me a drink at a SABAS party again. People have endured the metal mouth rite of passage for thousands of years. Whilst researching my affliction the day before my fated trip to the orthodontist, I learnt that in Ancient Greece, the Etruscans had wired structures attached to the teeth of their corpses in order to prevent jaw collapse in the afterlife. Even in death these idiots were determined to seek a Colgate smile. This is typical of people’s ridiculous obsession with having straight teeth, I angrily thought at the time. This was the kind of social pressure that had gotten me into this situation in the first place. Damn Etruscans. During the first few painful days, I tried to be positive. Sure, my self-confidence levels were now critically low but my orthodontist had assured me that in third world countries having braces is a sign of wealth and influence. This isn’t really
surprising because if you are spending money on having bits of wire glued to your teeth when people around you are dying of poverty-induced starvation, you’re definitely going to attract some attention. In Australia though, you are going to attract sympathy and people try to tell you about the bits of sandwich stuck in your bands. In such perilous situations, the trend of Filipino teens buying fake cosmetic braces to decorate their teeth is still not particularly comforting. Faced with the prospect of a sad and socially deprived existence for the next two years, I developed coping mechanisms. These included the witty habit of referring to my orthodontic appliances as “dem grillz”, which friends would pretend to find amusing. I would also bemoan my appearance in public bathrooms, so other girls would be forced to stroke my ego and tell me that “Hey, it’s not that big a deal, you still look sort of okay.” Ultimately, depression still set in and there was a prolonged period where much of my time was spent complaining. I complained a lot to my friends, and then I complained a lot to people I’d just met at bus stops, and then I watched Revenge of the Nerds a few times. Eventually, and luckily for all involved, realisation dawned that my little first world problem was not so bad. I even found others of my kind, fellow late-blooming victims of the dental pliers, and together we looked forward to the day we had our bands removed with hope. Perhaps, university is the perfect place to enjoy a Braces Experience – no school ball photos, no 13-year-old self-consciousness, no jocks and cheerleaders. The former private school students populating my arts degree all seem to have experienced expensive cosmetic dental procedures in the past and are often willing to swap horror stories during tutorials. I now wear my braces with a sense, not of pride, but at least of grudging acceptance. Like an eye patch or a noticeable scar, braces are kind of ugly and unfortunate, but they also single you out as someone different or at least possessing a kind of comic value. The orthodontist also informs me that, come Christmas time, she will happily install the special alternating red and green bits of plastic upon my teeth. Something exciting to look forward to.
Illustration by Louise Abbott
It is less likely that you will be in a car accident if it’s your grandma behind the wheel, rather than your mother. Grandparents have been shown to be more vigilant on the road, despite having slower reflexes.
ROME WASN’T DECAYED IN A DAY
Yvonne Buresch, foreign corresPelican
Despite the sun and the Da Vincis and the endless plates of prosciutto and melon, most people go to Italy to see the really old stuff. This is particularly the case in Rome, which seems to have nearly as many ancient buildings as new ones. Not everything looks like it’s decaying. The Trevi Fountain with its bright blue bottom, shiny white stone and uplit half naked statues would probably look perfectly at home as a pool ornament in some trashy McMansion in Hillarys. And the Colosseum really is only a large Subi Oval fast-forwarded a couple of thousand years. Would you go and see Subi Oval just for the hell of it? Half the Colosseum’s not even there. What would happen if they restored it, stuck another half on? Angry tourist uprising? The Sistine Chapel frescoes have been restored countless times since they were originally painted and there doesn’t seem to be any public outrage about that. Perhaps this is because most people who visit them don’t know that. I didn’t see any signs informing me of the fact when I was there in June. Some of the most important things haven’t been restored at all. The Mausoleum of Augustus, final resting place of emperors, looks like a giant kid tried to make a sandcastle with a very shallow bucket. It sits next to the poshly minimalist Ara Pacis Museum where the fashion designer Valentino held his last show and flaunts its decay conspicuously. It’s not only decayed buildings people visit in Italy, but
Italy has a lot of decaying bodies these days and not all of them are saints. Strictly speaking, not all of them are dead. Around 20% off Italy’s population is over 65, compared to around 13% in Australia. The June issue of The Economist contained a special report on Italy which highlighted the dangers of an elderly-heavy population. It argues that the high number of older people in the workforce is preventing younger employees from taking up senior positions. Frustrated by the lack of opportunity for career advancement in their own country and encouraged by the lack of visa restrictions within the Eurozone, the university-educated youth of Italy are leaving it in droves. In an attempt to redress the age balance of the population, immigration rules have been relaxed. The huge number of recent immigrants is immediately noticeable to tourists. There were bridges in Venice which I literally could not cross without stepping over the mats of street sellers. Weirdly, they seemed to be separated by ethnicity. The cheap fake designer handbags seem to be sold exclusively by East Africans. The lighter-
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skinned North Africans sold only strange jelly pig things which go splat when they hit the ground and then reform, Terminator style. Though I concede that I am a member of the organic low fat raspberry yoghurt-eating elite (relatively speaking) I think it is safe to say that fake bag and jelly pig sellers are not on par with judges and neurosurgeons in terms of value to the community. Wholesale immigration is not in itself a solution: recent immigrants and their children will come up against the same glass ceilings as other young Italians before them. As beautiful, sunny and delicious as Italy is, it needs more than old and crumbly things to rely on.
Illustration by Camden Watts
You can argue that there are lots of other reasons why people go to Italy: to see the originals of famous artworks, for the food, for the sunshine. As an Australian currently living in England I now understand this crazed desperation for sun. It’s summer here and winter in Perth. I’m writing this in the afternoon, and it’s the middle of the night in Perth. And you know what? The temperature right now in both places is exactly the fucking same. I have turned into one of those people who walks around in a T-shirt when it’s 10 degrees outside, as long as there is some sun.
decayed bodies. Every second church holds a relic of Saint Someone-or-other, bringing pilgrims and prosperity for centuries. Most of the relics are just finger bones or ankle bones, with the occasional skull or tibia. Some have whole skeletons, disassembled and neatly arranged in tightly packed and easily transportable cases. This was a precaution in earlier times against neighbouring principalities who suddenly decided they wanted in on the lucrative holy tourist action. The Duomo in Milan is a spookily beautiful cathedral. It has a Gothic Miss-Havisham’s-wedding-cake-ish facade, stained glass windows and the remains of St Charles Borromeo. Wandering around inside the Duomo, idly browsing paintings and being grateful for the shade, I turned and he caught me unexpectedly. St Charles is laid out in full, like a mummy, inside a crystal sarcophagus. There is a gold death mask on his face which disconcertingly seemed to be looking straight at me. This kind of thing, on nerves shredded by heat and too many other tourists (especially when it has been too long between gelatos) can really get to you. It had the same effect on me as when my boyfriend thinks he’s funny and decides to hide at the bottom of the stairs, jumping out at me and shouting “BOO!”
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Illustration by Camdea Watts
So. What did you do during the holidays? I went around looking at a bunch of dead people and buildings that had mostly fallen down. You might think this is a strange way to spend a holiday, but I don’t. Neither do the 43 million other tourists who visit Italy each year.
The Peter Pan Predicament ––––– Kate Predergast ––––– Half a life you’ve been questing. Half a life and you’ve almost given over to the bitter irony of paying with coin to buy a coin that never comes Into devils dens and still glens you’ve stumbled, wondering why the ancient seeker, through putrid bogs and whorled rock palaces and a thousand towns, went on. Your guides have been desk clerks and camel-drivers and hoary-haired hermits and circus mutes who tell all with the opening of a palm and the slide of an eyeball. Every trudge is leading you somewhere or nowhere – you know this. And time is catching up. You can feel it clawing at your throat when you wake sweating in the night and see the sly wink of a new star. But now. Now. There it is before you. The clearing is bathed in sourceless light which seems to be throbbing gently. Cold, crystal waters trickle over the fountain’s dark stone. A cold-blooded thing of scales sits on the rim and considers you with brimstone eyes. White lilies, fragile yet perfect, effloresce at its lip. You notice not one is wilting. With your grubby, tarnished mug in one hand that you have dipped into wells, mosquito-infested lakes, broths and streams, you take a step forward. You hesitate, years at your back, years at your front. The sanctum waits. Will you do it? Will you drink from the fountain of youth?
Ensconced between two stones and almost hidden by ferns is a crystal vial. It’s labelled: ELIXIR FIXER 3000000000000000000000000000000 00000 Long-lasting Results! Fresh Minty Flavour! Limited offer product, each sold separately. Precautions: Do not take if you are on medication or pregnant or you will die a horrible horrible death. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN, GOTHS AND AMY WHINEHOUSE. Brought to you by Immortality Inc. The ideal of immortality. The phrase squirms in the mind. It’s no wonder really, given the cultural cautioning we’ve got over the ages. Even Plato was wagging his beard ominously at the thought. Jesus had the choice to live immortally in mortal flesh, but he decided against after only a brief holiday here on Earth. Truth be told, he got a bit weary of it all after a while, devising a cunning ruse of Roman plot and betrayal so he could get back to zooming about on clouds and playing practical jokes on Pops. In fact, almost any tale or myth concerning immortality (in all its variations) seems to warn against it, depicting it as the ultimate golden-gilded turd, guaranteeing agony, bitterness, boredom or melancholia. There’s the struldbrugs of Gulliver’s Travels, who represent the horrific notion of immortality without eternal youth. Afflicted by all the pains and humiliations that beset mind and body as it naturally deteriorates, they become little more than breathing corpses. Admittedly, Nicholas Flamel seemed to be enjoying
Currently, the oldest tree (named Methuselah, a Great Basin bristlecone pine) is 4,842 years old. Contrary to belief, trees do not live forever. Their lifespans are just more difficult to predict than central nervous system controlled organisms.
And as to the caveat of boredom, well now that’s interesting. Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged, the immortal from Hitchhikers Guide, was victim to this heinous affliction. “To begin with it was fun, he had a ball, living dangerously, taking risks, cleaning up on high-yield long-term investments, and just generally outliving the hell out of everybody. In the end, it was Sunday afternoons he couldn’t cope with, and that terrible listlessness that starts to set in at about 2:55 when you know you’ve taken all the baths you can usefully take that day, that however hard you stare at any given paragraph in the newspaper you will never actually read it, or use the revolutionary new pruning technique it describes, and that as you stare at the clock the hands will move relentlessly on to four o’clock, and you will enter the Long Dark Teatime of the Soul.” This dread of tedium stems from the assumption that, for mankind at least, there are finite ways of being and finite ways of occupying oneself. Once these are exhausted, oblivion awaits and a vortex of madness and despair. And in the heart of that black hole, the enduring dregs of sadism. Wowbagger subsequently made it his mission to insult every person in the universe (he called me a pretentious twat). The Greek Gods are similarly resentful, making sport of human tragedy, cackling as parents murder their children and sons fuck their mothers. Sick bastards. But perhaps this deep-seated fear is rooted in narrow-mindedness. Imagine the possibilities if you could overthrow the tyranny of the clock. You could meditate for months on end. Or better, hallucinate for months on end. You could create your own language, where meaning is transmitted solely by the pitch and timbre of the sound “eeeee”. You could finally get round to writing that “thankyou card” to your aunt (…Nah, fuck it). You could learn the art of pebbleengraving, ice-sculpting, lute-playing. You could calculate the precise algorithm that determines the trajectory of a spoonful of gruel catapulted at Justin Bieber’s face. Or forget the maths and just fling the goo. If you’re a more radically inclined immortal who reads a lot of French cultural theory, you could always try occupying various niches of being. After all, if you are not to stagnate you must be able to grow and shift and adopt variants upon variants of existential positions. Imagining this sort of Protean self makes me feel a little queasy though. Would it be troubling to have so dense a personality profile that your face becomes a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand faces transposed onto one? More significantly from the philosophical perspective, does there come a point at which you’ve deviated so far from your origins that you are essentially a different person? Past such a point, you’ve rendered your immortality meaningless in effect, since the original “you” is no more. Those of the postmodern bent would say we live this way
already, that there is no central identity, only a series of masks, some of which we wear more than others out of habit and custom. A profound philosophical concept or the gibberish of undiagnosed schizophrenics? A part of me believes it, some days. Variety of experience does not necessarily act as an antidote to boredom however. Like those globetrotters who step off a plane and cast a baleful eye over an exotic landscape only to yawn as a wildebeests stampede a few feet away. Immortality could only be borne by those with an unbound curiosity and an infinite capacity for wonder. Can our kind really claim to possess so much? I’m not sure I’d put too much faith in forgetting as a means of refreshing experience. If we can’t naturally forget fast enough to enjoy fresh stimulation, no doubt the sapient immortal will eventually figure out a way to store our memories externally, thereby incurring a kind of wilful amnesia. This way we can relive the same experiences over and over again. We just have to make sure to do away with both implicit and explicit memory, so we’re not afflicted by the nausea of déjà vu. Memory editing is almost essential if we are to continue mentally maturing. If none of the neural connections degenerate or are sheared back, then they’ll grow into a cortical thicket so dense that our craniums would crack and EXPLODE IN A SPLATTER OF SKULL FRAMENTS AND BRAIN BITS!! (*citation needed). This tactic seems less like immortality and more like partial reincarnation in the same body. And if we’re campaigning for immortality for the entire world population, it also seems incredibly selfish, since this scenario would make sterility a necessity. If this were the case, as we guzzle and disgorge the same experiences over and over in a monstrous time loop, we would be preventing others yet to be born from tasting the virgin sweetness of life. *Somewhere in the world, a newborn doe steps into a clearing to see something he has never seen before: two chipmunks giving each other a good ol’ hug. His great, black dewy eyes turn even dewier and he gives a sweet little sigh, knowing the world is good. Then the chipmunks notice him watching and start bombarding him with
chestnuts. And because his eyes are still hyper-moist, he flees from the grove only to bound off a cliff.* If we can’t find stimulation in the new, perhaps we can find contentment in the familiar. If our senses become numb and our minds grow cynical, we may give up groping around for novelty and instead establish a rhythm to beat on into the end of time. So we settle into a routine. Where mortals may have a weekly cycle of activities, the period of the immortal could be, say, a thousand years. I could be wrong, but I can’t help but think a life valued is a life risked. Its very evanescence motivates us to fill it with meaning, to milk it for all it’s got. There’s a tragic romance in the blazing fury of a comet hurtling towards sure destruction. *Looks dramatically into the distance*. If the time-frame of our existence was dismantled, then in words of Bilbo, we would feel “stretched. Like butter scraped over too much bread.” So my last thoughts on eternal life? I’d rather kill myself thanks.
Illustration by Camden Watts
his longevity, but Dumbledore poked and prodded him into his grave, sealing his eulogy with the smugly serene words:“death is but the next great adventure”. Though immeasurably wise, the Elves of Rivendell seem deeply unhappy, with their pale, haunted faces and soul filled-gazes. I think of them as the emos of Middle Earth.
Catering on Campus: Daniel Pillar investigates the negative perception of on-campus catering
Sitting outside the Science Library in the minutes before an interview with Guild President Tom Antoniazzi, I checked the Facebook page ‘UWA Lecturer Quotes’ for responses to a question I’d posed one week earlier. I’d asked what students thought about Guild catering and the responses varied from mentions of a lack of allergen-friendly foods, to the ever-increasing calls for franchises, and of course the common complaints about coffee quality. Yet while I read these posts with great interest, the café around me was unquestionably packed and many walkers-by were carrying the Guild brown coffee cups. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from my discussion with Tom, but after hearing he was a nice guy, I sought a meeting at an ex-Pelicaneditor’s recommendation. I wanted to seek a response to the criticisms people often level at the Guild for holding a monopoly on campus catering. The discussion began with Tom providing me some background on the catering situation.
Illustration by Emily O’Keeffe
Essentially, the Guild own and run all food outlets on campus and completely finance all operations and staff employed. Prices are set annually by the Guild Council, representatives chosen by the students in Guild elections. The cafés’ last
year contributed approximately $150k to the Guild’s $2m budget, which funds clubs, societies and support services on campus. The Guild, and therefore the students of UWA, has control of catering, which Tom described as an almost unique position in a modern campus (and one to be proud of). “The suggestion that the Guild is exploiting students by jacking up prices is a bit of a paradox,” he said on that topic. “The Guild exists to serve the interests of students, so all benefits we derive from catering flow back to important student services. And we have the ability to tailor to what students are asking for.” In response to the Facebook question that I posted, people were suggesting that the food was expensive and bad quality. Some even thought that by allowing in private enterprises, or even franchises, we’d get a better catering system. Posts online referred to other campuses where food is cheaper and better quality from privatised systems. I asked Tom: Is there a reason why the Guild hasn’t adopted a similar strategy? “Firstly, I agree that on some campuses, outsourcing can work,” Tom replied. “But UWA is unique in that we have one of the strongest student Guilds still around (with more Facebook likes than any other in Australia). We want to keep student control of student affairs. ” That control, he elaborated, “allows us to make
changes like introducing some options for students for special needs and allows us to sell coffee at $1.70, which is a business decision no franchise on campus would likely make. “I believe it’s a perception problem. We benchmark our prices and quality against other campuses, and by those results we’re actually doing quite well. In reality, our food isn’t expensive. It’s a simple fact,” said Tom. Comparing on-campus prices to those nearby, I found that prices were roughly similar. Check the outset for more details. You may have read various blogs about catering at UWA, or suggestions of bringing Rocket Fuel or similar franchises on campus and charging them rent to pay the difference. Tom noted that if it was at the other end of the spectrum, we might have difficulty enticing private operators to open at financially unviable times – such as to 8pm at business to cater for postgrads, or during exam and holiday periods of little or erratic attendance. Ultimately, any profit they turn wouldn’t be put back in to student support. Our conversation then turned to the Eat and Drink survey, which the Guild commissioned to take an overall response of student opinions (in a more formal setting than online comments). For those of a market research background, you’ll be glad to know the responses were evenly distributed according to the campus population. “Interestingly, of the 1800 responses, the response was overwhelmingly that people were overall somewhat satisfied,” said Tom. “In the official survey, not many people actually brought up the notion of externalising catering control.” I was given access to the executive summary of the survey, which states that only 1.5% of respondents made any comments to the effect of deregulating catering. Tom continued by saying that “the survey is a great way to analyse feedback and we will certainly take what’s mentioned into account. Facebook, on the other hand, does tend to bring out negative comments.” It seems that while people are happy to complain on the internet, they didn’t do so to the same extent on the official survey. However,
in order to make changes, formal feedback from students is the key. “Based on past student consultation, we designed the Science café’s menu to use organic ingredients, at great cost to the Guild. In its first year, it barely broke even. This year it’s doing better, despite a 10–20% increase in cost of goods that we had to absorb. And as you can see, students seem to like the fact it’s different to other outlets. We’re doing the same thing in the business school with the ready-to-order menu, and differentiating the outlets [as we get funds to renovate or build new cafes] is a trend that we want to continue,” he said. “If the Guild wasn’t in control of catering, no surveys like this would be possible.” If we were to open franchises of chains like Subway or Aroma Café on campus, we would be restricted to the policies of that chain. Obviously, that’s no issue to someone who always wants the same meatball sub, but it brings up the issues of not catering to the needs of certain groups on campus. For example, if followed strictly, Halal food preparation regulations would stipulate that food could not be prepared in the same area in which foods containing bacon are prepared. While the Guild is able to take these regulations into consideration when looking at new meal options, franchise regulations often state that all of the standard menu must be available, at a stipulated price. Of course being a part of a franchise means access to mass-produced menu options and possibly reduced costs – it obviously takes control out of the hands of students. The kitchen out the back of the Ref currently prepares most fresh food, which is distributed to the outlets on campus. This both improves quality and improves the economy of preparation every day. Following my meeting with Tom, I was welcomed to the Ref to meet Ken Saverimutto, Director of Guild Catering for the past four years, and Rodney Taylor, the Operations Manager. We sat down with fresh flat whites to continue the catering discussion and began with the topic of coffee. “So how does it taste?” asked Ken. After taking the first sip, I was happy to report that it was quite enjoyable. “We know we’re not perfect,” said Ken. “But we do our best to ensure quality. Our baristas are all trained and supervised. In fact, as part of an inter-campus competition, one of our baristas is currently in the Gold Coast representing the Guild at a championship!” It’s nice to hear the Guild’s side of the story, but I’ll admit that I have certainly had some disappointing coffees on campus in the past. I have a distinct memory of one cold winter morning, when I was rushing to an 8am Stats lecture, flat white
in hand. For so long I had been looking forward to the warmth and energy kick of a coffee, but when it cooled to drinking temperature I was unfortunately disappointed. After putting this story to Ken, he gave me this response. “Compare us to a coffee house at a shopping centre. They have thousands of customers throughout the day, but our customers, especially when buying coffees, come in waves. Like you said, that’s sometimes between lectures. When the baristas are rushed, they can make mistakes. Unfortunately, sometimes we can’t dedicate the time to each and every coffee that we’d like to, especially when our customers are in a rush as well. “But if this happens, we need to know, so we can try and fix it. If you’d brought that coffee back, we would have made you another or given you a refund. Or if you told me the date and time, we could check who was working to make sure they were going through the right process,” said Ken. Rodney then added, “Even in a five-star hotel, you’re going to get some complaints. But in reality, we get very little complaints coming through to us.” Finally, I brought up the topic of options for gluten-free or halal consumers. Rodney started by saying that they do have some options, similar to what you’d expect in normal cafés. He suggested that if you are a regular customer, and you are willing to commit to purchasing items, the cafés are certainly able to assist you. “If you are a regular customer to Hackett Café, you can ask the supervisor to keep it aside for you every day.” Ken then added that while they are happy to cater to special needs, in the past when they have specifically bought special products, they haven’t sold. “In the past, we have had people ask for specific gluten-free biscuits, but when we obtained and offered them nobody bought them.” Reflecting upon these interviews, it certainly feels like everyone in Guild Catering is trying to provide an excellent standard to students, despite the negative words that seem to fly around online. As Tom said, perhaps perception is the biggest issue. I certainly know I’ll get a grease-fest if I go to Maccas, and perhaps worrying about the coffee might affect my senses even before I take a sip.
A Tale of Eight Eateries Chicken Kebab
Broadway IGA: $8.99
Reid Café: $9
Large Noodles w/Veg
Rocket Fuel: Biz Café: $4.90 $5.50
(UWA prices do not include guild discount).
Eat and Drink Survey Responses • 75% of respondents said hot food choices was average or better • 73% said hot food quality was average or better • 26% rated prices as poor • Gold Guild members generally ranked outlets more highly
Ultimately, the Guild Council, who continue these policies, have been re-elected year after year. If you would like to have more of a say, why not take a part in Guild politics? But if that’s not your thing, still send through your feedback or suggestions, as it’s the only way changes will be made. The Guild and Guild Catering do everything they do for the benefit of the students; so if you have any suggestions, please let them know!
Based on the vasculature and protein content of human flesh, it has been hypothesised that cooked human meat would taste like veal.
Freo I love you,
but you’re bringing me down --------------- Patrick Marlborough --------------[piano chords] I spend most of my Thursday nights at X-Wray in Fremantle, the small bar just off Essex Street. There is nothing quite like the simple pleasure of catching up with friends and listening to the wild jazz of the Jack Doepel Quartet. People move in and out of the bar – it attracts a mixed crowd of Freo bohemians, daytrippers, wine-totalling new rich, and regular locals. X-Wray has been home to many of my greatest booze-driven conversations. Yet tonight, in somewhat sad sobriety, I sat with a cluster of friends and asked, “what’s happening with Freo?” It’s a question that many Fremantlites seem to be asking one another, and the general reply seems to be: “Jesus, where do I start?” [piano chords, softer, swelling]
Picture of Alex Dew at X-Wray Jazz by artist Bay Rigby. Rigby tragically died of a heroin overdose, as have several others (amongst them acclaimed Aboriginal actor David Ngoombjurra) over the recent months.
I was born and raised in Fremantle. I’ve never lived anywhere else; my house perched on the line between the port town and White Gum Valley. Freo’s history has ensured an eccentricity that has become the defining feature of the town and its inhabitants. It is a town of prisons and shipyards – attracting a menagerie of criminals, immigrants, tradesman and artists. It was WA’s “second city.” During the war years Freo operated as a stomping ground for American Navy men, with its bordellos, seaside fairground, gambling dens and music halls. Post war it was transformed by an influx of European immigrants, mainly Italians. The Italian worker is an integral piece of Freo’s cultural makeup; my 80-year-old Italian neighbour continues to make her own wine and pasta in her backyard. Fremantle’s architecture was (once) predominantly Edwardian buildings – many of which were destroyed during the reign of Charlie Court in the 1970s and now survive in the West End, occupied by Notre Dame. It was a workers town. Factories lined the waterfront and dominated the now yippie ridden suburbs of East and North Freo. The dockworkers gave the town its rough and ready personality – the cordial Freo bar fight, the piss-head song, the man passed out in the street. Unionists were the political backbone of Fremantle. This was the town of John Curtin, after all. The Freo identity is one
of old-world values and mid-20th century bohemia. You simply didn’t go to Freo if you were from North of the river back in “the old days”. Things started to change in the 1970s and this change was probably complete by the America’s Cup. Charlie Court raped Fremantle in the mid-70s. Or at least tried to. The ugly husks of 70s brick and mortar that reside in the less savoury parts of town are unseemly relics of the decade of land-rape and greed. The America’s Cup was Freo’s second coming. It modernised the town, shifted it from working-class to middle-class and put Freo on the map. Opened its doors. This was the Fremantle I grew up in. We rode the wave of the America’s Cup all throughout the 90s until it crashed on the rocks of the 21st century. It is apparent now to most Fremantlites that the town has hit a slump – but that something more than money is being lost. As romantically as I think of Freo, it is constantly struggling with its own ugliness. Freo has a bad case of the Jekyl & Hydes. If you go into Freo frequently and have never had someone call you a “fuckin kent” [Freo pronunciation of cunt] or haven’t had a bipolar man in a raincoat explain to you how he has used a mathematic formula to predict the next Prime Minister, then friend, you haven’t really experienced Fremantle. The town is a bit like a battered whore that tried to hide their true self with poorly applied makeup. Buildings such as Target and Myer, in fact most of Central Freo and the East End, are off-putting in their ugly blandness. There seems to be a layer of filth on the streets. You can walk around for hours on end and not find anything to do or anyone to do it with. I spent many days after school just roaming the streets with a gang of friends, turning the empty tedium of Fremantle into a game of apathetic acceptance. At night, the streets are deserted. Deaths could go unnoticed, and often do. The ugliness of Fremantle arises from the indifference which now weighs heavily on the town and those who live there. The last five years have seen the gap between poor and rich grow astronomically. In about 2007 there was a noticeable yuppie and new-rich influx in Fremantle. With them, they brought higher rents,
AND OH! TAKE ME OFF YOUR MAILING LIST
more expensive coffee and chain stores. At the same time, Fremantle’s homeless community continues to grow. If you go down to South Beach late at night, you’ll find a veritable shanty town that is straight out of Grapes of Wrath. The homeless are shepherded around Perth by the police. Some, such as Brother Leon, are in their position because of decades of personal and systematic abuse. As he said to me, “I was born a streetie and I’ll die a streetie.” Drug and alcohol abuse have always been on public display in Fremantle. But now, with heroin making a deadly comeback, it seems nastier than ever – and it definitely wasn’t nice before. Poverty was one of the key elements in the creation of Fremantle’s cultural identity. But that was a shared poverty – a poverty of workers. The town catered to low-income earners. With the influx of yuppies however, I think Freo’s poor have become a novelty act. There is an attitude which promotes a ‘romantic hobo’ image: the Freo busker as bard, not serial meth user. The new rich like this pretence but turn their back when confronted with the crushing reality of someone like Brother Leon. Freo has an internal conflict caused by the demand of the ‘Freo personality’. The new rich come in to live a faux ‘le boheme’ lifestyle, but ironically, every yuppie that moves into town dilutes the Freo gene pool. The town no longer knows who to cater to. This identity crisis, I believe, is at the heart of Fremantle’s failing retail sector. The new-rich influx between 2005–07 was followed by an exodus after the GFC. The wealthier new-Fremantlites transformed Freo’s economy. Prices of food rised noticeably, but so did the retail prices. Fremantle prides itself on independent businesses. Myer and Target are seen as cankerous ulcers on the town’s sense of self. But about two years ago, the chain stores began to die one by one, and haven’t stopped since. Angus & Robertsons was the first noticeable loss. Many followed, man still are. Myer itself is rumoured to be on its last legs, with no support from head office. Brad Pettit, Freo’s young mayor, plans to turn it into a retail hub similar to the Claremont quarter. The problem with this of course is that no one in Fremantle has any money to spend on retail goods. The town doesn’t understand its own economy. Freo survives on a weekend market. Saturday and Sunday sees all the North of River folk come down to buy novelty kites at Freo Markets and piddle money away in one of the tens of art galleries that line High Street.
For storeowners who are independent, it is the rents that are killing business. Iconic Freo businesses such as The Record Finder and New Edition fight hard to stay in town. I have been frequenting New Edition since it started out on the Cappuccino Strip, ten or so years ago. It has its fair share of competition, book stores being all too frequent in Freo. But James, its owner, has ensured its success. I often speak to him about the struggles of maintaining a business in Fremantle, particularly in the strangely deserted West End. “The rents are ridiculous and the town doesn’t attract shoppers that aren’t locals…Freo has become too expensive for those that live here and not appealing enough to shop in for those who don’t.” There is a reason he opened a second store in Northbridge. Across from New Edition is The Record Finder, one of my favourite haunts. The store is iconic but is in a constant state of half-life – teetering on the precipice of shutting. High Street is almost a ghost town. Once the central pub hub of Freo, it has become a strip of sex stores and art galleries that have little to no appeal to most Fremantlites. The beautiful Edwardian buildings hide the Notre Dame students, most of which leave town when class ends. What should be the thriving centre of Fremantle looks more like the abandoned set of a period piece drama. Some iconic stores die for personal reasons. The cult Off the Wall, where you could be served by the vibrant Renee, was run into the ground by the mishandling of ignorant new owners. It now sits empty, and like all empty spaces in Freo, will remain so for months or years.
High rates, rents and lack of customers are driving businesses and locals out of Fremantle. A survey of Fremantle last October showed 65.8% of respondents intended to continue to operate their businesses while 34.2% would not or were uncertain, of whom 9.1% were planning to leave. Retail, accommodation, cafes and restaurants comprised 49% of survey results.
herself to be a dumb worthless kent. There is an onslaught of cashed up bogans that hit Freo every Wednesday night for cheap drinks at the Newport. The police give them more care than they do the likes of David Ngjoombara, a great Aboriginal actor who died recently from a heroin overdose in a Freo park. Freo now caters to these outer-towners as well as the wealthy kids who come down from Cottesloe and City Beach. They are irrevocably dull and give Freo the same kind of atmosphere Burswood Casino has. The boring collect, I mean all disrespect, if Freo is to survive then its eclectic mix of freaks, bums, intellectuals and artists is going to be key.
Freo council has been discussing ways to increase Freo’s population density, something I think is sorely needed. It seems that we are in for an onslaught of high rises. By this point, I am beyond caring. I’ve learnt not to look forward to the unveiling of anything involving my towns’ future, no matter how large or minute. A great example was when I attended the opening of the statue of John Curtin, one of Freo’s great icons. They pulled back the cover to reveal a warped and misinformed Curtin, who resembled the elephant man more than he did our wartime Prime Minister. The mutant statue – the butt of many jokes – is a constant reminder of what happens in Freo when a committee is set to task doing something for the town.
I bemoan the state of Fremantle because I love Fremantle more than anywhere else on Earth. I have been raised on its myths and legends, and have lived Quixotic fantasies in its streets. All my friends and loves are in Freo. Each step haunts me with a memory of my past self. There is nothing like being a Fremantlite – no other suburb in Perth has an identity as unique. Irvine Welsh called it the “The New Orleans of Australia” when he came here in 2009. It squanders is potential like a creative kid at uni. When I return from a sojourn to Perth late at night, and the train passes over the traffic bridge, and the looming Sauropod cranes wink over the wharf – ah – I think – Fremantle.
Labor losing the seat of Fremantle, after holding it for 86 years, was one of the most shameful days in the party’s and the town’s history. Adele Carls has proved
[band fades to silence]
It’s the one pool where I’d happily drown.
---------- Kevin Chiat ---------The world’s cineplexes were under threat and in desperate search for a saviour. The combined forces of shortened DVD release windows, less expensive home theatre set-ups and the dreaded evil of internet piracy loomed ominously over the movie theatre business. This environment ushered in a dark new era where patrons were no longer willing to sit in a dark room with strangers to watch Hollywood’s latest releases. In late 2009, the prophesied messiah of the cineplex arrived riding a Mountain Banshee and wearing tinted glasses no one would be caught dead wearing in daylight. Heralded by it’s apostles, James Cameron and Jeffrey Katzenberg, 3D was going to save the movie business with a post-messianic golden age of record box office grosses for everyone. 3D was the perfect solution to Hollywood’s woes. Best of all, 3D films proved more difficult to pirate as the 3D presentation doesn’t easily translate on bootleg copies. As much as Cameron and Katzenberg hyped up the potential of 3D, there was still resistance. People still remembered the 1950s 3D movie boom and bust and many felt that 3D was better left contained in amusement parks rather than in the cinema.
Then Avatar was released and was a gargantuan success. Following on from Avatar were Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans which both took in huge amounts of cash despite both being postconverted to 3D in a rush-job to capitalise on the interest in 3D films Avatar had unleashed.
is willing to wear the 3D glasses in their own homes? Silly looking and often uncomfortable (especially the flimsy RealD glasses favoured in Perth theatres), 3D glasses are the biggest issue holding 3D back. 3D is never going to find total acceptance until the effect can be seen by the naked eye.
The developing glut of 3D films has mostly consisted of post-converted films rather than those shot on 3D cameras. The most egregious offenders were the aforementioned Clash of the Titans and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender whose 3D effects have been accused of making their characters look like cardboard cutouts. Hollywood very quickly wore down the lustre on 3D films. Whereas Avatar had been sold successfully as a special event which you needed to see in 3D to get the whole furry blue hippie experience, overexposure has quickly destroyed the special event mystique surrounding 3D.
The most pressing complaint against 3D is economic. It simply makes going to the movies too damn expensive. Australian ticket prices have been steadily rising throughout the past decade. Recently, consumer group CHOICE released data which shows that Australian cinema tickets are more expensive than equivalent tickets in the US, UK or New Zealand. It currently costs around $15 for a normal student ticket at most chain cinemas, add on the three to five dollar 3D surcharge and going to the movies stops being an affordable option.
One of the most common complaints against 3D films (with the most prominent proponent being Roger Ebert) is that the glasses dim the brightness of the screen creating a dark and blurry image. This isn’t helped by theatre owners purposefully setting their projectors to lower settings to lengthen the life span of their projector lightbulbs. Michael Bay wrote a personal letter to projectionists asking them to play Transformers: Dark of the Moon at the right setting so that viewers would experience maximum Bayhem. The complaints against 3D don’t stop there. Some viewers complain of headaches or motion sickness caused by the 3D effect. Others (and I count myself among them) find that 3D further highlights the artifice of cinema. Rather than drawing the viewer deeper into the world of the film, the glasses and often inconsistent 3D effect alienates the viewer and creates emotional disengagement from the experience.
Illustration by Camden Watts
Also, on the subject of the glasses, they’re just a bit naff. For one thing, they make going to the cinema an uncomfortable experience for anyone already wearing glasses. Ask yourself this: do you actually know anyone who’s gone out and bought a 3DTV and
This Hollywood blockbuster season, the viewer backlash against 3D has had a demonstrable effect. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides has admittedly been a huge success internationally, only sitting behind Transformers and Harry Potter for the top-grossing film of the year. However box-office takings in the US were surprisingly sluggish and figures showed that only 38% of the film’s opening weekend takings had come from 3D screens, down considerably from earlier 3D blockbusters. Moviegoers seemed to be going out of their way to see 2D screenings and avoid the 3D surcharge. The underperformance of Kung Fu Panda 2 also forced Dreamworks Animation president and aforementioned 3D apostle Jeffrey Katzenberg to admit that Hollywood had gotten greedy and screwed up. At a technology conference he said, “I think Hollywood has managed to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory here.” Katzenberg blamed poor postconverted films for the public’s disenchantment with 3D. He also vowed that Dreamworks Animation will keep releasing 2D prints of all of their films, allowing for the cheaper option for families. Katzenberg says that “great filmmakers” who use 3D as a storytelling tool are the key to its future. Ridley Scott is filming his ‘don’t call it an Alien prequel Alien prequel’ Prometheus in 3D and has been so impressed with the experience that he says he’s never going back to shooting in 2D again. Alfonso Cuarón’s next film Gravity is being shot in 3D. Most interesting though is filmmaking god Martin Scorsese making his first 3D film with the family film, Hugo. It will be intriguing to see what directors so technically savvy and creative with the camera do with the 3D technology. It will be wonderfully ironic if the auteur filmmaker succeeds in slowing the decay of 3D where multimillion dollar marketing campaigns have failed.
What aficionados consider the “golden era” of 3D, began in 1952 with the release of the first color stereoscopic feature, Bwana Devil, produced, written and directed by Arch Oboler. A lot of people don’t realise that they actually live in the third dimension.
ABBE MAY GIG REVIEW Abbe May is so familiar around WA music circles that anybody reading this in Perth is probably only a few steps of disconnect from her. For me, my brother is a friend of her younger sister, who he went to UWA with. We can chalk this down to being “little old Perth”, though it also stems from Abbe’s virtual omnipresence as the reigning Queen of Perth’s hard rock scene, skimming the edges of the national Triple J listenership. Her new album Design Desire launched at the Astor, may have just tipped her over into the national consciousness, something she celebrated with enthusiasm and more than a little booze. She came on after The Silents, who seemed to be feeling their way into their first show back after five months, and Mathas, the Community MC who talks at length about food and really needs to be seen live while both you and him are in this town, Abbe May strutted out behind her band with tequila in tow. Immediately ripping into a brisk 35-minute main-set that included recent singles ‘Mammalian Locomotion’ and ‘Design Desire’, Abbe commanded total attention at the center of the stage.
August 4, 2011 ----- Michael O’Brien ----The undeniable tension between a star’s credibility and the attention they receive evidences the unexplainable absurdity of our human condition. In case you missed it, Perth’s own YouTube child prodigy Vee (aka 18-year-old Vanessa Naughton) recently rolled into town to perform not one, but two, sold-out 200-odd capacity shows in early August. The answer to your question is that YES, I willingly paid the $20 to witness one of the more absurd moments in Perth’s short musical history. In the YouTube age, becoming a foul-mouthed critic of artists like Vee has, of course, never been so easy or so anonymous. Quietly observing Vee’s four-song set and the crowd reaction was invaluable entertainment. Everything was remarkable, and it all defied belief: the pre-show cue of ‘fans’ clad in self-designed Vee merchandise, the $5 Emu Export, the back-up dancers, the 20 minute intermission after five minutes of “singing” (lip-synching), the costume changes, Vee’s mum, the unidentified flying drinks, the CD signing, t-shirt giveaways and the rock-star exit including security escort. Although the Rebecca Black phenomenon has become unflatteringly commonplace, on August 4 Vee courageously took her YouTube stardom to the next level. Never before has one witnessed such real-life frenzied crowd euphoria founded almost entirely upon internet hype, sex appeal and an unashamedly miniscule total of nine minutes 22 seconds of musical output. It’s true! All your Vee
favourites made an appearance: ‘Booty’, ‘Mix CD’, ‘Summer’ and (unforgettable) ‘Party Girl’. It’s also true that the songs didn’t necessarily take on a new life on stage, but perhaps that’s because the recordings were being played off a CD and Vee might have had some singing/lip/timing related issues. But who cares, right? The awesome dancing was where it was at! Today, anyone who looks to launch a pop career via the world’s largest video-sharing website with no lyrical or technical talent will be followed by three distinct groups: the openly critical, bloodbath crowd, the super-sarcastic satirists and the top-40 radio purists who actually admire YouTube prodigies. The most ridiculously wonderful aspect of ‘Vee’s Party Girl’s Party’ was witnessing how thinly blurred the line between sarcasm and the fo-serial Vee fanatic was. I left the gig asking questions: “Were those guys wearing the ‘I Have H I VEE’ shirts genuinely captivated by Vee’s YouTube persona or in tears of laughter?”… “Was Vee’s mum’s support/control of the Vee project really in Vanessa’s best interests?” And so on. Overall, I came out of the night feeling optimistic for the future of Gen-Y in the YouTube-star age. There certainly was an overload of shameless selfpromotion as well as embarrassing moments for Vee and her security guards (some poor boy got spear-tackled for getting too close to Vee). Haters will always point fingers at me for deciding to pay money to see “mediocrity on stage”. According to the Facebook event page, 2680 people showed their symbolic support for the idea of attending a Vee Party, with approximately 400 people making a financial investment ($8000). Impressive! Although I’m sure it was not her intention, the Party felt like a completely surreal social experiment revealing the vagaries of YouTube, self-hype and Facebook support. If it turns out that Vanessa has been playing games all along, she might just be smarter than all of us.
It wasn’t hard for her of course, even with talented sidemen like KT Rumble (The Fags) and Sam Ford (The Silents) alongside her. Abbe oozes sex appeal – a combination of a short skirt, the machine-gun move she keeps making with her guitar and a howling voice that swings between a rough breaking point and sultry whisper. And in between it all she took the time to show the crowd her tequila bottle with a hat for a bottle cap. The band’s feedback-heavy, modern-blues rock moves the crowd into a dancing frenzy – our photographer (the highly talented Jakub Dammer) pushed off to one side. By the time Abbe May and her band finished their encore with a long, loose version of Muddy Waters’ Willie Dixon-penned hit ‘I Just Wanna Make Love to You’ it was easy to forgive that she was a little late and played a short set. After all, it was her party. All of her distant Perth “relations” were just there to join in the celebration. JOSH CHIAT, photos by Jakub Dammer
SPLENDOUR DIARY WOODFORDIA, JULY 29, 2011 about 10:30pm I’m staring at the back of one of my idols. My brain moves away from worrying whether the rain’s about to wash away my tent and the five guys ramming me from behind trying to get a little closer to the man. 25 ballet dancers adorn the stage, while the DJ and two keyboardists play out ‘H.A.M’ in the background. Kanye West rises amongst a cloud of smoke, five meters into the air as the DJ switches to ‘Dark Fantasy’, signaling his arrival in Australia. The whole crowd goes up. “I fantasised about this back in Chicago!” PERTH, APRIL 13, 2011 about 12:00pm I felt like shit. I sat alone on the 102 bus crawling towards UWA, staring around at colourful costumes and blank faces all worn out from a hard day of pimping their dignity for charity, box in left hand and my right hand checking my pocket to make sure nothing had fallen out. Tired and having lost my friends one by one over the course of the day and pissed off others by my lack of enthusiasm, I jolted at the vibration. Yes, I thought, the old man that accosted me hadn’t managed to pull a fast one on me by taking my phone when he requested his money back for our university’s finest satirical publication. The phone-screen said: “HOLY SHIT PULP AND KANYE ARE PLAYING SPLENDOUR!!!” From Patrick M
Illustration by Alice Palmer
And thus began my journey to the magical place over the Nullibor that takes place once a year when the Perth festival season dies down and the East lights up with the world’s finest entertainment and smartest distractions. Some people might bulk at the dramatic cost of such an adventure ($500 + airfare), but this is my thesis: Never mind the cost. At least once while you’re young, get a bunch of your mates together, collect your dodgiest camping gear and hightail it over to the makeshift town near Woodfordia called Splendour In The Grass. CHAI TENT, SUNDAY JULY 30, 2011 about 2:00am The lifeless mass that refuses to relinquish its spot on the Chai Tent couch is none other than Patrick Marlborough, Pelican’s trusty editor. “Who’s the dude that’s passed
out?” someone asks me as they sip their tea with a grimace on their face like their eyes are saying, “damn, I want that spot on the couch.” I reply, with consideration for their butt’s couchless despair and a look of resignation etched on my face (I imagine), “my boss”. WOODFORDIA, FRIDAY JULY 29, 12:00pm It became clear quickly that it would’ve been really fucking easy to get drugs or booze into this thing; maybe not into the festival grounds but certainly into the camp grounds. They didn’t check our bags. It’s just a part of the magic. Patrick is secretly spewing with a vengeance at those that also haven’t smuggled in drugs to share with him. He’ll need to use booze to fill that emotional hole. Julian’s having a health thing right now, so we all get Hare Krishna for lunch. It’s pretty good. SPLENDOUR FORUM, SATURDAY 2:45pm I’ve just completed a marathon run between Dananananaykroyd at the amphitheatre (the big stage with the gravel pit and beautiful 150m slope of a hill surrounding the stage); Libby and I have just found Julian and Patrick (Libby took photographs in Polaroid to commemorate and stylise this moment) when I sprint off to catch Gareth Liddiard at the GW McLennan tent (where all the Pitchfork Buzzbands and Aussie indies sequestered). Some heavy bass drops in from the electronic and hip-hop tent (Mix-Up stage) and Gareth Liddiard bitches about it before launching into the gut-wrenchingly beautiful ‘Strange Tourist’. I head over as soon as he’s done to the Mix-Up for the not-as-hilarious-but-pretty-fun Fitz and the Tantrums. Then it’s off with Patrick and Julian to Perry Farrell’s talk in the Splendour Forum, one of the many fun non-music on. Unfortunately, rather than talk about the chicks he banged back in the 90s with Jane’s Addiction, he discussed mostly the business of music festivals (he apparently runs one, it’s called Lollapalooza). Julian found a wallet and returned it with all the cash untouched. Good Karma’s coming our way. WINE BAR SUNDAY, 12:45am Fuck Karma. Libby’s lost her wallet. It has not been returned. Patrick’s drunk, having exploited the marginally cheaper prices than in Perth pubs and clubs you’ll find at Splendour’s five late night bars (a “Jagerbomb” only costs five tickets, or $10 here). On the plus side we just saw Jane’s Addiction tear up the Amphitheatre with a powerful stage show that featured the reuniting of Dave Navarro with the band on bass, S&M girls onstage and the largest sex dolls in the southern hemisphere. The sound was immaculate. Also, we just met two journalists from Melbourne who were on our shuttle on the way over. SHUTTLE BUS HALFWAY TO WOODFORDIA FRIDAY 11:00am I think the bus driver’s drunk. He just sped around a corner too fast and lost a heap of baggage out the side of the bus and into the valley below. The
littering of bags over the landscape looks beautiful, though not so beautiful once the bus driver starts rolling back down the hill against oncoming traffic. MIX-UP TENT SUNDAY 12:30pm Libby’s got her wallet back! We celebrated by getting marguerites from the Mexican bar that Patrick said had his favourite band of the festival so far, a non-descript but I’m told highly talented, mariachi quartet. Libby discusses her plans to get to the front for Coldplay (I dream of PULP’s Jarvis Cocker, who comes on to the amphitheatre before Coldplay) as we head to the front for the Holidays who quickly drag walkers-by into their stage to see them play a short, high-energy set that climaxes with a slowed down psych-pop cover of TV on the Radio’s ‘Wolf Like Me’. Julian and Patrick are getting food (Hare Krishna or maybe Brazilian), while Libby and I bond over Katy B’s ‘Lights On’, which HOOPS (DJ Nina Las Vegas and two gorgeous friends) just threw on at MIX-UP. MIX-UP TENT SUNDAY, 3:30pm Libby, Julian and Patrick have gone to the Amphitheatre to scout out front row for Coldplay and PULP, while I’m watching The Herd, the best Oz Hip-hop set of the festival hands-down, with their top quality dub backing band and powerful three MC/singer lyrical approach. It turns the MIX-UP into a weird left-wing version of a Gospel church service for about 50 minutes, strolling through anthems such as the John Howard baiting ‘The King is Dead’ and ‘77%’ (key phrase “until Jonesy, Zemanak and Laws are all axed.”) TENTS FRIDAY 29, 12:30pm We set our tents up in a flood drainage area near the entrance to the festival, not because we were keen on the area, but because we were way too lazy to walk up the hill. People snigger and shout at us as they walk past, Queenslanders lampooning our choice of camping spot. The last laugh’s on us though; we have to walk way less to get into the festival! AMPHITHEATRE SUNDAY 9:30pm I find the guys during Elbow’s fine set, before having my prized beanie knocked into the gravel by a crowd surfer during Kaiser Chiefs. I’m fucking pissed about that beanie. Only the laser-embroidered dolphin on the screen in front of me preceding PULP’s set can calm me down. As Jarvis Cocker (sex personified) appears behind the veil at the front of the stage, those in the know become palpably excited. The, now pretty old, band from the classic Different Class line-up rip through a selection from Different Class, Hiz-N-Hers and This Is Hardcore closing on the monumental ‘Common People’, one of the world’s great shared experiences. All the while Jarvis charms the crowd by climbing amps as people yell, “no old man, get down, you’ll displace a hip”. Jarvis responds with classic English wit and writhing orgiastic dance. He is where he is supposed to be-on stage with PULP. Chris Martin isn’t so flamboyant on stage, but Coldplay’s ubiquity is a perfect way to end Splendour. Everyone knows the words to ‘Clocks’, ‘The Scientist’ and ‘Viva La Vida’, and the chorus of girly falsettos ringing out from the 25/30,000 strong crowd snaking up the hill left a lasting impression. Obviously the fireworks and lasers shooting out of the stage helped, as well as the light show on stage that made me feel like I was hallucinating,
especially after spending the last six hours in a crush with little oxygen. As big and gaudy as Coldplay’s festival closing set was however, it wasn’t my lasting impression of Splendour. AMPHITHEATRE FRIDAY JULY 29, 10:30pm, Again He returns to the stage as the backing vocals ring out from the crowd “uh-uh/eh-eh”. The whole makeshift town it seems is riding that clapping beat. I’ve instantly forgotten about the pain from five hours in the worst crowd crush I can remember being in and that I’m missing DJ Shadow and Mogwai at this moment. Kanye commands attention, a ball of pure charisma in his only Australian show. He segues suddenly into ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’ (“La La La La wait til’ I get my money right”— I’m such a fan-boy, I know all the lyrics), transcending the fantasy with a compromise of pure ego and total commitment to his audience. Julian’s there, so is the rest of the crowd, but I’m trapped inside my own head. As far as I’m concerned, this massive spectacle is a one-way conversation from Kanye to only me, seeing how much he can force inside my head until it explodes. The crowd goes into raptures when the DJ mixes ‘PYT’ into ‘Good Life’ before Act II comes in, bringing with it 808s and Heartbreaks’ auto tuned mess. The energy drops slightly, especially when Kanye breaks the illusion of grandeur by rapping his singularly awful verse from Katy Perry’s ‘ET Remix’, but it gets brought back with a jolt by a succession of College Dropout smashes ending with ‘Jesus Walks’ and new single ‘All Of The Lights’. The encore (Act III) sees Kanye bring in the ballet dancers again and his MPC for the massive ‘Runaway’ before he brings out ‘Lost in the World’. Finally, with just him, his DJ and dim lighting on the stage, Kanye reminds us of his humanity with an ode to his late mother, Late Registration’s ‘Hey Mama’. Kanye’s set isn’t perfect, but this is part of what makes him him and what makes Splendour, Splendour. Larger than life, selfmythologising, funny, riddled with blank spots, but altogether brimming with a humanity that gives it it’s connection to the audience. This is why Splendour and Kanye deliver an unparalleled experience in live music, which needs to be experienced regardless of where you come from. TENTS MONDAY AUGUST 1, 6:00am I trudge in tired after spending all night in the Chai Tent watching hippie-funk jam bands noodle overnight to find that there’s been no rain and our drainage area remains a beautiful patch of tent-inhabited land. All those people that laughed at us for our camping choice can kiss my ass. More specifically they can kiss my whole ass.
music reviews JAY Z & Kanye West
Watch The Throne
As a rapper, when you’re so inconceivably rich you could buy the entire neighbourhood you grew up in, there’s always your glorious life to build your verses around. Which is vapid and occasionally banal but also compelling, mainly because Jay-Z and Kanye are so of one mind that their ideas seem to flow seamlessly from one to the other without ever leaving their core argument: “We’re rich, Motherfuckers.” This notion of excess drapes the magisterial backing tracks that exhibit the collaborators’ shared wealth. They cede royalties to a glut of hip-hop’s biggest producers/writers (Q-Tip, Neptunes, RZA, The-Dream, Swizz Beatz, etc.) and pay exorbitant amounts for samples from the catalogues of James Brown, Otis Redding and Nina Simone (I suppose the time it would take to hire a girl to sing Simone’s part is more expensive to them than the money). And it sounds incredible; ‘Otis’ turns ‘Try a Little Tenderness’ into a gritty banger with Kanye and Jay-Z sharing rhyme schemes as they transition between verses, while ‘New Day’ brings 808s and Heartbreak’s robotic distance to Simone’s ‘Feelin’ Good’, with the rappers fantasising about being fathers to kids they may not be ready to have. While these highpoints need to share space with of-the-moment nods to dub-step (the Flux Pavilion-sampling ‘Who Gon Stop Me’) and Cassius (‘Why I Love You So’), on the whole, the beats win out through sheer scope and opulence. The occasionally lame lyrics take a backseat here, but while their attempts at social commentary usually fall flat, the descriptions of their own wealth sound entirely credible. Which is the best part because it means you won’t feel as bad about stealing it off the net.
The first time I listened to the tracks on Sri Diger I just really wanted to get some MCs on top of them. The second and third times I wasn’t so sure, wondering if perhaps rhymes would divert attention away from the detail infused in the actual tunes, preventing the music from revealing its secrets, layer by layer. This is the mark of excellent beat making – it would hold up just as well carrying lyrics as it would standing on its own. Sri Diger, like previous release Digerbodia, markets itself as “beat tourism”...okay. I accept this term because it not only cashes out the international flavours on this album but also its lack of commitment to a single style, both between tracks and within them. ‘Lion Rok’ light-foots its way into a strange groove, approaching, but never reaching, a dubstep flex. Fans of the sort of saturated, slow jammy material you might expect from Washed Out or Baths will froth on ‘Squirrel Jam’, and yet the house vibes beneath the surface are impossible to deny. Of course, there are the straight-up ~90bpm tracks you would expect from a producer who’s forged a reputation off hip-hop, and he is in fine form on ‘Dharma Drums’ and ‘Sri Sitar’. Ultimately, the fact that the producer never lets a beat knock harder than the tune is part and parcel of this album’s melodic focus, which is highlighted on ‘Jothipala Forever’. This is a great record from a Perth producer who deserves lots of hype. Sri Diger is highly recommended. Liam Blackford
I saw the Panics play at the Bakery the other week. Granted, I was utterly pickled, but I was certain their music reached me on some sort of cosmic level I had never before experienced. Listening to their new album sober, I have come to the conclusion that I wasn’t undergoing an existential epiphany of any kind and I was just really, really drunk, listening to a bloody good Perth band who were playing exactly what I wanted to hear.
In a world severely lacking in decent heavy rock, the attempt to bring back the feel of such icons as Black Sabbath and Kyuss is admirable. Dreamshake, however, the debut release of Melbourne psychedelic/grunge outfit Redcoats, suffers from one fatal weakness. It’s fucking boring.
Rain on a Humming Wire
Their fourth studio album, Rain on the Humming Wire, has a well-rounded, epic feel about it. Rhythmic drumbeats lead to frequent crescendos that make songs like ‘Majesty’ and ‘One Way Street’ seem grand and powerful. Adding to this, lead singer Jae Laffer’s haunting voice sings like he knows things. Listening to their music is like listening to the soundtrack to your own life, and perhaps this is felt all the more keenly in their new album as it expresses a vast array of the kind of deep personal experiences that, ironically, we all feel are exclusive to our own lives. Rain on a Humming Wire is more polished and sophisticated than earlier albums Cruel Guards and Sleeps Like a Curse, but the boys from suburban Perth have, without a doubt, managed to maintain an element of grittiness and truth in their music, reminiscent of old favourites ‘Don’t Fight It’, ‘Someone Somewhere Somehow’, and ‘Twin Sisters’. This album is an instant Australian classic that can and should hold its own in a more global and commercial market. Katrin Long
Essentially a CD of glorified B-sides, every track feels bland and uninspiring, laying similar-sounding riffs onto repetitive tunes, all of it too quickly dissolving into white noise. With the possible exception of the titular track ‘Dreamshaker’, which is actually punchy and well paced, all of the songs sound the same and lack energy. Technically, the Redcoats sound like they are half-decent musicians and admittedly they do bring across the edgy grind of true grunge; even Emilio Mercuri’s vocals could have sold me, had he bothered to do anything different with them other than some distant wailing. Sadly, none of it is enough to save the record, which just lacks the marketable hook that debut material needs to have. Branding yourself as Sabbath-inspired is all well and good, however it carries the expectation that the band will transplant some of their originality into your own music. You can appreciate it for its technical competence but for fans of a dying genre, this record feels too much like searching for a last few drops of heroin by wading through a dumpster of used syringes. Michael France
Tiny Ruins is the moniker of Kiwi folk musician and songwriter Hollie Fullbrook, with Some Were Meant For Sea her first album. Following so soon after the Australian collaboration from Holly Throsby, Sarah Blasko and Sally Seltmann in the form of Seeker, Lover, Keeper (who Tiny Ruins accompanied on tour), comparisons are expected and shouldn’t be unfavourable.
Canada’s Junior Boys are certainly an odd proposition. As an independent electronic duo, Jeremy Greenspan and Matt Didemus have consciously chosen to employ the slick production techniques favoured by more commercial pop acts. In doing so, they clearly distinguish themselves from their alternative colleagues who have, for the most part, adopted a decidedly lo-fi aesthetic.
Some Were Meant For Sea
It’s All True
Fullbrook’s wispy, delicate vocals are complimented by an acoustic guitar, although occasionally there is assistance from both cello and piano. The sounds that eventuate, while warm and melodious, are sonically simplistic and fairly conventional for the folk genre. Indeed, there is a calculated minimalism about the whole album that sometimes made me yearn for more adventurism. You don’t feel as though you really progress through the album, but I suppose this melancholic simplicity is also one of its great strengths. The tracks pick up on a number of themes: a Brazilian priest who launched himself off a cliff with a bunch of Helium balloons, Romanian traffic wardens who were made to take ballet lessons and more mundane details from Fullbrook’s own life. These eclectic themes are explored through lyrics that are both intricate and intimate. Some Were Meant For Sea is variously haunting and emotive, but there is a hypnotism about the whole album which allows you to listen to it repeatedly, almost unknowingly. This is perfect listening for a cold, dark journey home on the bus or as a background album while studying.
That is not to say that they have entirely embraced the mainstream model. Instead, they walk a precarious line; juggling the competing expectations of these traditionally opposed brands, they emerge from this entertaining tussle with something surprisingly enjoyable, if at times a little flat. Their fourth studio album, It’s All True, is equal parts Prince (‘You’ll Improve Me’), Animal Collective (‘The Resevoir’), and even at one point Talking Heads (album closer ‘Banana Ripple’). Yet, the referential nature of their work does not compromise their individual vision and direction. Far from being merely derivative, It’s All True is the work of a group with an impressive musical template, a flair for modern embellishment and a grounded self-confidence in their own musical abilities. The end result, although slightly uneven, is both intimate and mature. Importantly though, it’s a particularly refreshing record from an electro-pop act, a genre that has unfortunately suffered from the recent explosion of so called ‘synth-revival’ artists such as Calvin Harris and Owl City (further proof that there is no God). This is what ‘adult’ dance music should sound like, so pour yourself a nice red, relax and let the subtleties of Junior Boys wash over you.
Boy and Bear
The Five EPs [COMPILATION]
The first full-length release of Triple J Unearthed’s 2010 Artist of the Year Boy and Bear, follows the same folky roots seen on last year’s EP With Emperor Antarctica. While Moonfire sometimes lacks the invention and energy of its predecessor, it is a charming release that is sure to please fans of the Australian indie/folk genre. Moonfire takes off on a high note with the standout ‘Lordy May’, a powerful track that opens with rolling drums and echoed guitar chords, giving way to some of the album’s most impressive vocal work from lead-man Dave Hosking. Premier single ‘Feeding Line’ is catchy and fun, sounding at first like a B-side from Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, while ‘My Only One’ is the album’s gem, a haunting piece featuring lyricism and vocal harmonies unmatched on the rest of the release. At other times the album verges on corniness, with a lack of depth squeezing its way into lyrics on some of the tracks (“ooh I’m hungry for the feeling honey ‘cause it’s moving faster than the speed of sound” could have been left out of the otherwise enjoyable ‘Milk & Sticks’). Poor lyrics aside, Boy and Bear’s strongest point is Dave Hosking’s remarkable voice, strikingly similar to that of Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes). It is the vocal work and arrangements on Moonfire that sets it apart from other albums of this popular genre. Though not quite as impressive as their 2010 EP, Moonfire is a positive release from one of Australia’s most exciting new bands. Kiya Alimoradian
e u s s
It’s 1995. Oasis is a Big Deal in the UK, mainly for sucking on The White Album until the flavour went out (‘Wonderwall’). Around the same time that band is taking a vacuous victory lap at Glastonbury, fellow Brits Disco Inferno disband in virtual anonymity, having completely reinvented the wheel of pop songwriting. So it goes. The 15 songs here, previously uncompiled except as a bootleg, demonstrate how in three short years D.I. evolved from the Joy Division indebted mopes of their debut record into strange, unearthly pioneers integrating the sampler into rock music in ways previously unimagined. Songs like ‘Second Language’, ‘It’s a Kid’s World’ and ‘D.I Go Pop’ chart almost entirely unexplored territory at the time, cohering ambience, noise and pop into radical new shapes. Instead of following the predominant trend of simply sampling parts of older songs as a beat to rap over or something, D.I. used samples of weather, everyday life, radio plays and TV themes, wrapping their fragile, complex songs in the very sound of the jumbled welter of bein’ alive. Though it may not connect on the first listen, or even the fifth, The Five EPs hold something incredible, if not immediate. If you have ever been curious about where the outer limits of rock music lie, this is essential listening.
Reissue out September 12 preorder via One Little Indian website. th,
Directed by John Michael Mcdonagh Starring Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle
Directed by Asif Kapadia Starring Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost
The Guard is an excitingly dark, cop comedy from director John Mcdonagh. It is set in a small Irish coastal town, where Sergeant Gery Boyle (Gleeson) approaches his work with a twisted mix of indifference, bemusement and political incorrectness. He spends his days with his dying mother or being serviced by call girls. This quiet town may possibly be a hot spot for international heroin trafficking, something that is being investigated by FBI Agent Wendell Everett (Cheadle) when he is forced to work with the highly unprofessional Boyle.
Motorsport nut or nay, British director Asif Kapadia’s documentary Senna is a feast for the senses. And it’s not just because Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna was an incredibly good-looking bloke. Made exclusively of archive footage, Senna documents the rise of the racing champion from Ayrton’s early days as a champion go-karter to his huge wins on the F1 Circuit.
The Guard is a mix of In Bruges (2008) and The French Connection (1971). It takes the structure of a cop movie from the 1970s but warps it with a character that is both endearing and seemingly out of place. Gleeson shines as Boyle. It is one of the richest performances of the year; his delivery of dry Irish quips and shit-stirring comments is fantastic. The opening sequence has him taking a tab of acid out of the pocket of a young car crash victim. He places it on his tongue and says: “it’s fucking beautiful day.” Gleeson gives the character a richness that makes him different from today’s usual antiheroes. The other performances are equally strong. Don Cheadle bounces off Gleeson with indignation and awe: “I can’t decide whether you are really motherfucking dumb, or really motherfucking smart.” The films three gangsters – played by Mark Strong, Liam Cunningham, and Rory Keenan – will make you laugh and feel guilty for doing so. The Guard is driven by a strong script and steady direction. It has perfectly balanced its tone, bringing out laugher in moments of sadness. Boyle’s scenes with his dying mother (played by Fionulla Flanagan) being the best example. I’d recommend this movie for anyone who enjoys their cop dramas served with a heavy dose of acerbic Irish wit. Gleeson’s performance alone is worth price of admission.
Whilst the motorsport aspect of the film is extensive and will cater to the whims of all rev-heads (it includes on-board footage, technical talk in the context of press conferences and some gruesome crashes), the charm of Senna’s story lies in the home videos and testimonies of family members recounting his incredible attitude towards life, his love of the sport,and his affinity with his God. The rivalry depicted between Senna and his main F1 competitor Alain Prost creates such an effective goodie-baddie dynamic that even if you’re not crazy about things with four wheels, you do find yourself caring about who has enough points to win a championship and experience the glory that comes with that victory. And boy oh boy do you find yourself caring when Senna is involved in the infamous and fatal crash at the Imola Grand Prix in San Marino in 1994. The film ends with Senna’s untimely death at age 34, cutting short the potential for an interesting postscript to his life and career. A motorsport nerd chum informed me that the film is blatantly subjective and paints Senna as an exclusively heroic character (which is ironic considering he was equally as known for his hotheadedness, stubbornness and open dislike of Prost as for his talent and commitment to the sport). Still, for what the film is – essentially a tribute to Senna – it is thrilling and heartwarming.
Captain America: The First Avenger Directed by Joe Johnston Starring Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones & Hugo Weaving Set during the Second World War, Captain America tells the story of loveable dork Buck Rogers (Chris Evans) who is infused with superhuman strength and vitality by a secret American military program. Said program is then sabotaged by Nazis, leaving Rogers a superpowered freak in the middle of a covert between Nazi and American scientists. After the obligatory zero-to-hero antics of the first quarter, Director Joe Johnston takes a bold step and uses the film’s next chapter to explore the implications of superhumanism within the jingoistic microcosm of the Second World War: what would America do with a superhero? It’s a cynical and entertaining to watch the United States’ political establishment parade “Captain America” around “like a dancing monkey” in stars and stripes. Sadly, this self-aware and circumspect strand is lost in the film’s noisier second act, which sees Captain America leading a team of stereotypes in a covert war against arch-villain Red Skull (Hugo Weaving)’s post-Nazi techno-cultists. Roger’s burgeoning relationship with Special Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is swamped by this influx of charming but hollow quasi-characters. While it’s entertaining watching them bowl over legions of Nazis, it’s disheartening to see one of Marvel’s most intelligent comic-tomovie translations sink into the swamp of genre clichés that has claimed so many hero films to date. Ultimately, Captain America feels like two films stitched together: the first film, an almost Alan Moore-esque engagement with superhuman realism, the second film, a disposable northern summer popcorn film. I blame Marvel’s merciless hunger for the Avenger’s (in which Captain America plays a central part) superfranchise for this cruel and unnecessary truncation. Captain America is half-decent. But it could have been so much better.
Green Lantern Directed by Martin Campbell Starring Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively and Peter Sarsgaard Green Lantern is pretty simple. Cocky-arsehole-who-you’re-supposedto-empathise-with-wink-wink-maletarget-demographic jet pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) gets given a ring by a dying alien. The rings are the sole tools of a galactic police force known as the Green Lantern Corps, making Jordan a space policeman. He then has to rescue the movie’s boobs (Blake Lively), defeat the badguy (Peter Sarsgaard) and save Earth from some special effects. Yawn. Green Lantern makes a complete mess of its own ambitions. Hal Jordan is a cowardly jerk for most of the film, creating a mockery of hallowed Lantern lore that states power rings go to a planet’s strongest will (yeesh, isn’t it obvious?). Jordan’s Lantern training consists of a heap of mundane terrestrial objects thrown at him by the alien CGI, caricature of an African American. They’re at the centre of the universe and all they can think up is steel girders and boulders? Puh-leez. Worst of all, Jordan swallows the entirety of his interplanetary worldspanning adventures like a Panadol. Seriously. Within about a week of being inducted into Lantern-hood, he starts treating the supposedly omniscient Guardians of Oa (and chiefs of the Lantern Corps) like a shitty schoolteacher telling off a couple of preschoolers. There are many more plot-farts (in some scenes, Jordan shoots beams of ringenergy from his hands; in others, he has to manifest a ring-minigun to shoot ring-energy. Go figure), but alas, my word count grows full. Admittedly, most of the cast put in decent performances and for all its flaws, the film’s drama and action is moderately entertaining. But the clumsiness of the script writing and the swiss-cheese consistency of the narrative ultimately make Green Lantern one of the worst superhero movies in a long time. Green Lantern is a disappointing setback for DC Comics’ film ambitions and a waste of time for audiences.
Callum J. Twigger
Directed by Cary Fukunaga Starring Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell and Judi Dench
Directed by Sylvain Chomet Starring Jean Claude Donda, Elidh Rankin
Directed by Jodie Foster Starring Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, and Jennifer Laurence
God, I love Jane Eyre.
In 2003, Sylvain Chomet directed The Triplets of Belleville, a charming animated adventure film that won acclaim for its unique depiction of Paris and New York. The Illusionist sees Chomet turn his artistic attentions to Edinburgh. The result is a film so visually compelling that its shortcomings elsewhere can be easily forgiven.
Walter Black (Mel Gibson) is a dad, a husband, the CEO of a toy company and a seriously depressed man. When his wife (Jodie Foster) kicks him out to protect her sons from seeing their father sleep himself to death, Walter finds help from a puppet that is only ever known as The Beaver.
The Illusionist is based on a script written in the 1950s by French mime, director and actor Jacques Tati. The plot follows a struggling illusionist (based on Tati), who attracts a young woman convinced that his gimmicks are in fact ‘magic’. She follows him to Edinburgh, where he struggles to make ends meet and maintain the magical façade by buying her nice things.
Despite being recognised today as a Jewhating alcoholic, Mel Gibson proves he is still a brilliant actor, giving one of his best on-screen performances to date. As he embodies not only the troubled character of Walter Black but also The Beaver – who sounds like Michael Caine after a bender Gibson delivers a heartwarming character making the ludicrous premise of the film more credible.
Since reading it earlier this year, the novel has found an odd niche in my consciousness, exerting an influence on everything from daily struggles (“What Would Jane Eyre Do?”) to study (“Is there a causal link between Grace Poole’s negligence and the destruction of Thornfield?”). I was invested in this film from the start, particularly following my disappointing dalliance with the BBC’s 2006 telemovie (the greatest insult to the Bronte sisters since Kate Bush sang Wuthering Heights). Emerging from a loveless childhood, Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska) begins her working life as a governess in the household of the surly Mr Rochester (Michael Fassbender). Tortured romance ensues. The plot has been stripped back, but nothing significant is lost and, if anything, the liberties taken by screenwriter Moira Buffini help smooth the book-to-film transition. Buffini has artfully shifted emphasis from the novel’s Gothic intrigue to the coming-of-age story which lies at the heart of Bronte’s Bildungsroman. This is the film the book deserved. It’s elegant, reserved and subtle. Fukunaga’s detached cinematography and score, teamed with opulent set design and costuming, recall the restraint of Jane Campion’s Bright Star and Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. Wasikowska and Fassbender are stunning as the two leads. The supporting cast are a uniformly excellent who’swho of British film, including Simon McBurney oozing creepy charm as Brocklehurst and Judi Dench shining as Mrs Fairfax. When adapting works of the mid-19th century, it’s easy for a director to slide into the mire of melodrama, which Fukunaga has for the most part avoided (one cloying Helen Burns scene aside). Expect this film to win lots of BAFTAs. Don’t miss it.
If you’re unfamiliar with Tati’s life and work, as I was, then I strongly suggest some preliminary reading and YouTube viewing. The film draws heavily on his distinctive acting style and is littered with 1950s pop culture references. Nonetheless, the film makes coherent viewing for those without any such background. This is especially impressive considering there is almost no distinguishable dialogue; the story is instead told entirely through music and animation. The animation is the centrepiece of the film, with cityscapes and landscapes unfurling like Impressionist watercolour paintings across the screen. Unsurprisingly, the rest of the film struggles to live up to its visual delights. The plot meanders along at times, and the ending is sentimental without really being satisfying. Chomet has also been accused of airbrushing the somewhat unpleasant Tati family background that probably inspired the script. But given the visual spectacle he conjures up, I’m inclined to ask “So what?”
The Beaver is let down by the underlying plot of Walter’s son Porter, played by the young and talented Anton Yelchin, and his relationship with the valedictorian cheerleader Norah, played by the equally young and talented Jennifer Laurence. Their fully-fledged relationship springs out of nowhere and is more unbelievable than a talking beaver with Mel Gibson’s hand up his arse. Jodie Foster’s direction of The Beaver tackles the issues of family dysfunction and depression with grace and compassion. Although this film has been criticised for being a tad on the wacky side, what it conveys more than anything is that when it comes to mental illness truth is stranger than fiction. This black comedy is worth seeing for both entertainment value and to appreciate the performances of the talented cast – just don’t expect closure.
POM Wonderful™ Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold Directed by Morgan Spurlock Starring Starring Morgan Spurlock, POM Wonderful™ Morgan Spurlock’s latest documentary, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, may carry a few unintended consequences. One of these consequences was my discovery of a previously unprecedented desire to seek out and devour a specific pomegranate juice (which is in fact 100% pomegranate juice, unlike many other juices on the market that sell themselves as being pomegranate flavoured!). Said juice features heavily in the documentary, as do many other cases of blatant product placement. The entire premise of Spurlock’s documentary is that this documentary is the biggest case of product placement to have ever existed. This is where the film goes both right and wrong. Spurlock’s idea was to finance a documentary about product placement purely through product placement. Whether he is able to actually achieve this and still maintain his artistic vision is one of the questions explored in the documentary, in between the paid advertisements and blurred out shots of drinks that aren’t the specific brand that bought advertising rights to the entire documentary, including the title. The overwhelming presence of advertising in this apparent ‘documentary’ does have the potential to induce nausea by the end and may lead to you questioning what the point of making the fucking film in the first place actually was. Spurlock seems to be such a charming, unassuming talking head, with shots of his grin taking up at least 20% of the film’s run-time. But does this overexposed grin hide a sinister ulterior motive – like that most sinister of grinners, Ronald Reagan? Or is Spurlock just a charming idiot trying his best to create something interesting with the resources he has at his disposal? It’s kind of impossible to discern and probably doesn’t matter. The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is – at the very least – entertaining, and it’s nice to see that Spurlock was able to recover from that OTHER documentary (you know the one). Also, Ronald Reagan was an arsehole AND a RAPER. What do you think of THAT, America?
A Vision of Tommy Wiseau --------------------- Callum J Twigger --------------------This article almost never happened. Howevr it was vitally imperative that it did happen. When word passed to us that Luna cinemas were setting up a third season of Saturday night The Room screenings, we had to get in on the action. We needed to talk to the director of one of modern cinema’s accidental masterpieces. For posterity’s sake, we had to get a thin slice of his brain and hammer it to the wall. We needed Tommy Wiseau. Tommy Wiseau is a hero. He’s like a defective Orson Welles; a millennial Ed Wood. It’s not right to call him naïve; he’s actually crazy. And not just a little bit crazy. Visualise Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Replace Jack Nicholson with a shaggy-haired Transylvanian. In place of a hatchet, put a show-reel of The Room. Use the power of imagination to picture the horrified face of good taste as it tries to hide from Tommy Nicholson. Wielding The Room as a blunt object, he smashes at the door of cinematic convention. The door splinters, then collapses. Tommy’s face peeps through. Grinning manically, he gibbers: Oh Hai, Johnny! That’s Tommy Wiseau. Director. Actor. Auteur. Fruitcake. He made a really bad film called The Room. A lot of people like it because it’s so bad it’s funny. This is our story of his story. Using secret channels known only to the Pelican film section, I managed to secure a phone date with Greg Sestero. Greg played Mark, one of The Room’s principal characters, a kind of hapless foil to Tommy’s Johnny (and Johnny’s wife, Lisa). He was apparently on very good terms with Tommy Wiseau. We thought a chat with Greg might provide the first incision into an expose of Tommy Wiseau’s cluttered psyche, but we had to find a line to him first. Eschewing the conventional combination of phone and recorder, a bastardised union of Skype and Garageband acting as our sibyl, a call was made, and our adventure began. “Hello?” “Good evening? Is this Greg? Greg Sestero? Mr Greg Sestero from the Room? It blurted out like pus from a busted pimple. Exciting stuff. After exchanging some geopolitical pleasantries, I asked Greg how he got involved with the Wiseau enigma complex. “I met Tommy Wiseau in an acting class almost 14 years ago, long before The Room. I watched him perform a Shakespearean sonnet. And as most of us would, I watched in dismay.”
There was a weariness to Greg’s voice, like he was recalling the actions of an alcoholic. He sounds amused by it all, but apprehensive. Reflective. And a little morbid. “I thought to myself, there is something truly enigmatically special about this man. I gotta work with him some time in the future. It’s been a journey. Obviously, I had expected nothing from it. It was supposed to just be this hilarious trainwreck that I was going to be a part of, and I was just going to laugh my way through it.” Greg seems at peace. Trainwreck cinema has calcified as a mainstream phenomenon. Trash films of The Room’s calibre have found fertile ground in a generation weaned on Internet memes and conscious of the everpresent scrutiny of Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. Screenings in big cinemas pack-out weekly; Leederville’s own Luna has been demonstrating this for three years now. Like Romans in the Colosseum, patrons pay actual money to shriek and howl abuse in unison at the massacre unfolding before their eyes. It’s a sight to behold. “I think it’s because Tommy had this vision, this idea in his head, and for better or worse, there’s no other mind out there like Tommy’s.” Watching The Room is as much about Wiseau’s disastrous directorial decisions as it is about his glaring omissions. It’s the shared understanding of what makes these decisions so poor that serves as the basis of The Room’s cult following; and certainly, its humour “I was on the train and London and some guy asked for my autograph. What can you do? I’m actually writing a book about it all. It’s a rare opportunity to be a part of something like this; to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time, but in the right circumstances.” After the interview, Greg dropped us the link for Wiseau’s production company. For all his catastrophes, Wiseau is good to his fans. He regularly attends screenings, and travels the US hosting Room parties, but contacting him personally was nonetheless a Sisyphean undertaking. Greg left the email address with an enigmatic warning: “email him, sit back, and enjoy the ride.” And so, an email was sent to Wiseau’s address.
To my surprise, within 24 hours, a response was received – titled ‘URGENT’. Though it was signed “Johnny”, Wiseau’s “Personal Assistant”, it was written in the same stilted English in which Wiseau seemingly both writes and speaks. I suspect it was Tommy writing under a pseudonym, but don’t quote me on it. Wiseau tried calling several times before I had the providence to pick up. It was providence that lead me to pick up, because Wiseau’s calls to Perth were made in a kind of Poisson distribution around the hours when either he or I should have been asleep. Based in Los Angeles, Wiseau initially called at 3AM Los Angeles time. He then called again at 5AM Los Angeles Time. Heaven knows what machinations he was perpetuating at such godless hours. I suppose he took a seven–hour sojourn dreaming of electronic sheep because it was his third 5AM phonecall that knocked me into consciousness and sent me scrambling for both phone and laptop. Every word of Tommy’s had to be caught in all its erudition. I’d hypothesised that the seven years of infamy brought to Tommy Wiseau by the smoking crater of his film might have sobered him up. Rest assured: it hasn’t. He’s still as cracked as he was when he sat behind the two incompatibly formatted cameras used to shoot The Room. Cowering over my laptop, shivering in loose boxers, I pressed my cheap Nokia right up against the Macbook microphone and Wiseau let rip. I couldn’t stop him. I spoke about five times in 45 minutes; it was more of a cascade than an interview. I’ve decided to leave the results raw to maintain the distinctness of the Wiseauean authorial voice. This is only a fraction of the whole, focused from a much broader totality. Wiseau does not come in concise statements. So please, enjoy. “Tommy? Thanks for calling us!” “Oh Hi Column! [sic] Is that your name? Column? That is great name. Thanks for contacting Wiseau pictures…”
“The pleasure is ours!” [several minutes of pleasantries from Tommy] “So, how does a director construct compelling characters?” “…Right now, as you know, we have TV, we have the internet, etcetera etcetera. But guess what? The human behaviour did not change, since the beginning of the planet Earth. We can have all kinds of technology, but on the end of the day, we are still something unique as human beings. It will never change. This is my new thing: 20 minutes of sexual behaviour, maybe, there may be hatred later on. So watch out! Next question.”
Illustration by Ena Tulic
“Gender and gender relationships form a large part of The Room’s narrative structure. What are your thoughts on the state of gender relations in the 21st century?” [Tommy possibly misinterprets the question] “If you have respect, you will have a better tomorrow but at the same time you have to make a decision. Let me give you an example – since you asked about the advice. Recently, at a Room Q&A, one guy asks me what I should do, my girl left me, right? And I say, you know what, I don’t care; girl, guys, whatever! [note: ‘whatever’ is a kind of Wiseau trademark, exclaimed loudly to emphase a point] I don’t care. It is never too late, we have a lot of girls. There is always another! You know, for some reason, we have a lot of girls no coming too, in America, in The Room. Maybe they are learning something? I don’t know. “So, you know, tomorrow, there is always a girl. Even another guy, whatever! No judging! It could get better! So don’t get stressful about it. Maybe that’s the destiny that actually happened. It’s a gamble. You see it’s a contradiction–because it is up to you, because you have to decide. What is good for you? Some people are the lonely people. I respect that too. I say, one is good. Two is better, that three is crowd- it has to be good friend, hah hah hah! That is my advice. Respect is a better tomorrow.” “The Room deals with many contemporary issues, like sex, workplace tension, alienation. What are the core themes of The Room?” “That’s good again! Great question Column. Again, I studied psychology, I have put everything in the form of book. I am happy to say, let me just study this, let us study what is wrong with these people [ed: the characters of The Room]. I am happy to report that we have hundred of these people all over the world! “These peoples exist in the San Francisco. There is hundreds of Lisas, even Johnnys and Marks. Prior to the world [sic], I didn’t know this stuff would happen like this. I did study! I wanted to make this story, which is based on the facts, not just the fantasy. Except for the Johnny character. He would have committed suicide, except this budget, you know; can’t do it! Everything else is realism. “With the flowers, for example; red, symbol of love, blood, survival and etcetera etcetera. We could write a book write now! It was important to base on facts, depending on what I learn. I conduct survey too about relationships too. It’s based on facts, based on real characters.” So there you have it. As raw as can be. A portal into the mind of a modern auteur. It took us a lot to capture it. If you haven’t seen The Room, you should. It’s currently screening at Luna. It’s a god-awful movie, but that’s the point: it’s fun to watch something so incoherent, so completely mad. It’s about being part of a community of people who understand The Movie in a certain unique way. It’s the essence of Cult cinema. I’ll see you on Saturday.
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Brothers: Justice, Corruption and the Mickelbergs An interview with author Antonio Buti
On the 22 June 1982, half a million dollars worth of gold was stolen from the Perth Mint, an infamous crime that would be known from then on as the Perth Mint swindle. The police took little time in finding their prime suspects: Ray, Brian and Peter Mickelberg. The trio had already been charged with manufacturing and selling a fake gold nugget known as the “Yellow Rose of Texas”. Despite admitting guilt for the fake gold nugget, Ray and his brothers have always maintained their innocence in the Perth Mint swindle. After being found guilty by a jury in 1983, Ray and Peter served eight and six and a half years in jail respectively while Brian served nine months before having his sentence quashed. Brian lost his life in a mysterious plane crash in 1986. Don Hancock and Tony Lewandowski – the two police officers who fabricated evidence to ensure the wrongful conviction of the brothers – both met violent and untimely ends. Antonio Buti began researching the Mickelberg’s struggle with a reasonable understanding of their story. “It’s a very West Australian story, people who have grown up in Western Australia in the past 30 years have grown up with the Mickelberg saga and everyone has their own opinion. I thought it would be good to bring all the evidence together in one place and then allow the reader to be better informed and make the right decision.” Brothers takes you on an in-depth journey into the Perth Mint swindle, the police investigations, the 1983 trial and the multiple appeals launched over the 28 years. It was 2002 before Tony Lewandowski’s confession brought to light the fabrication of evidence by himself and Don
Hancock. This resulted in the courts finally quashing Ray and Peter’s convictions. Buti began his research with a conversation with the Mickelbergs before reading decades worth of court transcripts, newspaper articles and appeal papers. With a background in law and politics – he is a former law lecture at the University of Western Australia and currently the Member for Armadale in State Parliament – Buti wanted to write a book that not only explained the events and legal principles in comprehensive terms to the average person, but also had scholarly input. Buti found a few surprises in his research. “It’s a fascinating story. I don’t think Grisham could have created a story that has as much intrigue and as many legal and political matters to deal with.” The Mickelberg saga and the corruption it unveiled left many people unwilling to discuss anything to do with the case. “There were certain people who wouldn’t speak to me and certain people who would [only] speak to me off the record. It wasn’t that easy actually to interview people because some people, well I don’t know why, but some people just didn’t want their information to be attributed to them.” In a system where police corruption ran rife few people were willing to break rank. If it wasn’t for the guilt-ridden confession of Lewandowski, who committed suicide in 2004, Ray and Peter may still be fighting appeals today. Tony Lewandowski only confessed after the death of his superior officer, Detective Don Hancock, who died in an alleged revenge car bombing by a bikie gang in 2001. Both brothers allegedly suffered from physical violence at the hands of these police officers in order to force a confession, while evidence was tampered with. The investigation surrounding the Mickelberg brothers’ involvement in the Perth Mint swindle was at a time when police interviews weren’t recorded on video. As such, the allegations of violence and evidence tampering have never been proven. Today, such measures have been put in place to remove and reduce corruption. However, Buti thinks you can never fully stamp out corruption at an official level. “I don’t want to say that there’s
widespread police corruption now but I think it would be foolish to say that there is a complete clean spread and that corruption doesn’t take place.” Brothers also briefly touches on other wrongful convictions in Western Australia that have been revealed in recent times. This includes cases against John Button, Darryl Beamish and Andrew Mallard. “A lot of [wrongful convictions] have to do with the information being presented. Judges may come up with the wrong interpretation and in some cases maybe some judges are more favourable of the Crown’s version rather than the defense.” In the aforementioned cases and in the Mickelberg’s situation, the evidence should have been presented to a jury to decide beyond all reasonable doubt, but it was not. “[Evidence], that’s what it should come down to. The judges and juries may have preconceived ideas but the rules of evidence are in place to allow for a fair trial and I suppose in most cases that happens, but it doesn’t happen all the time.” It is still unknown who the true perpetrators of the Perth Mint swindle are and the half a million dollars worth of gold that was stolen has never been recovered. Although Ray and Peter Mickelberg have had their sentences quashed they continue to bring civil actions against the State government and the Police Union for compensation and acknowledgment of the wrong that was done to them. Many people still believe the Mickelbergs to be guilty of their crimes. However, due to police fabrication of evidence they were never given the right to a fair trial or allowed the presumption of innocence. In detailing the Mickelbergs’ saga, Brothers encapsulates the famous saying of Sir William Blackstone – that it is better for 10 guilty men to go free than to allow one innocent man go to jail. Brothers: Justice, Corruption and the Mickelbergs is on sale now in bookstores and online.
Illustration by Camdea Watts
1983, it was the day of Ray Mickelberg’s trial. He kissed his family goodbye and said with the naivety of an innocent man, “I’ll see you tonight”. He was wrong. Ray wouldn’t see his family again for the next eight years and has spent every waking hour since his release from jail fighting to prove his innocence and that of his brothers’ against the actions of corrupt police officers. The Mickelberg brothers’ struggle for justice has been expertly told by UWA’s own Antonio Buti, in his thrilling book Brothers: Justice, Corruption and the Mickelbergs.
What Pelican read this month A
On Canaan’s Side Sebastian Barry
This novel changed my life. Granted, it was not quite in the same way that reading Harry Potter or Anna Karenina changed my life, but it did. Written by Sebastian Barry, the bestselling author of The Secret Scripture, On Canaan’s Side tells the tale of 89-year-old Lilly Bere. She recounts her life and all the heartache, love and everything in between. Her narrative encompasses her forced exodus to America from Dublin after World War I, right up to the suicide of her grandson Bill.
History of a Pleasure Seeker Richard Mason History of a Pleasure Seeker is an extremely engaging novel by South African author Richard Mason. The story follows Piet Barol, a devilishly good-looking tutor out to make his fortune in the era of the Belle Époque. Set in 1907, the novel is rich in period detail and drama. Although the book is provocatively titled, there is actually a genuinely interesting storyline. You might be forgiven for expecting nothing more than a series of
This is literally an epic tale which sweeps across two continents, seven decades, three wars, and the Great Depression. The almost enigmatic quality which makes this tale so incredibly human is the mediation between the events in Lilly’s life and the lyrical, sorrowful, gentle way she recalls and describes them. It is pure empathy and brilliantly showcases Barry’s superb prose and literary talent. I suppose the reason why this novel had such a profound effect on me is because of the manner in which I read it. It is (sadly) not often that I have the opportunity to read an epic tale aloud to somebody and the reflective, earnest and heartfelt tone of On Canaan’s Side had me close to tears as I read it to a grandmother much like Lilly Bere, a woman whose love for her family is almost overwhelming. On Canaan’s Side is a beautiful piece of literature. It is a tale of humanity, compassion, and empathy. Lara Hentrich
This book is ripe with detail and description that allows you to feel like you’re actually sitting in on scenes like the courtroom, watching events unfold. The intricate and complex story is, however, difficult to follow at some points as many major and minor characters weave in and out of the story sporadically. From the perspective of someone who did not witness the Mickelberg saga unfold in the media, the lack of photographs identifying the many characters resulted in constantly flicking back to previous chapters to remember who was who.
Brothers is a thrilling and unsettling book that follows the saga of the Perth Mint swindle and the infamous Mickelberg brothers. Antonio Buti, a former UWA law lecturer, has condensed a judicial battle spanning over three decades into a brief yet compelling read while also delving into the war of corruption that has plagued Western Australia.
Never has there been a book that has so freshly exposed the shortcomings of our political and judicial procedures. The reallife mystery of Brothers is recommended reading for anyone who has ever lived in Western Australia. However, be prepared to process a heavy story that has divided the State and will leave you with a little less faith in our legal system.
Buti is clearly compassionate about the Mickelbergs’ ordeal, taking 20 months
Brothers: Justice, Corruption and the Mickelbergs
sexual escapades had by the hero. Don’t get me wrong, sexy shenanigans are definitely had by Piet Barol, but for me the appeal lay in his intense longing to belong to the rich upper-class of the Amsterdam elite. Serving as a tutor in a mansion owned by Europe’s wealthiest hotelier, Piet is able to observe in detail the life of the very privileged. For me, the highlight was reading about how casually Chartreuse and vintage brandy is poured and what the Vermeulen-Sickerts ate for lunch. It thrills the very marrow of my middle-class bones (in case you were wondering, it was turtle consommé, followed by larks stuffed with pistachio and foie gras). Another plus is the fact that Piet’s flings happen to be with a considerably older woman and a man, a refreshing change in the usual age-gender stereotype. When erotic encounters do appear, Mason writes in a way that is sensitive and atmospheric, while also confronting. This is a book to dive into. Mason captures the glittering trappings of a world that is as self-assured and buoyant as it is hedonistic. Deblina Mittra
to write three years worth of personal research on the matter. Considering this, Brothers never takes a stance on whether the Mickelbergs were innocent or guilty and only sets out to show the devastating destruction caused by the corruption of police officers, prosecutors and corporate fraud.
the heart of their conflict is the Omega Key, which opens the black door and releases Hell on Earth. Horror novelist Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez have upped their game with this volume, taking an already fantastic series to new heights. Having already established the world and characters of Locke and Key, they have the freedom to experiment with page layouts and narrative structure, creating some dynamite comics in the process.
Locke and Key: Keys to the Kingdom Writer: Joe Hill Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez Keys to the Kingdom is the fourth volume in the Locke and Key series and justifiably picked up multiple nominations and Best Writer for Joe Hill at the recent Eisner Awards (the comics equivalent of the Oscars). After a family tragedy, the Locke family move back to their ancestral home. Here they find themselves in conflict with the mysterious Dark Lady over possession of the magical keys hidden in the Keyhouse. At
Chapter 3, February, is a bravura performance from both men. Charting the story of the Locke children from February 1 to 29, they fill a single issue with more plot and character development than most comics achieve in a year. Rodriguez’s art shines in this volume – the first chapter is a highlight as he pays homage to Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes fame. Keys to the Kingdom ends on a cliff-hanger of pure evil as Hill and Rodriguez begin to move their series towards its climax. Locke and Key has been one of the strongest comic series on the market since its first story-arc Welcome to Lovecraft. With volume four, Hill and Rodriguez have created the best entry so far, with a sure to be blood-spattered finale still to come. Kevin Chiat
feels as though political and social forces are deemed secondary to what was being painted, sculpted or built. As might be expected, the chapter on the Renaissance is where the gloves really come off. Aided by full colour illustrations, Hughes’ elegant narrative helps to bring the work of Raphael, Michelangelo and Bramante to life.
But, like the city itself, Rome is sometimes a challenge. The Guardian described Hughes’ historical accuracy – including mixing up BCE and CE, and getting names wrong – as “little short of a disgrace”. It is also long, and by page 350 of 500 I was exhausted.
Rome Robert Hughes In Rome, Robert Hughes takes on the formidable task of narrating The Eternal City’s history. Starting with its mythical origins, he follows a well-trodden path: the development of the Roman republic and empire; the rise of Christianity; the tumultuous history of Papal politics; Italian nationalism; fascism and the War; and postwar Italy. This familiar narrative is, however, heavily coloured by Hughes’ background as a renowned art critic. Rome’s architecture and art have top billing and it sometimes
Despite these flaws, most of Rome is a pleasure to read. Hughes is my favourite writer of non-fiction, and he moves easily from detailed and engaging narratives on art, politics and war to imploring modern tourists chatting inanely in the Sistine Chapel to “just shut the fuck up”. This is a very imperfect history of Rome, but that doesn’t stop me from recommending it. After all, as Hughes repeatedly states: se non e vero, e ben trovato.– if it isn’t true, it ought to be. Ben Sacks
The Love and Death of Caterina Andrew Nicoll Writer’s block is a monotonous and painful subject. A novel about an author with writer’s block is even worse. Luciano Hernando Valdez is a famed author in a fictional South American country who falls in love with Caterina after a contrived scene in a coffee shop. She is a young and beautiful writer who Valdez hopes will inspire him and rid him of his tedious and dastardly affliction.
Alan Hollinghurst Allan Hollinghurst’s The Stranger’s Child is a lengthy novel. There are initial scenes of garden landscapes, polite English society and lavish dinners in stately country homes, then tapering off into modern times where biographers run amok searching for the truth. The novel is reminiscent of of McEwan’s Atonement and Stoppard’s Arcadia amongst a barrage of other literary goodies. The novel revolves around a short-lived aristocratic poet, Cecil Valance, with his ambiguous poem and the public’s desire to decode it and unravel his life. Apparently not as flagrantly sexual as his other works, there is instead plenty of comedy and satire.
It is of course a worrying sign when the blurb has quotes for the author’s last book instead of his current one, and he receives praise from the literary connoisseurs over at Australian Women’s Weekly. I hesitate to think of The Love and Death of Caterina as literary fiction, though it fails to fit the romance genre either. Ultimately I’m disappointed at what could have transpired with a more consistent tone and better execution. Mark Birchall
Andrew Nicoll’s new novel hence sounds
We follow the life of Daphne, whose future is irrevocably transformed by her brother’s friendship with Cecil. While their relationship is not homosexual, The Stranger’s Child is homoerotic in patches.
Minus all aforementioned points, the novel leaves its reader lamenting the loss of youth in war, celebrating a semi-fabricated English history (that draws even one vaguely uninterested in such culture as I), searching for letters through three generations in over 500 pages of text and wondering if anyone actually finds love. The Stranger’s Child is not for the hasty reader. Take your time. Sarah Lam
that his long-estranged brother has been killed whilst on duty in Iraq, it forces Jack to confront several painful truths involving his father, brother and wife Ellie. The prose style is refreshing: spare, elegant and lyrical. The narrative jumps back and forth between Jack’s past memories and his present day breakdown, and is written in a way that is both moving and unsentimental.
The novel is almost poetic in prose – it reads well, embracing you into each scene within each time period with believable and minute detail of every reaction that matters. But it is not an easy read: you must persevere to make your own connections, with a rewarding satisfaction when they are confirmed in some subtle way.
The Stranger’s Child
like an interesting read, but it comes up short in several areas. The reader is given little reason to relate to Valdez, and soon the most admirable character becomes Caterina (and you can guess what happens to her). Unfortunately, the minor characters quickly begin to outshine their more central counterparts; short chapters from the points of view of the village doctor and others are refreshing in a novel that is otherwise mediocre. The prose is selfindulgent in parts, attempting a voice of wry wit which at times is more irritating than amusing. This tongue-in-cheek approach also makes several scenes in the novel seem unrealistic or surreal.
Wish You Were Here Graham Swift You could be easily misled by the Cluedoesque intrigue opening in Graham Swift’s latest novel. Indeed, the tension surrounding ‘Farmer Jack, in the bedroom, with a shotgun’ continues to drive the story through to its climax. Yet Wish You Were Here is a poignant and complex portrait of a family devastated by death and a meditation on legacy and memory. Jack Luxton is a retired dairy farmer living in a caravan park on a remote corner of the Isle of Wight. When he receives the news
The novel is certainly a slow burner, meandering along at a pace that occasionally borders on the tedious. With Swift’s major thematic focus on bereavement, these lapses in momentum cause the narrative to fall into a bit of a depression, and the novel itself is weighed down at times. Swift also dwells on the impact of the BSE ‘Mad Cow disease’ crisis on the English farming community, mirrored in the ‘madness’ afflicting Jack and his father. This means there are several reflections on the mass slaughter of cattle to plough through. Overall, though, the story is saved by the beautifully wrought climax and heartbreaking conclusion of Jack’s tragic spiral. Fay Clarke
Et Tu Keith
------ Lachlan Keeley -----So, why is Bell performing Julius Caesar rather than another political Shakespeare play – say, Titus Andronicus? I’m not the person who makes the decisions about the season, but I think perhaps Julius Caesar is a little more relevant due to the fact that we’ve recently had some political betrayal with the whole Kevin Rudd/Julia Gillard situation. The production doesn’t necessarily point to that – but it’s a very clear and concise storytelling, so I think it’s a piece that speaks to a lot of people. It’s a modern style, but there’s certain ways the set does reference Rome – for example, a six-metre column on the stage – but, it could be anywhere at any time; we don’t necessarily place it in any specific time. It’s more about the world we create and in that world there’s a man named Julius Caesar and a country named Rome. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the Julius Caesar and the Ancient Rome. Do you see JC and its themes of political betrayal and “the greater good” as being particularly “honourable”? I think the motives behind Brutus, Cassius, and the senators who overthrow Julius Caesar do come from a good place - but it is a pre-emptive strike. The play never presents Julius Caesar as somebody who is a tyrant; you don’t see that behaviour. But you definitely get it from all the characters who have anything to do with JC and a lot of the discussion and influencing that goes on is about what if he becomes this monster: “he has the makings of it and we need to strike before it gets any worse.”
They are always spoken about as honourable men, and so do have honourable intentions, but I think in the doing of it, and the resulting factions and wars that occur after it, they all selfdestruct. It’s never black and white, and I don’t think politics is; there’s always self-interest. I’ve read in your biography that you’ve done quite a lot of directing work yourself. What’s your most recent work? Well, I’ve got a whole stack of experience back in Sydney for a company called Night Sky that did a lot of outdoor Shakespeare. There was a concentration on the comedies: Midsummer’s, Twelfth Night and so on. That was a lot of fun. I have been directing at a lot of acting schools in Sydney, doing a couple of Shakespeare tragedies. There’s also a Daniel Kean play called Because You’re Mine, which concentrates on the genocide in Serbia and the war camps set up at that time. The play explores the journey of five different women; their ghosts actually speak at the beginning of the play, and you follow their deaths through one day. We worked with Kean on the original script; I was involved as an actor at that stage. Generally, I tend to focus on Shakespeare in the directing area, mostly comedies and tragedies. How did you get involved with the Bell Company? I remember meeting John Bell just after I graduated from NIDA – I did a workshop with him on Chekov’s The Seagull. I auditioned very early on but never really got an opportunity to work with him until last year’s production of King Lear – it’s been around 20 years! I was the understudy for John last year – as King Lear! What are your favourite roles/plays that you have directed? Gosh, I really love Cymbeline, which really doesn’t get very many productions since it’s one of his lesser-known later works, but I acted in a performance of it when I was at NIDA – I loved being in it and I’ve always wanted to direct it. Another one is an Australian play that I adore, Louis Nowra’s The Golden Age. It’s an amazing, epic piece and tends to need quite a big cast. It’s a huge journey back into 1939. Two guys go out into the wild in Tasmania and discover a civilisation that’s been inbreeding there since the gold rush era. They bring back this whole family back into 1939 Hobart and they get put in an asylum. The play stretches over into wartime Germany and England and back again. It’s quite an epic. I also have quite a great love of the classics, and a lot the productions I’ve been involved with have been classics. Do you think there’s still an audience for theatre in Australia? I think that Bell is certainly building their audience from the ground up and I think that’s definitely what we need to do to keep theatre alive in Australia. Bell goes out to schools and introduces itself early on and I think that’s the way you’re going to build an audience in the future. However, I’m not sure as far as the bums on seats numbers go as to whether the audience is declining or not – I certainly can’t see audiences dwindling, certainly in the regional capitals. And when it does come to town, they’re big epic tales as well, and I can’t see why epic classical theatre can’t survive. I suppose it’s more about how the stories are told. Keith Agius played CICERO, SOOTHSAYER and LEPIDUS in this Bell Shakespeare production of Julius Caesar, and THE KING OF FRANCE in last year’s King Lear. He was recently seen in Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Magazine (Ita Buttrose) and Crownies.
45 We Unfold Sydney Dance Company His Majesty’s Theatre If you didn’t get the chance to see the Sydney Dance Company’s We Unfold last month, I offer you my deepest sympathies. We Unfold is set to the five movements of composer Ezio Bosso’s symphony Oceans. According to Bosso, each movement “represents a facet of the sea and its relationship with itself and the earth, and the relationship between humans, life, time and other circumstances.” This is reflected in the choreography, which preoccupies with the interrelationship between males, females and human beings as three separate yet interchangeable entities. His Majesty’s Theatre provided an incredibly clever and ironic setting for Rafael Bonachela’s first offering as Artistic Director for the STC. The choreography of We Unfold was stark, fresh, modernist and minimalist, but placed in the context of the 107-year-old Edwardian Baroque theatre it was gifted an element of vastness that would perhaps not have been allowed in a more contemporary setting. The nearnude costuming of the dancers combined with an exclusively cinematic set in the shape of a huge visual projection behind the dancers contrasted with the regality of the theatre. This contrast aided in what I interpreted the ultimate goal of the piece to be – making the audience aware of the limitlessness of the universe and forcing them to consider small part they all play in contributing to it. Bonachela’s aim with We Unfold is obviously geared towards creating an overarching feeling of immensity and a “drop in the ocean” mentality that succeeds in overwhelming. The choreography is unadventurous and sticks closely to the conventions of contemporary dance, but the way in which the moves are faultlessly executed is what provides the real wow-factor. Perth-born dancers Juliette Barton and Natalie Allen are highly featured for their obvious talent – Barton’s great height makes her a standout with her long limbs controlled so beautifully, and the two duets Allen dances display a stunning power that belies her tiny build. We Unfold is an impressive and accessible example of how dance is unequivocally art. Not only has it something to say and something to give to a willing audience, but it succeeds in that ultimate artistic goal of having an audience come away from it pondering their place and purpose in the universe.
Katrin Long Catch The Taming of the Shrew presented by West Australian Ballet Company at His Majesty’s Theatre from the Septembe 9 – 24.
The Yellow Wallpaper Blue Room Theatre, James Street Northbridge Featuring Sean Walsh, Jo Morris and Sarah Nelson. The Yellow Wallpaper presented at the Blue Room is based on Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s 1892 novel of the same name, adapted for the stage by Silvia Lehmann and Teresa Izzard and produced by Izzard and Leigh Brennan. And adapted spectacularly it is, a delicate but shattering examination of mind and body, embodying the psychological torment suffered by the protagonist Charlotte. The set is like the skull/room Clov and Hamm gaze out of in Samuel Beckett’s Endgame; you will be left wondering if the ‘events’ (taking place over three months, with focus on the last week and little indication of days passing) occur in the yellow, patterned nursery Charlotte has been confined to, or inside her mind itself. Indeed, the decision to divide Charlotte in this adaptation supports the skull hypothesis; her ‘mad’ or ‘mental’ half, curiously tamer than her physical half, ‘creeps’ up from under the wallpaper – Charlotte’s skin. Like the wallpaper that has another pattern hidden under a pattern, she is haunted by herself. The production is inventive in space and form, a beautiful exploration of texture and light. In this way, along with the choreography at the very conclusion, it succeeds in adapting for the stage the perilous “inner worlds” typical of Gothic texts. The staging decisions say more about the marginalisation and torture of females and their bodies than any essay on the novel could. At one point Charlotte says that the room smells like yellow – but not a spring yellow, the yellow of rotting. This motif is explored extensively. As Charlotte ‘unravels’, Jo Morris and Sarah Nelson split all over the room peeling away at the paper like the room is a rotting, shedding corpse. Ironically, the paper Charlotte writes on is condemned; her fairy stories about the child protagonist Lorelai are, according to Victorian medicine, the cause of her postpartum psychosis. It is not the sickly yellowness that neither she, nor her paternalistic supervisory husband (Sean Walsh), have any control over. The Yellow Wallpaper is the perfect haunting. Its pulse is duplicitous and breaks down walls in more ways than one.
A+ Sarah Dunstan
vagina gets when using bad soap. And an electric blender mix cereal, brown leaves, lavender, talcum powder and Vegemite together to form the ultimate Aussie shower gel. Sud Stories, inspired by real bath-time confessions, aims to make the private experience of washing a public one. Scotswoman Janette McGinty, the star of the show, spent most of the performance jumping up and down – boobs, thighs and cellulites moving constantly, something I’ve got to give her credit for. There were some very funny moments. For example, when she told us how she went through a phase of peeing in the shower and forced some members of the audience to confess that they too have committed this socially horrifying act.
Sud Stories The Blue Room Theatre When I think about it, I’m still slightly disturbed by last night’s performance of Sud Stories. In one hour of noise and entertainment I saw a very fit middle-aged woman take off all her clothes and tell us about how fiery her
But once she had me at ease, the play would darken, the lights would dim and I’d be wondering what the hell was going on. The most uncomfortable moment was when the audience was shown a video of someone pouring fake blood onto water piping for a shower, violently wringing it in their hands. What was the point? Seeing them ‘wash’ with blood was sickly and the man sitting next to me moved his gaze to the floor. 0I sat there and watched every second of it – there was something extremely dark about McGinty’s shower that was oddly compelling. I failed, however, to fully see the dark side of the shower. In reality,
most showers are pretty tame really (unless you like to have slippery sex). There was no purpose to the blood and the flashes of violence between McGinty and Spongeman (the serious parts). The moments that held meaning were rooted in comedy. Sadly, my discomfort eventually overpowered the lightness of the comedy. In the programme McGinty says, “if your shower or bath is in any way different tomorrow or you enjoy it that bit more, Sud Stories has achieved its goal.” This morning when I had a shower Sud Stories didn’t even cross my mind. Sorry Janette.
C Hannah Lyles Garnered a taste for subversion? Glitter up those flippers and get to the Blue Room Theatre this season for mummies in trouble (The Yellow Wallpaper, 18 August – 3 September); the trapeze (She Dances in the Dark, 8-24 September) and marmalade (When We Wake, 15 September – 1 October).
HOWL #14 W.G. RICHARDS PRESENTS PELICAN MAGAZINE
Who the hell is W.G. Richards? His writing is brilliant. His adventures are grand. I was sitting in a Columbian tavern talking about Pelican when a hook handed (both hands) old naval officer said, “Pelican? Oh…that is Mr. Richard’s old vessel. He once saved my village from a murderous mountain lion that was taking our young.” A menagerie of odd balls have told me similar stories al around the globe. So who was W.G. Richards? Rummaging through the Peli-archives, I found a strange mahogany box. Inside it were hundreds of letters, notes, worn out journals and some very archaic Pelicans. Indeed, they were the first Pelicans. For W.G. Richards was Pelican’s first editor. W.G. Richards was a strange and marvellous man. Born into a wealthy family, W.G. Richards – or ‘Dub-Jee’ as he was called by the family maid – was an eccentric from birth. He had a great distaste for what he called “the tedious doldrums” of pre-war Perth, and spurned the lifestyles of his peers. Dub-Jee had a strong affinity with “the local natives, whose hatred of tweed jackets and khaki pants is almost as strong as my own.” His father – an oil man and oceanographer – bullied an unwilling Dub-Jee into a Law degree at the University of Western Australia. Dub-Jee was 19 and clearly bored. In 1929 he writes: “the introverted pedantry of this place is driving me mad. These people discuss Wagner and warped interpretations of Shakespeare. All I want is booze and broads and to roam the streets of this berg humming the mad music of those American negroes.” Dub-Jee felt that the University was stifling him creatively. He bought hundreds of rubber ducks and put them in the reflecting pool over night. He attracted fellow “hum-drummers” when he founded a group called “The UWA Pussy and Wine Appreciation Society”. It attracted a strange amount of female members. His band of artists and poets and soap-box pamphleteers continuously grew and in 1930, encouraged by friend Harry Wilberforth, Dub-Jee decided to found a student paper. He aimed to call it BOLLOCKS but the University, though wryly amused, quietly asked him to think of something more appropriate. Inspiration struck on January 15, 1930: “It was a warm night. I was with Jack [a friend] down by the river and we both had girls that we wanted to get fresh with. I’d been necking Betty all night. Jack got a bit
too grabby with his dame, so she slapped him and up and left. Wouldn’t you know it, the fiend starts making moves for Betty. To my surprise Betty, obviously a fan of men with woodpiles for teeth, started flirting back and by George they start making it right in front of me. I was mad as hell. It was then, however, that a graceful shadow passed over us, lingering above them as they went at it on the grass. It was a pelican. It then continues to release its bowels – the glob of white droppings landing square in Jack’s (he was on the bottom) face, spoiling his moment of ecstasy. I then knew what I wanted to name the paper.” Thus Pelican was born. Dub-Jee’s stint as the first editor of Pelican was both glorious and infamous. The paper was daily, so DubJee and his cohort of “menaces extraordinaire” often hauled themselves in the office for long stints of writing, drinking and smoking. He famously drank from a bottle of absinthe that he hid under a loose floorboard. The Pelican office became a “slum of hackney-intellectualism, pretentious dialogues, ill-informed arguments, bitter rivalries and booze-fuelled seediness. It was a lot of fun.” Dub-Jee’s editorial approach often got him in trouble with the more “traditional” University establishment. The piece ‘Hitler is Actually Quite a Prick’ caused an uproar on the UWA campus, where Mein Kampf and the “cheeky German despot” were popular. Dub-Jee, like always, would be proved right by history. He wrote a column called ‘Waste Land’ (he was a big T.S. Eliot fan) on the back page, using a pseudonym, so he could write about his “warped sensibilities”. He attempted the first naked cover: a graphic illustration of King (who was king?) fellating Dub-Jee at the top of Hackett tower. Needless to say, that cover was not put to print and only exists in Dub-Jee’s sketchbooks. By the end of his tenure as editor, Dub-Jee had equipped Pelican with its essential tools: alcoholism and madness. His hatchling would go on to become a “majestic creature of land, sea, and sky. Forever shitting great turds on those below.” At 22, Dub-Jee decided to leave Perth. He fought in the Spanish Civil War, on both sides. He worked at a leper colony in Tangiers. He
impregnated women all over the globe and stole the hearts of men. He appears in a photo with Humphry Bogart and Lauren Becall on the set of Key Largo. He apparently beat Hemingway in an arm-wrestle. During the war he fought for the French Resistance – but could not speak a word of French. His article, ‘Hitler is Actually Quite a Prick’, was turned into a pamphlet and dropped on Berlin by Allied propagandists. After the war he became an apathetic oceanographer, like his father. He appears as a mythic character in anecdotes that only exist in small villages scattered around the globe. Whether he saved someone’s cat from a fire or impregnate someone’s sister, W.G. Richards was a man well known and well liked. He died in 1990 at the age of 80. He spent his final years living on his boat, which he named Bollocks, his main port of call being Fremantle. One of his last pieces of writing was a letter to the editor of Pelican in 1990:
To the Editor, I think I left my absinthe in your office. If you find it, please call the Fremantle Port Authority and ask them to get you ‘Dub-Jee’. Try not to let the bird shit on you. It happens. Cordially yours, Dub-Jee Founder of the UWA Pussy and Wine Appreciation Society.
Your homework this month: 1. Boredom: Fight in a civil war! 2. Ejukate: Start a newspaper! 3. Strange: Become fashionably alcoholic!
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career momentum with a UWA postgraduate qualification.” Craig McCormack UWA Postgraduate student – Master of Architecture
The rapid development of research and technology has created a world in which a postgraduate qualification is becoming an expectation in order for you to be competitive in the global workforce. At The University of Western Australia, we want to ensure that you are well prepared to contribute to society and build a successful career. With both an undergraduate and a postgraduate UWA qualification, you will hold the necessary edge as you embark on your professional career. To explore the postgraduate pathways at UWA, visit uwa.edu.au