Edition 4 Volume 82
The MaTilda award for CulTural exCellenCe
Each year, Convocation, the UWA Graduates Association, and the UWA Student Guild recognise excellence and outstanding student achievement in various areas of cultural pursuit. If you know an individual or group who excels in Music, Literature, Public Speaking, Dance, Visual Arts, Drama or another cultural area, download a nomination form and apply. Nominations close Wednesday, 31 August 2011 at 4.00pm. In addition to gaining public recognition, the successful nominee will win a framed certificate and $1000. For further info visit www.graduates.uwa.edu.au/awards/matilda or email email@example.com or call Juanita Perez on 6488 1336
Entries are now OPEN! Registrations close Friday 17 June UWA Heats start Thurs Aug. 11 (Week 2, Sem 2) For more info and to enter, go to www.guild.uwa.edu.au/ncbc
AUSTRALIAN ASSOCIATION OF CAMPUS ACTIVITIES
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APARARKALYPSE NOW: Daniel Pillar helps you park on campus
A MIGHTY GOOD ROAD: Mat Hannaford is the intellectual road-worker
04 the word from the mountain 06 regular columns 10 evil eye: the kingslayer 46 howl
12 biden time 13 rice crackers and milky tea 14 always bring a tauel 16 pelican on owl 17 don’t go travelling 18 working on the road 19 spinal injuries + sex 20 raunchy feminism 21 knitted tags 22 bibbulmun track 23 board game life 24 queer stirrings 26 teleportation 27 wishing you were here 28 the apocalypse
31 oh mercy gig review 32 reviews 34 ale storm gig
35 the road movie 36 reviews 38 festivoramalodeon
THERE IS NO CAKE: Ross Bailey examines teleportation
39 feature: the beats 40 reviews 42 interview with comic artist darkspeeds
RAINBOW HIGHWAY: Richard Ferguson on coming out.
44 wa ballet interview 45 reviews
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Jackson Harvey Jackson Harvey is a Perth-born part-time artist currently studying at UWA. His particular interests lie in portraiture, tattoo design and mural work. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for any commissions or job offers.
WHAT’S ON CAMPUS? Reckitt Benckiser has just launched an online free runner game called UrbAN THRILL™. This a core part of a new global corporate brand campaign for RB, which has been designed to create greater awareness of the company amongst university graduates and people in the early stages of their business careers. The free online game is available at rb.com/urbanthrill. You should check it out – it’s actually pretty fun and a little addictive! The game allows players to mimic the fast-paced, risk-taking and dynamic environment of RB, a key player in the Australian Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry.
Credits Editors // Koko Wozniak & Patrick Marlborough Design // Wayne Chandra & Bec Kohn Advertising // Alex Pond Cover Art // Jackson Harvey Arts Editor // Sarah Dunstan Books Editor // Ben Sacks Film Editor // Callum J Twigger Music Editor // Josh Chiat Politics Editor // Thomas Adolph
Sub-editors // Mark Birchall, Josh Chiat, Ed Fearis, Richard Ferguson, Elizabeth Howard, Lachlan Keeley, Sarah Motherwell, Ben Sacks, Gideon Sacks, Elisa Thompson, Callum J Twigger.
“Does homeopathy work? Do gods exist? What does science tell us about the universe and popular mythology? Join us to discuss these things and more. Monday 11am–1pm in Reid Library Café; Thursday 1pm–3pm in the Tav; and at our talktorials Thursday 3pm–4pm in Weatherburn Lecture Theatre. More info: uass.asn.au Like us: facebook.com/uwaass
Contributors // Thomas Adolph, Kiya Alimoradian, Stephen Barrett, Ella Bennett, Mark
Birchall, Yvonne Buresch, Sally Carlton, Josh Chiat, Kevin Chiat, Jakub Dammer, Zack Doherty, Sarah Dunstan, Ed Fearis, Richard Ferguson, Mary Gillooly, Katherine Gillespie, Mat Hannaford, Alison Inglis, Charlotte Jones, Lachlan Keeley, Alex Kenny, Zoe Kilbourn, Reynold Lo, Bill Marlo, Sarah Motherwell, Naomi Munford, Kate Nye-Butler, Michael O’Brien, Daniel Pillar, Kaitlyn Plyley, Andrew Portelli, Kate Prendergast, Ben Sacks, Gideon Sacks, Elisa Thompson, Callum J Twigger, Amy Walters, Alex Wolman
Illustrators // Tom Adolph, D’Arcy Ellis, Evelyn Froend, Jackson Harvey, Megan Higgins, Lola Lin, Emily O’Keefe, Alice Palmer, Evan Pearce, Ena Tulic, Camden Watts
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Editorials Presitorial Koko Wozniak is radioactive
If I could go anywhere, it would be Pripyat, Ukraine. I’ve read a lot of stories about how it looks 20 years since the nuclear meltdown at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. There are photos of an abandoned Ferris wheel and bumper cars that look like the relics of a sunken ship with weeds towering towards the sky like seaweed floating on the deep sea floor. It looks... incredible. If you delve deeper into the forest, apparently you’ll find a thriving ecosystem. Gray wolves, brown bears, roe deer can be found at levels that haven’t been recorded in over a century. Albinism rates in barn swallows were at 15% in 1991 but have been falling. Asymmetry in wings is up and cancer rates have increased, but all of these statistics are starting to plummet. It seems that the meltdown has had a small long-term effect on the ecosystem surrounding the plant. What seems more confronting is the impact of humans. When humans left Chernobyl and Pripyat, they also left some 135,000 cattle and other animals – pigeons, house mice, etc. – that were dependent on them for survival. The exodus of “synanthropic” animals opened up a niche where the ecosystem could re-establish itself. It brings to mind something that Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen has suggested. Crutzen advocates that Earth has entered a new epoch known as the Anthropocene that has been driven by human activity. An epoch is characterised by changes in sedimentary rock and the emergence or disappearance organisms. The Chernobyl disaster, to me, reiterates the devastating role that humans play on other animals’ survival. It’s as though humans are a bigger threat to other species than a nuclear meltdown. The removal of pesticides, fertilisers and humans has led to the formation of an atomic safari – the revival of organisms. I’ve heard that there are small tour groups that take visitors on day trips into the Exclusion Zone. They shuttle you around the tourist sites – an abandoned car park of Soviet army vehicles, the deserted Pripyat – and you have to get tested for radiation at the end of the day. Nuclear energy can disturb the DNA of generations later down the track, but it also speeds up the rate of mutations and hence evolution. I’d like to see this evolutionary experiment in front of my eyes.
Patrick Marlborough is Somewhere Around Barstow I drive a paedo van. It’s an old white Mitsubishi. On days when I am bored, I like to park it outside school playgrounds. I have an old recording of ‘Greensleeves’ that I like to play on loop. I don’t have any ice cream. These are the golden moments of being the half-editor of Pelican. You have to treasure them, otherwise you’d go mad. ‘The Road’ conjures up a lot of imagery. For me, it’s escape. God I’d love to get the fuck out of here. Just me and my paedo-van. The great travel books are about the dogged individual who, through the persistent hounding and bothering and intervening of others, settles on escape. Moby Dick comes to mind. You never really find out where Ishmael comes from, or why he is so determined to get on a boat with a pack of mad strangers and flee into oblivion, but I think I have a vague idea. He is probably escaping from parking fines (what swine-cuntcumhuffer came up with the concept?). Either that or he was just a gentleman desperate for peace in an increasingly complicated age. Ishmael too, may have been surrounded by passive-aggression and cynics, his notion of self being constantly torn to sunder by others. In desperation – or in a moment of enlightenment – he decided to share a bed with a savage and board a ship captained by a manic depressant. Makes sense. I’ve always envied people who have the balls to get up and leave (Glenn Bowman, hero of these poems). This edition we have many roads laid out for you, dear reader – all diverging lanes on the Pelican highway. I can’t offer you a spot on my whaling ship; we won’t be escaping that way. But I have nine seats in my paedo van. We can park in an abandoned parking lot somewhere in the backstreets of Rockingham, and through the magic of Pelican, we shall escape to beautiful worlds.
El Presidente, Tom Antoniazzi
When we think of ‘the road’, why do we think of cars? Is it because cars drive on roads? Perhaps. But I like to think it’s based on a deep-seated discrimination against the most valuable members of our society: cyclists. That’s right, I’m a cyclist. And proud of it. I wanted to share with you a story that has traumatised my fragile mind and shaken my confidence in the fundamental good of humanity. The other day I was cycling down a road. It doesn’t matter which road, because all roads in Perth lead to poor merging. All of a sudden, a car blew its horn. As I turned around, a driver pulled his car up alongside me, wound down his window, and shouted, “you’re a fucking idiot, mate!” I opened my mouth to respond, but the man had sped away in a cloud of exhaust fumes. Well, mate, I thought I’d take this theme as an opportunity to reflect on our one-sided exchange. You’re the sort of dickhead who says he believes in climate change and all its evils, votes for the fucking Greens and then jumps into his car to get to the next suburb. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no crack-pot environmentalist – I’ll happily eat half a dead animal with the knowledge I’m killing the planet. But did it ever occur to you that cyclists may be doing their bit for the environment? But I guess long-term global warming is the least of your worries when you’re so fat you hardly fit in the driver’s seat. This country has an obesity epidemic worse than the United States and you’re the fucking poster-boy. I must apologise for being so proactive and pursuing a healthy lifestyle – maybe I’ll just take your advice and consume 10 KFC double-downs while I watch Dr Phil on TV. Pelican readers, I’m sorry to rant. I just feel like a gypsy when cyclists are portrayed as the parasites of society. If I were to find a relevant moral in this story, it’s to use alternative modes of transport to uni wherever you can. The reality is that we’re an inner-city campus with a rapidly increasing student population and a lack of new space. Sure, sometimes you’ll need to drive, but also consider walking, public transport or cycling. At the very least, you can avoid becoming the c*nt who shouted at me.
ROAD TEST: ------------
Mark Birchall attempts to find excitement in the most unadventurous city on the planet.
Realistically, hitchhiking in Perth is fucking boring. Tales of exciting experiences are often funny in hindsight but just plain weird in the present. Depending on where you want to go and where you try to hitchhike from, prepare to wait up to several hours for a ride. If you feel the urge to waste your time attempting to hitchhike across Perth, here are some tips.
Be aware of what you’re getting into When I told people that I was going hitchhiking they always had one of two reactions. Number One is: Oh my god! How adventurous!
Have a good back story Statistically, the most likely person to stop for a hitchhiker is a lone male. This is probably why people are often under the impression that anybody who picks up a hitchhiker is a serial killer. Similarly, if you’re a male hitchhiking alone, then people tend to assume that you’re planning to kill them (even if it’s in broad daylight on a major roadway). This makes it incredibly awkward when you have to tell the person who picked you up your life story. It’s even worse when you are hitchhiking for an article you’re writing in Pelican magazine and you have to lie about what you’re doing. I was finally given a lift by a man named Tom, who asked me what I was doing in Fremantle (our destination). I hadn’t considered of such a situation and said nothing for a moment. I then managed to bullshit about needing to go to a friend’s birthday but having no car. Tom asked me why I didn’t take the bus. I replied that I had spent all of my money on the present for this friend. A present that, as Tom pointed out, I had “forgotten”. Never let awkward silences take hold because they will only get worse and people eventually start to wonder if they’re going to be in a re-enactment of Wolf Creek. I managed to keep him occupied by asking him questions about his own life. Questioning people about their life or discussing the weather are the best options, as it is hard for them to be offended by the weather or themselves. In hitchhiking it is imperative that you don’t anger the driver. If my father had screamed: “PEACE AND LOVE! FUCK YOU, YOU NARK!” at that southern man, he would probably have been lynched (that’s how they deal with all problems in the South... right?)
Number Two is: Oh, be careful. You could be killed! Both of these opinions have a fatal flaw: they assume that hitchhiking is an exciting activity. Apart from my own experiences, I know two stories about hitchhiking. The first is from a time when my father and a friend travelled to the US and attempted to hitchhike across several states. They were picked up by a southern man and his wife, who were taken aback by their long hair. Not realising that my father and his friend were British travellers, the southern man said: “You ain’t two of those yellow bastards who didn’t fight in ‘Nam, are ya?” The second is a story from a friend of mine who travelled across Colombia and ran out of money. He and a friend managed to hitchhike half way across the country with a man heading home from a wedding. These anecdotes are really interesting, but imagine how fucking awkward it was for the next three hours with that southern car. And I doubt it was much better in the back of a Colombian man’s truck. If you want to amuse your friends with an anecdote, you’ll have to suffer for it.
Hitchhike somewhere that isn’t Perth If you want to have an exciting or lifechanging experience while hitchhiking, try somewhere that isn’t Perth. Living here for 18 years has reduced my idea of adventure to hitchhiking to Fremantle.
Wear nice clothes There’s a surprisingly large amount of documentation regarding hitchhiking, which you can find online. There are how-to guides, an oddly in-depth analyses of the ‘art’ of hitchhiking and one website which suggests that hitchhiking is safer than cycling to your destination. Though none of these sites mention what to wear, what you’re wearing greatly affects whether or not somebody is going to pick you up. If you wear nice clothing people will start to wonder why you need a lift; and if you are wearing dirty clothes, people assume they’ll catch a venereal disease just from smelling your breath. Most of the people who picked me up weren’t concerned about clothing, so there are exceptions. If you want to make sure you’ve got a good chance, then a hobo-chic outfit is most certainly the way to go.
Don’t accept lifts from people you aren’t comfortable with [Patrick Marlborough] While this obviously applies to paedophiles in white vans, it is important to not get into a car with people who make you want to stab yourself in the face to avoid talking to them. There is a good chance that old people will pick you up, because death is a constant threat for them anyway and thus the fear of being murdered by hitchhikers has eroded. Personally, I believe that all seniors are sadistic bastards who attempt to trap young people in positions where they cannot escape and then talk them to death. Having experienced this my self, I would recommend not accepting lifts from old people; time seems to pass slower and they only remind you of your own mortality. Illustration by Megans Higgins
Students on the Road: How to get to UWA Daniel Pillar explores UWA’s misconstrued parking conundrum.
So you’ve copped your first parking infringement notice. Like many before you, you blame it on the limited number of bays. But as it turns out, there’s more to the parking situation than a perceived lack of bays. In 2011, UWA has roughly 21,000 students and 1,370 academic staff. UniPark operate over 3,500 bays, or roughly one for every six people on campus; and if we assume that only a certain portion of students and staff are on campus at any one point in time, and that most students travel via other means, that number is quite reasonable.
compared to a $9 adult fare. If you’re paying cash, get a Smartrider! The savings certainly add up, and imagine how many Guild coffees those parking or cash-ticket dollars would offset. “The way I look at it,” said David, “is that students can spend time stressed in peak hour traffic, or spend time on the train or bus and maybe even get some study done during their daily commute.” But despite this, many students still choose to battle it out for a car bay. However, while some see the four UniPark officers in a negative light, the fact of the matter is that without them, chaos would result. “We’re actually quite considerate, compared to other universities,” said David. “Murdoch’s parking officers issue almost 2.5 times the number of infringements we do.” And Murdoch have a few thousand fewer students than us.
were converted to yellow at the start of 2011. Then came the ‘giant carpark building’ idea. David answered that firstly, UWA has a limit of 4,250 nearby bays according to the planning authority, the balance of which are taken up by Subiaco bays. Secondly, it’d be ugly. But even if we managed to get a design approved, David floated a figure of it costing some $16,000 per bay to build. At a cost like that, nobody could afford the daily rate to park there! UniPark are very happy to take suggestions if you have any, but keep in mind that staff vs student arguments won’t solve anything as the other side has just as much of a claim.
According to David Tyrrell-Clark, the Manager of UniPark, approximately 2.8 permits for every yellow bay are sold each year, a number which has surprisingly self-regulated itself (perhaps as students So back to square one. Even if parking at UWA isn’t realise that there’s no such thing as a yellow bay after easy, we can make it easier by bussing when we can. 8.30am). These bays cost students roughly 80 cents If everyone who drives in alone shared their car per day to park in, compared to staff who with one other person, we’d double the number are charged roughly double of student bays. In closing, David that. But the fact that most suggested that if you want to park surprised this writer is that Even if parking at UWA isn’t easy, we can make it easier by quickly, don’t always go for the park when the costs of UWA’s entire the building your class is parking system are added and bussing when we can. If everyone who drives in alone shared nearest in; because everybody else is doing averaged, the cost of operating exactly the same thing. A quick check their car with one other person, we’d double the number of each car bay works out to for empty long term bays may be around $5 daily. All of a sudden, student bays. fruitful; plus, the ticket’s cheaper. 80 cents a day seems quite reasonable, especially compared “The problem with parking at UWA to the City of Subiaco’s lovely The majority of infringements issued at UWA are isn’t so much the bays. There are enough per-hour rates at the foreshore pack near the business due to people parking in bays without permits, and bays for the people who need to park here, but they get school. overstaying a ticket is the second ‘most popular’ filled up by people who want to drive in by themselves offence. “The record for one student is about 157 [rather than car pooling or public transport]. If only I asked David what the trick is to parking at UWA. infringements over their three-year degree,” David the people who needed to drive drove, then there “That’s easy,” he laughed. “Don’t. I’ve been here said. “But that’s fine by us; if someone wants to pay would be plenty of bays, plus some left over,” closed for over eight years, and spent an hour on public $45 a day for parking, it’s their call.” Apparently no David. transport every day to and from work. It’s by far the one has attempted to beat that record. best option, and has saved me $32,000 compared to So it seems that the easiest way to tackle the parking driving a car.” In fact, UWA contributes up to 50% of So I asked David about the ideas that come and go to end of the road is to avoid it altogether by catching the running cost of the 78 route, and 25% of the 97 solve the parking situation. Firstly, the car- pooling the bus. Or I suppose you could always ride a bike route, which allows a bus to pass by campus every 128 program was mentioned. Some of you may know – everyone knows men are at their manliest in tight seconds during peak hour. that there used to be dedicated bays for three or more lycra… students who shared their cars. But, due to a lack of Students can save huge amounts off the adult rate, interest (only 10 or so permits last year), those bays with a day rider at $2.70 on an autoloaded Smartrider
Illustration by Evan Pearce
devil’s advocate DIY DUI
Roughly 1500 people will lose their lives on Australian roads this year with alcohol contributing significantly to around a quarter of these. In blithely statistical terms, this means that 375 deaths – each one a human tragedy – could probably have been avoided had someone stayed off the booze. As a result, many politicians, law enforcement officials and members of the public claim that current legislation fails to adequately address the problem of driving under the influence (DUI). I agree. As it currently stands, the law treats DUI offences far more seriously than it should.
Ben Sacks -------------------------------------------
knowingly put themselves and others at risk. But again, this is often not true. Many drivers only get in the car after trying and failing to find an alternative, and people charged with DUI offences often don’t know they are over the limit. Last week I was overtaken on the left by a ute driving 20 km/h over the limit, just as our lanes merged. He then flipped me off. It was 11am so presumably he was sober. I struggle to see how he should be any less culpable for an accident than someone who didn’t know they were at 0.06 rather than 0.04.
What are these laws? In WA, a blood alcohol content As such, the only real justification for specific legislation (BAC) of between 0.05 and 0.08 results in three months against DUI is that it is significantly more dangerous than disqualification and a fine. Between 0.08 and 0.15 will other forms of impaired driving that create danger on the (depending on the exact reading) get you 3–6 months roads. This is an empirical question and one that seems to disqualification and a fine on your first offence, with be answered in the affirmative by the figures I mentioned more severe penalties for subsequent offences. Anything earlier. But is it? above 0.15 is punished by at least six months disqualification and a hefty fine. That’s for the first time – subsequent offences can result in a It’s not just speeding and age – driving tired permanent driving ban and possible jail time. In kills, but instead of fines and disqualifications addition, if someone is found to have a BAC over 0.05 after they have caused injury or death, then we get rest stops and “The More You Know” they must prove their dangerous driving did not style public service announcements. cause the accident – they are guilty until proved innocent. On the question of DUI, the law seems clear: it is dangerous and those who engage in it deserve to be punished because of this. But is this fair? Firstly, it’s important to recognise that driving is itself a dangerous activity. In his article ‘Is Drunk Driving a Serious Offence?’ John Husak wryly notes that in America “sober drivers kill approximately 25,000 persons each year. Why is such carnage tolerated?” One obvious answer is that driving may be dangerous but it’s necessary. But this just isn’t true. We mostly drive for trivial reasons: to save a few minutes on public transport or to get to a party. If drink driving is serious because it endangers others for no good reason, then many incidents of sober driving should be classed as serious offences. We might then claim that DUI offenders are more culpable than dangerous sober drivers because they willingly or
The first thing to note is that aggregate statistics give no indication of risk unless paired with incidence statistics. Husak’s article estimates that the absolute chance of being involved in an accident while driving above 0.10 (twice the legal limit) is about 0.045%, while the risk of being involved in a fatality while driving at this level is just higher than one per million kilometers travelled. The risk to others is much lower still, since drunk drivers themselves are the most likely victims. These estimates seem plausible when you consider just how often people drink and drive – a 2010 WA police survey showed that 14% of people admitted to driving while knowingly intoxicated in the previous 12 months. A 1997 study at the University of Adelaide noted the relative risk of having an accident based on blood alcohol levels. A BAC of 0.10 is between four and seven times more likely to cause an accident than a completely sober driver. But again,
the absolute chance of an accident is so low that even this increase still has a low overall relative risk. So drink driving – even at 0.10 – is not that dangerous. But is it more dangerous than other forms of “dangerous driving”? The same study demonstrated that driving 5km/h above the 60km/h limit in urban areas increases the risk of a crash twofold – the same as being at 0.05. What’s the penalty? A fine if you’re unlucky, usually nothing at all. Compare that to three months disqualification for the same risk. Two-thirds of motorists admitted to driving at least 10km/h over the limit in the previous 12 months. The Adelaide study shows that’s roughly equivalent to the risk of a BAC of 0.10 – but does a $150 fine and 2 demerit points sound roughly equivalent to 8 months disqualification and a $1500 fine? Similarly, the difference between a sober and ‘drunk’ (0.10) driver is equivalent to the added risk posed by an elderly driver at night, as compared to a middle-aged driver during the day. The logic of “added risk” would then necessitate banning older drivers at night. Of course if we were really serious about curbing dangerous driving we would simply stop men under the age of 25 from getting behind the wheel altogether. But we don’t do either of these things because they would be grossly unfair. It’s not just speeding and age – driving tired kills, but instead of fines and disqualifications we get rest stops and “The More You Know” style public service announcements. What about people who drive with the music really loud? Or with their bladders especially full? All these things can cause dangerous driving. But that’s the point – we should expect dangerous driving to be harshly dealt with but in a fair way that accurately reflects the particulars of the case. Instead there is a trend for more draconian DUI legislation throughout the Western world, often driven by public hysteria. Even worse, a DUI conviction increasingly carries a level of social stigma that is incommensurate with the act itself. Driving when drunk may well be reason enough for harsh punishment, but driving at 0.05 certainly doesn’t seem to be. Should you drink and drive? Probably not – but you shouldn’t be shot for it either.
Illustration by CamdenWatts
Amnesty International Syria’s Plight
Illustration by Lola Lin
––––––– Amy Walters ––––––– On a recent Saturday night I had dinner with a group of friends at a restaurant in Nedlands. We are all students with distinct opinions about politics and social justice. On the same night on the other side of the world in Syria, a twenty-year-old student called Abd alRahman Hamada was being arrested by security forces. What was his crime? The security forces were actually looking for his brother, the activist Wa’el Hamada, and his brother’s wife, the human rights lawyer Razan Zaitouneh, who had gone into hiding. Abd-al Rahman was taken instead. Phillip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, stated, “we fear that many of the hundreds currently detained by the Syrian authorities have been arrested arbitrarily”. This occurs amidst continuing unrest in Syria as government forces continue their campaign against activists protesting against the President, Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian human rights group Insan says that as many as 8000 people have been listed as arrested or missing since protests began seven weeks ago, and the civilian death toll, as of the day this article was written, tops 607. The high number of deaths has been attributed to the actions of Syrian security forces that have shelled residential buildings and shot live bullets into protests and funeral processions. Amnesty International has also heard first-hand accounts of torture and ill treatment of detainees, including severe beatings and appalling conditions in custody; one detainee said he was held for three days in overcrowded conditions without food. Another said he was severely beaten then made to lick his blood off the floor. The limitations on freedom of speech are not just limited to those reporting on the conflict; Amnesty International and foreign media have been prevented from entering the country. Phillip Luther stated, “The use of unwarranted lethal force, arbitrary detention and torture appear to be the desperate actions of a government that is intolerant of dissent and must be halted immediately. Syrians must be allowed to voice their calls for change peacefully.” After hearing such news, I think about how lucky I am to be born in a country where, although it is by no means perfect, it is possible to criticise the government and walk down the street without fear. Therefore it is incumbent upon us to help those who aren’t as lucky by keeping up with the news, signing petitions and keeping an ear out for campaigns such as Amnesty International’s Stop the bloodshed in Syria campaign. The aim is to collect at least 6000 signatures from across Australia and deliver the petition to the Syrian Embassy in Canberra. This petition will also be presented along with thousands of others from around the world, which will be delivered directly to President Bashar al-Assad. Take action today. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to become an oncampus activist.
bad luck dating -------------- Anonymous -------------Why is it that little girls – and some little boys – fancy Prince Charming? Yes! Yes! He looks all chiseled and perfect with that cartoon prince chin, but at the end of the day, you don’t even know his real name. Come on, “Prince Charming” – what is your Christian name? And all this crap about living happily ever after? Let’s be serious. How many girls does he live “happily ever after” with? I guess the point I’m trying to make is you can’t judge a book by its cover, especially if the cover is super hot. And if it seems too good to be true, it’s probably not. From what I can gather, Prince Charming is a polygamist who has a fetish for feet, a necrophiliac who gang bangs midgets, and who occasionally dabbles in bestiality. Why do we like douche bags like this? In comes Rick. “Rick” is obviously not his real name, but I’ve always wanted to date a Rick. Rick was devastatingly good looking; his body was ridiculous. All I really wanted to do was lick it. Not saying that I did though (in our one sexual encounter, I did not lick his body... just to be clear). Rick had the kind of body that if I could copy and paste a shirtless picture of him in to this column, I would. It was like sleeping with a Greek god. When I think about it, Rick wasn’t as bad as Prince Charming; I guess there were just some things he needed that I couldn’t provide. When we went out together, everyone kept trying to pick up Rick, but he would have none of it. He was also very courteous and a good dancer (very important). I was very taken by him – even charmed! So I decided I really didn’t want to waste any more time in getting to “know” him. We went back to his place. Looking back at it, you might say I was dumbfounded by this moment. Was this it? Did I find the perfect man? Prince Charming? He definitely looked the part. And the sex! Well the sex was going really well. Well...right up to the part when he said, “fist me”. I think that was the deal breaker. He was just like Prince Charming, but a little bit too much. And that’s the story of how I ended up being bitter.
Illustration by Evelyn Froend
EVIL EYE: BOOM! HEADSHOT! In feature this issue, Thomas Adolph presents your complete guide to the controversial Os/bama operation and eyeballs the world in its’ wake.
On the May 2, 2011, 11:30pm EST, United States President Barak Obama announced that Osama bin Laden – architect of the 9/11 attacks in New York City – was dead. Apart from that, the facts are sketchy. The West has been divided by the controversial operation, taking place deep within foreign territory and far from any acknowledged war-zone. It is now clear that information leading to bin Laden’s death was reached through the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” – or more properly, “torture”. The most salient characteristics of this debate have been the abundance of credible speculation and complete absence of confirmed fact. The clearest thing to emerge from the fog of war is that the Government’s account of events is wildly contradictory and bears the paw-prints of a political spin-cycle. At 1am local time, Abbottabad Pakistan, 25 US Navy SEALs were dropped at a location thought to be the residence of Osama bin Laden. The majority were carried in a large transport helicopter and deployed into a courtyard by rappel or “fast rope”. The remainder were dropped as a smaller assault helicopter makes landfall within the walls of the compound. Here’s where it starts to get murky. The Pakistani Government found the wreckage of one helicopter inside the walls the next morning. This led to widespread speculation that one of the assault craft had been shot down in the course of the mission. One week after bin Laden’s death, the US Government revealed that this smaller helicopter had sustained damage as it attempted to ascend after dropping its payload; the high walls of the facility prevented it from achieving lift. This smaller vehicle is thought to have been a
stealth-configured H-60 Blackhawk, undetectable to Pakistani radar. Rather than leaving this advanced equipment behind, the SEALs elected to destroy the damaged aircraft with det-charges. Both aircraft were reportedly fired upon during the descent into the compound. This led to the presumption that an armed resistance awaited the SEALs inside. Initial reports had described an ongoing “firefight”, in which bin Laden himself was engaged. It has become clear that these statements, made variously by Leon Panetta, director of the CIA, and White House chief security advisor John Brennan, were false. The New York Times and The Guardian report that fire was only exchanged with a single individual, a courier named Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. During a 40-minute period, five people were killed; Kuwaiti, his brother, bin Laden’s son Hamza, bin Laden himself and an unidentified woman thought to be the wife of Kuwaiti. Hamza bin Laden was supposedly shot dead as he “rushed” at the SEALs that moved through the facility. He allegedly did so unarmed. It is also clear that a number of children lived at the compound and were detained by the Pakistani government in the aftermath of the attack. Perhaps the most widely discussed aspect of the
known to have entered his bedroom 10–20 minutes after landfall. One operative reports having heard bin Laden’s wife call out his name upon their entry. Following the team’s departure, this fact would be called upon as confirmation that the team had killed the right person. At first, bin Laden was said to have used his wife as a human shield, even firing an AK-47 from behind her body. The woman was also thought to have died during the exchange. Later reports indicated that she was moved to the intervening space, “rushing” the operatives and was shot in the leg. She is also known to have survived. It has subsequently been confirmed by the White House that bin Laden was not armed when he was shot – a red-faced Presidential spokesman qualified the statement by saying that “resisting” didn’t necessarily mean being armed. The most likely scenario is that bin Laden failed to offer the sign of surrender when confronted by the SEALs and was shot as he attempted to leave the room. Some sources instead suggest that he was moving to pick up an AK-47 or Makarov Pistol. The three versions of this critical moment are the bread and butter of the debate; one concludes with a single round impacting above bin Laden’s left eye. This is the most widely reported version. Others include 2 rounds to the skull, or the classic Navy SEAL three bullet trick of “body-body head” – used to efficiently ensure the death of the target. Bin Laden’s 12-yearold daughter has claimed in interviews with Pakistani intelligence officers that her father was captured by the operatives first and then killed in front of his family. Though that will strain at the credulity of most, her presence in the bedroom has been confirmed by Pakistani intelligence – a notable omission from all US accounts of the event.
Semantically, we can separate Osama from an ordinary fugitive, but the inescapable fact remains: You can’t call head-shotting an unarmed man ‘justice’.
operation was the confrontation with bin Laden himself. An undisclosed number of SEALs are
After confirming a 6’4 height against that of a teammember, the SEALs took custody of the body and returned to the choppers. There they were able to compare the body with photographs of the living bin Laden, reaching a “95% certainty” that they had killed the right person. The team then broadcast the confirmation code “GERONIMO Echo Kilo Echo Alpha” – Osama bin Laden, confirmed dead. In perhaps the clearest vindication of the humanist position, we now know that no such coded message was prepared for the event of bin Laden’s capture. This tends to suggest that it was never really on the cards. Conversely, in an acknowledgment of the “difficult relationship” with Pakistan, President Obama confirmed that 3 support units were made available for the mission: two support craft, deployed against the possibility of open conflict with local Pakistani forces – one called in to replace the damaged H-60 – and a third made up of lawyers, interrogators and translators, on the chance bin Laden could be captured. On May 5, The Pakistani military issued a curt statement admitting to “shortcomings’ in its efforts to locate bin Laden. Pakistani President Yousuf Raza Gilani may be the last person on earth in doubt that his government was either complicit in bin Laden’s ongoing stay, or too incompetent to notice him. For this reason it was never an option for the US to involve, or even inform the Pakistanis of their intentions. The Pakistanis have been
notably silent on the fact that their ally had undertaken military operations within their sovereign territory. They have even agreed to hand over evidence and detainees collected at the scene, including bin Laden’s wives and surviving children. Few will doubt that the investigation will reveal links between Pakistan (on some level) and bin Laden’s organisation. For that reason, the issue of ‘US military action within a foreign sphere’ will probably remain uncontested; “apology by way of appeasement” will characterise that relationship for some time. Osama bin Laden has undoubtedly failed. After 2001, his key focus was not American deaths. Rather, he promised his followers a religious rebellion to overthrow or assassinate all the West-aligned leaders of the Arab world. His targets included Mubarak, Gaddafi and Ben Ali. Yet their removal by popular uprising would not have pleased him. It showed that he wasn’t needed – that another path to self-determination existed than religious extremism. What he promised, he failed to deliver, and his death was accorded a correspondingly mild response. The Arab world was disinterested. It’s a measure of how far he had fallen in their estimations. They had bigger and more important fish to fry, as democratic rebellion sweeps their continent. The political analysts working in the White House are not stupid. They would have assessed the situation wholly
and made a value judgment – killing bin Laden, even inside Pakistan, would create fewer problems than trying him. This could have been for any number of reasons, from the nightmare of holding or charging him, to the embarrassing details of his past dealings with Saudi Princes, CIA contractors in the 80s and even former President George W. Bush in his oil days. Perhaps they simply didn’t want to give him an opportunity to address several billion people from a witness stand. Yes, some people are upset about the outcome. Not that many though, and certainly not within the US. The strong implication coming from the White House’s rhetoric is that the more serious the wrongdoing a person is alleged to have committed, the lower standard of due process they ought to be afforded. Semantically, we can separate Osama from an ordinary fugitive, but the inescapable fact remains: You can’t call head-shotting an unarmed man ‘justice’. To most people, justice means a court. It’s not that he didn’t deserve death; merely that a very serious opportunity has been missed to remind the world that, mostly, the US is still the good guy. As it stands, how would we know? A map of Osama’s compound is available for download as a playable environment for PC game first-personshooter “Counterstrike” at www.gamebanana.com
When Obama’s out of the country, Joe’s just BIDEN TIME…
In this exclusive extract of a day in the life of Joe Biden, the Big O is on the road, but Joe’s off the rails! ––––––– Ella Bennett –––––––
0530hours. Awakes upon the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in denim cut-offs, aviator sunglasses and no shirt. He is surrounded by empty bottles of eye drops.
another week in office. Today Obama is away on official business, so Joe will have the brownies shipped to his exact location.
0550hours. Amtrak to Wilmington, Delaware. Hits the gym. Eats like, three apples.
1130hours. Call to Russia discussing North Korean situation:
0730hours. Amtrak back to Washington DC.
“You can drop the ‘vice’ part, Medvedev. Today, Joe’s in charge round here. Hey! Why d’you think he’s called Kim Jong Il and not Kim Jong Queasy? Kim Jong Sick? [extended silence whilst Joe chuckles to him self amiably.] H…hello?”
0905hours. Enters late into key administration officials meeting, half-eaten bowl of porridge in hand. “Oats calm me down,” he says. Gibbs discusses the latest polls and news of Afghanistan whilst Joe makes eye contact with a suspicious looking bird outside. 0935hours. Gives former CIA director, soon to be Secretary of Defence, Leon Panetta a tour of the West Wing. “This is the Egg Room – I call it that cos it’s oval, like an egg! Usually I’m not allowed in here but cos B’s away, today I can. Last time I messed up all these papers about the budget. Let me ask you something: if we’re on a budget, how come that list is so long?” 1045hours. Takes meeting with White House Historical Preservation Society re: replacing portrait of Walter Mondale with a drawing he did of a train he was on earlier that day. 1100hours. Every Tuesday of the week, Joe usually takes brownies into B’s Egg Room to celebrate yet
1200hours. Contemplates his college varsity football team days. Has hot dog for lunch on White House lawn then starts impromptu super soaker fight with Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel grumpy that Joe’s habit of hiding super soakers throughout the White House in strategic locations has led to the ruin of his fifth BlackBerry this year. 1300hours. Girl scouts come round selling cookies. “I dunno…Big O told me not to make any big decisions, or use the White House fax machine…but he’s not here to stop me!” He slams the door in the scouts’ faces and sneaks back to the Egg Room to work on the $53 billion plan for a high speed rail across America, details of which he attempts to fax to his son across town. 1400hours. Gives commencement address at West Point in exchange for a calendar advertising ride-on lawn mowers. He wings it because the teleprompter David Axelrod sends cartoons to keep Joe looking forward. 1500hours. After a scuffle involving Joe, a train schedule and two cadets, Joe leaves West Point with badly singed eyebrows. Is cheered up by strangely accurate comparison offered by witty cadet: Obama is Bart Simpson, Biden is Milhouse. This is why Joe’s always hiding in the shrubs while B’s wowing everyone with his bad-ass reformin’ and terrorist-killin’ cred. 1530hours. Air Force One lands. Joe is trying to wipe jam off Healthcare Reform document but accidentally erases section covering accidental elbowings to the face.
Illustration by Ena Tulic
1600hours. B enters Oval office. Joe raps: “Big O is back
in his egg room, / he be returnin’ not a moment too soon! / Hey Big O why you just standing there? / Come see what I changed in healthcare! Break it down!” Joe then proceeds to break it down. B sighs and reaches for the broom. “I’m tired of having to do this, Joe.” 1615hours. Joe is finished funking through all the dining areas of the White House, even interrupting Hillary Clinton whilst she savours a roast autumn vegetable salad in the Gold Room whilst perusing hardware catalogues. 1800hours. B shows up midway through Joe’s late afternoon/early evening nap. “Hey there, Joe. Hope today didn’t take too much out of you!” Joe accepts B’s proffered glass of milk, takes a long sip and sighs. “I don’t know how you do it, B. It seemed like no one wanted to get wasted on Manhattans and discuss my anti-sexual assault initiative in the White House sauna.” “Time to head back, Joe. To your office. The one adjacent to mine.” 2340hours. Lowlight. Joe is the Vice Presidential Office, hating himself for not including a clause in the Auto Industry bailout that forbids the manufacturing of fourwheel drive vans. He wonders, “what to do with my Vice Presidency next?” Joe gazes around the room at the previous Vice Presidents that have done somewhat of a job before him. Al Gore’s bust stares back at him, but only now does Joe realise that Al Gore is whole, not merely a bust. “Gore? How…long have you been here?” Gore’s dusty lips move to speak. “11 years.” “But…I’ve pinned memos to your forehead!” Says Joe, backing away. “Better than what Cheney used my mouth for…” Gore looks away, shame burning inside him like mercury in an energy-efficient light bulb. 0000hours. Night-night, Joe.
"Stand up, Chuck, let 'em see ya." – Joe Biden, to Missouri state Sen. Chuck Graham, who is in a wheelchair, Columbia, Missouri, Sept. 12, 2008
Illustration by Ena Tulic
RICE CRACKERS AND MILKY TEA, HOW A MEMBER OF THE SS AND A CHINESE TEXTILE MERCHANT BECAME IN-LAWS. ––––––––Yvonne Buresch –––––––– I am a rice cracker. That is to say, I am half white and half Asian. “Rice” for Asian and “cracker” for white, get it? You would think that my parents must be at least a little broad-minded to have married outside their own races. They aren’t. My parents are the two most incorrigible racists I have ever known. Any latent suspicions about each other’s races they may have held before their marriage probably weren’t helped by what was an ugly divorce. Did my parents’ failed interracial marriage make them racists? Were they already racists and the divorce just made them worse? The inevitable question is how did they ever get themselves into that position in the first place? My paternal grandfather was a member of a wealthy land-owning family in Romania. As an “ethnic German” during World War II he was expected to enlist upon turning 18. The SS received higher pay than the regular army and had cooler uniforms, so he joined them. After the war ended, maps were re-drawn and the family land redistributed to ethnic Romanians. He did not move to Argentina, as so many of his comrades did. He declined to have his SS-identifying tattoo removed. He refused to admit that he had done or known about anything wrong and could not find himself another job in Germany until he was given piece-work filing the sharp edges off bits of plastic for a factory near Munich. He was refused German citizenship and his son, my father, only acquired it at the age of 24. Immediately after acquiring citizenship my father decided to emigrate. He wanted to go to Canada but they wouldn’t take him because he had no qualifications. Australia was less fussy. If immigration laws for unskilled migrants had been stricter I wouldn’t have been born. Cheers, Whitlam.
My maternal grandfather was the owner of several textile factories spread across the south of China. As a rich man and “controller of the means of production” he made himself very unpopular with the communists who were gathering steam for the Cultural Revolution. He fled to Vietnam with his two wives and half a dozen children, where he met my grandmother some years later. She became his third wife. He was 73 and she was 18. Apparently my mother found it a bit hard to blend in during the Vietnam War, being the daughter of an anti-communist Chinese polygamist and the stepdaughter of a Korean communist in Saigon. She wanted to feel less out of place, so she came to Australia two years after the end of the White Australia policy (thanks again, Whitlam) and got a job driving a huge Haulpak truck in the mines up north. She’s five feet tall and they had to put extra rungs on the ladder so she could get into the cab. An Asian woman. Driving a truck. In the mines. In the 70s. Can you imagine? I have no idea how my parents got together, the only explanation ever offered to me being “We met in the mines. I got pregnant so we got married” and I get the feeling that’s missing a few steps. Was my father rebelling against his father? Did he just have a thing for Asian girls? I have met men who feel that Asian women are automatically more attractive than Caucasian women. For example, I have a (white) Japanese Studies lecturer who is bookish, foppish and always dressed as though he’s going to a costume party as an academic. Considering the Japanese are equally famous for their repression and their sexual deviancy, to me his field of research and tendency to
do his shirt buttons up all the way to the top point to a serious case of the Yellow Fever. Not all cases are so extreme that they influence one’s choice of career. I have encountered men who showed a lot more interest in me after they found out I am half Asian. What the hell is that? Are they not quite broad-minded enough to go out with a full Asian? Am I...exotic lite? I find this frustratingly amusing, considering I go through life as a kind of white people version of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter (I Can’t Believe It’s Not A White Person?). You know what I mean – once you’ve been told then you can kind of spot the difference but you probably wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. I have acquired a light tan despite living in England for the past three months and my complexion was recently compared to “tea with milk in it.” I think it must be a hell of a lot of milk, but it is an apt analogy. Adding milk is a practice which the Europeans started a few centuries after they brought tea over from Asia. Tea with milk in it is a combination of East and West, as am I. In some hideously intellectual magazine I read not long ago it was suggested that the white western power base has seen its heyday and “cosmocrats” are the leaders of tomorrow. Cosmocrats are the products of interracial marriages and embody globalisation: the Jamaican-French girls who speak Spanish and Cantonese, the Japanese-BrazilianItalian men who speak Portuguese, Japanese and Russian. Though it means stretching the definition to its absolute limit I, as a Chinese-VietnameseRomanian-German who can speak high school Italian and ask for “one vanilla ice cream please” in French, choose to count myself among this elite number. Interracial marriage is the road to true multicultural harmony...probably.
Always Bring A Tauel A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Life ------------------------------------------
The first time Tauel went travelling alone, he was 18 or 19 and his mother made him promise that he’d call her every Thursday so she’d know he was alright. He explained that on the first Thursday “I had found myself on a little island off the coast of Cambodia in the middle of nowhere. It was like The Beach, completely untouched ... [I was] having a wonderful time.” Then he realised it was Thursday. He travelled 400km to find a phone and “I ended up in this horrible little town on the border of Thailand and Cambodia and it was literally like something out of Indiana Jones with people eating frogs and bugs. And I did find a phone and I called my mum and said ‘look mum this just isn’t going to work’.” Tauel Harper started travelling from a very young age as his two Australian parents moved around the world to teach. “I’d read books on how to make your way around the world and I’d always had this desire to see the whole world. I had to do it then but I didn’t have the money. I wasn’t going to let that stop me.” Hitchhiking is an unconventional way to travel but when done properly is highly efficient and cost effective. People often see it as dangerous but Tauel has learnt from experience that this is the best way to get around. “The first thing you become aware of when you’re hitchhiking is that there are a lot of scared people. We live quite insular lives, but there is so much more kindness and generosity and warmth in humanity than you’d ever think possible. I’ve literally managed to beat trains places because I’ve just got lifts. “It’s amazing the kind of feeling of fraternity that is engendered by moving in the same direction as somebody. You have something in common with this person and no matter what happens between you, Illustration by Megan Higgins
It’s amazing the kind of feeling of fraternity that is engendered by moving in the same direction as somebody. You have something in common with this person and no matter what happens between you, this is something that happened to you together.
this is something that happened to you together.” Following the advice of one his university lecturer’s, Tauel set off for South East Asia after his first year, and after three weeks, headed to London. With just a backpack he scalped a ticket to the FA Cup Final: Manchester vs Liverpool 1996. “So after the game, feeling very poor ... I just threw my thumb out. This was my first time doing it [hitchhiking] by myself and I did everything wrong. I started walking in the direction I wanted to go. I just walked along with my hand out and eventually someone picked me up and took me to Luton, just north of London. “There was heaps of traffic going past, which is important when you’re trying to be picked, up but it took three or four hours with my backpack on. One guy in a limousine pulled over and gave me a bottle of champagne; I remember that.” Dropped off at a motorway service station he was then picked up by a lingerie model. “She was certainly a highlight. Certainly the most attractive person [who has picked me up]. But she was lovely.” Arriving in North Hampton at night with a heavy pack Tauel locked his bag in a bus station and headed out to a nightclub. But as the club closed at 2am he headed back to the station to find it locked and unable to get to his stuff. “I was turfed out in my glad rags and it was freezing. Australia doesn’t understand how cold it gets in England... [I was] freezing my arse off and the warmest place I could find was a public toilet. So I was huddling in there. The next day I was like, ‘fuck this I’m going to catch a bus’.” Awake at 5am, the next bus would arrive in four hours. With nothing to do but wait, Tauel tried his luck and once again stuck his thumb out in hope of catching another lift. “I got this really nice guy who took me 90% of the way to Manchester and by that afternoon I was in Manchester. I’d subsequently had met a series of really nice people who boosted my faith in humanity and made me think ‘yeah, I got here’.” Since then, hitchhiking has been Tauel’s favourite way to get around. He’s hitched all around Europe, Britain, Ireland, Australia and Latin America.
“The thing about hitchhiking is only really nice people pick you up. It’s like shark attacks – you only hear about it when it goes wrong. Look I’ve had weirdos pick me up, but nice weirdos.” Hitchhiking isn’t something you get right on the first go; it’s trial and error. Tauel has learnt a lot over his travels and has a set of hitchhiking rules to live by. Most importantly, never give someone an excuse to not pick you up. “Too many bags, too much weight. Luggage. It’s something you have to minimise the appearance of, turn it sideways and line it up with the road. And looking dangerous, that’s a bad idea. Being filthy or being drunk, big no nos.” And a golden rule that Tauel highly recommends: when in doubt, eat an orange. “When I have given up hope and I think I’m going to have to find a place to sleep, I’ve eaten an orange and someone’s picked me up. I don’t know why that is. It didn’t work once, when I was in Ceduna (SA). It’s the jumping off point for doing the Nullarbor. It’s a long trip; not a lot of people are doing it. I ate about five oranges. I was so desperate and when a truck pulled over, 20 minutes later I had to puke. The truck had to stop so I could puke.”
A strong and fit white male, however, has few worries but hitchhiking is not gender exclusive. “I’ve introduced a lot of women to hitchhiking... obviously I feel hesitant recommending it to girls and I’d feel awful if something happened; but it’s not what you think. Once again just because you can take someone and abuse them and rape them and whatever doesn’t mean you’re going to... Hitchhiking doesn’t change that at all. So yeah, there’s a real paranoia about it that it doesn’t really deserve. “And most of the female hitchhikers I know have conquered that and understand that certain situations issues arise if you manifest them. Once I had this girl pick me up and the first thing she said to me when I got in the car was, ‘you’re not going to rape me’. And boy, that was one of the weirdos. All of a sudden it’s gone from what it should be – which is two people going somewhere together – to being this really weird experience. “The girl hitchhikers I know are very strong and assertive individuals and I think that’s important. In my experience, I’ve never had a real psychopath. I imagine that if I ever came across a real psychopath it wouldn’t matter what context I’m in; it’s going to be trouble.
Hitchhiking across the Nullabor is certainly a huge feat but if you’re willing to get in a stranger’s car that can’t be your greatest concern.
“Once I was in Ceduna waiting for this lift and this guy picked me up. He was about 20 mins out of Ceduna and 10 mins in he said ‘if you’ve got no where to stay tonight you can come and stay with me’.”
“What most people don’t understand about hitchhiking is that just because you’re in a car with someone doesn’t mean you’re completely in their control. Yes they’re driving but you’re going there together. And when you stop it’s just as easy for you to get out of the car and run away. It’s very equal power dynamics here; just because you’re in their car doesn’t mean you’re in their control.
“At one stage it’s the whole cognitive dissonance thing. At one stage they just want to give you more because it’s such a nice experience to do something for someone who you owe nothing to. And this guy was like ‘well what did you have for lunch’. ‘Well I haven’t eaten since breakfast yesterday’ and he turned the car around back to Ceduna and bought me dinner.”
“I’ve had one guy try to crack on to me. Once again a very nice guy; they’re very polite about it... This guy pulled across three lanes of traffic, almost caused five accidents to pick me up... And he started cracking on, doing a few suss things like leaving his fly open. Things like that were a bit uncomfortable. He was the nicest guy in the world; he fully went 70km out of his way to get me where I wanted to go. He didn’t have to... and we got along; we managed to get around that sexual stuff and talk about everything else.”
Tauel Harper has travelled cheaply around the world by relying on the kindness of strangers, but hitchhiking as a way of travel is sadly dying out. “It’s like a secret society. I will always pick up a hitchhiker. I would say that 70% of people who do pick you up will say ‘Oh, I used to be a hitchhiker’. People who do it realise what it is. And I think that will continue as long as there are enough of us. Like the Free Masons, keep tradition alive.”
Comedian and author, Tony Hawks, and his fridge have hold the Guinness World Record for hitchhiking over 1,025 miles round Ireland together.
PELICAN ON OWL
Illustration by Megan Higgins
Callum J Twigger traps Perth’s own internet aunty, Obnoxious Owl, in a cage and teases some talk on the road to good blogging out of her.
Your blog gives advice about sex and fashion for boys and girls. What got you started? I am super-opinionated but as I have gotten older I have learnt to bite my tongue in social settings (my friends will disagree), but I still need to vent! I am also an avid list maker and with the two combined it proves for [an] interesting read, apparently. Writing makes me more bearable in person because I can get it all out! Your writing is explicit and suggests you’re working from personal experience. Is being exposed on the internet daunting? Hell yeah it was/is. When I first realised that people started following me, and the unique visits started creeping up to nearly 500 a day, I could actually hear myself thinking before I wrote. It took me ages to get the hang of writing as though nobody would ever read it. Knowing that someone may actually read my stuff definitely put a strain on what I said for a while...especially my family, namely my mother. I even started deleting stuff and becoming a bit paranoid. But then someone said to me that the minute you start second guessing, it’s over. And he was fucking right. I write like I talk. Most of it is based on personal experience. When I was a teenager (which is the most screwed up time of anyone’s life in my opinion) I never had older sisters/brothers/cousins and my parents weren’t comfortable with discussing uncomfortable subjects. When you’re going through a shit time, all you want is for someone to go “Don’t stress! It happens to all of us!” That’s why I say “take my advice...I don’t use it anyway”. Knowing things is easy; actually doing it is another matter entirely.
You write about what men and women should and shouldn’t do. Sincerity seems to be the consistent theme in your advice. Insincerity is the jumpsuit worn by arseholes. What would you say to that? Sincerity is what gives form to art substance. Whether it’s writing, painting, making music or acting, what separates the men from the boys, so to speak, is if whomever is creating has done so with a bit of thought. God, we have Katie Price busting out novels these days and she has probably made more money than Hunter S Thompson. But while her books end up in the $2 bin at Good Sammy’s, Hunter S has touched lives and will be remembered. In no way am I trying to compare myself to Hunter S Thompson, but I do try to write about things that suggest personal experience, even if it’s embarrassing at times.
There’s a lot of blind hate on the internet. Does that bother you? God, of course it does! I am actually quite surprised at how minimal the hate is. I say some pretty ‘in your face’ stuff; I would have thought that a lot more people would have told me where to stick it by now. You just have to be objective about it. If they sign their name and give constructive feedback, then that’s not really hate is it? But when old mate “anonymous” pipes up with some well thought out insult, you just gotta wonder how much they really ‘hate’ you in the first place. I know that I never comment on anyone’s stuff that I ‘hate’ because I don’t really want to give them the time of day. You’re also from Perth. Is that enlightening in itself? I’m actually from Cape Town. I left when I was 18 and then lived in London for seven years. I have been in Australia for nearly four years now and it has been Perth the whole time. I guess it can be enlightening because it’s funny how when people live in a place with fairly little poverty or hardship, they tend to make it so they have something to talk about! It’s a pretty easy life here in Western Australia. The only hardship I’ve faced is the shocking good looking male to female ratio.
What is the worst way someone can act? The worst thing we can ever do is to give the impression that we know everything and there is nothing left to learn. I am a self-confessed knowit-all. When I am at the height of obnoxiousness I can tell on people’s faces and I back down. This is something that I fight within myself every single day. When I realised Do you think the that I was the cause Because the population [in Perth] is smaller, of my own misery, it it is very easy for nobody to become a somebody here city has a distinct voice? When an became easier to start artist/designer changing what makes says they’re me unhappy and left from out this way, should we be expecting me open to learn something new. We should just all something? learn to shut the hell up and listen. Yeah, because the population is smaller, it is very easy for nobody to become a somebody here. It is What does having a regular following feel like? easy to cause hype and stand out from the crowd. I actually take it personally if someone unfollows The trick is to have some substance to keep you me! It feels nice to have support from people in the there and make you shine in other places too. I industry and getting emails saying that something I think that being this isolated makes you more wrote really helped them. I don’t think my readers unique as the possibility of being influenced by the even realise how much their feedback guides and masses is less of a threat. People from Perth need inspires me. to make sure they aren’t building their house on the sand. I talk in metaphors a lot don’t I? Is there a master plan for Obnoxious Owl? Is this the larval stage of a career in journalism or I’d like to wrap all this up with a statement: authorship? Obnoxious Owl makes the internet a better I have had thoughts about turning it into a book. A place. kind of tongue-in-cheek self-help book if you will. I honestly didn’t think I would have this kind of Tammy’s blog lives at obnoxiousowl.com. reaction at this stage, let alone feeling like it could CHEGGITOWT develop into something else!
A group of owls is called a parliament.
Stay off the Road ---------------------- Ed Fearis ----------------------
It is a balmy summer’s night at a youth hostel on the outskirts of Florence. Two French guys smoke lazily nearby. A giggling Irish lass disappears with a handsome Argentine. Merry travellers share 2E Peroni around while a Moroccan on a guitar crones with heartfelt feeling: “No; woman; NO FLY!” It is a happy scene. I start tuning into the conversation: “Yeah man, when I get back I just want to like travel again man. You know, get out, see the world, learn Spanish; DO South America.” “I want to drive across America.”
Illustration by Emily O’Keefe
“YEAH!” “I want to teach English in Cambodia.” “YEAH!” They pick me out. “What about you man?” “Well, I’m not sure. I mean, I suppose I will just hang out with my friends and family. You know, take it easy for a while.” <Disapproving frowns> “Ah, I mean: travel?” <Vigorous approving nods> Hopefully, many of you (particularly those who have been on exchange) recognise this sort of nauseating attitude. How did this develop? Since when did we become sold on the idea that travel is no longer a luxury, but a staple of our existence? Why is every Arts/Commerce student going on a three-week trip to Europe in July so horribly irritating to listen to? Of course, it used to take supreme courage to travel. Now it simply takes a lot of microfibre towels, combination locks, Kathmandu windfleeces, emergency iPod speakers, mosquito nets and daily Facebook updates. To some extent this is the by-product of the stay-at-home generation; our dependence on our parents translates to them controlling our lives, at home and abroad: “Harlem? I don’t think so Suzie.” Travel has become about the consumption of ‘place’. And like every other form of consumption,
it is dependent upon brands. Aren’t the Full Moon Party, La Tomatina, Carnivale and Amsterdam just as much brands as Levis or Calvin Klein? With the advent of cheap internet fares, the travel industry has embarked on a ‘value-adding’, marketing frenzy. You don’t just take a trip to Germany anymore; you book a Third Reich tour of Munich. You make for “the uttermost part of the Earth: Tierra del Fuego”. We are continually on the search for the perfect sausage, the world’s 10 best gated communities, or Thailand’s most childfriendly lady-boy bars. At least when you’re away you’re not at home hearing about someone else’s trip. There are few things more numbing than this. Travel has become a social contest where we try to outdo our friends with sophistication; a source of geographical name-dropping, the proof to be seen in scores of Facebook photos and profile updates. (Current Facebook updates drawn from two of my friends: “Which is better – Universal Studios in LA or Orlando?” “Aspen what a Wild Wild Jam!!!!.... T-86 hours....... The Republic is calling......”) Complete and unabridged photo viewings (these digital cameras, good eh?) and slow-motion replays of the entire itinerary of the trip have become as much compulsory viewing for friends and family as Royal Weddings. The game is simple; you either have to match a story or suffer through it in silence. Basically, there are two main styles: the “Yorkshireman” (“You got your camera stolen in Buenos Aires? Hah! We got robbed at knife-point in Nicaragua and it wasn’t covered by travel insurance!”), or the more traditional “Australian” (“You paid 83c for that Vietnamese water-colour? Hah! I got it for 79 and
all I had to do was threaten the artist’s kids with a picture of Gary Glitter!”) And I know what you’re saying: these are tourists though, we’re travellers. Perhaps the romantics amongst you protest, along the lines of Robert Louis Stevenson in Travels With Donkey: “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere but to go. I travel for travel’s sake.” Easy enough for him to say when the jackass he travelled with wasn’t the sexually deviant Kiwi uni student on a bus across Costa Rica. But still, to see these places for yourself, to have these experiences, is important. Travel broadens our minds, right? Assuming you can’t find a happy medium between falling into a bitter feud with your travelling partner(s) and the desolate loneliness of travelling by yourself, what’s wrong with “finding yourself ” at home? In a letter written to a friend in 1787, Thomas Jefferson explained that travelling spreads a person’s affections too thin, causing deep dissatisfaction and idleness. Older, more mature people may be able to handle such a shock to the system, but young people should stay in their home countries where the pursuit of knowledge will be less “obstructed by foreign objects”. To those of you who think a motorcycle tour around South America will lead you to launch a Marxist revolution and unite a continent, think again. Stillness, deliberation, the reflective pause are just as likely to be found alone in your room with a bottle of red and a Bob Dylan record, as traipsing up Machu Picchu with 3,000 other Aussie gap students. Or if you still insist on going on your little trips this July, just don’t be a turbo/hipster/ snobbish/general arse about it all.
Aeroplane tyres are pumped with nitrogen gas because if they were pumped with air, water molecules would solidify at high altitudes.
Working on the Road -------------------------------------------
Mat Hannaford -------------------------------------------
Asphalt is a composite material consisting of stone, sand and bitumen. It is commonly used in the construction of roads, carparks, driveways and airport runways. It can be black or red in colour and is produced at a temperature in excess of 150°C.
Stupid drunken decisions! That’s a monkey that’d been clasped firmly to my back since way back in year eight. But that was 10 years ago. I’m older now. The consequences of drinking go not much further than a bad headache and $300 doesn’t seem that much anymore. I can earn that in a day now.
I know this because I’m a road worker. I lay asphalt for a living. It is how I’ve supported myself financially whilst studying these past years and depending on how useful my English degree turns out to be, it may be how I’ll continue to do it after I finish studying. We’ll see. But regardless, this black shit, as it is affectionately referred to in the industry, has been good to me.
Today, I’m staring down the barrel of graduation and you would think that after completing a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English, at UWA, I’d be able to come up with a less clichéd metaphor than “staring down the barrel of...” But some things haven’t changed. There are still roads to be paved. And asphalt remains a harsh mistress. One thing I’ve learnt is that you never go home with clean hands.
My relationship with asphalt goes all the way back to high school where I would work for my old man during the holidays. $300 a week isn’t much when you think about it, but it was a lot for a pimply faced boy in year 10. I remember coming back for a new term after one particularly productive stint on the job. I was loaded to the nines. I would’ve been treating myself at the canteen every Friday until the end of term. But, it wasn’t to be. First weekend into the term and I got really, really drunk and kicked a great big hole through a door at my mate’s party. That was a costly mistake.
Laying asphalt, though very demanding physically, is a rather simple process. A typical day starts with me driving the truck to the plant. The plant is where the asphalt is mixed. Here I would have some mix loaded on to the truck. It could be a ton, three tons, eight tons. It varies. But a ton of asphalt isn’t as much as it seems like it would be. I would then drive to the job. Like its size, the location of the job varies greatly. I’ve laid asphalt on St Georges Terrace, on the driveways of million dollar mansions in Mosman Park, inside Perth Zoo, even on Rottnest Island.
If I’m lucky, the job will be ready upon arrival but usually there is some preparation involved. This might involve some digging out of the existing surface or running a strategic saw cut here and there. When the job is ready, the asphalt is dropped in the hole by way of wheelbarrow or bobcat. It is spread out with a shovel, levelled with a rake, and then it’s ready to be rolled. The roller is a heavy machine that compacts the asphalt hard and flat. Following this, a brief clean up is conducted and the job is complete. That is a fairly abridged version of the asphalt narrative however. In between all of this is a visit to a lunch bar, a fair bit of swearing, and a lot of perving and wolf-whistling. And, like any good story, there have been some memorable characters. There’s the 40-year-old former junkie who still lives with his mum. The crude but endearing British expat. The depressed brother who is liable to snap at any moment and hit a member of the public in the face with a shovel. And you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that many of the people that I’ve worked alongside have had names like Wayne, Stevo, and Bazza. My favourite would have to be John. He’s the British expat. Every second word that comes out of his mouth is “cunt” but he’s a real larrikin. Always good
India is attempting to start up a “universal identity number” somewhat like the American Social Security number. Because each number is to be linked up with biometric data, this creates a problem for manual labourers whose fingerprints are now unreadable after decades of work.
Illustration by D’arcy Ellis
for a laugh and a bloody hard worker. He does have some antiquated views – he has proudly given himself the moniker Victorian Dad – but he’s a good sort. Here are some of my favourite quotes from John:
SEX AFTER SCI How do Spinal Chord Injuries change your sex life? ---------------- Naomi Munford ----------------
“If my kids ever spoke to me like that they’d get bloody hiding, they would” “She’s got a nice body on her...too bad her face looks like a bulldog chewing a wasp” “Look at this stupid cunt!” If you have preconceived notions of the road working fraternity as being rife with men who hold backwards attitudes, then I can confirm that you are largely correct. Never do I encounter such racist, homophobic, misogynistic vitriol than when I am at work. Though it needs to be said, this isn’t an organised hate group or anything. It’s just a bunch of uneducated men mouthing off about things that they don’t understand. This is nothing new, but I think the problem is that the situation perpetuates itself. There are no alternatives being offered. There’s no one disagreeing with what’s being said. I guess I could take that role but when it comes to work, I’ve never been interested in changing people’s minds about anything. I just want to earn a dollar. Get in, lay some asphalt, and go home. That’s it! Over time, I have learned to just smile and nod, smile and nod. This is only one of the reasons that I’m looking forward to leaving this work behind, eventually. There are others, but they are mostly to do with a desire to start something new as opposed to leaving behind something that is old. I’ve worked for my dad in the family business for years now and I remember him once expressing to me that he’d be delighted if I were to one day take over. Over the years I believe I’ve made it clear to him (with a twinge of guilt, mind you) that I’m not interested in doing this. I remember when my parents first embarked upon starting their own business and there was talk, if times ever got tough, of my dad maybe having to look for a job stacking shelves in a supermarket. As a kid, this worried me. Partly because it was an indication that things weren’t going well, and partly because that means that my dad would be a shelf-stacker in a supermarket. Fortunately, this situation never came to be and this many years down the track, after all his hard work, I couldn’t be prouder of him. But, like I said, there are new things out there waiting for me. Asphalt was only ever supposed to get me through uni. And now I am nearly there, with the end of this semester being the end of my degree. People at work keep asking me, “What next?” I usually respond with an unconvincing yet well rehearsed script of some of the things that I maybe perhaps might be interested in. Lately though, I’ve just been telling the truth. And the truth is that I don’t actually know. Whatever happens, I just hope I haven’t let my old man down.
In 2006 there were more than 56,000 people seriously injured on Australian roads. Of this total, 50% were under 30 years of age and of that, slightly less than half were females. What does this mean for women, who – if we are to believe that silly social mantra – are just about to hit their sexual peak? Although this myth is not backed by any scientific evidence, the current rehabilitation model used throughout Australia for serious injuries such as spinal cord injuries (SCI) has been criticised by feminist theorists. They argue, that the rehabilitation addresses male sexuality issues whilst ignoring women who “are seen as functional if they have a usable vagina for a male partner’s satisfaction”. The notion that women only have a passive role to play in sex is used as an excuse to not accept a woman’s sexual dysfunction equally with that of a man and treat her accordingly. A study from 2010 showed that women still continue to be sexually active after a SCI that affects the innervation of the genitals. Like men – who, for instance, can’t get erections – changes in sexual function were chiefly of a physical nature. These included loss or diminishing of sensation, difficulty in achieving orgasm and inability to change sexual position. From the same study it was shown that some women post-SCI could no longer reach orgasm because of the “loss of sensation in the vagina and clitoris” and no longer responded the same way to sexual stimuli they once took pleasure from. It’s interesting to note that women expressed a desire to still be touched in areas with no sensation as part of an overall sexual experience. Sexual dysfunction is a cause for concern for both men and women. Another issue is the role of prostitutes for those living with disabilities. Academic rhetoric claims that disabled patients should be educated on how to pleasure themselves. This may include access to pornography and even the involvement of carers (sex nurses) and prostitutes. The arguments put forwards are always kept gender neutral however the inherent emphasis is masculine. The Sex Industry has used this promotion as a base for legitimising and legalising the work they do. Sexpo, a trade show of pornography and sexual lifestyle held every year in Australian capital cities, has a special section dedicated to the support and sexual provision of men living with disabilities. The state of Victoria has legalised brothels that offer services to disabled men. It has been argued that this is just spin used in an attempt to make the work of prostitutes seem nobler. Although research has shown that women do not use prostitutes in the same way men do, this act still normalises sexuality in disabled men whilst largely ignoring the needs of women. Feminists call this the “the male sex right”: the privileged expectation that men in societies should have access to the body of women with no regard to the reverse. Sex is a liberating experience. If rehabilitation programs seek to restore an injured person as closely back to a pre-injury level of functioning as possible, then the sexuality of patients cannot be ignored. The rehabilitation process should be aimed at facilitating a sexual expression that is both acceptable and satisfying for women.
Feminism Diverges Alex Wolman rides the road to raunchy feminism
Some women are claiming that stripping, being in porn films, getting their breasts out for Girls Gone Wild and other sexually exhibitionist displays are empowering and represent the next step in feminism. This may strike you as completely misguided. Before doing research for this article I stood firmly in the camp of the latter. I suspended this judgement and sought out the truth. The confusion surrounding whether raunch culture is empowering can, to a large degree, be attributed to the schism in the feminist community about the issue. Recently a type of feminism has emerged which gives women consent to do as they please. How can doing what you want ever be considered a bad thing? This position is not just held by glossy magazine journalists; intellectuals like Catharine Lumby, Director of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney promulgate it. On the other side of the fence are those who maintain that raunch culture has reduced rather than increased women’s freedom. These include Natasha Walter, a former libertarian feminist, who like many others has jumped ship and
rejected her earlier beliefs and advocated a reassessment of female sexuality. Proponents of raunch culture maintain that it empowers because it expands the territory of normalisation. It increases the scope of female sexuality and opens spaces in which new identities can be formulated. What this effectively means is that it allows women to do what they want; it enables them to enact behaviour that would previously have been looked down upon, and make choices about how to display themselves and interact with the world as they have never been able to before. The battle cry of pro-raunch feminists is that taboos are only social constructs and as a result can be dismissed. It is around this issue of normalisation that the conflict is being fought. Anti-raunch feminists argue that rather than the territory of normalisation being expanded, all that has happened is the shifting of the central point. They suggest that women are not really doing what they want; they are doing what they feel pressured to do. Women are actually feeling forced to adopt a hypersexual identity, one in which they appear and act as “lusty, busty exhibitionist(s)”, according to Ariel Levy. The pressure felt by some is obviously greater than that felt by others. Some feel forced to take part in a ‘rainbow party’, while others feel the need to always look sexy and hot in front of guys.
Illustration by Evelyn Froend.
Like Leora Tanenbaum, I wondered, “surely something good must result from the new confidence” gained through raunch culture; and I think there is. In my opinion, it has enabled women to be proud of their sexualities, rather than embarrassed by them. It has allowed naturally hypersexual people to express themselves in ways that they were previously not able to and has brought about an acceptance of those who work in the sex industry. Furthermore, I’m not sure how much weight I am willing to give the assertion that women are feeling any new pressure from raunch culture that they did not before. I’m not sure how greatly the pressure placed by raunch culture to look hot and sexy differs from that by mainstream society to look pretty – though I do understand that it is possibly a more
objectifying stance. Finally, it seems that a large part of the rejection sentiment directed towards raunch culture is coming simply from people’s subjective dislike of the aesthetic; this is something that should not be flippantly dismissed. What I think is more prevalent is the still deeprooted conservatism that prevents women from displaying themselves sexually or being sexually active. This pressure, I believe, is felt much more strongly by most women. So maybe in this respect, raunch culture can be seen to be liberating and empowering as it gives women new spaces in which to enact their sexualities. But now we move on to a more one-sided point. Sexual liberation is only one form of liberation. It is important to achieve equality in all areas of life and the intense focus on this one aspect has had a somewhat negative effect on the others. Erica Jong eloquently writes, “I would be happier if my daughter and her friends were crashing through the glass ceiling instead of the sexual ceiling. Being able to have an orgasm with a man you don’t love or having Sex and the City on television, that is not liberation. If you start to think about women as if we’re all Carrie on Sex and the City, well, the problem is: you’re not going to elect Carrie to the Senate or to run your company. Let’s see the Senate 50% female; let’s see women in decision-making positions – that’s power. Sexual freedom can be a smokescreen for how far we haven’t come.” Instead of seeking socio-economic independence, many women are almost solely concerned with their sexuality. Men have to work – they have always had to. These women, however, use ‘sexual liberation’ as an excuse to be dependent, vapid and unambitious. In the end, I agree with Darlene Taylor when she writes, “a pragmatist would support a woman’s right to choose what she wants to wear, whilst understanding that there is a reaction to every action and wearing ‘fuck-me’ shoes gets an obvious one regardless of what theorists say”. Make sure you look after the other areas of your life as well. Don’t equate sexual liberation with gender equality...because it isn’t. And for all of you out there who still have animosity towards raunch culture, feel free to dislike – nay hate – the aesthetic; I certainly find it repulsive. Trust me, this wasn’t the conclusion I wanted to draw.
1 in 5000 women are born without a vagina so some doctors fashion “vaginas” out of intestines or rectums.
Knitted Tags ---------- Stephen Barrett ----------
Most weekday mornings, just outside my favourite overpriced bakery on Hay St in the city sits Clive. Clive is one of my favourite Big Issue vendors and has located himself outside the entrance to Shafto Lane for the past few years, garnering a loyal following as he happily competes with Devo, who sells just across the road. On grey days when rain threatens, the shelter on Devo’s side of the street seems particularly appealing, as do days when the Greenpeace frontliners take over Clive’s pitch, turning it into a gauntlet of guilt for all those drab corporate types. One day a few weeks back, however, Clive’s pitch got an injection of colour. Behind him, on the bike rack, I spotted a curious thing. It was bright pink and purple, woolly, wholesome and reminiscent of one of Nan’s tea cosies. It was my first introduction to the world of knitted tags. Knitting for me always seemed to be a grandmotherly occupation – something that one could not take up until post-menopause. Not only was knitting overtly feminine, it just seemed so clichéd and old-fashioned, sort of like smoking – the antithesis of cool. These two habits actually became entwined, as a distant friend with a dashing undercut and scary locks of golden orange claimed she had taken up knitting as a pastime to distract her hands from wanting cigarettes. I mocked her endlessly, then asked for a pair of socks. She imparted a ravishing insult and left feeling quite content and morally superior. I too left, feeling rather smug. It was an exchange Adam Smith would’ve loved. Soon after, my cousin, barely 19, baked me a birthday cake and knitted my godson a pair of sockettes. This was such an absurdly sweet gesture that it didn’t even strike me as ridiculous until several days later. What was a 19-year-old non-smoker doing knitting? By my standards, she should be getting legless or writing dirty comments on her Facebook wall. Appreciating knitting is surely social suicide, but then it struck me. Knitting is the pinnacle of indie. If everything old and retro and massively uncool was back in fashion, then knitting could potentially become the activity that would surpass Gameboys and Rubiks cubes. Knitting could not only subvert gender stereotypes in a way that dressing androgynously could never do, but it could also be the beginning of a movement towards a more organic, retro and playful street art. Knitting as a form of sculpture provides a way to see everyday objects in new, and ever more creative ways. And, to top it all off, both hipsters and ordinary folk are doing it. This is the real power of the worldwide movement towards knitted tags.
Walk around Beaufort St in Mt Lawley, or through the little laneways of Freo and you’ll likely encounter these wondrous creations. Woollen coverings of simple roadside fixtures have cropped up, bringing smiles to all passers-by, and maybe even a head scratch or two. They are simple, ephemeral and maybe even a little kitsch. In all, they are anti-graffiti. They are so inoffensive that council workers tend to leave them well alone. The Hay St pieces are pushing on a month, and given the rainy season is about to begin, one wonders at their likely longevity. Does wool rot? Do sheep smell in the rain? We’ll soon know. In trying to find out where exactly this movement began, I consulted my grandmother. This woman has knitted me several items of clothing over the years, so I figured she might have a few ideas. When I suggested that a woollen covering for a cold road sign might be a nice idea, she frowned, quietly got her rosary out, and said a few Hail Mary’s. Undeterred by the consternations of the elderly I marched on. A bit more sleuthing uncovered Magda Sayeg, a Texan by birth, a dreamer by day, a knitter above Organic culture is making inroads into our all. She founded Knitta Please lives, whether we like it or not. Coffee, clothing in 2005, as a response to the dull urban landscapes that she and half our supermarkets have succumbed encountered daily. Claiming it to the call of the organic. as a way to bring art out of the Now street art is having its turn galleries, and as a way to bring a small bit of cheer into the lives of strangers, she has spawned a movement towards knitting as the ultimate form of organic street art. In Sayeg’s world, gone are the aerosols, the aggressive looking ‘tags’, and the bravado of graffiti-ing in ever higher and more risky locations. Instead, knitted ‘tags’ often take the edge off hard, gritty streetscapes, and replace them with a more charming, and colourful softness. The impermanence of street art is integral to its success as a movement. Using wool as a medium heightens this sense of fleeting pleasure you feel as you pass by a knit tag. Tomorrow the council might rip it off, or its colour may fade, but its existence today is what matters. Organic culture is making inroads into our lives, whether we like it or not. Coffee, clothing and half our supermarkets have succumbed to the call of the organic. Now street art is having its turn. Will this be a passing fad, buoyed by the success of all things retro? Or will knitting and knitted tags have a more regular home on our streets? Now, about knitting up that Bell Tower...
Knitting has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of depression.
The Bibbulmun track --------------------------------- Zack Doherty ---------------------------------
Last year I walked the Bibbulmun track with a close friend, a 967km bushwalk between Perth and Albany. I took a semester off from university, and for 56 days the track was my life. There is a quotation that goes something like this: You begin life as a Taoist, in middle age you become a Confucian, and in old age you are a Buddhist. This reflected the three broad stages of what was to be my life-changing pilgrimage. On a sunny day in September we were dropped off at the beginning of the track in the Perth hills, with a heavy pack and a light heart. As we set off the reality of what we were commencing had not kicked in; it just felt like a day walk and that we would be home for dinner. We talked about what we wanted out of life, the nature of reality and even what would be the best weapon in a zombie apocalypse (a samurai sword). Everything was so interesting. In our youthful exuberance we got lost twice; and we were still spitting distance from home. During that early phase we were children on a holiday: toasting marshmallows on the fire, exploring and enjoying the novelty of our newfound independence. We were even teased by other bushwalkers for being those kids who sleep in (it was only 7:30, come on!). A couple of weeks into the track we did our first long-term planning. We discovered that at the rate we were going we would not finish the track by the time we needed to get back to our lives in Perth. When the limitations of reality intruded on our Taoist bubble, this kicked us into Confucian mode. We did a 37km day (walking until midnight), followed by the most mountainous section of the whole track the next day, followed by another 36kms the next. It was satisfying but also exhausting. My blister-riddled feet and cramping legs required some stern words to keep going. In this Confucian period we got competitive. We were stoked with ourselves for overtaking a 65-year-old retired guy who had overtaken us in the previous week. Additionally, this stage involved meticulous (bordering on obsessive) planning and rationing of food. When you have to carry about a week’s worth of food supplies you don’t want to carry any extra, but
you also don’t want to go hungry. So we got very regimented, destination orientated and disciplined. We even started getting up early. But as our obsessive destination-orientated Confucian drive got us ahead of schedule and our fitness improved, we were able to slip into a contented Buddhist mindset. Nature, and the symbol of the Aboriginal dreamtime serpent which marked the track, were our only guides. We were less concerned with why and more with enjoying the beauty of what was all around us (being in the Karri and Tingle forest during wildflower season may have had something to do with this). We were still walking about 20km per day but we were no longer in a rush. When we found a nice place we would stop and spend the afternoon there. One time I even took a crash course in paragliding and with borrowed equipment jumped off a cliff (only to be reunited with a spiky bush some five minutes later). We realised that since we had all our supplies and equipment with us, there was no need to be anywhere by any particular time (so why not spent some of it airborne?). We cast off these shackles of mental rigidity concerning destination and structure that were so helpful to us during our Confucius ordeals. Now, it was all about enjoying the journey. The bus from Albany arrived in the Perth CBD for the 5pm rush hour. I spilled out onto the busy suit-filled street with my backpack, my walking sticks and a two-month shaggy beard. I had not seen that many people in as many months. My first impression was that the people did not seem happy. They were not engaging with their surroundings and with each other but rather seemed destination and structure orientated. This was oddly reminiscent of my Confucius period left behind long ago on the track. As I returned to a summer job at a law firm in the CBD and my university studies, I tried to keep in mind the lessons I learnt on the Bibbulman track. While the destination-orientated Confucian mindset does help me get through those grinds that are an unavoidable part of life, it is not worth it unless you enjoy the journey as well.
Things you should know before hitting the track •
Bring more food than you usually eat – walking is a hungry business.
Make sure your shoes are worn in – blisters are not fun.
Bring friends – they are fun.
Try to do a few training walks before you head off.
Read nature-inspired poetry to get you in the mood.
Check out bibbulmuntrack.org.au for more tips and personal stories.
There is no time like the present to hit the track, even just for a weekend.
Diane van Deren is an ultra-runner, meaning she can run extremely long distances (100 miles in 28 hours). This physical ability grew to prominence in 1997 when she had a part of her temporal lobe removed to control her seizures. The part removed affected her judgement of time.
Queer Stirrings ––––––– Richard Ferguson –––––––
I came out to my mum to avoid having to wash dishes. It was another dreary night in Ol’ Gosnells and I was preparing to go to the land of sleep where the usual dreams of hosting Lateline and making out with James Franco were awaiting me. However, a trap had been laid against me. Millions of dishes were awaiting me and Mother was not happy. “What a dump,” the woman declared as she prepared for another lecture on the evidence that I was a “lazy bastard”. I needed a way out of this one – a conversation changer. It seemed so prefect; I had to tell her at some point and she was sure to forget all about the dishes. So, I said it. “I’m gay.” She turned her face and merely uttered, “What?” I reiterated my previous statement and awaited
the dramatic reaction that was sure to pour out of her. I got one but not what I wanted. She merely screamed, “IS THAT WHY YOU HAVEN’T DONE THE FUCKING DISHES?!” Coming out to people was often like that. In a society where homosexuality and other alternative orientations are considered to be outside the mainstream, one finds they have to not only define their sexuality for themselves but for other people as well. A handy metaphor for the process is the speed bump in the road. Before one wishes to reach their destination – a.k.a. hot person – they must endure the speed bump of discussing their biological imperative and having their whole outer-perception defined by one conversation. It’s also a handy metaphor because the first time I told anyone I was gay was on the road.
Lauren, Jen and I were heading to the Southbound Festival and we were playing one of those silly question and answer games to pass the time. “Who did you lose your virginity to?”, “Who would you choose to save: your mum or your boyfriend?” and all that. Then, Jen asked the question that probably changed everything. “What is the biggest secret you have ever kept from your mum?” “Oh shite,” I thought. I couldn’t be bothered making up a story like I usually did. I just quietly mumbled those two words that I have gotten quite used to saying now. Lauren and Jen didn’t flinch – though Lauren would later ask if I would really take it up the backside – and just said, “oh yeah”. Telling people that have no relation to you is always a big step, as they don’t have that assumed responsibility to care no matter what you are. I was very lucky, but it was only a first step. The next bump on that open highway towards being a declared homo is when people find out. Coming out is like the lottery. Only the lucky winner gets the prize of that lovely piece of gossip. Unfortunately, once someone wins, everyone they know comes for their piece of the money. That’s what happened with Zoe. She was not to know. I trusted her; in fact, I adored her, but I simply wasn’t ready. Unfortunately, other people who knew were certainly ready to tell. She took me aside and interrogated me about my sexuality and a boy I liked at the time. I had a few responses planned. “Why the fuck do you want to know?” was what originally came to mind.
Illustrationsby Emily O’Keefe
Even we men-loving men are not safe from the wiles of a beautiful woman. With that weird thing she does with her eyes, I spilled out everything. The clever bitch should work for the ASIO. When one is faced with such situations, your reaction depends on the person. Sometimes, it may be better to keep quiet. In other situations, you realise you were keeping quiet for no reason at all. Closets can be crowded places but that does not mean one necessarily leaves it. I never talked about my homosexuality out loud until six months after I first told my friends. This was a closely guarded secret and anyone attempting to open the closet door was to be shot on sight. To be honest, I regretted telling anyone at all and I made it very clear that it was to be kept
The end of the road was near. The land of outness, with its intellectual credibility, nice clothes and attractive, skinny models was waiting for me. Shame I hadn’t told my father yet.
secret. Whispers in the corner in the classroom and late night Facebook-chat conversations meant that boys were the topic of discussion. Conversations between teenagers are very much like cabinet meetings with Kevin Rudd and everyone in the school knew afterwards. Still, I was a popular student councillor with a good relationship with the Catholic staff and the Catholic students. The idea of losing that reputation and being sent off to the fringes terrified me. The followers of Jesus are never as kind as their master was to the lepers and I knew that keeping quiet would get me through in the end. In all fairness, I also had a little brother starting out at high school and he didn’t need to be known as the “brother of the faggot” so early in his tenure. I was acting partly out of respect for that boy and his right to start on his own footing. Wholly, I was more concerned with looking after myself. Unfortunately, I was required to talk about a boy. In order to do it, I needed to halt my pit stop and return to the open road of coming out. Crystal had information on a boy with whom I was rather in love with. I attempted to get the information out of her every way I could, bar water–boarding. His name would appear in every discussion and at points of frustration; I would start conversations purely on the topic of the boy. Finally, after a particularly close call of revealing my secret in public, I decided to tell her I was gay. It did not help that she was a committed Christian of a particularly fervent Evangelical church. Facebook returned to play as I declared through a personal message that I was in love with her “best friend”, who happened to be the love of my life. After telling her, she responded by asking if it was Paige, Erica or Takara. She was one of those rare creatures who had no clue that I was a homosexual. We ended up going through every girl she had ever met and a few she perhaps had seen in a shop at some point. I merely ended up saying his name in order to make her shut the fuck up. “YOU’RE GAY?” was the message after that one.
“Yeah,” I typed to her. “It’s because you looked at me and were turned off by my kind forever, wasn’t it?” she typed back. Fair enough, I thought. The most spiritual person I knew had not a single issue with it. I came to a realisation that while people may be surprised, they would quickly figure it out like the rest seemed to. More importantly, I gathered that people really did not care about my homosexuality. It was a non-issue and they were more concerned with the usual gossip of whom I fancied. I can easily pinpoint this moment as the point where I learned not to care. My pals were my pals whether I was gay or straight. Now, they just wanted to go shopping with me a lot. The end of the road was near. The land of outness, with its intellectual credibility, nice clothes and attractive, skinny models was waiting for me. Shame I hadn’t told my father yet.
“I know. I have read your Facebook page before,” said Dad. Time is different now. I no longer need to have coming out conversations and I openly speak about boys. Any fear of retribution and abandonment has been replaced with a sense of gratitude that I have such supportive people around me. The faithful crew of this very magazine proves that. Many days are spent in the Pelican office openly discussing the prettiest boys and my lack of a love life. Not everyone is as lucky as me, and this happy tale is at odds with many who suffer. If I were you though, I would come out. It is extremely painful but the benefits of not having to lie anymore have been abundant. I got to the end and I am the happiest I have ever been. Now I’m just stuck on the “desperately need a date” highway like every other sucker out there.
Dad was a roadblock if ever there was one. I love my father very much but he and I are different creatures. I am a bold, academic, opinionated young adventurer who never stops talking. My father is a classic Scottish protestant; quiet, conservative and not interested in much other than his work. This was a man who would fastforward the DVD to pass the gay kissing scenes and say things like, “I get how two women could raise children but two men?” It did not help that I never had a conversation like this with another man. However, a discussion on Margaret Thatcher, Oasis vs Blur or who never vacuumed their bedroom could be difficult when Dad was involved. I made a meticulous plan. I was going to do it in an open, public place where I could easily escape if he got angry or where large groups of people could judge him for being a heartless bastard. Luckily a trip around a shopping centre was perfect. We were sitting with coffee and all of a sudden, I panicked. I had considered the consequences but only now was I afraid of them. I began to cry, which I had never done before when coming out. Dad told me sternly to stop mumbling and just speak properly. If you will excuse the pun, I just came out with it.
Evolutionists reckon that a man evolved a penis with a ridged flans so that he could scoop up competitors’ semen before thrusting in and leaving his own sperm. The last portion of the ejaculate also contains a natural spermicide. What an intelligent creature the penis is!
Almost all the great evils of our modern age are tied to the bumper of modern transport. •
Road accidents: Last year 1,259 Australians died on our roads.
Climate Change: Transport accounts for 23% of carbon emissions according to the latest IPCC Climate Change report.
Road Rage: Congestion and BLOODY MORONIC DRIVERS are resulting in unnecessarily high blood pressure levels. Road rage is also sowing dissension and hostility amongst us, estranging man from his fellow brethren and causing emotional and spiritual alienation.
Basically, without cumbersome, noxious modern transport, we’re on a road trip to paradise. Regressing to walking will of course never do, for it may ameliorate the obesity crisis. One obvious path appears (suddenly) before me: teleportation. Yes. Teleportation. You may have seen it on Star Trek. This is one of those mythical themes where quantum physics leaks over into the domain of magic. We’re closer than you think – but perhaps not in the popularist Trekkie sense. In fact, we’re already there. In 2002, our very own scientists at the Australian National University successfully teleported a laser beam from one side of the laboratory to the other. Teleportation as modern science knows it concerns more with the exchange of information between two particles rather than a physical transferral of matter. Thus far, we have only been able to switch the properties of photons and more recently atoms. For the latter, teleportation has only been possible when the atoms are no more than around a metre apart. This exchange occurs due to a phenomenon known as ‘quantum entanglement’ made possible by the quirky laws of the sub-atomic world, where two particles are able to share quantum states even when they’re far apart. Let’s say we have three ions: A, B and C. The quantum state to be teleported is configured and held in A. Ions B and C are then ‘entangled’. One pair acts as intermediary, entangling itself with A. The result of this entanglement is measured and transferred to C. Atom C has now assumed atom A’s initial state, no longer exhibited by A. “Spooky action”, Einstein called it. Utterly
Ross Bailey -------------------------------------------
bewildering, I call it. It is predicted that telecommunication is likely to be the main beneficiary of this kind of teleportation. Under Moore’s Law, the number of transistors that can be squashed into a computer’s microchips has increased exponentially since the 70s as they become smaller and more efficient. However, this process of miniaturisation can’t continue indefinitely, and some have predicted that in the next decade an impasse will be reached when transistors reach atomic levels. The ‘quantum internet’ overcomes size constraints, enabling vastly accelerated data transmission rates, with ‘qubits’ becoming the new digital information units. So teleportation of an infinitesimal particle is all well and good, but what about teleportation of humans? To transfer a human subject, we would need to know the exact type, location and movement of every single 1028 atom he/she is composed of. One highly pessimistic
Initially, teleportation will be a costly business. But then, I’d rather avoid all the glitches of nascent technology and wait a bit before I allow lasers to disintegrate my person. scientist commented “there’s way too many atoms. At the other end of the transporter, you need to have some blob of atoms that represents Captain Kirk but has no information in it. I mean, what would that look like?” Such a statement resonates with a lack of vision. I’ll hold onto the idea that future technologies will transcend the constraints of impossibility. When it does become viable, no doubt teleportation will outstrip the wheel as mankind’s most ingenious invention! Although, like the wheel, the second one made will sort of validate the whole patenting. With a single wheel, all you’ve got is another act in a circus clown’s repertoire. Likewise, a single teleporting booth would not be very impressive. Picture it: all the eminent scientific minds the age, gathered round in anticipation, their moustaches bristling with excitement (No. You misread me. I am not being a misogynist here by implying ‘all the great scientific minds’ are men – the women scientist’s
had moustaches too. Being hirsute will be a new age fashion). Solemnly, the first public test subject steps in the machine. A switch is flicked. A low whirring sound is heard emanating from the teleport. Smoke billows. Solemnly, the test subject steps out. The inventor cheers wildly…then falters. His cheer echoes forlornly in an otherwise silent room. “You have gathered the entire scientific elite to witness this?” asks a tall, gaunt man coldly. “No no no, you see, well, erm, I realise it may not be visually arresting perhaps, but I assure you that his atoms have- in a split-second – disassembled themselves from their organisation, danced about a bit, and then reassembled themselves in identical configuration!” He beams round to a flat-eyed audience. Yeah, so, second teleport, remember. It’s all about the performance. The entire concept of time and space will be revolutionised. Prague, Hawaii, Greenland in an instant! A special code would be all that is required to teleport to a certain location. Initially, teleportation will be a costly business. But then, I’d rather avoid all the glitches of nascent technology and wait a bit before I allow lasers to disintegrate my person. Of course, there will be a range of ethical issues to contend with. Teleportation could be considered the murder of the ‘original’ object and the creation of an identical ‘replicate’: a new body which has been reprogrammed all your memories, hopes and dreams. Miraculous transformation suddenly seems like insidious sorcery. And there is always the potential for something to go hideously wrong. An error occurs in the information transfer and you end up with your head on backwards. A neural network a millimetre out of place and you can only say ‘Hodor’. Currently, even with ions, the probability of atom A precisely resembling atom B is only 75%. Or perhaps you’re waving your friends goodbye at the moment of disapparation and your hand gets left out of the teleportation field. And just imagine if an insect, say a fly, managed to get inside the teleport capsule with you… *Vanishes in a puff of smoke, and a low, lingering laugh*
Illustration by CamdenWatts
BEAM ME SOMEWHERE OTHER THAN HERE SCOTTY
Ahmedabad to Jaisalmer -------- Kiya Alimoradian -------I catch the 9pm bus leaving Ahmedabad arriving at 7am in Jaisalmer. It is my first long-haul bus ride in India. Seats come in two types – standard seat and sleeper. Advice to anyone planning to travel to India in the future: travel by train and if you really, really need to catch a bus, pay the extra $2 for a sleeper.
The Mad Argentine
-------- Stephen Barrett --------
-------- Daniel Pillar --------
Driving from Buenos Aires to Patagonia with an Argentine friend, he told me about his many and various lives. First as an apprentice chef, then as Marketing student, then as a pet shop owner, then as a cameraman and photographer for films; then as part-time video-store owner, a car collector, and finally as food critic. This was all told at machine gun pace, the syllables hammering out of his mouth like verbal pellets. He got caught for speeding. Since he had just bought the car, he rang the previous owner to disregard the speeding notice that would arrive in the mail.
Leavers, 2007. Down south. All I wanted was free chocolate. Juicy, juicy chips of free chocolate, available by the spoonful at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory. You’d think that driving to a chocolate factory to get some chocolate would be an easy challenge to overcome. But it wasn’t.
Sure enough, there was a second cop car not far down the road that pinged him for talking on a mobile while driving. Cursing his bad luck, he smoked half a packet of cigarettes, snoozed, and let me drive with the radio off across the vast emptiness of central Argentina. When he woke it was nearing sun down and we were closing in on Patagonia. The roads became windy and mountainous and I urged caution. Jorge sped up, wanting to make it in time for dinner.
Day two. More hungover. Apparently the night before I had continued to argue the benefits of a quest to the chocolate factory. “I’ll drive, you don’t have to make any effort at all” were the words my friends heard. They agreed. We piled into the 1971 HQ and started down the bumpy road from Gracetown. We thought it was the road that was bumpy. Turned out that for five minutes or more, we’d been driving on a completely flat tyre, destroying a tyre and mutilating the wheel. The people in the back seat hadn’t even realised that the wheel was causing that bump. I suppose they just thought it was Mr Hangover banging on their heads.
We pulled someone out of a ditch – the driver muttering something about icy roads. Inevitability came to the party. Jorge’s ridiculous rush meant we slid off the frozen road, completing two full revolutions before settling into a ditch. Happy memories of beautiful, frigid Patagonia with a mad Argentine.
Day one. Hungover. As a high school debater, I argued my point thoroughly to the seven friends staying nearby. But not one of them would hear my cry. Great disappointment was the result. How could they not want pockets full of free chocolate? Perhaps the papo was taking its toll.
Day three. Sober. We were heading home today. We finally made it to the chocolate factory… To find they were closed. I hated leavers.
The roads are bad and the traffic is worse, so the 530km trip is estimated to take over 10 hours. I quickly notice there is no toilet on the bus. My sleeper seat is less than a metre high and wide and a little bit shorter than I am, so I lie with my legs up at the roof. Below me are the standard seats. The bus starts to move and I slowly fall asleep. I wake up a couple hours later on an extremely bumpy road needing to pee. I sit up, smack my head on the ceiling and wonder what I should do. I look out from my coffin and down onto the aisle. The bus is now filled well over its capacity. Below me there are people sharing seats, a bunch of people sitting on the bus stairs, and layers of people lying on top of each other all down the aisle. A thousand snorers. I can’t see the floor. I decide to piss out of the window of my sleeper. It is dark and I fumble around looking for the window knobs. I can’t sit up so I lie on my side, knees bent, penis out the window. The air is too cold; I can’t do it. I should have brought an empty bottle; I should have brought an empty fucking bottle, I think to myself. I look at the full 1.5L bottle of water I had just bought. You’ll need it later. I consider jumping out of the bus. I search through my bags for a container of some sort. I spend the next three hours in and out of a terrible sleep, regularly trying the ‘out the window’ idea. I tell myself this is not the comfort the agent at Punjab Travels in Ahmedabad had promised. Finally the bus stops and I hear movement below. I look down, there are a few new faces but people seem to be getting off. I race off the bus and into the little village we’ve stopped at. I find a nice piece of wall. The bus driver doesn’t stop again before reaching Jaisalmer and we finally arrive at quarter to 9. Three rickshaw drivers fight over me as I step off the bus. One of them says he knows where the hotel I’ve booked at is and I get a good price. He doesn’t know where it is. He takes me to four different hotels that he highly recommends along the way and it takes another hour and a half to get there. I arrive, put my bags down and the city is incredible.
d n E ’s d l r o W e h t o t d a o R The surviving
rty guide to Thomas Adolph’s quick and di the Zombie Apocalypse.
Whether by global warming, scientific disaster or non-descript super-war, humans have long agree d that their civilisation simply can’t last much the lotter y of causes, few can deny that “zomb-poc longer. Whatever your take on alypse” or “zombie-related end-of-the-world scena rio” is by far the most likely and the most aweso myths of the silver screen, you don’t need rugge me. And contrary to the d good looks or a three-week beard to prosper in the post-apocalyptic economy; just a few simpl Pelican! e tools and a copy of your trusty Kevin Rudd’s 2008 tagline is equally useful for dealin g with physical crises as financial ones. When Arma geddon hits, the informed survivor remembers: Households.” The majority of civilian losers die “Go Early, Go Hard, Go in what the experts call the “shock of the bust” – like stockbrokers paralysed in horror as their portfo just aren’t smart enough to cut their losses and bail. lio value plummets, most people Whether trampled in a supermarket stampede, run down by panicking pensioners in 4x4s or simply infection, you can rely on most people to get thems bitten in the first wave of elves killed or zombiefied within a week of Patien t Zero. To avoid this ignoble fate:
GO EARL Y
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of ravening zombie Despite the acknowledged danger a determined hordes, the greatest risk posed to to avoiding zombie survivor is other humans. The key if a member of your death is often by avoiding notice; ctable or otherwise crew is often emotional, unpredi te a serious threat prone to irrationality, they constitu tension, such a to your survival. When crazed with your supplies, give person might gorge themselves on n security doors in away your position or throw ope . It’s not worth the an attempt to rescue stray puppies the decision to risk. By “Going Hard”, and making r crew, you are vastly cut such living hazards from you survival. increasing your collective shot at Pelican’s Helpful Profiling Tips
fit for your crew, ask In deciding whether a person is sically supporting yourself, are they capable of phy ial skills/ themselves? Do they bring any spec they likely to be Are equipment to your survival effort? rt? effo If not, broom able to contribute equally to that ‘em. erical teenagers*, Definitely Avoid: Permanently hyst ing rapists, preggos*, frail old women, suspicious look fatsos, pets and pollies. pulate the earth *If your intention is to slowly repo y. however, these may be necessar
ost any stage of a “Go Hard” is good advice at alm “callously prioritise zompocalypse. It basically means the interests the survival of your crew”. The law, pets/relatives and of other survivors, rescuing lost value are strictly any items of personal/sentimental ancillary concerns.
ing ur key priority is secur As discussed above, yo ie-bait in mb zo (or ns ilia civ e most your household. Unlik kn ll ow that informed survivors wi professional parlance), ban home. Contact a rricading your subur this does not mean ba ably one with shland house – prefer bu ote rem or m far a friend with . Secret underground a single point of entry d an s ow nd wi few high walls, o ideal. Next: escape tunnels are als
The bacterium, Deinococcus radiodurans can withstand 250,000 times the amount of radiation that a human can.
GO BUNNINGS These stores helpfully stock all the basic survival equipment you will need, starting with the most important; Food The garden section or the oft-adjoined nursery stores will have a full complement of fast growing food crops for the suburban vegetable garden. The simple fact is that no matter how much food you manage to raid from your local Coles, eventually you’ll run out. Stock up on mulch and fertiliser instead. In addition to keeping you alive longer, it’s also less likely that anyone will try to kill you for your supplies. Potatoes can be grown in large numbers in a very small patch of earth. With attention, cherry tomatoes will grow like weeds, and onions (though hard to establish) are very resilient. Bore water sites can be obtained from listings at your local council; make sure you have ready access to such nearby sources of (fairly) fresh water. Weapons Your average zombie movie dabbler will be full of bullshit ideas about ideal weaponry for dealing with the undead. Do not listen to anyone who tells you a fucking katana is a good idea. This is a myth propagated by crouch-humping Halo fanboys with only the most cursory understanding of zombie hunting. Yes, you will de-limb one or two and feel like a complete badass. Unfortunately, you have to get so close to use your dickheadish choice of weapon that you will inevitably get bitten as your enemy goes down. Luckily, Bunnings can also supply the informed survivor with the Pelican’s pick for the ideal anti-zombie weapon: the manual Pole Saw (Google it). You need a cutting edge – zombies are famously resilient to bashing damage. However, you also need reach and something that’s not going to get stuck fast in the first corpse you encounter. The Pole Saw provides all these advantages, with the added bonus of spraying the infectious gore away from the user. “Blowback” is a key concern for the informed survivor, and the basis for the third vital item in your arsenal: Protection All enclosing plastic bodysuits (used for chemical spraying) are available at your local hardware store. Remember to include a facemask and goggles capable of keeping fluid out; Hockey masks may look cool but it’s your undead foes that will be laughing when you get a mouthful of brains in your first melee encounter. Try straying into nearby sporting good stores for the lightweight and tooth-proof protection of motorcycle armour. Alternatively, meat workers everywhere wear Kevlar gloves and sleeves; such items are the ultimate in zombieproof equipment, yet are best suited for breakthroughs and other short outings due to their weight. There you have it. Armed with this information you are vastly more likely to survive the End of the World. Short of access to a solar-powered car, this Pelican will be your most invaluable tool in Zombieland. Guard it well! The best you can do now is pack a zombie-panic duffel, keep a pole-saw handy, and fervently hope you score Emma Stone as a part of your survivor’s crew.
cartoon by Tom Adolph
Embrace Train-Travel For Super-Fun Futuristic Times
Illustration by Camden Watts
There are several terms used around the world for railway enthusiasts. In Australia it’s ‘gunzels’; in the UK it’s ‘trainspotters’; and in the US it’s unsurprisingly ‘foamers’. The term ‘foamer’ (possibly the most derogatory insult known to man) originated amongst American railway workers in reference to the many diehards that foam at the mouth at the sight of a train. I am not a foamer by any means; I don’t collect railway maps, I don’t enjoy taking photos of locomotives with a pastoral backdrop, nor do I ever take out my spare radio-scanning device in the hope of tuning into railroad radio banter. Still, my experiences have made me thoroughly confident that long-distance train travel is the only enjoyable and healthy way to traverse the breadth of a continent. I am aware that this is no revolutionary idea and that there have been hundreds of historical figures who have gleefully penned their romantic notions about train travel. Such figures often allude to the beauty they feel in the train’s rhythmic clatter or the way in which it melds comfortably into the countryside. Indeed, one of the greatest things about travelling in countries with long-established rail networks is that the paths on which the modern trains run tend to follow the contours of the continent’s rugged landscape in ways an artificial highway does not. For example, when the railway companies building the transcontinental railroad across the US during the 1860s were confronted head-on with the Sierra Nevada mountain range, they didn’t just drop their pick-axes. No, they ploughed straight through with the construction, ensuring the death of hundreds of Chinese and Mexican labourers. That’s some serious historical shit right there! Although this is all touchy feely Byronic shit, the actual reason why you should jump on the train travel bandwagon is to do with the intimacy and the possible opportunities for voyeurism that trains provide. Voyeurism has somehow made a
popular comeback recently. Perhaps it’s due to the contention surrounding Jack Kerouac’s voyeurfriendly On The Road being made into a film this year (but more likely its because of the publicity surrounding Pelican’s ‘The Road’ edition). Maybe I’m just a freak who enjoys travelling solo by train but honestly, being a fly on the wall of a train carriage is a good thing in many ways. The thing about long-distance train travel is that passengers talk to each other – and if you are lucky enough to be in America, they talk extra loud so you can generally keep track of three conversations at once. When Americans talk about their obsession with freedom of speech, they mean it, and practise it literally. If you happen to strike up a conversation with a passenger sitting next to you about democracy you actually never know what’s going to happen next. You could have unwittingly spurred your neighbour into a mesmerising free-for-all debate about the great political and economic challenges facing the greatest nation on earth. Public embarrassment won’t prevent them from yelling and screaming about a contentious issue – ask them what they think about government subsidies for super-fun timez! I recommend that you don’t readily pass up an opportunity to travel extensively via train. The close intimate connection you feel with other passengers on train journeys is fulfilling in ways a sterilised plane journey can never achieve. Furthermore, you tend to meet fascinatingly unusual people on trains, because we all know that men with magnificent long beards don’t take planes to their destination. Don’t say no to a generalisation: those blokes love trains. Jokes aside, it is true that the Amtrak train network (itself notoriously underfunded by the US Federal Government) provides America’s poorer citizens with a safe, affordable and comfortable method of transport. It isn’t uncommon on Amtrak to meet men, women and even entire families using the service as a stepping-stone to starting a new life interstate or re-locating to a new job. While the train pushes forward along its path, not only do you
witness the landscape and historic towns unfolding before you, but you might experience an exclusive insight into lands unheard and invisible lowermiddle classes. The thing about travelling by plane is that it lacks the distinct pleasures of a journey per se. Air travel is anxiety-ridden transport and from the moment you take your seat you notice you are beleaguered by an impatient vibe focused only on the urgency of arrival. I have taken dozens of long-distance plane trips in the last 10 years since 9/11 and on none of them can I remember having a conversation which progresses past the “where you are from?” level. There is some mysterious unspoken agreement amongst airline passengers that flights are for sleeping, eating and smashing out as many episodes of Gossip Girl as you can on your Macbook. From my experiences on Northern Hemisphere trains, passengers are almost always more engaging on a ride through the countryside. No longer can those haters call my type of people foolishly ‘nostalgic’. Every developed and many developing economies around the world either already have extensive high-speed-rail (HSR) networks in place or have plans in the pipeline. Just like the compact disc, aeroplanes are going to progressively fall into oblivion as trains become super-fast. Even Barack Obama, a newfound advocate for the adoption of HSR, is spending USD$8 Billion on HSR developments throughout the states despite the ever-present economic turmoil. I recommend that you also jump on the train bandwagon with Obama before you can get labelled a ‘Yes We Can hispter’. So next time you travel abroad ditch the aeroplane at the first opportunity; take a train; experience the joys of HSR (did you know Spain’s trains are now going 330 kms/hr?); learn the local language; and if you’re adventurous enough, you may launch yourself into an impassioned political brawl with a fellow passenger while knocking back dirt-cheap Bloody Mary’s at the train’s bar.
The Maglev train has no other support other than a magnetic field. In other words, the train levitates. This method of transportation could potentially be faster, smoother and quieter than wheeled trains. A Japanese Maglev train attained a 581km/h speed in 2003.
Photos by Jakub Dammer
Oh Mercy Amplifier Bar, April 30, 2011 ------------ Josh Chiat ------------
On record, Oh Mercy sound a little meek. Their latest album, Great Barrier Grief, deviates from the Dylan/Cohen inspired bedroom patch-up of their debut record towards a sparser and better produced clash of modern indie-pop and 60s RnB. In our interview with him, Oh Mercy’s Alexander Gow said that this put more focus on the songs’ basic elements. Of course, the part most exposed by the change of focus is Gow’s voice, which struggles to emote from its newfound position at the top of the mix. Live, the band brings in layers of noise in to correct this, encouraging Gow to push his voice beyond the casual sigh on GBG. They even, at times, kind of rock. Firstly, I know that they’re often thrown into the
indie crowd. In reality, Oh Mercy are a pop band and the effect of opening act Gossling’s manic pixie shtick turned very quickly from the audience’s loud collective “huh?” to an even louder collective “meh”. The dude next to me thought that the EP might stand for “Electric Penis”. Yeah, I know, but it was still smarter than any of Gossling’s lyrics. Sometime after the pixie and her keyboard left the stage, Oh Mercy launched into their set with a rocked up version of Great Barrier Grief standout ‘Keith St’, immediately exhibiting more charisma than you’d expect from their new album. Oh Mercy, however, are not the finished article. The middle third of the set meandered through some not-quitedeep album cuts and uninspired on-stage banter (though I thought Gow’s “the speaker’s fucked, sorry guys over there. Maybe the Amplifier’s fucked, it’s a
joke” was pretty funny). The energy picked up towards the end with the Privileged Woes stand-out, ‘Can’t Fight It’ – performed with a surplus of percussion and noise – though it was a quick three-song closer that really pulled the performance through. The cluster started with a raucous ‘Get You Back’ (still a great song even without its usual Dylan harmonica cold open), followed by JJJ sing-along standard ‘Stay Please Stay’ (in which people were pulled on stage to dance awkwardly near bassist Eliza Lam), and an intense cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Memories’. With the noisy power of this final salvo, it’s easy to imagine an alternate GBG, where densely layered guitars and powerful driving beats counter Gow’s vocal modesty – check back in two years time.
BALLAD OF THE THIN MEN Stop your kvetching
------------ Patrick Marlborough -----------The morning after Blues & Roots, I turned on my car radio to find ABC playing ‘The Times They Are a Changin’’. I smiled. The night before, my close friends and myself were overcome by Bob Dylan’s performance. We had tears streaming down our eyes. The roar of the crowd as they sang “how does it feel” back at Dylan during ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ made my heart throb in the packed front row. But then came the calls:
“Who does he think he is?”
attracted this kind of criticism. When I heard/read the complaints about his performance, the first thing that came to mind was his 1965 performance at the Royal Albert Hall where an audience member infamously called Dylan “Judas”. Just like then, a large part of the recent criticism came from people who have a core misunderstanding of who/what Dylan is. People took issue with Dylan altering songs like ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’. He wrote these songs over 40 years ago and like his hero, Woody Guthrie, resents having to play them the same way each time. People also took issue with him playing many of his new songs generously collected from one of the best four album runs in pop’s last 15 years. This group of people will clash with Dylan until he dies. For those who want to hear Highway 61 Revisited from back-to-front, exactly as it sounded on the album, I hate to tell you, but things have changed.
Who do you think he is? I’ll confess that Dylan is the closest thing I have to God. But let me be objective: His performance at Blues & Roots was fantastic – technically and emotionally. The criticisms that were penned by mediocre music critics and regurgitated by cynics everywhere were not surprising however. Dylan has always
Other critics focussed on their inability to see Dylan. Yes, it is irritating that film crews were not allowed close, especially if you are a complacent middle-aged person who hates festivals (Blues & Roots clientele). Tough. From where I was, I saw and heard everything clearly. I fought my way through sweat and yobbos and held my spot through two
“That fossil! He was horrible, I couldn’t hear a thing!” “He ruined my favourite songs!” “I couldn’t understand a word he was saying and I couldn’t see him!”
bands I can’t stand. This is what a festival is about. The audience member should have to fight to engage with the music they desire. In a way, Blues & Roots epitomised the apathetic nature of Perth audiences: that “I owe you nothing attitude” that fills the air with resentment. For those who were filled with hate even though they didn’t even attend I say: something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is. Do you?
music reviews Fleet Foxes
From the moment the first harmonies kicked into full force during ‘White Winter Hymnal’, from Fleet Foxes’ debut LP, people couldn’t avoid visualising six shaggy bearded hippies strumming their guitars in unison around a campfire or in a grassy field surrounded by snowcapped mountains. What is interesting is that this stereotype isn’t terribly far from the truth; these guys are bearded, they are from hippy-friendly Seattle and they are surrounded by mountain ranges, rainforests and scenic waterways. Furthermore, in the liner notes for Fleet Foxes’ follow-up, Helplessness Blues, the band thanks a number of Pacific Northwest geographical wonders for their inspiration. My affection for Fleet Foxes isn’t necessarily because their approach to traditional folk sounds timeless (which it does), it’s because their music unfurls like a rugged landscape itself, thrusting a listener from one absorbing melody to the next while harmonised vocals explode like sunshine. It might not have seemed possible, but Fleet Foxes sound even tighter the second time around, and front man Robin Pecknold isn’t a lone ranger here; the band uses each of its gut-wrenching harmonies to greater effect. The wonderful centrepiece ‘Helplessness Blues’ best showcases Pecknold’s improved songwriting. The record’s tales come by way of philosophical questions split in two between those arising from the demise of a close relationship and those asking the larger more introspective questions about life. Helplessness Blues is to Fleet Foxes what Contra was to Vampire Weekend in 2010; it celebrates the fundamentals of what made people fall in love with them in 2008 while simultaneously representing a darker, weirder and more fragile side. Unlike their debut, there are points on this record where Pecknold’s voice cracks with strain – a strain that is impeccably weaved into the sextet’s instrumentation.
EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \\\ The end of the noughties saw Glasvegas being pegged by some factions of the British press as the future of modern rock. Unfortunately for these agents of hype, EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \\\, the Scottish band’s sophomore offering, is a mindnumbingly overwrought affair, which posits them more as trend followers than vanguards of a new generation. The title of the album sets a lofty standard to achieve and, simply put, the maladroit grandiosity of their sound fails to capture either a sense of euphoria or the intimate despair of heartbreak. This isn’t to say that the album is completely unlistenable. Thematically and musically, EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \\\ plays like a bombastic Cure LP, mixed together with a thick Glaswegian brogue. Despite hiding behind a wall of reverb for much of the album, there are some genuinely pleasing passages of synth-play littered throughout. Lamentably, the emotionally trite lyricism and overwhelming melodrama will most likely preclude the listener from actually pleasuring these moments, particularly the ipecac-for-the-soul refrain of “Lots Sometimes” on ‘Lots Sometimes’ or the hook in ‘Euphoria, Take My Hand’ echoing Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story’. It’s painful, and not in the way the band intended. Overall, EUPHORIC///HEARTBREAK\\\ feels like it lacks restraint, sensitivity and nous – essential qualities given the nature of what the band was trying to achieve. Ultimately, Glasvegas’ heart is in the right place, but sadly their talent, at this point in their evolution, does not match their ambition. Alex Kenny
Sonny and the Sunsets
Hit After Hit
Handmade is Hindi Zahra’s second album, released last year in France, and only just now making it to our shores. This jazz album is relaxing enough to listen to while driving but not too mellow that you disengage with the music. Born to a Moroccan mother and a French father, Hindi Zahra has lived most of her life in Paris, though her music truly represents her as a global citizen. Handmade starts off with the tantalising track ‘Beautiful Tango’, a jazzy song sung in both English and Berber, a language native to North Africa. The Moroccan influences in Zahra’s life are evident in this vibrant album. This can also be seen in her music videos where the strong use of colour resonates back in to the songs. Hindi Zahra’s voice is mesmorising; she is one of the few female vocalists of our time with a natural sense of rhythm. Zahra’s African and Parisian roots have helped her created a signature sound within the jazz world. She is an artist of chameleonesque skill, almost like the John Butler Trio meets Adele. I predict that Handmade is only a taste of some of the great music we will be hearing from this gifted singer in the future. If you are searching for a fresh new sound to increase your world music library, Handmade is a must own. Sarah Motherwell
So, Sonny and the Sunsets named their second album Hit After Hit. Given their relatively unknown status, there appears to be some irony going on there. San Franciscan playwright, artist and musician Sonny Smith is certainly prolific, but could hardly be labelled a hit maker in the usual sense. Capturing that nonspecific nostalgic feeling, their buzzing 60s pop throwbacks and understated riffs might put the Sunsets in the same category as the never-ending stream of summery indie beach bands like The Drums, Girls or even Best Coast. Yet, both derivative and creative, Hit After Hit easily has the depth to stand on its own and isn’t deliberately trendy. Sounding like the happiest garage band ever to be influenced by the Beach Boys, every track contains a catchy pop hook. A jangling, homemade atmosphere permeates the record, while Sonny’s mellow, almost uncaring vocals contrast well with sunny surf riffs and harmonies. Tracks like ‘I Wanna Do It’ and ‘Girls Beware’ encapsulate lethargic adolescence perfectly. Flat female backing vocals produce the effect of Belle and Sebastian or the Moldy Peaches on holiday. This is almost an album of singles, as the title implies – yet you are rarely tempted to skip through to a particular favourite, as there is always something good to come. Hit After Hit is a very enjoyable album that nails the balance between sounding effortless and clearly being well thought out. These tracks should be hits in much more than the ironic sense. Katherine Gillespie
The Go! Team
So Beautiful or So What Paul Simon’s new album demonstrates that he is still an eclectic singer-songwriter. So Beautiful or So What centres on the themes of love and mortality, not exactly an uncommon topic. What makes the album stand out from the plethora of similar works is Simon’s ability to approach his subjects with wit and humility. He will turn 70 this year, though he shows little sign of slowing down, having begun a tour to celebrate the launch of the album. Simon, with tracks ranging from a poignant tribute to his wife in ‘Love and Hard Times’ to a tongue-in-cheek imagining of heaven plagued with bureaucracy in ‘Afterlife’, has drawn sounds from a wide range of sources. There is a lyrical homage or two, and an emphasis on the rhythmic guitar parts that dominated Simon’s seminal Graceland. He also draws on impressions of a recent safari in Africa by mixing the cries of antelopes into his guitar parts. This is contrasted with a deep Mississippi blues guitar on ‘Love is Eternal Sacred Light’. Simon’s ability to blend so many sounds so succinctly is why this album deserves so much praise. Elvis Costello – who wrote the introduction for the album booklet – remarks that this album deserves recognition as one of Simon’s greatest achievements. This is a very well crafted record; even if you’re not a rabid fan there will be something for you to enjoy. Mark Birchall
Bill Callahan Apocalypse
My morning routine of waking, showering and eating breakfast has rarely seemed as uncanny as when listening to Bill Callahan’s latest release Apocalypse – a curious experience that makes the familiar seem surreal. Apocalypse shows the world through Bill’s quietly curious examination. Opener ‘Drover’ immediately communicates feelings of intimidation and isolation by space and vastness, where Bill sings “one thing about this wild, wild country / it takes a strong, strong / breaks a strong, strong mind”. A bizarre cocktail of enchantment and vulnerability follows on ‘Baby’s Breath’ as Bill evokes images of a baby’s breath in a female’s hair and mistaking weeds for flowers and vice versa. ‘America!’ is at odds with the majority of the album. Bill dons a smirk as he tours through the history and identity of his homeland. Arguably, it is what ‘America, Fuck Yeah!’ from Team America would sound like if it was written by an indie-rock artist. The album concludes with ‘One Fine Morning’, sounding as if you’ve made it through your night in the desert, waiting to saddle up and see what the world offers next. Bill observes modern society with a distance and curiosity usually reserved for safaris. Apocalypse is both tender and unsettling, but either way, a very memorable experience and comes recommended for cosmic cowboys. Jakub Dammer
Bakery Artrage Complex May 11, 2011
An approximation of The Go! Team’s usual sounds might be: sampled breakbeats, bass, horns (more samples), guitars, keys, kids choir loops, MC Ninja’s energetic rapping riding over it all. Rolling Blackouts can be a draining experience: a lo-fi marriage of 60s Girl-Pop, 80s noise-rap and Sesame Street, best enjoyed with four or five Red Bulls. So, watching them live at The Bakery I downed my Red Bull and waited through local act 6s & 7s and tour support Purple Sneaker DJs. 6s & 7s take a similar sort of play-any-instrument approach as The Go! Team. The first time I saw them, at Southbound, I was tweeting for The West’s Ben O’Shea. The tweets went like this: “they have a lutalele...they’re playing a saw...etc.”. That’s not really the most exciting part about them, though. 6s & 7s are a high quality indie rock band with song-writing talent who deserve to be playing to bigger crowds than the 30 or 40 people who left the bar to watch their fine opening set. The crowd started to fill in as Purple Sneaker DJs prepped them for the hip-hop elements of The Go! Team’s sound with a well mixed set that scanned from old classics to recent hype tracks (Tyler, The Creator’s ‘Yonkers’, Beastie Boys’ ‘Make Some Noise’). At just after 11pm The Go! Team smashed onto the stage with the opening track of Rolling Blackouts, ‘T.O.R.N.A.D.O’, a hyper-energised calling card for their floor-shaking sound and the perfect opener to their fast-paced heavy dancing live set. Originally Ian Parton’s oneman bedroom project, it’s amazing how well they’ve managed to translate sample-based music into such an awesome live show. Fronted incredibly by the ultra-charismatic dancing rapper MC Ninja, the band liberally move (by move I mean dance, really wildly) between instruments that range from the usual samplers, drums, guitar and bass to weirder percussion elements like steel drum, xylophone and typewriter. They trade fronting duties as well. Where Ninja’s singing isn’t suited, such as on the 60s girl-pop throwbacks ‘Secretary Song’ and ‘Ready To Go Steady’, Chi Fukami Taylor and Kaori Tsuchida took over duties, while leader Ian Parton lead ‘Yosemite’s Theme’ on harmonica. While the band took mostly from Rolling Blackouts, they also shared past classics like ’Grip Like a Vice’ from Proof of Youth and a selection of their best from classic first album Thunder, Lightning, Strikes. Most notably, career highlight ‘The Power Is On’ worked the crowd into a frenzy while Ninja, in sports-bra and headband (NB: “Who is so hot” – quote: Julia Crandall) conducted a raucous sing-along to ‘Humble Formation’. When they came back out for their encore, it was fully deserved. The thing with gigs like this is that the crowd needs to give as much back to the band as the band gives to them – the audience lulled towards the back of the Bakery Artrage Complex. A crowd that’s dancing, moshing and singing along (with, or without, knowing the words) is as much a part of the show as the band controlling them (I’m looking at you Laneway patrons) And the sooner Perth’s hipsters realise this, the greater our indie gigs will become. Josh Chiat
Back Through Time on the road with alestorm -------- Daniel Pillar -------Eleven months after their first quest to the land down under, Alestorm returned on May 10, 2011 to grace Australian shores with pirate-themed skulduggery. Armed with new anthems from their upcoming album, Back Through Time, their set at Amplifier wowed the crowd, who loved the new songs, along with the classics. I was lucky enough to talk with the band about the benefits of being on the road and touring as a Pirate Metal group. “It’s nice to have a different party every night,” said lead singer, Chris Bowes. “It feels so great being paid to go to stupidly far away places around the world. It’s a dream come true you know.”
fun they have on stage. Guitarist Dani Evans shredded the solo with the fastest finger work I’ve ever seen during ‘Heavy Metal Pirates’, and then the band welcomed some ladies on stage as it dedicated ‘Nancy the Tavern Wench’ to all the pirate-clad women in the audience. Throughout the show, they even took a liking to Australian Rum, smashing their way through bottles of Bundy. I suppose that’s why their latest t-shirt says “Stealing your rum since 2008”. The band then revealed some songs off their new record, with the song ‘Shipwrecked’ showing that new efforts stay ever true to their genre. Bowes described the new album as “…like sex in audio format. I think we’ve come a long way
Bassist Gareth Murdock agreed with Bowes that their Plunder Down Under tour of 2010 was a fantastic experience, with fans and support acts you don’t get on the other side of the world. “When I got home, I was like, I don’t even need my old friends, I’ve got new friends from Perth,” said Murdock. “It’s amazing knowing people on the other side of the world, and it’s so much fun playing with bands like Claim the Throne”. On the topic of last year’s tour, Bowes stated that to a Scotsman, Australia and it’s wildlife are certainly something else. “When I grow up, I want to be a kangaroo. I expected you all to ride kangaroos to work instead of driving cars.” Regardless of how we got to the show, the Perth crowd put in a fair effort. As Alestorm played a song about a pirate’s two favourite things, everyone was jumping and singing in unison. People half way down Murray street were probably questioning why so many people wanted “more wenches and mead”. As the band continued to play their classics, it became apparent just how much
achieved quite a lot of stuff so we are quite happy to be experimental, but I’m sure Alestorm fans will still like it.” The new album also welcomes drummer Peter Alcorn to the studio, who smashed away the drums at Alestorm’s shows both this year and last with fills far better than on any of the past records. “It’s pretty cool now that we’re playing a few new songs in the set,” said Alcorn. “It definitely makes a nice change playing something I came up with myself, even just down to the types of drum fills I’d prefer to throw in.” Bowes commented on how the recording experience was far better with Peter drumming, “our old drummer was a bit too crap, and couldn’t actually play well enough to record. And, Pete wrote half a song too, which was nice.” Alestorm then revealed another upcoming track, ‘Rum’, before Bowes asked the crowd to split in two during ‘Captain Morgan’s Revenge’. The sides then collided in a ferocious mosh pit that saw out the rest of the show. Their set ended with the classic pirate party anthems ‘Keelhauled’, and ‘Set Sail and Conquer’, as the crowd chanted “thank you”.
since what we recorded last time. The band has changed a lot, we’ve kind of changed as people and we write songs differently. We know what things work live and what things don’t work live, and we’ve kind of written the album based on that. We’ve
It was obvious the band had a great time in Perth, perhaps almost as much as the crowd. One guest even had such a good time they lost their pants; there was a spare set of jeans on the bar at the end of the show. Regardless, Alestorm achieved their self-proclaimed mission of ‘rocking our Australian socks off ’ and I’d expect to see them back down under very soon!
FESTIVORAMALODEON Film for the discerning eyeball ------------------------------------------
Callum Twigger ------------------------------------------
This year, Pelican has turned its small, marble-like eyes to focus on Perth’s festival film scene; Festivoramalodeon was what resulted. A quasi-regular peep at what’s showing where and how you can get there.
downloading hardcore porn. This schedule gets turned over every couple of weeks, meaning a constantly churning mush of international cinema is flowing across the world to a local cinema near you. The Future Shorts team is so good that they post most of their content on their YouTube channel – which is itself worth at least two to three hours of internet time a week.
Future Shorts Making independent movies is really difficult. It’s much harder than tapping the record button on an iPhone and aiming it at a street brawl on Lake Street. Finding screens to put independent movies on is even harder. It’s expensive and if nobody’s seen any of your films, you don’t have much gravity behind convincing distributors that anybody’s going to see your next one. Future Shorts doesn’t think this is the way it ought to be done. It’s an international project that gives filmmakers a chance to show their films in cinemas across the world. Literally. All over the world. Even in half-democratic places like Georgia and Vietnam that the CIA World Factbook advises against visiting/ getting involved with. And Albany too. Everywhere. The festival’s current crop includes to its number Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing, some Hungarian animation that parallels William Burrough’s Naked Lunch, videos made for PJ Harvey, and a new Tim and Eric film called The Terrys that had to be muted halfway through our online preview screening because it sounded like the Pelican office was
Aside from what Future Shorts provides for filmmakers trying to operate in an industry that staggers under the bloat of gargantuan corporate interests, the project is very much about adopting the profile of its charming hosts. At present, the good folk at The Bird in Northbridge and the Velvet Lounge in Mount Lawley have taken responsibility for screenings north of the river, while southerners can catch up with screenings at the Fly By Night Club. Viewers can probably expect accompanying live music, food and booze in each instance. Future Shorts is pursuing patrons in WA, so with a large white sheet, two dozen deck chairs and a cash register, nothing’s stopping an entrepreneur from becoming part of the franchise. And since Poland presently has more venues supporting the festival than Australia, we need all the help we can get. Future Shorts sells itself on being the world’s largest short film network, so if you make short films, or if you want to watch short films, spend more time on their website and go watch some movies.
1Up Microcinema Opening something new in Perth is kind of like trying to open presents on Christmas morning, except instead of parents kicking your arse and delaying the inevitable for as long as possible, it’s the boundless wisdom of the relevant authorities. But it’s almost here kids. 1Up Microcinema down William Street way is about to emerge from the bureaucratic cocoon and open on the June 1 with a week of celebratory screenings. Starting with Australian B-Grade monster mash El Monstro del Mar, the screening schedule plans on moving through a register of more recent cult and independent cinema including-but-not-limited to Best Worth Movie (a retrospective on cinematic train-wreck Trolls 2), Rubber (the story of a psychotic tire), Reformat the Planet (a documentary about people who use gameboys to make music) and No Fun City (a film that reckons places like Perth suck). Once the cinema’s been open for long enough, there are plans to fit a bar in downstairs so patrons can enjoy some responsible beverages and the finest selection of alternative film this side of the Nullabor. This column can only speculate about the possibility of a cult film themed pub-crawl but assures the proprietors that it is a niche that most definitely want. 1Up has been and will remain open as a street wear store. Everybody needs clothes so you all have no excuse for not dropping in.
When: Indefinitely unto the future. Where: Mt Lawley/Esperance/Albany
Where: 312B William Street, Northbridge Website: facebook.com/1UPcinema
Cane Toads: The Conquest
Water for Elephants
Directed by Mark Lewis
Directed by Justin Kurzel
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Directed by Jacques Perrin & Jacques Cuzard
Starring cane toads
Starring Lucas Pittaway, Daniel Henshall
Starring Christoph Waltz, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Paterson, Tai the elephant
Starring Pierce Brosnan, the ghost of Jacques Cousteau
The cane toad (Bufo marinus), also known as the Giant Neotropical Toad or Marine Toad, is a large, terrestrial true toad native to Central and South America but has since been introduced to various islands throughout Oceania and the Caribbean. It is a member of the subgenus Rhinella of the genus Bufo, which includes many different true toad species found throughout Central and South America. The cane toad is a prolific breeder; females lay single-clump spawns with thousands of eggs. Its reproductive success is partly because of opportunistic feeding: it has a diet, unusual among Anurans, of both dead and living matter. Adults average 10–15 cm (3.9–5.9 in) in length; the largest recorded specimen weighed 2.65 kilograms (5.8 lb) with a length of 38 cm (15 in) from snout to vent. The cane toad has poison glands, and the tadpoles are highly toxic to most animals if ingested. Because of its voracious appetite, the cane toad has been introduced to many regions of the Pacific and the Caribbean islands as a method of agricultural pest control. The cane toad in Australia is regarded as an exemplary case of a ‘feral’ species. Australia’s relative isolation prior to European colonisation and the industrial revolution allowed development of a complex, interdependent system of ecology, but one which provided no natural predators for many of the species subsequently introduced. The recent, sudden inundation of foreign species has led to severe breakdowns in Australian ecology after overwhelming proliferation of a number of introduced species for which the continent has no efficient natural predator or parasite, and which displace native species.
C (for cane toad) Callum J Twigger
The scariest thing about Snowtown is that it’s true. Debut director Justin Kurzel’s film is a dramatisation of the Snowtown murders of the 1990s. From 1992 to 1999, a group lead by John Bunting tortured and murdered 11 people. The bodies of the victims were stored in barrels and kept in an abandoned bank in Snowtown, South Australia. In 1999, the bodies were discovered by police and Bunting and his accomplices are all serving life sentences. The film centres on Jamie (Lucas Pittaway), youngest of the group. Bunting (Daniel Henshall) begins a relationship with Jamie’s mother and becomes a father-figure to her sons. Bunting thinks of himself as a vigilante, weeding out “gays, paedos and druggies” who he sees as human waste. Henshall is the only professional actor in the cast and he gives a disturbingly charismatic performance as a man with seemingly no conscience. Scenes of Bunting railing against the “deviants” make it clear how he was able to gain followers. Pittaway and the rest of the cast all give convincing performances as disturbed, forgotten people living on the fringes of society. The haunting score (provided by Jed Kurzel from The Mess Hall) is dominated by a droning beat, perfectly complimenting the sense of overwhelming doom surrounding the film. Be warned, Snowtown is relentlessly grim and at times difficult to watch. I noticed at least four walkouts during a particularly gruesome scene. Snowtown isn’t an enjoyable film, but it is a fascinating study of humanity at its cruellest.
Water for Elephants’ trailer promoted a chickflick about a saucy affair between a young man and an older woman. But in a circus. With elephants. Trailers are just three minute lies. Water for Elephants is one of the most interesting films of the year. What made it for me was not the romantic narrative but rather the tense violent subtext present in every scene. Based on Sara Gruen’s novel, Water for Elephants is about Jacob Jankowski (Patterson) who after a tragic loss is forced to give up his degree in veterinary science. He winds up on a travelling circus train, immediately being taken aback by the beauty of Marlena Rosenbluth (Witherspoon) and taken in by the threatening charm of the Ring-Master, August (Waltz). Very little CGI is used. The film is incredibly tactile; you feel as though you can pet the toothless lion and put up the big top. It is reminiscent of the epic melodramas of the 1940s – vision and reality blur to make a very believable and engaging world. What makes this film is the performances. People have complained that there isn’t any chemistry between Patterson and Witherspoon. Even if there is, this chemistry is overshadowed by two behemoths: Waltz and the elephant. Waltz is the perfect combination of charisma and psychosis. Waltz has confirmed himself as one of modern cinema’s greats. The elephant Rosie (Tai) immediately conquers the hearts of the audience. Pattison is great at building a convincing emotional attachment to the tortured, very beautiful creature. Great movies trump your expectations. I’d say go and see it just for Waltz and Tai alone, but it’s the completeness of this film’s world that glued me to my seat.
A Patrick Marlborough
One might quite legitimately argue that it would be unfair to criticise a movie on the basis that said movie was exactly what it advertised itself as. Oceans is a documentary about, well, the ocean – and to some extent the stuff that lives in the ocean, too – but mostly just the ocean. This is actually more exciting than it sounds! Kind of. Oceans contains a few horrific revelations. Until seeing this documentary, I had never been aware of how fucking terrifying cuttlefish are. Even the stonefish pales in comparison to the grotesqueness of a hungry cuttlefish. The bleached chunks of cartilage that litter beaches across the world give no indication of the true nature of these diabolic creatures. One of the few disappointments of Oceans is the shunning of the bizarro world of the deep sea – the world of cigar sharks, bioluminesence, viperfish, and giant tube worms. Even Pierce Brosnan’s smotheringly calm narration fails to compensate for the void where deep sea fauna should be [ed’s note: to Mr Keeley’s credit, it’s poor form when an English major knows more about the ocean than a documentary on the ocean]. While not covering particularly original material – who doesn’t know about the ocean? – Oceans is a compelling documentary. Watching animals eat stuff is fascinating! Blue whales devour whole seas of krill, sea lions are gobbled up by orcas, and cuttlefish emphasise just how horrifically accurate Mr Lovecraft’s tentacled sea monstrosities really were.
C+ Lachlan Keeley
Oranges and Sunshine
Directed by Michael John Henry
Directed by Jim loach
Directed by David Gordon Green
Starring Damian De Montemas, Sophie Lowe, Kestie Morrasi, Simon Stone
Starring Emma Watson, David Wenham, Hugo Weaving
Hell is other people, says Sartre. Blame agrees.
Based on real events, Oranges and Sunshine is heavy lifting, emotionally. Emma Watson provides a solid core for the film as Margaret Humphrey, a British social worker who, in 1986 quite accidentally uncovers a massive state-sponsored scheme of child deportation from Britain to Australia. For almost 100 years, from the 19th century till the 1970s, children born out of wedlock or deemed to exist in questionable circumstances were snatched from their parents and exported to orphanages run by charities in the Australian bush land.
Starring Danny McBridge, Franco, Natalie Portman, Dascehenl
Five young adults conspire to kill a music teacher and stage it as a suicide with sleeping pills. Each has their reasons, each has their regrets. Driving out to his home in the Perth Hills, they execute their plan with the emotional discipline of professionals. But they’re not professionals. Returning to the house minutes after committing the act to fetch a forgotten phone, the erstwhile murderers discover one of their number screwed up, got the wrong sleeping pills and that the teacher is half-alive, hiding, and begging for his life. What ensues is just over an hour of psychological hell. Beside Damian de Montemas, whose veterancy in the senior role as the older teacher shows through, the girls dominate Blame. Kestie Morrasi commands as an alpha female when she needs to, Sophie Lowe plays the passive-suffocative bitch/girlfriend from a nightmare. The cast works – scraping against each other as their scheme rots, holding tight where expected, snapping, re-aligning, and ultimately fracturing completely as a group. It’s a tight shoot, with the film centred almost exclusively on the six individuals, and the young cast rise to the occasion. Ashley Zuckerman is the only weak joint in the structure, as he lets his character slip slightly behind the otherwise consistently immersive performance. Michael John Henry’s direction generates tension that sticks to each character, acutely capturing their responses as the cruelty and totality of their action saunters to the foreground of their consciousness. Blame is his cinematic debut, and it’s a damn good entrance. Australian film is predominantly about voyeuristic excursion – at showing, rather then telling or relating by allegory. It stresses a recalcitrant link with realism, with people and actions, rather than principle or assertion. Blame isn’t trying to say anything. It just shows. And what it shows is immersive, engrossing, and a triumph for West Australian cinema.
The institutions were far from charitable and for the English children, life was invariably hellish. Oranges and Sunshine chronicles Humphrey’s efforts to uncover the scheme, air it to the public, and to rehabilitate the children (now adults) whose lives were ripped open by their deportation. Hugo Weaving and David Wenham fill out Oranges and Sunshine’s star roster as adults whose childhood was spent under the scheme, and both perform admirably. Weaving in particular is singularly brilliant; it was pretty potent seeing Agent Smith bearded and weeping like a lost child. The solid performances of the cast, tight script, and focused direction make Oranges and Sunshine a solid contribution to Australian cinema. The film does let its modest budget peek through a little too often; most scenes involving the British government’s response to Humphrey’s agitations convey it through radio broadcasts, which, though an understandable concession, is not as fulfilling as it ought to have been and doesn’t establish the British government as a presence. Which was necessary, considering the film’s focus on institutional abuses. But Australian film is not about declarations. It’s rarely about confirmations or assertions of dogma. It’s about people. About the common experiences of humanity: humour, tragedy, love, boredom, cruelty, cynicism and faith. Oranges and Sunshine is a profound reflection on these experiences.
Callum J Twigger
Callum J Twigger
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides James Zoey
Directed by Rob Marshall Starring Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane, Penelope Cruz
Spoofing fantasy is hard. It’s hard because great comedy either excoriates social inequalities, mocks the mundane, or catalogues random acts of violence / misfortune – preferably, all three simultaneously. Fantasy makes all but the lattermost of these quite difficult because it abandons the real world wherein most elements of the former two occupy.
Was a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean necessary? I’ve always enjoyed this franchise for its ability to cut to the core of basic blockbuster entertainment. But it was starting to feel tired by the third, and I was glad they wrapped it up as a trilogy. The fourth installment left me asking many questions, chief amongst them, why?
The genre doesn’t really perpetuate many of the inequalities so fertile for comedic material. Your Highness is a perfect example of why spoofing fantasy doesn’t really work. It follows Thadeous (McBride), a cowardly noble, and his brother Fabious (Franco) on a quest to save the latter’s damsel (Daschenel) from some evil wizard.
The addled plot begins with the film jumping the shark. Pirates is a great fantasy and is usually terrific at suspending disbelief. Stranger Tides never draws you into the world in the same way Black Pearl did. They are hedging on our ability to accept characters, mainly Jack Sparrow, as fate defying super-men. Jack Sparrow can’t carry the franchise. I was glad they dumped Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly, but let’s examine the additions. Cruz plays a betrayed lover of Jack Sparrow. Her character is no more interesting than Knightly’s, and to be honest, I can’t remember her name without the help of Google. Ian McShane is one of my favourite actors. Like Rush, he is a brilliant thespian who can bring an amazing presence to the film and stage. He is completely underused here. Blackbeard isn’t half as compelling as Captain Barbossa or even Bill Nighy’s Davy Jones.
There are laugh out loud moments but for the most part, the humour is more of the variety heard from someone too drunk to think straight but not drunk enough to have lost the plot completely. There’s lots of swearing and some punch lines reserved for the nerd hardcore, but most of the time the humour is ineffective. This is mostly because Your Highness lacks the confidence to meaningfully lampoon real world situations; conversely, it is also too tentative in satirising the fantastical tropes that could have given it some decent material. Ultimately, Your Highness is not a bad film (it has Natalie Portman in a thong during one scene, which is worth at least $5 to see on a big screen)[ed’s note: it’s actually body double] but not worth the price charged for a ticket these days. Save your cash and re-watch the Lord of the Rings stoned instead.
I miss Gore Verbinsky. He makes blockbusters seem visually stylised. This is the first Pirates film he hasn’t directed, and it shows. This film was not necessary and was put into the wrong hands. See it just for the scenes between Depp and Rush.
C Curly Beard McCook
------------------------ THE WEINSTEIN CANDIDATE -----------------------Lachlan ‘Cleaver’ Keeley
If your life was so serendipitous that one day the chance to meet super-famous Australian #1 Cool Musician Guy Nick Cave fell into your lap, you might be better off declining the apparent windfall, as he would probably only be interested in fucking you in the arse. Because Mr Cave is a filthy little pervert. A pervert obsessed with sodomy and rape, at that! Luckily for Mr Cave, these detriments do not detract from the quality of The Proposition, the 2006 film he wrote the script for. I might even go so far as to say that it was an enjoyable film.
John Hillcoat’s 2010 adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is probably one of the most disfigured cuts to have oozed out of Weinstein’s distended rectum. McCarthy’s novel was – and please allow me to indulge myself – not only fucking amazing but one of the bleakest visions of the future to have emerged in recent fiction. You’ve probably read articles extolling the virtues of The Road before so I’ll avoid praising it further. However, it is important to note that The Road contains many violent and disturbing images – in a similar vein to the tree covered in impaled
Whether this was actually due to John Hillcoat’s direction rather than Cave’s script is debatable. But this is irrelevant to the true purpose of this article! Rather, the focus will be upon why Harvey Weinstein enjoys having pieces of scrap metal shoved into his ass. And also why he also enjoys ruining Australian cinema! Which are not mutually exclusive activities, by the way. Harvey Weinstein is a big shot Hollywood producer. He heads numerous companies, including Miramax, Disney - and by proxy, most of Quentin Tarantino’s forehead. You’d be right if you said he was somewhat influential. Weinstein regards us, his audience, as being fucking retarded. He has the final word on all of the films that his company produces and often takes advantage of this status. Many films that have emerged out of the maw of Weinstein & Co. have usually been torn apart and haphazardly stitched back together, with visions of the writer and director having been abandoned in favour of familyfriendly content.
dead babies found in McCarthy’s Blood Meridian*. This stuff is important to the tone of these books! The world is grey and sanguine and full of fucked up things and happy endings do not have a place – the protagonist of Blood Meridian is raped to death in a public toilet.
Obviously one cannot always have feet of clay when it comes to screen adaptations of novels, and the irritating thing is that The Road was almost a good adaptation, until Weinstein crapped all over Hillcoat’s direction. You should have read The Road by now – if you haven’t, here’s how it ends: a boy’s father has died, leaving him alone on a grey beach in a grey post-apocalyptic world full of cannibals. Eventually, a man approaches the boy, offering to look after him. The man says he has a family. It is impossible to gauge whether or not this man actually plans on killing and eating the boy. The novel ends. In Weinstein’s version, the boy is abandoned on the beach. A friendly dog approaches him, which is then followed by a fucking nuclear family. This is incredibly stupid and does not fit in with the tone of the rest of the movie (let alone the novel) at all. The movie ends with a beautiful sunset, the family happily grinning (in a non-cannibalistic way) at their new son, etc. etc. It is difficult to imagine that Hillcoat, after remaining faithful to pretty much the entire novel up until that point (excepting the omission of a scene in which a pregnant woman’s child is torn out of her belly and spitroasted over a fire-pit), would suddenly decide to alter the ending of the movie and completely obliterate the consistency he had worked so hard to maintain. It seems very unlikely. Therefore, all the blame can be placed upon Harvey Weinstein. The man is a dickhead, and destroys everything he sticks his filthy fingers into. Even Australian cinema! What an arsehole.
Blood Meridian cannot be adapted to screen. It is one of those novels that just won’t work unless they mutilate the entire thing i.e. Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch (which was admittedly a very good movie, but not a faithful adaptation).
Prisoner of youth Turned A-Bombs into poems Sinatra in verse Must Read: “Bomb”, “I am 25” More poems: Variations of a Generation”
Drunk anti-Semite Angry Buddhist Catholic Wrote prose for angels Must read: Dr. Sax, On the Road the Original Scroll, Mexico City Blues (poems) Roman candle: The Lonesome Traveller
PELICAN’S VISUAL/HAIKU GUIDE TO THE BEAT GENERATION
Heir to a fortune The wise elder and junky Cut-up prose, touched boys Must read: Junky, Naked Lunch More madness: The Yage Letters
Dean Moriarty Secret hero of this poem Died on a train track Must read: “Letter to Jack Kerouac, March 7, 1947 Yesyesyes: Off the Road by Carolyn Cassady (Neal’s long suffering wife)
Arthur Rimbaud face Boiled the hippos in their tanks Stabbed poor Kammerer Must read: And the Hippos Were Boiled in their Tanks – by Burroughs and Kerouac, about Carr stabbing his stalker, Davi Kammerer
Waged war with Moloch William Blake visions A saint amongst fiends Must read: “Howl”, “America”, “A Supermarket in California” Listen: “Father Death Blues” (youtube it!)
Illustration by Alice Palmer, words by Patrick Marlborough
What Pelican read this month A+
Ultimates – Ultimate Collection Written by Mark Millar Drawn by Bryan Hitch In many respects The Ultimates is the ultimate comic book – at least as far as Marvel intellectual properties go. Written by Mark Millar with art by the incomparable Bryan Hitch, this collection is a paperback anthology of the grittiest and most modern stories to be told about The Avengers. No doubt aware of the public’s growing boredom with origin stories, Millar doesn’t waste any time: there are no radioactive spiders or gamma experiments, just a fluid
Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure Tim Harford Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist, takes a bold step in his latest book by questioning what’s wrong with the world and how to fix it. In meeting his challenging task, this brash writer has produced a funny and creative book that gives us sensible solutions to some of life’s most pressing economic issues.
recruitment sequence and explosive first deployments. The Ultimates is a modern reimagining of the Avengers, and Millar does for it what Chris Nolan did for the Dark Knight – he puts superheroes into the real world. Giant Man is a wife beater. Captain America is a little bit racist. There is none of the polish and bullshit candyflosscandy floss of 90s comics – this is a world in which George W. Bush orders uses multi-billion dollar super-operatives to defend American oil interests. It’s engrossing, accessible and as realistic as the demi-science of superheroes allows. Each of the Avengers has their own 40year franchises, yet this story never feels congested. In fact, Hitch seems to take the wide variety of powers and personalities as permission to create art of new scale and beauty. At least once per issue, he produces a panel of such impact that you have to stop and catch your breath. This sits somewhere between the lighthearted awesomeness of Ironman and the grit and realism of Watchmen. It’s exactly what nerd-franchise god-among-men Joss Whedon will aim for when he directs the 2012 film. It’s also a hefty, 13-issue slab of beautifully illustrated stories, and a very good place to pick up a comic habit. Thomas Adolph
The Girl in the Polkadot Dress Beryl Bainbridge Beryl Bainbridge, five times a nominee for the Booker Prize, was working on The Girl in the Polka-dot Dress at the time of her death last year. Naturally, there’s been quite a stir about its publication this month – Little, Brown Book Group is promoting it as “her last masterpiece” and “one of the publishing events of 2011”. The novel is elegant, fast and deep; each line carefully reveals some heavy psychological truth. But, frankly, the novel feels unfinished, and considering its length
Adapt is one of the many books released over the years that follow the trend of Freakonomics – it takes on economics and statistics and makes them cool. Harford goes one step further, however, to focus more on management and why they aren’t doing a good enough job. He doesn’t just cover economics – when that field is exhausted he relies on sociology, psychology and biology to argue his point. Before reading this I never knew how hard it was to build a toaster or how useless experts really are. This educational and eye-opening book is easy to read and endlessly funny. The most refreshing part of Adapt is the continuous clarity you receive on some of the most discussed but most misunderstood economic problems of our time. This much anticipated book is a very enlightening read. You won’t regret buying it, even if you are not a fan of economics or the business world. Sarah Motherwell
Caleb’s Crossing By Geraldine Brooks It was with some trepidation that I opened Caleb’s Crossing; I thought that Geraldine Brooks fell neatly into the ‘middle aged women’s book club’ bracket. It takes a strong writer to move a stubborn reader’s mind once she’s seen and judged a book’s cover, but I’m now reading alongside a demographic that stays in on a Friday night with wine and cheese. Brooks fictionalises the beginning of Caleb Cheeshateaumuck’s life. He was the first American Indian to graduate from Harvard University in 1665, after growing up on a
and the circumstances of its production, it probably is. In this novel, Bainbridge tackles the controversy surrounding the assassination of Robert Kennedy, spinning a road-trip tale about the girl who claimed to have shot the senator. Rose, a young English woman of indeterminate age and IQ, arrives in America at the expense of Harold Grasse, a bitter older man. Both are following the Kennedy campaign trail in search of Dr Wheeler, a mysterious recluse who raised Rose and betrayed Harold. Rose is looking for a father figure; Harold is looking for revenge. There’s no doubt that Bainbridge is a good stylist: she has mastered the taut modernist prose styleyof Muriel Spark and Graham Greene. Yet none of it is remarkably new. The telling details aren’t as subtle or clever as they would have been 50 or 60 years ago, and although her characters have a sense of psychological realness, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Sometime, they border on clichés (note Harold Grasse as a middleaged Jewish neurotic). So, without being particularly original, it’s a sophisticated novella, a worthwhile rea, and a fitting close to Bainbridge’s career. Zoe Kilbourn
small island off America’s coast invaded by Puritan settlers. The novel begins slowly, and it took me a few chapters to get past her somewhat purple prose (I get enough of that in my Mills and Boon, thanks) and the ‘Olde English’ style of her narrator. However, Brooks’ main character Bethia pens a compelling diary as she confesses the transgressions she committed in her twelfth year. Being the daughter of a devout preacher attempting to push a patriarchal English settlement into the territory of the Wampanoag tribe, one can only imagine her sins weighed more heavily in her mind than they ever did in reality. The element of Brooks narrative that most captivated me was the religious negotiation between the settlers and American Indians. Bethia and her father attempt to describe to Caleb the primacy of one true God, while he struggles to explain how many gods his community needs, when there must be one for the morning light and one for the evening. In a landscape harsh enough to excite Cormac McCarthy fans, Brooks uses this struggle to explore the complexity of American Indian spirituality and the tension Bethia encounters between her father and Caleb’s varying ideas of good and evil. A quality novel, and an interesting read. Kate Nye-Butler
or forwards in his life. Moon and Bá use this formula to paint an elaborate picture of Brás’s life, each chapter exploring different facets of the human condition. It does this in a way that is emotional, elegant and personal. The main themes addressed relate to human relationships and loss of direction in life. This focus could easily have been melodramatic and cheesy. However, the complexity of the story as well as the twins’ crisp and inspiring storytelling steers it clear. Additionally, their artwork – with colouring by Dave Stewart – is extremely expressive and realistic. It complements the writing beautifully and creates a great atmospheric effect that never fails to capture the mood.
Daytripper Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá Originally published in 10 single magazine issues, Daytripper is the latest trade back comic by the Brazilian twins Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá. The story centres on the life of the protagonist Brás, who writes eulogies for a living. It is a story about life, death and celebration of humanity.
Moon and Bá have produced a comic that readers can not only personally connect to but also use as a means of self-reflection. It’s perfect for a girlfriend-less Saturday night in, but even if you’re a comic book novice (with a life) it will be just as good. Gideon Sacks
Every chapter showcases Brás at different stages of his life from childhood to old age, but at the end of each chapter he always dies tragically. After a short eulogy to end the chapter, the next chapter carries on as if his death never occurred and jumps backwards
Between the Leaves: Stories of Australian Women, Writing and Gardens By Katie Holmes When we read ‘between the lines,’ we search out meaning within written texts. Katie Holmes’ latest book Between the Leaves invites us to read not between the lines, but between the leaves. In this book, gardens – and the ways people write about them – tell the stories. In this eloquently written, heart-warming and thoroughly enjoyable book, Holmes considers the garden-related writings of nine 20th century Australian women. Diary entries and personal correspondence predominate, but published
On Rabbits, Morality, etc: Selected Writings of Walter Murdoch Walter Murdoch Sir Walter Murdoch had more than one claim to fame: he was Foundation Professor of English here at UWA, Rupert Murdoch’s great-uncle, and the man from whom Murdoch University took its name. He was also, in his time, a celebrated essayist, and probably the first Australian who could claim that distinction. Despite all this, I’d never heard of him until now; having read his essays, I think he is worth knowing about.
documents help form the basis of her investigation.
I appreciated Holmes’ comments recounting the process, trials and tribulations of her archival work. Such admissions interwove her own story with those of her subjects, adding depth and an ongoing narrative to the book. In fact, Holmes’ voice is almost always discernable, for example in her recognition of the pervasiveness of garden terminology both in English and her own choice of language. While Holmes’ book is firstly an exploration of the relationship between writing and gardening, she uses these premises to convey a sense of her nine Australian subjects. In this way, just as reading ‘between the lines’ requires a degree of cryptography, so too does Holmes venture suggestions rather than concrete truths about the women she portrays. For example, in the case of the botanist Jean Galbraith, who carried out a long and involved correspondence with a much older man, Holmes broaches but eventually dismisses the possibility of romantic attraction. For the women we encounter ‘between the leaves,’ gardens and gardening provide a sense of place and identity, open up economic possibilities, provide a place of refuge, and allow them to dream. Holmes’ sensitive book demonstrates how gardens truly shaped the lives of these nine women as they in turn shaped their gardens. Sally Carlton
Essays are ubiquitous nowadays – because of the internet, I guess – and most of Murdoch’s follow a familiar pattern: deploy some striking image to illustrate an abstract idea, tease out the implications, and conclude with one last significant thought. And many of the essays concern ideas that are equally familiar and, to some tastes, threadbare: duties and consequences in ethics, the importance of quiet reflection, etc. But Murdoch wrote exceptionally well, and his voice hasn’t dated. He has a wonderful, light touch which gestures towards conclusions, rather than driving towards them. The effect was deliberate; in ‘The Essay’, he sets out the sort of essay that it was his goal to write: “It is not a statement of facts, it is not a cold, abstract argument, it is not inflammatory harangue; it is a quiet talk, reflecting the personal likes and dislikes of the author.” Of particular note are Murdoch’s essays on Australian identity and culture: ‘My BushFire’, ‘On Being Australian’, ‘Home Truths for Australia’, ‘Australianism’ and the others. Apart from their historical interest, many of his ideas remain topical; for example, Murdoch wrote in detail about the cultural cringe years before AA Phillips addressed the topic in Meanjin. Andrew Portelli
deemed Wingrove’s concluding volume unsatisfactory. He has since reworked the series, and will republish Chung Kuo in 20 volumes, with the addition of two new prequel novels. The first prequel is Son of Heaven, which follows the experiences of former futures broker Jake Reed in his life after the collapse of Western civilisation.
Chung Kuo 1: Son of Heaven David Wingrove Between 1988 and 1999, science fiction author David Wingrove published an eightpart series called Chung Kuo. In his vision of the future, China takes over the world, defeating the West and becoming the dominant empire of the 21st century. When the first Chung Kuo book was published, its ambitious scope excited many readers. However the series was never fully completed, and many critics
There’s a saying in writing: “Know where the chase is, and cut to it”. Wingrove does not. Instead he leads the reader through laborious descriptions of Jake’s quiet village life, peopled with cardboard characters. After 93 pages, something interesting finally happens (the Chinese arrive, AT LAST), but the story abruptly jumps back to Jake’s preapocalypse life and we are treated to more dull scenes of domesticity. Wingrove clearly has some interesting speculations about our society’s future, but they are not translated in his writing, which is stale and ponderous. Son of Heaven could possibly be of interest to those who have read the original Chung Kuo series, but otherwise there isn’t a lot of appeal here. Kaitlyn Plyley
Reynold Lo speaks to local comic artist Darkspeeds about his Grand Hunter series, the Perth comic scene and the thrill of being published. What is Grand Hunter about? It started out as a web comic and took five years to make. The story is about a girl called Ruby who is trying to make her way as a fortune hunter. I would go into it more, but that would take up half the time we have. How did Grand Hunter first come about? When I started drawing as a teenager, I was really hooked on anthropomorphic styles like Sonic the Hedgehog and Klonoa. I also read a lot of comics and decided to try my hand at drawing them. I started by drawing fan comics of Sonic to develop my skills and then submitted them online. I received a lot of positive feedback and a few suggested that I try drawing my own comic. What inspired your unique art style? I was inspired by prime comic artists: Eiichiro Oda, the creator of One Piece, a series that revolves around treasure hunting; Hiro Mashima, creator of Fairy Tail, an action adventure Manga; and Shōnen Manga in general. I applied those elements into my graphic novel along with the anthro style of drawings. When did you first learn to draw? It comes back to Sonic. My brother and I first played the games on the Sega Genesis, and when the Sega Saturn came there was a game called Sonic Jam. It was a compilation of game titles in the Sonic franchise, but there was a fully immersed 3D world that allowed you to explore the company’s background and how Sega produced the actual game and franchise, including the concept artwork. I was really drawn in to the concept artwork and wanted to be able to do this myself, so I did. How did you create the comic? There wasn’t much R&D. I just got ideas from reading comics like Asterix and Tin Tin. That might be a little jarring, but they were really self-contained adventure
stories, and I find that those are the best. When I started out I never really planned an endgame, I thought the series would just continue on. As a consequence, the story tended to change as I was writing, going in any direction that took my fancy at the time. That probably wasn’t the best way to go about it and I’ve since had to refocus the story.
public. It’s also a great way to meet people and network as the local shop owners are genuinely friendly and happy to support local artists get their work noticed. Quality Comics, Comic Zone, Cosmic Comics, each of these stores have a local artists section. It’s really that kind of support that keeps you motivated to keep consistent with your work.
From there, how did you get it published and distributed? This was a very exciting phase, one which many up-and-coming artists here find very challenging. In America and Japan, you pitch your work to a publisher and if they like it they’ll handle most of the work to get your stuff noticed. Unfortunately we don’t have those resources in Australia so it’s the self-publishing/indie route. You have to learn to do it all on your own, from planning to printing to advertising.
What other indie artists do you like? Tons, I’ve dedicated myself to supporting the indie scene! One of my favourites is Dream Keepers by David and Liz Lillie. It’s fantastic, beautifully drawn and surprisingly moving.
For advertising, I used the internet. With the help of a friend from San Francisco, I set up a website advertising my work and to generate some interest and get noticed. From there came the publishing and printing. There is a website called ka-blam.com that operated on a “print on demand” system. You save your comic on the site and if anyone wants a copy they will print and sell it. To print locally, I just used Office Works. Can you tell us a bit about the local Perth comic scene? Well, there is a scene, just not a very big or active one. The Australian indie comics market isn’t really as strong as those in America and Japan. We just don’t have the resources and capacity to publish mainstream. It has been improving in the last 10 years – people are starting to appreciate getting this pop culture into the free market. Conventions like Supanova are a great place to meet others also trying to get their work out to the general
A good friend of mine from Sydney, Veronica Vera, currently has a web comic called Bittersweet Candy Bowl. There’s also Felipe Marcantonio who also has web comic called xdragoon. There’s even been an animated video of it on YouTube. The theme for this issue is ‘the road’, considering how far you’ve come on your “journey” as a comic book artist; do you have any advice for aspiring artists? You’ve got to have heart and passion. It’s not easy, and if you don’t have passion, you have no motivation. I recommend immersing yourself in the comic environment, joining boards and community blogs. Start drawing…a lot. Get familiar with drawing anatomy and expressions and then learn to put it in a sequential art form. One last thing, why the nickname “Darkspeeds”? It was random, it sounded cool, it was catchy, and I liked it. Check out Darkspeeds’ website at http://grandhunter. darkspeeds.com/
Bound for Glory ------ PAtrick Marlborough-----
This book was made for you and me. When most people think of ‘the road’ in a literary context their minds turn to Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, Cormac McCarthy or perhaps Robert Frost. However, the images of roads, travel, displacement and constant movement always take me back to one man: Woody Guthrie. Guthrie was a folk singer from the Dust Bowl (Depression-era rural America) who travelled all over the US. He sung the songs of the people, for the people, apparently writing over 3000 in his lifetime. Guthrie is probably best known as the hero of a young Bob Dylan. But there is much more to him. Of all the lives that I have ever absorbed through print, I doubt there has been any as rich, tragic and fascinating as Guthrie’s. Luckily he is as masterful at spinning prose as he is at writing songs as his autobiography Bound for Glory (1943) encapsulates the idea of shiftless movement better than anything I’ve read to date. Guthrie was famous for his inability to stay still. Legend has it that he was hopping box-cars (train carriages) by the age of 10. A “singing hobo”, Guthrie travelled all across America inside and on top of rattling locomotives. Naturally, Bound for Glory begins and ends on such a train ride and the book hurtles you into Guthrie’s restlessness. He was known for his magnetic charisma and ability to drag anyone into his addictive tall stories. Even as a reader in 2011, Guthrie grabs you by the collar and sits you next to him in the sweat, dust and men of the ‘rattler’: “I could see men of all colours bouncing along in the boxcar. We stood up. We laid down. We piled around on each other. We used each other as pillows. I could smell the sour and bitter sweat soaking through my own khaki shirt and britches, and the work clothes, overhauls and saggy, dirty suits of the other guys.” Guthrie catches the humour and desperation of Dust Bowl America better than John Steinbeck. This is saying something.
Eight Great Dystopian Texts ------ Mary Gillooly -----
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006) The 2007 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction tells the story of a father and his son in a post-apocalyptic landscape. The father is leading the way south for the winter in the hope of finding other “good guys” who have also survived the devastating event that has put them in their grim situation. Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell (1948) In the totalitarian society of “Airstrip One”, Winston Smith rebels against the mind control, constant war and incessant surveillance of Big Brother and the Party. Winston is punished for his failure to conform, and pays the ultimate price with added irony. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932) Bernard Marx lives in futuristic London where recreational sex, drugs and hedonism are encouraged. He is struggling to fit in with his pre-selected class level “Alpha”. Yearning to break free and to impress his love interest, Lenina, he takes her to the “Old World” where he meets the Savage, John. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962) Burgess’ novel tells of Alex and his “Droogs” who engage in the phenomena of “ultraviolence” in futuristic England. After being imprisoned for murder, Alex becomes involved in the “Ludovico Technique” where a drug that causes horrible nausea is given when viewing violence. Littered with creative vocabulary, the groundbreaking novel raised questions about the restraint of freewill and the role of aesthetic violence. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985) Inspired by The Canterbury Tales, Atwood’s novel takes place in the near future where a totalitarian regime has overthrown the American Government. The main character, Offred, belongs to the social class of “handmaids”, installed by the sexist and chauvinist founders of the “Republic of Gilead”.
Guthrie’s portrait of himself draws a neat parallel to his portrait of a suffering America. His life was marred with horrific tragedies: his older sister melted in her dress after lighting the stove; the family house burnt down; he would love and lose many women; and his mother was gradually consumed by Huntington’s disease – the very disease that would tragically settle Guthrie himself in a mental-hospital sick bed for the final decade of his life. Guthrie knows tragedy. As in his songs, his ability to bring perspective to personal loss is incredibly moving. He was a humanist first and foremost.
The Machine Stops by E.M Forster (1909) One of the first dystopian works, Forster’s short story tells of a future where humans are unable to live on the surface of the earth and instead inhabit small separate cells, which all depend on one “Machine”. Vashti is happy with her life, until she meets Kuno, who has become disenchanted with the structured, sanitised life.
It is the beautiful musical quality of Bound for Glory that makes it an immortal work. In his rollicking prose and slang, Guthrie brings forth the sound of the music he lived. Fast mandolin riffs, claw hammer banjo and beautiful bouncing guitar licks that blend with a universal melody. Bound for Glory comes at you like a roaring train filled with hobos singing in unison: “This land is your land / this land is my land/from California / to New York Island / from the Red Wood Valleys / to the Gulf Stream Waters / this land was made for you and me.” Ditch your suitcase and jump on board, because like Guthrie, this book moves fast.
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (1955) Wyndham’s vision of a post-apocalyptic future is one where the people of Labrador believe that the technologically advanced “old people” of the past were destroyed by the “Tribulation” of God. In order to prevent the “Tribulation” occurring again, people, plants and animals with mutations, or who do not show genetic invariance, are banished to the Fringes.
Further readin’: Ramblin’ Man by Ed Cray. This book is a masterpiece, insanely well researched, and very entertaining.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1951) In this anti-intellectual society, hedonism is dominant and critical thinking (especially through reading) is banned. Anybody who is caught reading certain “illegal” books is sent to mental institutions, while “firemen” burn the books.
Listen to: ‘Pretty boy Floyd’, ‘Jesus Christ’, ‘Hobo’s Lullaby’.
Photo by Frances Andrijich
To the Pointe of Ballet Photo by Jon Green
Koko Wozniak interviews WA ballet dancer Andre Santos about the 2011 West Australian Ballet season, Cinderella, life in Brazil and the freaky life of birds.
I had three older brothers. If you’re a male dancer people just assume that you’re homosexual – this isn’t something unique to Brazil. Now, if someone tries to offend me, I don’t take it personally. How did you end up at the WA Ballet? When I was 18, in my last year in New Zealand, WA Ballet was doing a season of Romeo and Juliet and they needed a dancer...after the season, WA Ballet called and said I had a job after I graduated. The next year , I started.
Illustration by Evelyn Froend
How did you get into dancing? Being Brazilian, we’re always dancing. I was very shy and I didn’t used to dance around anyone, only at parties...Our family friends were like “oh, he’s so cute, make him start dancing”...I started dancing in a neighbourhood dance school because our family was not very wealthy. We started going into competitions and one of the judges was the director of a dance school and he offered me a scholarship. What made you want to take ballet seriously? As soon as I got the scholarship I started ballet... We went to New York and did the Youth America Grand Prix. I was competing as a soloist amongst a lot of different dancers – I was contestant number 303 – and I got up to the finals. I got offered two scholarships: one to Washington Ballet and one to New Zealand School of Dance. New Zealand was a two-year scholarship, a wonderful opportunity and they paid for everything...I was 16 at the time...I moved on my own and I didn’t speak a word of English...I learnt by listening to other people. I had a big dictionary that I carried everywhere...people would talk to me and I would shake my head and say “yes yes”. What was it like being a ballet dancer in Brazil? Even though dancing in Brazil is a part of our culture, being a male dancer in a poor environment is hard. My family had to make a lot of sacrifices for me to do what I wanted...people made fun of me. When you say, “I’m a ballet dancer, that’s what I do”, they don’t understand; they think it’s a hobby and that soon you’ll wake up and go back to your real life. Here – and in New Zealand and New York – they know that that’s a path that you take for your entire life...It [the bullying] never got bad for me because
What has been your favourite role to play, so far? The beggar in Romeo and Juliet and Lead Gypsy in Don Quixote. When I was a beggar, I had to steal from others; I had to jump, run away and be chased. Lead Gypsy was interesting because although I’m outspoken, I don’t take charge of thing. For the first time, I had followers; they would look at me and I had to direct them. Stepping into someone else’s shoes is hard...you learn a lot from it; with every new character, you become a better professional. You learn how you need to look on stage. Tell us about the most recent production, Cinderella. We all know the story; what makes this production unique? It’s very magical and funny. Usually in the ballet, they have the fairies –like in Disney’s version – that give Cinderella the dress, the carriage. In this version, Cinderella’s mother – who happens to be the Fairy Godmother – gave her daughter birds before she passed away. They provide the carriage, sparkly shoes and tiara. I play one of the birds. Usually, the ugly stepsisters are male but Jayne Smeulders, the choreographer, wanted two beautiful women that were mean in the heart. This ballet is set in the 1930s. The characters are educated and know how to behave in public, but the sisters want all the attention to themselves; they jump on the prince and are outrageous. Using Cinderella as an example, how do you get into character? The costume always helps: big tails and wings, crazy makeup...We have been told to “walk around the street, stop when you see a bird and study it. See the way it moves its wings and head.” Birds are freaky like when they move their necks. They’re like
contortionists – but with wings. Some have a big chest, like pigeons. You get to be up in a tree [on stage] and open your wings, to look bigger. It’s great. What is your favourite thing about Cinderella? Playing a young prince because I get to dance with Jennifer Provins, who is absolutely incredible. In ballet we’re always paired based on height; but I’m the shortest male and she’s the tallest. She plays the mean sister and she throws me around the stage and it’s a big, funny struggle. Ballet is very strenuous, have you had any serious injuries? We all have a lot of injuries. The worst one was at the start of this year. Had three stress reactions on my left foot and my Achilles’ was inflamed. I had to wear the famous moon boot – it immobilises the foot and is huge – for six weeks. What do you look forward to most in the upcoming season? I look forward to the choreography...the company got very good reviews when they last did The Taming of the Shrew. I’m really excited to do it. Plus, it is great to be doing a ballet choreographed by John Cranko. What is the appeal of ballet? People usually expect it to be the same thing – people dancing on the pointe, pretty pink tutus. If you don’t follow it, you don’t understand that there is artistry, acting. It’s not always pretty, but that’s the beauty of it. Although Cinderella is no longer in theatres, the West Australian Ballet has some stellar performances lined up. Neon Lights at the State Theatre Centre (July 23–30) showcases a number of works by Australian choreographers, such as Garry Stewart and Reed Luplau. Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew is showing at His Majesty’s Theatre (9–24 September). Go to waballet.com.au for more details.
A Midsummer Nights Dream Black Swan Theatre Company --------- Sarah Dunstan ---------
unlocking her when he wants to. But Hippolyta is queen of the Amazons and the wearer of a ‘magical girdle’ in mythology. The portrayal of Hippolyta – played wonderfully by Shubhadra Young – is the beginning of a few small experiments in style and form present in this production. Very few of them – aside from the costuming of Puck in a stark white chest exposing vest, bell-bottomed capri pants and a matching bowler hat – are definite misses.
Black Swan Theatre Company’s production of A Midsummer Nights Dream opens with a shadowed figure in billowing pants, bound with brass lock and key chains at the ankles and wrists. It is what you think might be a genie, then remind yourself has to be Puck, and then turns out to be Hippolyta, who after all, appears in the first scene. There’s something unsettling about her husband-to-be
Greg Proops Regal Theatre
Greg Proops performed side-splittingly funny stand-up comedy in April at Perth’s Regal Theatre this year, bringing to an end to his tour around Australia. The star of Who’s Line is it Anyway and the voice of Bob the Builder left audiences roaring with laughter the whole 90 minutes he was on stage. Perth has seen an unusual number of well-known comedians this year including Danny Bhoy, Billy Connolly and Jason Byrne. Although we missed out on Robin Williams, it isn’t a stretch to say that Greg Proops is in the same league of Williams. Greg Proop’s style of farcical and shameless jokes left no survivors. The night was wrought with political satire and social commentary. We were treated to stories of how his Dad used to drive the kids into town with a cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other while driving with his knees. The kids in the front sat on booster seats without seat belts so if the car hit anything the child would fly straight through the window “to safety”.
The highlight is the set design by Christina Smith assisted by Fiona Bruce. What appears to be a circular enclave in the floor of the mortals’ palace (a fish-pond filled with a pile of nebulous blossoms?) is eclipsed by the floor it stands on, becoming a heavenly bower from which Titania descends on a crescent-moon. Fittingly, she looks like an angel and her enstranged husband, quite like the devil. The set changes are a perfect reminder to the audience of the shift between the real and magical worlds integral to the comedy of mischief and bewitchment, complimented by great lighting choices (deep blues, greens and violets of an underworld for the forest of the unknown and of dreams, with stark yellow light of “reality”
My favourite part was his spiel on how terrible music is these days. Children tell him how the music from the 70s is horrible, “but then again how could you argue with great lyrics like ‘Rah, Rah, Ah, Ah, Ah, Roma, Roma, Ma, Gaga, ooh lala” as he belts out the start to ‘Bad Romance’ into the microphone. He even laughs at his own jokes, “who needs Stevie Wonder when you have Justin Bieber?” Greg Proops wore his signature suit and glasses that he dons at every personal appearance. This suave comedian shows the extent of his diversity by suddenly dropping down into a squat to vividly impersonate early man discovering the connection between erect and opposable thumbs. From man to monkey in a second, the audience’s eyes were filled with tears of laughter. What is most disheartening however is that this talented comedian was performing to a virtually empty Regal Theatre. The stalls weren’t even half full and from what I could see, the dress circle was deserted. This show simply wasn’t adequately publicised. If Perth is honoured enough to see the return of this outstandingly funny man then I would strongly urge you to see him.
for the real world). The songs and choreography are very Pickled Fairy Shop. Which is a good thing but like other things in this production, could have benefited from being more towards the unconventional end of the spectrum. Adriane Daff and Elizabeth Blackmore were eloquent and loveable as Hermia and Helena, yet both made the fawning women seem respectable and their love very raw. The Mechanicals were the favourite in the second act, particularly Sam Longley as a disemboweled Thisbe. This production was conventional, but its flesh is very true to A Midsummer’s Nights Dream – the romance by the abundance of flowers, the dreaming in the seamless set changes, and the comedy in the way the cast rose like balloons and bounced off each other (quite literally, in a fairy ring dance at the end). Check out these upcoming Black Swan Theatre Productions: Rising Water by Tim Winton, His Majesty’s Theatre, June 25 – July 17 Cat on a Hot Tin Woof by Tennessee Williams, Heath Ledger Theatre, September 10 – 25
Other upcoming LOLKATZ: Melbourne Comedy Festival Roadshow, His Majesty’s Theatre, June 14 –19 Jennifer Coolidge, 659 Beaufort Street, June 24 Sarah Motherwell
HOWL # 12 THE ROAD TO 40 VIRGINS – Osama bin Laden in Heaven
Somewhere in Paradise: “Welcome! We’ve been expecting you for some time!” “Wha’? Where am I? What happened to my wife?” “Nevermind all that; you’ve finally made it, you’ve made it to Paradise.” “I did?” he wearily rubbed his left eye. “Are you sure?” “Trust me, we never make mistakes.” The man’s hand was taken by the saintly figure and they began walking down a red-carpeted hall. It was dingy and made the man think of the horrible hiding places that had been his home for the past decade. He felt some disappointment. Was this Paradise? “I bet you are excited.” “Hmm? I’m still not sure what’s going on.” The other man sighed. “Look, Osama, baby, you’ve made it. This is Paradise. It’s all here; God has set this all up for you.” “Allah did this?” “God, Allah, sorry each of you Earth cunts have a different name for Gavin.” “Gavin?” “Look – do you want to be here or not? Your file notes that you’ve wanted to come to Paradise for some time. Well buddy, you must have wished upon the right star, cos you are here now. You ordered the 40 virgin package?” “Uh…” “Look buddy, I’m pretty busy. I’m going to set you up in room 304 with 40 virgins. I’ll check in on you in a bit. Enjoy.” He was ushered into a beautiful art-deco hotel room. It had marble floors, chandeliers and a beautiful fourposter bed. He was not accustomed to such luxury. There was no sand on the floor. He allowed himself a goofy grin and remembering a Fred Astaire clip he had seen on Youtube, started a spontaneous tap-dancing routine. He walked up to the four-poster bed and admired the red velvet sheets and feather stuffed mattress. He lay down. It was heavenly. There was a knock at the door. “Coming!” he sang, and gaily skipped over to the door. “Who is it?” “My name is Cherry Doll.” Curiosity got the better of him and he opened the door. There, standing completely naked was a beautiful girl who looked about 18. Her skin was ivory white and her hair was a luscious black, dangling carelessly over her perfect breasts, which boasted fine pink nipples. Her privates were hairless and radiated a low humming of enticing warmth. He reached out and touched her,
thinking that she was a vision. Her skin may as well have been silk and he began to weep at her beauty. “I am Cherry.” She said. “And there are 39 more of us.”
neous love. There was nothing like it on Earth. A head popped in the door. “Alright Osama? Gavin wanted to know how things were going.” “uuuuuhhhhrhrhhgghh…hmmmnnnnnnnnn” “No shit? Well okay, it seems that everyone is happy. The people of the ‘free world’ got what they wanted, you got what you wanted, We’re all good! So I’ve got you booked onto this for eternity; just give a ring if you want out. It only gets more pleasurable as it goes on. Ronald Regan got the same deal as you; he lives across the hall.” “hnnnn…ffffmmmmmm…aaaaaaaa….” “Haha! That’s what Princess Diana said! Okay, I’ll tell Gavin all is well. Try not to stain the drapes.”
She pointed down the hall. He craned his neck and saw 39 others. Each matching in evangelical beauty, each completely different, each a godsend. “We are here for the bin Laden job; that’s you right?” He paused and dried his eyes. “Definitely me, yes.” Cherry Doll and her friends set to work immediately. The touch of their fingertips caused surges of pleasure to flow through his body. He had never experienced anything like it. Their kisses sent him into rapturous howls. “Be gentle, it’s my first time,” they each said.
The saint left and Osama was left in his perpetual bliss. Back on Earth his lips were being gnawed upon by suckerfish. But in Paradise, he was getting deep throated by Cherry Doll and his balls were being caressed by a red-haired nymphet. In New York, a fireman is dying of cancer. He lies in bed next to his wife. “I’m so fucking happy we got that fucking bastard. Justice is finally served.” He coughs, fighting back the pain seizing up his throat. “Justice.” Somewhere in Afghanistan a 12-year-old farm boy is shot in crossfire. Dick Cheney sleeps comfortably in his mansion. Fred Astaire is tap-dancing in Paradise.
“Oh don’t worry; I lost it after a riding accident,” they each said. There was a definite certainty that they were all virgins. In Paradise – it turns out – a square can be a circle, for they certainly didn’t act like virgins. He thought of all the porn he had watched on his cold floor on a small screen. These girls made stars like Sasha Gray seem like nuns. Each stroke was orgasmic for every party. Their reflexes were honed and some reflexes were noticeably absent. The girls all knew where to be and when. It was an infinite loop of magnified orgasms, ceaseless coming and sponta-
Boredom: Celebrate the death of someone you hate!
( un) educate: Learn nothing from history!
Strange: Be compassionate.
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