VOL 83 EDITION 2
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GRINDIN’ MAN Y’ALL NEVER
MIND ME Tom takes a look at gay relationships in the 21st century by
A H eart in D arkness
AT THE OSCARS
I endure a desperate and harrowing journey through the heart of Africa to get my money
Film Editor Alice Mepham huddles in fear as the Academy announces the success of its annual circle jerk b y
H O W
BUILD A SWING I N
R O U N D A B O U T
The Pelican gives you the recipe for Perth’s biggest fun: Messing with the f l o w by
INSIDE 05 ED/PREZ 06 SPORTS SCIENCE: LUNCH WITH CLIVE
24 IMITUTING HUNTER EXARCTLY 25 HUMANITARIAN FALSEHOOD
14 Start swingin’
26 DATING W/ MARNIE
16 Film To digital: conversion crisis
27 SINGLE LIFE
18 RUBBISH DIETS: ROAD TEST
t r a f f i c
cin q uina
30 FESTIVAL GARDENS SEASON 2012
08 KEVIN RUDD AND KUBLER-ROSS: THE FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF
28 OLD KIDS
10 EUROZONE: COLONIAL CURRENCY
12 GUILD C(O)UNCIL
39 WRITERS FESTIVAL WRAP-UP 40 Lauren Beukes: The Beast Inside 42 Underpants Are For Quitters: Marieke Hardy
Alice Palmer Alice Psalmer was found adrift the River Nile in a small craft of bulrushes.
Pelican vol 83 edition 2
In Midian he stopped at a well, where he protected seven shepherdesses from a band of rude shepherds. The shepherdesses’ father Hobab adopted him as his son, gave his daughter Zipporah to him in marriage, and made him the superintendent of his herds. There he sojourned forty years, following the occupation of a shepherd, during which time his son Gershom was born. At the age of 120, having led the Israelites out of Egypt, he died upon entering the holy land in a cloud of smoke.
SWINGS & ROUNDABOUTS
CREDITS Josh Chiat // Editor Wayne Chandra // Design Alex Pond // Advertising Alice Palmer // Cover Art Alice Mepham // Film Editor
3000 years later he awoke and found employment drawing quaint pictures of carousels for minimum wage.
Alex Griffin // Music Editor Lachlan Keeley // Arts Editor Yvonne Buresch // Books Editor Richard Ferguson // Politics Editor
Lauren Croser (Photo)
Megan Lorna Higgins
Lizzy Plus Romany Pope Gideon Sacks Camden Watts
Contributors// Louise Abbott
The views expressed herein are not the opinions of the UWA Student Guild or Pelican editorial staff, but of the individual writers and artists. We take no responsibility for any perceived offence caused by one of our writers. If you wish to contact us you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Letter to editor Dear Editor, Deign, Sir, to allow me to express my umbrage with the facetious nature of the phrase with which you have chosen to theme this edition. It would strike any possessed of a rudimentary wit as both underworked and overstretched; an inane rejoinder to capricious circumstance, proffered with resigned shrug and sanguine smile; a pathetic means of patronising a world that will not be whittled down to the simplicity of Billy Potter Learns to Trot. I shall forthwith state my grievances with this pinhead philosophy that purports “things will balance themselves out in the end”; the so-called “sooth of lose and win”. RE: The Swings – What if you sail too high, get flung off the swing and break your neck? What if you have tiny dwarf legs that can’t reach the ground, and there is no kind guardian to give you a gentle push and set you in motion? Give a moment’s consideration to Timmy, the poor ragamuffin of Skid Row who has become calcified to the seat in paralytic terror, too afraid to take a leap of faith into the condom-strewn and needle-infested sandpit. RE: The Roundabouts – Some people get nauseous on roundabouts. The sensitive piping of such persons may be provoked into shooting forth vile extrusions, which would whip back in their faces under the curious physics of a madly gyrating machine. Conversely, what if the roundabout is rusty, and cannot be turned an inch? Never shall that pleasure-seeker experience the merriness of going round. Admittedly, he does avoid the nausea and the tedium; this is a plus. Ostensibly, the metaphor is both empirically lax and insensible to the broad range of contingencies that beset and undermine it. “Up and down and round” do not go “all appointed things”. I condemn the poet that composed such progress-denying twaddle: Patrick Chalmers – the potato-munching cad. He who should be so callow as to reduce life – the gravest of matters – to a carnival ride deserves to be sat upon by The Immensely Fat Lady and exhibited as The Extremely Flat Man in a Freak Show. I hope this urgent call to sense will caution the reader to appraise the remainder of the issue with a sensible, sceptical eye, and that a suitable measure of shame should be avalanched upon your person for ever subscribing to so frivolous and despicable an outlook. I nonetheless beg to remain, Sir, your most humble and snivelling underling, Prudence Snodwidge
Here is an anagram of another cool playground piece. The first person to see me and tell me the answer will win a prize of minimal value.
DLSEI _ _ _ _ _
Prezitorial Hello You, The theme for this edition of Pelican is Swings and Roundabouts. This is a good theme. Everybody loves swingers, and we all enjoy going around roundabouts, particularly the girl in the Maltesers commercial. University is a bit like that. Sometimes you do well on an assignment, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you have a good night out, sometimes it’s boring.
The Guild has been doing a lot of exciting stuff in March. Echo seems to have imploded. Always nice to have something else to chase up on top of all the other stuff going on, not that I’ve been told much information. Classic example of swings and roundabouts – we make progress on Rocketfuel and then we get poll-axed by Echo. Fear not – I am trying to press the university for improvements in the new system. We’ve got a few exciting plans we’re cooking up at the moment – Tavern Committee and Catering Committee should be making some big changes... you’ll know when they’re coming.
the future before reaching the centre of an allengulfing hook that represents the entire song in about fifteen seconds before fucking off and droning into some other bullshit about loving yrself. It meanders. The best version of the song was recorded by Kevin Rowland, leader of the epochal Brit-Soul group Dexys Midnight Runners. In his version, the intro becomes a muttered introduction to the massive hook, which he performs with so many scoops, quartertones and nasal Midlands lilts that it’s only just recognisable.
editorial “I decided long ago/ Never to walk in anyone’s shadow/ If I fail, If I succeed/ At least I lived as I believe/ No matter what they take from me/ They can’t take away MY DIGNITYYYYYY” George Benson, ‘The Greatest Love of All’ ‘The Greatest Love of All’, originally recorded by George Benson for a goddamn Muhammad Ali bio-pic (in which Ali plays himself) but most famously done by Whitney Houston, is one of pop’s biggest anti-climaxes. The song builds through some crap about the children being
Even with Rowland’s passion (Whitney’s was made of plastic and Benson minus guitar is pointless so we don’t even need to talk about their versions anyway) the empty witticisms still bother me. Of course, I’m taking this out of context. Because one of the songwriters, Linda Creed, had cancer when she wrote it. And that just makes me feel obliged. I care more about her bullshit lyrics because the cancer makes me think it weren’t so crass a sentiment. And I don’t want to feel that way; maybe I’m discriminating unknowingly because I’m even taking that into consideration. Context ALWAYS changes everything. And no matter what you do, if you wish to pass comment on anything, you have a responsibility to be
If you get a chance, stop by my office and tell me what you think. I work really long hours, so bring a refreshing beverage if you can (heavy – Ed). My door is always open for you.
knowledgeable about it. To be aware of the context, of the will of the creator, of the facts external to what you see in front of your eyes. Then you can state an opinion on it. If you don’t, you’re dragging everyone down on the swings without pulling them back on the roundabouts. You help foster a world of hacks, imbeciles, Don Randall, Clive Palmer, fan-boys and fan-girls. You offend anyone who’s ever tried to think. The unfortunate downside to this whole knowledge thing is that whenever I hear Kevin Rowland’s cover all I think of is cancer. I don’t know Linda Creed, or think about her, or care that she had cancer. I just think “cancer”. To cure my worry I just donated the arbitrary amount of $88 to my friend’s World’s Greatest Shave account and now I feel better. Swings and Roundabouts my brethren/sistren, Swings and Roundabouts. Shalom,
In the next month, we’ll unveil the new Guild Website. Check it out: it’ll be sexy and easy to use. On a less exciting note, for those of you out there who get aroused by words like ‘accountability’, ‘transparency’ and ‘inclusivity’, there’s going to be all sorts of documents and information available on there so you can ensure that we’re spending your money the best way possible. We’re also reviewing the electoral regulations to make them fair. I think it’s really important the Guild move away from its introversion of recent years and open itself up to the scrutiny of its members – we’re here to serve you.
Swings and roundabouts are also notable pieces of equipment you might find in a kid’s playground.
ZEITGEIST: SOMALIA Tom Reynolds (@tsareynolds)
Allow me to begin as I intend to end: Somalia is a shithole.
It’s a land of African clichés – a permanently hot and sandy country largely notable for its crippling poverty, periodic waves of famine, and the ceaseless brutality between its warring factions. It also has the dubious distinction of being the textbook example of a failed state. Two-thirds of Somalia is controlled by either the secessionist Somaliland or the radical Islamic faction al Shabaab (a group with links to al Qaeda). It took the central government 16 years to return to the capital, Mogadishu, after the outbreak of the Somalian Civil War in 1990.
Barre’s ambitions to pursue Islamic Marxism and Somalian nationalism were made possible by his allegiance to the Soviet Union. However, after invading arch-nemesis Ethiopia in the late 70s to unite its Somali minorities, it got royally cock-blocked by the Soviet sphere. The nation teetered on the brink of implosion until the Americans stepped in to the tune of $100,000,000 per year. This money was used to support the socialist dictatorship and flip the USSR the bird. That, and to diminish Soviet expansion in the Middle East.
And yet, paradoxically, this is the same country that sustains several universities rated amongst Africa’s top 100, supports the world’s most advanced and competitively-priced internet and mobile phone market, and has the remarkably low HIV infection rate of an estimated 0.5%.
The screaming spectre of the humanitarian nightmare that is Somalia was conjured by the crimes of European imperialism. Italy occupied most of present-day Somalia because they were worried the rest of Europe wouldn’t respect them until they’d managed to rape, pillage and murder significant numbers of Africans. Just as the French, British, and even the piddling Belgians had, and in doing so had proven themselves serious international players.
It’s also interesting to note that in this brutally patriarchal country where more than 90% of girls are still forcefully circumcised (a culturally proscribed practice where the clitoris and vulva are amputated), school enrolment rates for girls now only lag slightly behind those for boys. Somalia has only recently re-entered the foreign policy zeitgeist thanks to high-profile (ie. involving white people) acts of piracy, and the kidnappings of foreign journalists and aid workers. However, things have been bad in Somalia for a very long time. The Civil War kicked off in 1990 when President Barre was ousted after 26 years of brutalising minorities, lifting literacy and pursuing a policy of making Somalia the most Islamic, Marxist and Somalian country in the world. At one point Somalia even supported Africa’s largest military. Not bad for a country that can be characterised as a desert by the ocean – think of Joondalup for a comparison.
Prior to this, Somalia had been composed of a string of small Islamic states supported by their access to maritime trade and a willingness to occasionally butcher one another – and Ethiopians. Periodically the Ethiopians, perceiving themselves to be a Christian empire surrounded by Islamic states, would return the favour to keep things balanced. Until 2009 the Ethiopians were fighting on the ground in Somalia, provoking a ferocious response from alShabaab and the government of Somaliland. To give you an idea of what al Shabaab are like, in 2011 they banned samosas because the triangular shape was subliminally promoting the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity. They also give priority to murdering Sufi Muslims, representatives of the United Nations, the
Transitional Federal Government, aid workers, and foreigners – unless they’re one of the 300 or so foreign militants in their own ranks. Al Shabaab controls about a third of Somalia, using Somali pirates and kidnap ransoms to fund their ongoing war. Conflict and turmoil in Somalia have been everpresent issues – between tribes, between colonisers and indigenous population, between rebels and the government of the day. The intensity and tactics have changed with the circumstances. Recently, the Transitional Federal Government has been making significant gains against al Shabaab, which has experienced growing defections, leadership assassinations, and is increasingly reliant on foreign assistance to sustain their aggression. However, the absence of al Shabaab would not mitigate the pre-existing circumstances that have allowed it to flourish. Entrenched clan-based politics and the subsequent political and economic alienation of minorities, and the routine aberration of the rights of civil society groups to assemble, discuss and demonstrate are all practices founded on colonial precedents. These Preconditions are all compounded by the inherently limited economic opportunities of Somalia, in addition to the destruction of most of its major public infrastructure. In the future, the destruction of al Shabaab and the ascendency of a competent central government will diminish piracy and kidnapping, and keep a lid on al Qaeda activities. How much of an interest the West will have beyond these issues in Somalia, and how willing their governments will be to support Somalia is historically dubious. In the meantime, Somalia will remain a shithole.
The Five Stages of Krudd: Kubler-Ross and Kevin’s Fall Richard Ferguson Kevin Rudd is anything but a happy little vegemite. In late February, the Prime Minister finally exorcised this troubled spirit from her Government through the force of 71 Labor MPs, finally putting an end to Rudd and his leadership ambitions. In many ways, the Rudd challenge was never a genuine comeback attempt, but the end of a long mourning process for Rudd’s parliamentary career. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the legendary American psychiatrist, described the “five stages of grief” theory that outlined the process her dying patients went through as they dealt with their own mortality. Rudd seems to have followed her model step-by-step as we all witnessed a man of wasted promise come to terms with the end of his rule. Shock, anger, bargaining, depression and, ultimately, acceptance are the stages of Kübler-Ross’ model, and Kevin has shown signs of each of these steps. As Rudd passes on to the Valhalla of former world leaders, let us study how he and his people travelled to the end through the five stages of grief.
On the morning of June 24th 2010, this land was ruled by a man named Kevin Rudd. The next morning, that man was just another commoner.
Anger is the second step in the Kübler-Ross model, when the subject begins to realise the reality of the situation and strikes back with rage. A short temper is one of Kevin Rudd’s most infamous attributes but few realised his full potential for fury until after his resignation as Prime Minister.
Illustrated by Yashi Renoir
Denial is the first step in the Kübler -Ross model and it was a step that Kevin, most of the ALP caucus and the people of Australia endured together. In this stage of grief, the subject simply refuses to comprehend the possibility of the end and tries to block out reality. The Gillard Spring was a quiet and clean affair that took most by surprise. Despite being planned for months by the likes of Bill Shorten, the plan to remove the head of government did not reach the press gallery’s ears until it was actually carried out. For a media so used to having inside information weeks in advance, they had to think on their feet during those cold June days – a humiliating endeavour which made them resolute to never miss a whiff of a leadership challenge again. Not only was the media in a state of shock, but most of the Labor caucus was as well. The most infamous denial was that of poor Labor MP Daryl Melham who said, “Complete garbage, ABC has lost all credibility,” when information of the coup was given to him by an eager young reporter. The entire nation appeared to deny the leadership tensions, as if ashamed that such a removal was possible in a democratic nation. None were so resolute against the prospect of destruction than Kevin Rudd, who in his final press conference said he was “quite capable” of winning a ballot in a room full of enemies and that he was “elected by the people of Australia to do this job...I intend to continue that job.” It was a pitiful performance from a man trying to block out the coming storm by merely closing his eyes and wishing it to go away. The difficulties of all parties to accept the reality of the Gillard Spring of 2010 affected their ability to grapple with the eventual Gillard Government and led Rudd on a long and winding path of grief.
At the beginning of the 2010 federal election, Julia Gillard was set for a glorious victory. That all changed when veteran political journalist Laurie Oakes reported on cabinet leaks suggesting that Ms Gillard had spoken against a paid parental leave scheme and a rise in pensions during cabinet discussions. These revelations did great damage to the Gillard campaign and would later be seen as a major factor in their laughable result in the final polls. In the following analysis of this traumatic event and every other cabinet leak that would ever happen, the name “Mr Rudd” would only ever be a sentence away. To be fair, Mr Rudd has denied allegations that he was behind any leaks but this didn’t stop the deputy leader of his own party, Wayne Swan, saying in a public statement in February 2012 that he “tried to tear down the 2010 campaign.” If the allegations of Rudd’s destructive behaviour are true, he was following the patterns of the anger phase religiously. Here we have a man who has pushed away those that could have supported him (worried backbenchers) to ease his own pain. In attempting to rationalise the end of his leadership, he merely helped his more natural enemies in the Coalition whilst he continued his quest for retribution. The anger phase was a difficult one for Kevin but he ultimately exited and progressed on.
Politics is often depicted as a game where politicians destroy each other. In reality, politicians tend to spend their time begging each other for mercy.
There is a point where even the most experienced political player stops giving a damn. So harsh is the world of politics that it drives men and women deemed most fit to lead an entire nation to despair. In this hurtle towards the end, we find the penultimate stage of depression. In this stage, we find the subject abandoning all earthly matters and retreating from the world they will soon depart.
The third step of the Kübler-Ross model, bargaining, involves the subject turning to any means possible to ensure a reprieve from death. In Rudd’s case, he had to do something that repelled him in every way – he had to work for Julia Gillard. Representing the Prime Minister as foreign minister, to world leaders he used to be on equal footing with, must have been humiliating though the position served him well. It must be said it served Ms too, as it ensured his support in a hung parliament.
However, the distant relationship with his boss severely affected his ability to keep control as his opposition counterpart, Julie Bishop, scratched away at his credibility as a representative of a leader he didn’t even talk to. The spotlight of the foreign ministership backfired on Rudd as it made his ability to gain a separate support base more difficult. Also, his lack of grace towards his superior made others in the party further doubt his capacity to play in a team. Bargaining may bring short-term relief but it merely brings one closer to the precipice.
Kevin Rudd made his descent into political depression on a cold Thursday morning in Washington D.C. At 1 o’clock in the morning, the foreign minister told a pack of sleepy reporters that he had turned in his resignation to the Prime Minister, despite representing her hours before at a global conference. To many, this was a sign of true madness: why else would a man throw away a comfortable ministerial position to challenge for a job he had no chance of getting? However, one could not have foreseen a way that the tension could have been allowed to continue. A forever bloodthirsty media had been screaming in Rudd’s ear to extract revenge to those who wronged him in 2010. To add to that, the words of so-called colleagues like Simon Crean calling for you to “put up or shut up” on national radio would lead one to debate the point of going on. The intensity of public pressure to challenge made Rudd’s position as Foreign Minister untenable – he had no choice to drop his ministerial power and take on his old rival. Through the depression stage, our subject retreated from the government and prepared for the final dance with the woman who killed his career.
ACCEPTANCE Monday 27th February 2012 was the day Kevin Rudd’s career finally died. Acceptance is the final step in the Kübler-Ross model. In this stage, the subject and their support group has come to terms with the reality facing them and they are all ready to start a new chapter. The leadership spill was nothing more than a massacre. The courtiers quickly surrounded their Red Queen and aimed their pistols at the rebel Rudd and his little band. After weeks of talking Rudd up as a saviour, talking heads all of a turned to discussing “the Prime Minister’s strength” and “her sweet victory over her hopeless opponent”. Rudd’s final speech focused on his legacy as Foreign Minister and gave a note of thanks to all those who had shared the journey with him. Acceptance, in this definition, does not mean that one is happy with the result – Rudd’s apparent reluctance to stand aside at the next election suggests he is biding his time for another leadership rumble. However, two sound rejections by his colleagues give him very little chance of a revival. Instead, he must go forth on his next adventure. The most obvious place for him to go is that popular retirement home for politicians, the United Nations. Here, Mr Rudd will have a cushy job as the director of some obscure UN agency with a fleet of bureaucrats at his command and multiple photo opportunities with world leaders. Alternatively, he can take the route of a talking head, ruling the court of public opinion with the force of a Twitter account and a recurring spot on Q&A. In this position he’ll be able to command the public attention he loves whilst not having to deal with the responsibilities that the Labor caucus decided he could not handle.
€UROZON€ Alex Griffin casts his eye over colonialism in Europe in the wake of the Greek Economic Crisis
Inefficiency and corruption aren’t being defended here (Greece’s lost tax revenue amounts to twelve percent of the nation’s GDP), but the Greek way of doing things is incompatible with the neoliberal demands of the German example; never should the twain have met.
Colonialism ain’t great. Though we tend to associate things like violence and theft with the concept, there’s a less immediate (but equally pernicious and pervasive) element at play – the imposition and privileging of a foreign way of viewing the world. Think missionaries hectorin’ kids about a celestial white guy and you’re there. As Greece enters its fifth year of acute recession, the idea of a bloodless side of colonialism strikes me as a revealing lens to view the Greek debt crisis through. Certainly, reducing Greece’s crisis to this is too simple. Yet, from certain angles, a painfully subtle process of colonialisation is very much one strain of the narrative currently unfolding across Europe, as this crisis is as much to do with culture as it is economics.
Comic by Ena Tulic
Of course, things started merrily. Greece eagerly joined the Eurozone, hopin’ to benefit from the ease and security currency union offered but due to ignorance and mismanagement there was a massive shortfall in the structural preparedness of Greece’s economy to be tied to the likes of Germany via the Euro. The confidence the Euro unleashed led to the amassing of Euro-denominated debts the nation was never going to be able to pay back after the GFC struck, hence the mess we have now. This is where things get dark and strange, as Germany now wields immense economic power over Greece. This power is translating into moral and intellectual superiority, which has suddenly and severely forced Greece to bend towards adopting the neoliberal logic of the market.
Before currency union, individual Greeks may have aspired to the standards of efficiency and accountability set by Germany and the like which were necessary for the Eurozone. However, Greece as a whole fundamentally differed from the rest of the Eurozone on a cultural level, privileging family connections and the entrenchment of advantage and opportunity within kinship groups to an extent considered unthinkable in the competitive, meritbased democracies of Northern Europe. This privileging of relationships in commerce isn’t inherently bad; the economic miracles of South Korea and Japan after WWII derived much of their stability and rapidity from crony capitalism. The Greeks had a differing set of priorities when it came to the allocation of wealth and opportunity, which have to change before the structural weaknesses in the Greek economy can be corrected. Inefficiency and corruption aren’t being defended here (Greece’s lost tax revenue amounts to twelve percent of the nation’s GDP), but the Greek way of doing things is incompatible with the neoliberal demands of the German example; never should the twain have met. It’s plain that the Greek rescue package is not purely an economic situation, where austerity packages must be enforced to correct the balance sheet. It is also a cultural correction, forcefully demanding a shift in Greek values (personal and business) and institutional practices to adjust overnight to the dogma of the free market. This, it’s argued, is what will deliver the necessary growth and efficiency required to pay back the loans they took under false pretences. There are to be no more long, free lunches; Greece’s culture is being necessarily
rationalized from the top-down, geared towards the logic of efficiency held by their new European masters. At the same time as Greece’s collective mind is being forced to think differently, the fate of the Greeks has landed into foreign hands. The tragedy is that the imposition of this logic has come through drastically reducing the standards of living of the Greek people. This process of cultural colonialism as a fiscal stabilizer prescribed by the West in an economic crisis is not unheard of. The bailout Thailand received from the IMF in the wake of the Asian financial crisis was conditional upon the Thais adjusting their speculative form of deregulated development capitalism to the regulated, inflationcontrolling model favoured by Western economies. Yet only a few years later, the US was passing the banking deregulations that ushered in the GFC. The Greek debt crisis doesn’t that prove the EU was a failure. Rather, it puts the lie to the idea that cultural differences could be overlooked in establishing the currency union and that economic differences should not have been overlooked at all. Cultural change is an arduous, complex process and should have been enacted before Greece tried to play on a field they weren’t equipped for. However, the banal nature of this seismic shift is what is most unnerving; the only people brandishing weapons are Greeks, and they’re doing so against one another. What the EU is doing with their power over Greece is benign in its intentions, and has the best outcome at heart. At the same time, it’s completely transformative and destructive. What else can you call colonialism?
2013 Richard Ferguson
The UWA Guild C(o - Ed)uncil is now in full throttle, preparing for its next round of elections. Most importantly, they are beginning to focus on how they operate said elections on campus, with the set-up of the imaginatively titled Electoral Reform Committee. Some of the most respected members of our university’s political community have been invited to attend. Yet, the political editor of this paper has been shunned. Never one to go cry in a corner, I have decided to use whatever means necessary to provide my views to the committee. The following are my ideas for electoral reform at UWA – here’s hoping my beloved Guild Princes approve.
SELECTION OF CANDIDATES First of all an election requires candidates, and we need a new way of deciding who we put forward as our representatives. Under the current system, the candidates are chosen by each party based on their political views and merit, in the hope they can get the people who are best placed to deliver their vision. Pooh to that meritocratic nonsense.
Illustration by Camden Watts
Politics is all about making even the most incompetent individual feel special and the political parties need to widen their horizon to the entire student population. Therefore, I’d like to propose a random selection process, also known as the ‘Eeny-Meeny-Miny Mo-del’. At the beginning of each year, the political parties will go into a lecture theatre full of students from each faculty and choose a selection of candidates through the game ‘Eeny-Meeny-Miny Mo’. This system will ensure that everyday students without political ambition run the guild – giving power back to the people. The faculty division system will also guarantee that all walks of life are represented in the candidates. Some may disregard this idea as denying people of talent their right to guild council positions. My only reply is that the current political selection has also
13 prevented most people with talent from getting on the council. Therefore, the random selection process is the best one to ensure we have the people’s, instead of the gimps’, voice on campus. THE GENERAL ELECTION This is the main area that the illustrious Electoral Reform Committee will be covering, as arguments rage between the gimps over the placement of voting booths and the use of the internet in campaigning. I personally believe that the main issue with Guild Election Week is not how it is held, but the people who are allowed to vote. It must be said that many who vote are voting for their friends and the rest couldn’t give a damn about guild politics. Therefore, we must remove the uninformed filth from the equation and give the power of electing our Guardians to someone with immense wisdom. Harry the Crocodile. Harry is a resident of Crocosausrus Cove in Darwin City Centre, a crocodile endowed with the power of prophecy. In recent times, Harry has predicted the results of the 2010 federal election, the 2012 GOP Presidential Primaries and the 2010 World Cup winner. With such accurate results, this wise creature surely must know who would be best placed to control our Guild Council. The crocodile would be transferred from Darwin
to the Koi pond in Social Sciences* where he would choose between two duck carcasses, one attached to a placard saying STAR, the other saying Liberty. Once he has chosen the party of his choice, the winners will be placed on the council and the losers will be fed to Harry to prevent future accusations of vote rigging. With Harry at the helm, we are sure to have a brilliant bunch to take the University forward. CHOOSING A PRESIDENT With the election decided, it’s time to choose a supreme leader to guide this team of shining stars. Under the current system, the president is directly elected by the student population. The problem with this is that the presidential contest is centred on popularity and personality, rather the policies of either candidate. Therefore, I put forward the idea that an illustrious leader be chosen from the council members rather than directly elected to ensure the best person is in the position and that they are far removed from group loyalties like the current president is. Let’s call this person the Pope of the UWA Student Guild. The Pope would be chosen by a special conclave of electors known as the Pelican Editorial Team in order to remove the victor from the personal politics of the Guild Council and ensure that a dull
bastard does not receive the appointment. They would confirm that a candidate has been chosen by releasing a white puff of smoke out the Pelican office window. Naturally, this would be a life-long appointment – a sad reflection of how long it takes politicians to leave this university (Hi Daryl – Ed). With a strong Pope separate from party politics, we can finally have a leader worth worshipping. I hope that the Guild Electoral Reform Committee takes my opinions on board and I ask the dear readers of this publication to lobby the committee members to make it happen. God bless the Pope and his reptilian oracle! *After the adoption of this manifesto, Harry was transported to the pond. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2015 following the ingestion of a carcinogenic Koi Fish. RIP Harry.
Swings & Roundabouts
SWINGERS ‘N’ ROUNDABOUTS Anna Gardiner
Bored by monogamy? Fancy a swing on someone else’s ding? Think group sex is ace? Well personally, I’m not. I don’t. And no, it’s terrifying. Somehow, despite this, its 2.26am Saturday morning and due to a little overindulgence in cask wine and a temperament that renders me irrational and a perpetual disappointment to my parents; my boyfriend and I have found ourselves at an establishment I like to call the sleazy sex dungeon lair. AKA Club XS. AKA a swingers club. AKA a world of darkened rooms, extra squishy couches and allegedly sterile stripper poles. A place I’d always assumed would lead to one having hate-sex with a crying middle-aged man and feeling the repercussions burning in both your pants and soul weeks after. It didn’t. IT WENT LIKE THIS Though I’d imagined the place would be essentially empty, perhaps with a few balding/ fake tanned/slightly tubby couples mingling around tables before slinking away together as smooth jazz played over crappy speakers, it was actually pretty packed. There was a DJ (T-pain was gonna buy me a drank and Wynter Gordon was no angel) and, surprisingly, some normal looking people too – including my family dentist. I avoided eye contact. Sure there was a bit too much hair gel and dress shoes for my liking, and my boyfriend suggested corsets weren’t for everyone, but there were legitimate couples who looked like their names were Jane and Bob and they worked in a bank. Initially awkward, we entertained ourselves by reading some of the posters by the door. “DON’T; display desperateness or needy energy DON’T; develop predatory behavior
Illustrattion by Camden Watts
DON’T; ask if there are any larger sized condoms” A tall man with soft black hair, matching chin stubble and neatly groomed sideburns appeared beside us and asked if we were okay. “Yeah, we’ve just never been to this particular club before”, I lied. Delight flickered across his face, his right eye unintentionally twitched. “You’re newbies!” he exclaimed. “I’m John Gordon, or The Black Duck to all the regulars. I’m the owner.”
“Oh wow, it’s seems like a lovely place”, I lied. He thanked us and as we tried to skulk away, scared he’d catch on to our less then serious dispositions, he spoke again in a slower voice, His chest swelled with pride, he raised his eyebrows in a way that made me think ‘aw, don’t do that’. “When you step into my club, you step into my heart, and so, sit inside my heart of hearts, the heart of all that matters.” He unintentionally winked again. We smiled politely and walked away, deeper into his cardiovascular system. With Gordon’s wink lazily focused on us from a distance, we hit the stripper poles and performed an impromptu routine attracting a Spanishlooking couple wearing matching green. ‘Gina’ had a soft spot for surfy looking guys and I could pair off with ‘Antonio’ if I was interested. I felt special. Gina was clearly wearing a black G-string while Antonio had his shirt un-tucked in an I’m-fun-and-outgoing way – a marked sign of both physical attractiveness and internal falsehood. After dismissing them we felt deservedly smug that we’d pulled one of the hottest couples there. Looking around, I couldn’t help but smile a little – all these people, having a great time, bonding over their mutual love of promiscuity. With a silent nod and glance toward the back of the building, my boyfriend and I knew the time had come. We had to venture up the stairs, onto the romance floor, and see if people were at it. IT ENDED LIKE THIS There were 5 rooms, two of which had closed doors. “Dare you to open one” my boyfriend jeered. With a surge of bravery I did, pushing it open quickly, which on reflection was probably not the best approach. People tend to notice this approach. In fact, it was a very bad approach. We saw three bodies: two men and one very busy lady. It was a mass of naked skin and trembling limbs, glowing under red light, accompanied by low octave sighs and moans. There were some intriguing toys laying on the edge of
the massive low sitting bed. One, a small whip, was already being put to use? After a moment they saw and another moment of shocked silence later, we scurried out of the room to the incensed howls of Dr Harris. We decided then that it might be an appropriate time to leave and made for a taxi, quickly. As we drove to safety, paranoid The Black Duck was in the car behind, desperate to have us killed for wreaking havoc in his ‘heart’, we reflected that Club XS wouldn’t be such a bad place if Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get it On’ was played on repeat and we had a legitimate desire to sleep with the kind of people who frequent swingers bars. Unfortunately, due to a combination of these factors and my now recurring nightmares, we shall not be recurring.
Gays have always been into discreet means of communication – anything that reduced the chances of being caught by the cops or pulped to pieces by malevolent homophobes patrolling local beats. Of course Grindr is only the newest in an evolutionary line of digital innovations to find the horny bottoms (and tops) of the world. Prior to this it was all about ManHunt.com, a fairly generic gay “dating” site that allowed you to share your length, girth, kinks and 150 words about yourself with an accompanying picture. Before this was Gaydar – the MySpace of gayness – a sort of homely boynext-door themed site.
Weirdly, and sadly, I’ve even witnessed revulsion from the packs of straight men who cruise the dance floor for stray fag-hags and bi girls, at seeing two guys make out. I don’t think such an influx of homo-tourists would be possible if there was every chance that these boof-heads were routinely subjected to the butt-grabbing, two-to-astall, “can I buy you a drink”, atmosphere of Gen X’s gay bars. But whatever, things change. Maybe it’s time to move out of the ghetto and into the gutter with the rest society. I think Grindr has also emphasised some of the more intimate differences between the straight and gay experience and sheer fascination my straight friends have with Grindr is telling of this. While there is a hetero rip-off (“Blendr”) it’s not nearly as popular. The idea of putting up a profile providing strangers your
Another downside to Grindr is that it habituates users into playing a game of “hot or not”. The winners are the guys with the hottest picture online. In ye olden days (before 1990) dudes were obliged to meet one another in person before determining if they’d fuck. Talking was usually involved too. Now, the drive towards instant satisfaction is so much more compelling. I like Grindr, it’s entertaining, and it introduces me to guys rich enough to afford iPhones. It’s also convenient, safe, and discreet. Whether it enables or encourages guys to stay in the closet is a peripheral issue - there will always be men who want or need it. Likewise the gay scene was always going to continue changing, with or without the internet. But there is something a little disconcerting in the insidious way Grindr promotes the pornografication of its users. Some gay men have always been comfortable in promoting themselves as sex objects, and some men have always enjoyed using them like they are. But there was always a space for the other men to mix sex and socialisation – at the nightclubs, the bookstores, the cafés. E-gay has eliminated a lot of that potential and encouraged its users to look at other men as – and present themselves as – pornographic images. Instantly available, perfectly photographed. In the meantime, I’ll stick with Grindr until the next big thing, or I track down hornybottom_21.
I came out as e-gay during the peak of the MSN chat rooms. MSN was all about seedy late night chat rooms filled with fake profiles, horny strangers and hornier pedos. I know this last bit is true because one time a guy showed me a picture of kiddie porn, and then a few years later the whole network was taken down because of prolific reports of child-grooming.
Illustrattion by Camden Watts
E-gay has permanently changed the gay scene. Once upon a time gay bars were more sophisticated than boozeserviced beats. The point of going out was to pick up, now it’s to socialise. Gay sex has shifted almost entirely from the semi-public sphere to the digital one. This shift has been partly responsible for gay bars becoming so irritatingly popular with straight people. There’s very few inyour-face displays of homosexual passion in gay bars now, other than the odd
Tom Reynolds takes a look at Gay relationships in the smartphone age
whereabouts is considered exotic, even risky, by them. But gays have been doing Grindr before Grindr – through code, clothing, performance and location we have been subtly tagging our preferences and moving discreetly through the rest of society unnoticed. Perhaps if straight people were required to consciously think about how to convey their own sexuality every day with discretion, they’d better understand how normal the Grindr concept seems. As a proud poof I have to admit Grindr has had negative impacts on the community at large. There has been a proliferation in the number of ‘discreet’ and “bi” men (face-pic not included) looking for immediate satisfaction. Grindr has made it easier for them to stay in the closet.
Bobby is 5 meters away
Swings & Roundabouts
Grindr is an iPhone application that shows user profiles of gay men based on their proximity to the user. 10,000 years of human innovation, a couple of world wars, a cold war and voila – the peak of human invention is a device that allows you to stalk down a guy called “hornybottom_21” in your own neighbourhood.
lesbian cat-fight and the occasional drama-indrag show.
The moment the tips of my fingers slide the phone from my pocket it seems my straight friends want to know “are you on Grindr?”
Swings & Roundabouts
A Fading Memory Film to Digital
In January of this year, the iconic film manufacturer Kodak filed for bankruptcy after a long and painful struggle to assert itself in a digital era. This sorry tale reflects a bittersweet meta-narrative of modernity in which the excitement of Progress is muted by a resigned ruefulness for what’s been replaced. What makes Kodak’s victimisation unique is the level of sentimentality tied up with the brand. It’s not just old age that gave it its august charm. Kodak was the merchant of nostalgia itself.
Illustrated by Kate Prendergast
Words and Images by Kate Prendergast
With its easy-use, low-budget cameras, Kodak gave every family a way to preserve their treasured times. It bestowed to all a “memory” port key to birthdays, times with Pete, that girl you stalked for a month before she caught you squatting amongst the rhododendrons outside her window, Misty’s summer freckles, James’ infamously hideous camel-haired jacket (which made his head look like a squat, ruddy chimney erupting out of a cottage’s straw-thatched roof). This interloping object invaded our adventures, our living rooms, our picture albums … and our hearts. Since 2004, Kodak has been suffering a series of convulsions and contractions in its global workforce, axed thousands of employees to free up money to invest in digital technology. Although some may see this as a violation of Kodak’s very identity, we cannot resent them for their decision. Their choice was to surrender to their usurper or cease to exist. It’s like an ailing grandparent, clinging to life through blood transfusions from their young, energetic progeny. The history and identity of this multinational corporation is far more varied than you might think. It’s been involved with a whole range of technical and digital projects and innovations, from space exploration and film production
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to Disney restoration and medical imaging. Yet in spite of its vast spread and courageous efforts, Kodak could not withstand the voraciousness of the digital revolution. Kodak’s fall is ironically untimely, collapsing just when film is experiencing an unanticipated revival. This trend, dubbed the ‘vinyl effect’, has seen young acolytes tap into the ‘arcane cool’ of retro in their quest to resurrect the artistry of high-grade film, lured by the intricate mechanics of technique and the mystic alchemy of the darkroom. Nostalgia has given the art a Romantic nuance made all the more venerable by its marginalisation. But the revival is more than hind-sighted curiosity. Many magazine photographers are rediscovering qualities of film initially overlooked next to the convenience of digital. Whereas digital proclaims its pixilation with strident clarity, there is a subdued grace, a mellow richness which is unique to film. In some respects, their differences are so radical that we should really consider the two as distinct media technologies. Their differences extend far beyond the technical. Yeah. Uhuh. You know what I mean. LET’S GET METAPHYSICAL.
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Like all new, pervasive technologies, consumer digital photography has done something to our social psychologies. It’s changed the very way we conceptualise and interact with each other and the world. It’s true what Sontag said – every photo is a representation that masquerades, and subsequently usurps, the real. However, digital has further intensified this hyperreality.
photos are still talismans. But under the new social paradigm they are talismans that transport us to a no-when, a non-history. In Roman mythology Janus is the two-headed God of Beginnings and Change. The two heads look away from each other; one back, the other forward. The digital photograph has contorted these heads around to create an inverse Janus – a demon of endings and stasis. When we gaze upon a photo now, we look back to see ourselves looking forward. It is a hideous scenario, if you think about it. In the junction between those searching, vacant eyes we find nothingness. How can you remember something you haven’t lived? Admittedly, such conjecturing is of the most dramatic and dire kind. Let me try and shudder off this cynical, acrid lens and take a lighter view of things.
We hoard this extra-memory in the bottomless vault of our personal computers, occasionally running through the cascade of images. Who nowadays takes the trouble to print them off and paste them tenderly into albums? As of 2003, only 14% of digital photos were made into hardcopies. The next generation won’t have to dash to save their beloved albums in the event of
Digital can be reprieved if it’s used to capture an already-existent fun, rather than creating its ersatz simulacrum. If we cast off the pretensions of professionalism, the camera can even represent a parodying instrument of play. Yeah, yeah, fucking postmodern self-reflexive irony. VERY BIG DEAL.
There’s no denying it though – the technology Instead of With its miniscule yet bottomless stomach, the camera has is magnitude-ten appreciating opening the moment, grown insatiable, eagerly swallowing a glut of Time. The idea of mind-blowing, up all kinds of the amateur photographer the “Kodak moment” has paled and grown flabby with inflation. expressive potentials. It’s raised the bar to defers perception an unprecedented to the camera, a fire. As scrambled data, their past will aesthetic, where allowing it to be as immaterial and inflammable as, well, quality images are produced with minimal remark upon existence with its supremely memory itself. I can’t quite fathom whether skill. Now anyone can render the world detached language of settings. The deep, this is a good thing. into new and interesting ways; create personal co-mingling between spirit and and explore new meanings. A rheumatic moment becomes cursory. Experience is When groups worship the camera as a flobberworm could take a reasonable shot. no longer something you scoop up like serious totem, energies become devoted ito ectoplasm in a glass vial, a distillate to store a spasmodic series of false, concatenated Moreover, an eased demand for CONSTANT in the cellar of memory like a wine that postures. Perhaps all this comes from a VIGILANCE! and care makes us less pedantic grows richer with age. Instead you linger in private resentment towards those powdered and conservative with our picture taking. a removed, cryogenic existence. The tourist beauties that do their sexy lesbian poses, As portable data, the pictures are easier to has seen Machu Picchu on TV; he’s spent pressing their bodices together to achieve manage, archive, access, copy and share. thousands of dollars so he can experience a Mutually Enhanced Cleavage. But boy, it It means we can keep visually up-to-date that fabled moment when dawn breaks can’t help but lay me low sometimes. These with long-distance relations and friends, upon the hallowed stones. But now he’s seem the kind of people whose ultimate as well as witness world events as they there, he’s fixing his eye behind yet another fantasy is to be rapaciously pawed by Who happen!!!! Editing software like Photoshop screen, anxiously fiddling with settings, magazine on their trip to buy Maybelline transcends human limitations, giving us fretting to make sure they’re compatible eyeliner or radical imaginative freedoms to experiment, with the natural light. rent out a copy of The Tonight Show combine, splice, manipulate, enhance and featuring Jay Leno’s Enormous Chin. transform. With its miniscule yet bottomless stomach, Goddamn phonies. the camera has grown insatiable, eagerly Upon this scene we pull down the shutters swallowing a glut of Time. The idea of the This is why I value the candid shot taken on the “Golden Age” of photography. Alas! “Kodak moment” has paled and grown by the unobtrusive photographer over Weep, my friends, weep bitter tears onto flabby with inflation. Depreciation results. the meticulously organised tableau. How your megapixel, ultra-zoom, waterproof, We can’t even ascribe the “original” more can you capture a genuine camaraderie if shock-proof, high definition, metamemory value because with digital photos, there isn’t you’re too busy pinning up your photocameras. And then hurl it at the ground. one. I would be hard-pressed to describe face? Which, unless you practice in front of And kick it sullenly in the pool. Feel any picture that I’ve taken over the past the mirror or are one of those unnaturally justified in your fit of grief – your camera five years as “precious”, knowing that there photogenic people, makes you look as will be fine. INDESTRUCTABLE BASTARD. is a plethora of ageless replicas swimming though you’re halfway through an eel and Although…you’re not sure if you’re really about the nether of the computer cloud. have suffered from some kind of stroke – feeling the rage…you’re not sure you’d The “aura of authenticity” which Benjamin one side of your face puddles languorously even be having the tantrum otherwise… imagined to emanate from original artworks like a pre-emptive jowl or misplaced goitre. but thing is, your friend, this girl, she’s has been replaced by the unnatural sheen of recording the whole action-shot sequence… immortality. Passports to the dead and gone; cameras are unnatural things. No wonder some cultures Whereas film’s finitude made us sparse see the supernatural in them. Nowadays and careful with our clicks, digital has accelerated this into a wanton flashing
Swings & Roundabouts
frenzy. It’s allowed cameras to claim centrestage in our social theatrics, supplying the “evidence” that we had a simply riotous time. It wears me out, those times at a social meet, when spirits have flagged – Jane’s looking worried because she’s exhausted her single and favourite topic of comparing cocktails, everyone’s assiduously swirling their drinks. Suddenly Kylie fishes out the camera, and everyone’s beaming and larking about. And, hypocrite, I’m party to it! You could take it as an insult – the fact that we’re willing to rouse ourselves before this inanimate object and not for our friends. A hideous implication is that those photos give you nothing real to reminisce on. Worst of all, sometimes you want so badly to reminisce that for a moment, you actually forget that it was quite a shitty evening.
As columnist Jonathon Jones points out, the amateur picture-taker’s ritual of getting others to develop their film “put us in our place. We were not ‘photographers’, just people taking snaps.” Through dispensing with this stage, digital has compressed the ritual into a microsecond – a definite win for efficiency. But, you can no longer experience that unique gratification that follows suspense when, joyously, you discover you did capture your brother stuck in his skinny-leg jeans, crying into his Superman underpants. Sigh. It’s a shame. Then again, you might save a bit of money in the long run. There’s only ever a maximum 80% return of adequate pictures; the rest would be inevitably blurred, or quite frankly baffling.
Swings & Roundabouts
SHIRT DOESN’T FIT ANYMORE: Misadventures in Dieting Yvonne Buresch
Illustrations by Camden Watts
People looking for actual diet advice should stop reading right… Now. Reading this article would be like going to the scene of a car crash to buy a car. Having said that, I did actually lose weight on some of these clusterfucks. THE MI GORENG & SUSHI DIET does work. In the self-pitying aftermath of a bad breakup when I was 18 (and they were all bad breakups when I was 18) I point-blank refused to eat anything resembling substantial food. I had a bag of Mi Goreng for breakfast. Lunch was five pieces of salmon sushi from Taka’s Kitchen and dinner was air. I did this every day for about a month and needless to say lost a shit-tonne of weight. It lasted a month because that’s how long it took me to get a new boyfriend. For this reason the different variants of this diet are referred to by women’s magazines as “the breakup diet”. I always found this confusing because in movies chicks eat ice cream after breakups.
THE MI GORENG & PASTRY DIET does not work. When I had a job in a patisserie I pretty much had pastry crammed in my mouth every minute that I wasn’t talking to a customer. I won’t lie – it was pretty awesome. I would have had pastry for dinner if I could but I finished work at 3.30pm, forcing me to eat something else (cue tiny violins). I didn’t have a clue how to cook real food and baking takes too long, so I ate Mi Goreng. I put on about 12kg in two months.
When I ate real food again the bulk of it was so unfamiliar, I expected it to punch a hole out of my abdomen: Alien style. THE THIRD WORLD DIET like a charm. Anyone who has been to India, Thailand or Bali can tell you about the food warnings you get before you leave. Don’t eat street food, don’t have ice in your drinks, and don’t have anything that hasn’t been cooked.
THE MI GORENG & MI GORENG DIET does work. Eating the equivalent of my wages in pastry every hour got me banned from helping myself to the merchandise. Damned if I was going to actually pay for the stuff I’d been eating free for so long, so I switched to pure Mi Goreng instead. Six bags: Two each for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I went to Vietnam and – as you will probably guess – this helpful advice fell on deaf ears. Food being my main reason for going there I ate rapturously and carelessly, doing my best to ignore the hygiene level of the environments in which it was produced. I can’t be sure but I think it was the place with the pile of raw chickens stacked against the back wall that gave me the heinous case of food poisoning. They made the most sublime phỏ.
This really fucks up your digestive system, so while you may be eating Mi Goreng it feels like you’re eating nothing and pooping molten lava.
A lot of people would be horrified if they experienced the severity of the gastro I had,
The healthiness of the food that did manage to get a toehold in my stomach meant I lost a LOT of weight (about six kilos in ten days), and in the sauna of tropical Vietnam I sweated out all my pimples. I wouldn’t recommend going and getting some parasites on purpose Maria Callas style but, honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever looked so good. THE AUSSIE IN NOTTINGHAM DIET kind of works, probably. I was in Nottingham on student exchange for a year and it has its own special economic climate. Imagine taking the Crawley campus of UWA and plonking it in Midland, and that’s basically what you have at the University of Nottingham. Like Midland, everything is really cheap – cheaper, in fact, because it’s in England and a really shitty part of England at that. The upside of this is that the good food you do find is actually affordable. It is not an unreachable goal to have two flat whites, a fragrantly steaming big bowl of duck soup and a whacking great fillet of salmon every day. That’s precisely what I did for the better part of a last year and would probably have come back thinner if I hadn’t gone and eaten the entire contents of Italy in June. THE AUSSIE IN AUSTRALIA DIET yet to be decided. I came back from Nottingham in February and since my return I’ve been visiting favourite eateries the way other people visit relatives. Vans, a casual café in Cottesloe with special occasion food (and prices), was the chosen site for my birthday lunch. I had the soft-shell crab, served on a green papaya and coriander salad with peanuts and a salted chilli caramel. I’ve been to Vans before and expected good things, but this was really amazing. Apart from sweet, sour, salty and bitter there is a harderto-identify flavour, which denotes the unctuous harmony when several elements combine just right. The Japanese have a word for this elusive fifth flavour – umami. This soft-shell crab salad at Vans had umami up the yin yang and I’d never experienced anything like it before. I have since, just once, also in Australia. Recently, I went to a jungle-themed birthday party and crashed overnight. In the morning,
THE GERMANS DON’T LIKE VEGANS DIET does work. A friend of mine went to Germany recently and had the devil’s time of finding anything to eat. For someone like me searching out sustenance in the beer-drinking, pork product-eating, pastry-guzzling capital of the world is both a joy and a cakewalk, but for her it was nigh on impossible. While she has many friends in Deutschland and feels welcome there on an individual level her existence puzzles and outrages the country as a whole. She is a straight-edge vegan Jew. THE BABY COW DIET does work, for a little while. My dad is slim but a doctor once advised him that he could stand to lose some weight. The questionably referenced advice he received from this health professional involved drinking six litres of whole milk every day. No food. No other drinks. Just milk. It worked inasmuch as he lost weight like it
was going out of fashion, but he made puppydog eyes at the fridge the whole time and could only stick it out for two weeks. To his credit he didn’t give up because he folded and had some chocolate cake like I would have (there are few things in the world better than a glass of milk with a piece of chocolate cake), but because it made him sick. As in physically. When he finished drinking roughly the eighty-fourth litre of milk he suddenly goggled like a goldfish and threw up. After that he sensibly threw in the towel on the rainbow milk challenge (re: New craze that’s dumber than planking – Ed) and returned to the succour of solid food. Tip: Eat a lot of fresh fruit and veg, and carbs which aren’t pastry or Mi Goreng. Follow the advice of doctors when it comes to food and food poisoning, unless what they tell you sounds like bull. BETTER TIP: Buy maxi dresses. They’re very forgiving.
Swings & Roundabouts
my boyfriend and I made our bleary-eyed way to Wild Poppy’s in Freo. I had remembered its existence with a kind of hysterical gratitude for saving me from a cardboard Macca’s breakfast, and I wasn’t disappointed. The chilli masala eggs were served on a flatbread resembling ten cubic metres of puff pastry condensed into a half inch round, and it was so delicious it hit a spot I hadn’t even known was there. Sitting in the air conditioning on a 42-degree day, with the last vestiges of orange tiger paint on my face, eating those eggs and flatbread made me briefly the happiest person on the planet. Say what you will about expense but the food in Perth is damned good.
but even on the toilet I could taste that cloud’s silver lining. Everything I ate was going right through me and barely touched the sides. Now, I’m not one for watching what I eat at the best of times but even I am occasionally held back by the finite nature of my stomach. Since the food in my stomach wasn’t so much stopping for a chat as waving hello without breaking stride, I never really got full and could eat however much I wanted. Delicious chicken soups, fresh fruits and sugarcane juice, prawn rice-paper rolls and sticky barbecued pork: I ate it all, constantly and in massive quantities.
Swings & Roundabouts
HOPSCOTCH IN THE HEART OF DARKNESS Josh Chiat
One Day In The Pelican Office
Illustrated by Camden Watts
The dust that collected on my keyboard had begun to congeal back into the rotten skin that it formed from. Paul Simon mugged Kwela in my right ear as I passed my eyes over the email inbox to see if Mr Scotch had made contact yet. Once again, I received his stock out of office reply;
of the Guild Council performing fellatio on themselves. In my stupor I considered even that to be a non-event. Within thirty minutes I had siphoned what remained of my personal funds, and a birthday present from my dear grandmother Lily, to board that day’s flight to South Africa. I had to find Scotch, no matter what it took, and Oosthuizen would have to be my first point of business.
“Sorry to miss you sir. As it happens I am adventuring into the darkest depths of Africa. Hope to see you on the outside. If you have any queries please place them with my personal butler, Jumbi. Don’t be alarmed if you fail to receive a reply first time around – Jumbi is, as they say, a ‘native’ and he may require some coaxing for a cogent response. Ta, Pete”
Welcome to Johannesburg
Damn. I still required his article to fill two pages in the second edition. He knew too of the theme, as I briefly made contact with him as he made his way through Zambia, having been directed northwards by his interview subject Jonty Oosthuizen, the South African ivory dealer. Pete has a phone, but he probably went out of range in the jungle somewhere. That being said, his neuroses often take charge in these matters – his father was a consultant for Telstra regarding the effects of mobiles on cancer and Pete claims to have ‘seen the science’ and adjusted his lifestyle accordingly. He said that the last time I talked to him – a strange remark given his usually staunch cynicism.
D’Arcy was illegitimately born to his father via the tracts of an unnamed upper-middle caste Indian housewife. Always one to protect his public image, especially considering the son’s conspicuous medium dark skin-tone, I saw the protective logic in the Lord bankrolling D’Arcy’s hedonistic travels. D’Arcy had a thing for gaudiness – I was none too impressed by the openness of Bar Six, the cocktail place in Melville he’d arranged with me to meet in. Luckily, it was early on a Monday and few people were in. I ordered a double gin and tonic and waited for his arrival.
Rolling my eyes, and making a note to arrange a pair of new shoes for Jumbi, who has done more than his fair share of correspondence of late, I switched tabs to the Pelican bank account in order to arrange payment for the next edition’s printing. SCOTCH!!! My mouth froze in horror at the sight of a paltry double digit figure. At some point the filth must have removed his funds from the kitty. I walked down the hall in a pseudo-drunken daze, stumbling awkwardly past numerous members
Tracking down Oosthuizen was not quite as easy as I thought. Given the indecorous status of ivory hunting at this point in history, his operations and funds had moved underground. I contacted my uncle David, a high-up Engen employee, who gave me the details of a visiting English nobleman by the name of D’Arcy Bramford.
“So you’re after me good friend Pete, are ya?” His nobility barely came through. He spoke with the common slur of a child raised on a steady diet of East Enders and Footballer’s Wives – aware as I am of his father’s negligence, he probably was. Unlike many of his ilk, he was acutely aware that his roots lay in the Sub-Continent and not Jamaica, and he wore vestiges of Indian jewelry that had the lightlystained appearance of lower-grade rhinoceros tusk. Probably he had sourced the materials from Jonty, and then travelled to India to have the jewelry
carved. “Hey! Don’t tap the jewelry. That’s very expensive stuff. Might not look much but the way the market is nowadays, underground n’ all, you might be lucky to get even this stuff for under 20 grand.” I bulked. What if Scotch had fallen prey to the temptations of the trade? Perhaps he had been purchasing ivory at a similar, or even higher rate, and taken his money out of the magazine to bankroll it. What if he’d become too caught up with Jonty and been sent north to source the goods himself? The swine and I rarely get along, but I still consider him a friend. So I wondered, would I have a Kurtz on my hands when I went to leave this place? “I don’t know where Pete is. But I can get you Jonty. He’s in Kruger. Your uncle’s gotta take you though, because Jonty doesn’t want me to contact him, yeah?” In Search of a Racist Devil I arranged with my other uncle – a travel agent – a trip to a game reserve in Kruger National Park. David gave me a lift. He left after I thanked him and pretended to check-in at reception. After annulling my booking and paying the cancellation fee (I was now down to my last 1000 Rand) I made my way alone into the park proper, using a secret trail produced by Jonty, marked out on a map given to me by D’Arcy. As I left I overheard a murmur about Jonty from the rangers. Apparently his secretive and pantherlike methods of taking the ivory from the park’s elephants had become a serious problem. So serious, in fact, that the government had instructed the rangers not to fire on animals lest they be out of ammunition when they sighted Jonty. I found him in the east of the park: hidden in the brush with a rifle, staring down an impala – hunting for sustenance rather than profit. He recognised me immediately as an acquaintance of Pete’s.
“A’ll tell you Joshy. When the Kaffirs rebel – and they will – that doos government will be right back efter me to fahht on their front lahn.” Having lived underground for so long, the disgusting Afrikaner was unaware of the social and cultural changes that had occurred outside his bubble. “Ja, but the good news is this: Efter the 1987 elections, there’s no doubt Andries Treurnicht ken take power and really deal with the problem.” Very underground. And truly the sort of man that only Scotch could even imagine idolising – for Scotch, industry and fashion have always over-ridden morality. “STOP! IT IS YOU, SIR! STOP!” A Jeep containing a black ranger pulled up in the distance, a rifle in his right, the impala unaware of its predicament between Mr Oosthuizen and the ranger. Bang! Shots were fired, the impala scattered instinctively as the glass of the car behind it broke. Bang! I felt a nick on the outside of my right arm and sheltered for a while before Jonty pulled up in the jeep alongside me, the ranger’s body in the back seat; head open, blood everywhere. It was a narrow escape, I felt for the ranger – he was merely doing his job – though I was relieved for my own safety. “Where is Pete? Where did his money go?” “Ahhh old Pete…” A sick smile interjected his words. The vile creature clearly enjoyed this – I was taking advice from a devil, “He was in debt to me so ah sent him to help with a little laundering scheme up in Zaire. All above board, really. Ah ken put you on the next freight up.” In The Jungle When I unloaded in the Congo I found myself face to face with a large collection of semi-constructed huts. “Welcome.” A twitching. naked white man with a strong American accent and a Harvard comb-over greeted me. I trudged through the brush alongside him, silently nursing my still seething right arm. “My name is Jason. Jonty tells me you’ve come to help with the action packs. “I assume you’ve seen KONY2012, yes?” I nodded in approval. He took me into the largest hut, a cobble of sticks, mortar and non-existent ventilation. The heat was not the most shocking thing about the place however. Around the hut were 500 toiling black children and teenagers, all of harsh disposition.
“Let me inform you a little more. We are Invisible Children and I oversee both the abductions and propaganda here. Peter has been here for a month or so but I’m afraid he is rather ill. We told him to use his phone to get help but he kept insisting it would give him cancer.” ‘Oh no’, I thought, ‘he really has become a dreadful Kurtz archetype.’ “Your job, which was his job, will be to organise Jonty’s share of the money for the action packs. The kids, you don’t need to worry about. As far as the world is now concerned, all of them are with the LRA. Now we require your assistance in making the money transfer back to Jonty. As you might have guessed, he is a key player in our laundering ring. That is all you need to know.” It was a lot more than I needed to know. Clearly on some rogue stimulants, he kept jerking his head irregularly and made the same motions often seen in guild councilors as they prepare to self-fellatio. The drugs were coursing so badly through his system that he wouldn’t notice if I got Pete and left. I took leave for a toilet break and found Pete delirious in a smaller hut, attended to by several Ugandan girls. “Pete. It’s me, Josh. I’ll take you home, but only if you promise not to recite a single line from Heart of Darkness.” Pete waved his arm unknowingly. He was sweating profusely, very ill. Regardless, I had to remove him by that night – we had a deadline to meet. With Jason dancing wildly on top of the largest hut, I tricked a freight driver into taking us south under the guise that we were giving Jonty his cut. We arrived back in Johannesburg four days later.
Invisible Children never came after me, and I’ve since reasoned why. Jonty was so closed off from the world that he wouldn’t even know where to begin looking for me and he was bound to die any day now. As for Jason. after the debacle with us he was sent home to America by his bosses and well, I understand that the outcome of that can be seen on TMZ whenever you care to watch.
Swings & Roundabouts
I rid myself of the dirty launder as a political donation to Julius Mulema and borrowed off my family for a plane ticket back to Perth. Thank god Pete didn’t die in that 737’s toilet stall. I couldn’t have taken another Kurtz riff. When he came to he offered to finally write that article for me, but I declared that it wasn’t necessary – I had already sold his ivory for our printing costs and I feared he’d be angry once he found out.
Apparently his secretive and panther-like methods of taking the ivory from the park’s elephants had become a serious problem. So serious, in fact, that the government had instructed the rangers not to fire on animals lest they be out of ammunition when they sighted Jonty.
Look at me
EMULATING THE IMITATORS by Sarah Pallister “There are those who emulate, at times, to expand further the light, of an original glow. Knowing that to imitate the living is mockery, and to imitate the dead is robbery.” - Johnny Cash At present, many young gonzolites may be The King of their clique who may have written the wittiest version of their zany take on the latest viral sensation. One day, upon graduation, they’ll apply for a job in the real word. Someone is going to look through the painstakingly crafted portfolio and will do as I do; they will laugh. So, if you want to remain in the journalistic field, emulate don’t imitate.
We all know them. They’re the type who long for the golden gates of Gonzo journalism to be thrown open at their feet. The type who visit Hunter S Thompson’s grave and cultivate an interest in grain liquor because there’s nothing sadder than posing as writers who drink Carlton Draught or an obscure Goblin brew. They are the writers of lengthy ‘drunken rambles’ about the mundaneness and inanity of life, making certain to proudly declare the inebriation they felt as they typed. They are the self-appointed victims of the modern day, rejected by ‘mainstream society’. We shun their alternative lifestyles, ugliness and radical ideas. We shun them: In that, these gonzolites are correct. Though not for the reasons they have decided upon. We readers (and more specifically me) abhor them, and in turn the world will one day slam the door of journalism in their faces for crimes against the written word. Hunter S. Thompson was a highly skilled, acutely cynical, intelligent journalist who is credited with the creation of Gonzo journalism. He was a psychotic drunk with a lifelong love of guns and hatred for Richard Nixon. His self-described mission in life was to save the world from drugs, by consuming them all himself. In 2005, suffering chronic health problems and with an awareness he could no longer continue to live as he did, he committed suicide. Imitating Thompson seems to provide little value to these people except for getting laid by the likeminded. Many still think that Thompson was an arsehole, though that may be the only feature you are adopting as your own. Nobody really cares that someone is affecting a morose, quasi-rebellious
Emulating some of Thompson’s gonzo concepts stands a chance of shaping an individual’s thoughts, intuition and talents; maybe their version of gonzo can be understood as unique. I’ll simply say that a Gonzo journalist is someone who writes about what they sense and perceive, regardless of potential popularity. It is simply a writer being themselves – a novel concept for some. A letter from Thompson to his biographer, William McKeen
façade; it’s boring. Further, such behaviour mocks Thompson, a man of such extremes that even a simple rejection letter that he penned starts: “You worthless, acid-sucking piece of illiterate shit! Don’t ever send this kind of brain-damaged swill in here again. If I had the time, I’d come out there and drive a fucking wooden stake into your forehead.” One of his principal claims to fame was originality, in voicing a position, a thought and a way of being. While many gonzolites see his content, align their own and gain self-importance with their superficial imitation, providing a fashion statement of empty rhetoric and value in the genre. The student’s work declines. Talent is eroded by ambition and last ditch attempts to be accepted by their peers as part of a movement and for being so wacky.
As young adults of the first world, finding your own distinct voice is a difficult task. Through trial and error students of Thompson can slowly unmask their own flair. One would also hope that learning at the foot of a foolhardy genius would encourage risk-taking and unbridled intensity. So I beg of the imitators, stop it. We don’t need gonzolites positioned with beer and cigarettes, imitating the aura of Hunter S. Thompson – we need intelligence, flair, insight, principles, and powerful personally inflected expression. Don’t imitate the Gonzo ideal. Analyse yourself and your place in the world. Put yourself in the thick of the story. Write it rushed and honest, on the brink of both fiction and fact. Employ the skills of good narration. Write as you, about your life, and not as a caricature of Hunter S. Thompson. I can say with relative certainty: he would have hated you.
MAKE POVERTY HISTORY? NUH, FRAG A BLACK MAN INSTEAD! by Kanishka Dayaram
My time at university has been littered with attempts to relieve my middle class guilt. I found myself at countless protests, even a ‘MAKE POVERTY HISTORY ROADTRIP’; anything I could do to make myself feel better about being so privileged in a world where one in six can’t even meet their most basic needs. I waved my arms around: “Look at me guys! I’m not interested in making money! I just want to help!” The misguided idea of ‘helping’ (both by individuals and organisations) has reared its confusing head once again, thanks to the Kony2012 Campaign. A campaign fuelled mostly by good intentions and ignorance, it’s a brilliant example of ‘slacktivism’: “those “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfied.” Here’s looking at you, UWA law students! As a naïve and somewhat ambitious fresher, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was saving the poor Africans from: Famine? Disease? Themselves? I just knew the and I had some kind of obligation to fix this bizarre wealth inequality. Equipped with my high school diploma and a vague understanding of The Communist Manifesto, I was going to change people’s lives or, at the very least, get a document certifying I had tried. Campaigning for the poor is addictive, the sweetest drug around; you become high on the fumes of your own moral fibre. Your eager, excitable peers only egg you on further, as desperate as you are for the same moral validation. If you give yourselves a name and become a club you matter now. You have a stall at O day. And those Africans? They’re doing better too, right? Right…
At the conclusion of two semesters, the social ordeal of ‘making poverty history’ went under the ‘professional membership and development’ section of my resume. (Ironically this did not impress the retail industry of Australia, whom inundated me with rejection letters.) ‘Slacktivism’ was over for me. I moved on. Cut to March 2012 and an outbreak of Facebook statuses emerge as a small documentary drew a flurry of index fingers to the mouse. Who said real action wasn’t possible!? The Australian population: willing to save your nation one Facebook status at a time. Maybe the five-second report on the Channel 7 News will reach Kylie Minogue’s ears and stimulate a Ugandan themed telethon, special appearance by Molly Meldrum and Bert Newton. Propelled by internet frenzy, many raced to buy their ‘action packs’ in the name of charity, flooding your screens with wonderful thirty minute documentaries in the process (featuring a soundtrack by The Killers no less: THEY GOT SOULS, BUT THEY AIN’T SOLDIERS!). To those unaware, the organisation Invisible Children has received plenty of backlash from those willing to research the issue a behind the oversimplified and highly emotive video provided. Numerous problems were found to exist with the organisation’s financial distribution of aid, the strategy it supports to capture Kony, and its misrepresentation of a very complex AFRICAN PROBLEM. This is the big issue: The inability to comprehend that we don’t really know much about Uganda, or Africa for that matter. We, the excitable and uninformed, pour money blindly into aid without realising its true impact. We feel guilty if we don’t do something, yet are too lazy to really think about what it is we are
actually doing. We are ignorant to their way of life and their political history. How can we start solving when we can’t even comprehend the problem? The biggest problems with aid lie outside of the youth demographic, where a multibillion dollar aid industry has flourished on the back of poverty. In this age, help now involves economic and political interventions that are far more dangerous in the long term than someone like Kony is now. This smug Western intrusion lacks accountability and smells strongly of the very same colonialism that instigated many of these problems in the first place. So just remember in whatever you’re trying to save: Africans, whales, gays, yourself. Critical thinking and freedom from self-interest will get us much further than a million blindly bought $100 action packs.
Swings & Roundabouts
The Friday of Shame:
A Scenario Russell Schlink
I am a man and I have been in one serious relationship in my life. I’ve been single for forever. While my one relationship was great, single life since has been pretty shit. I think I can be a true authority on this subject.
You stay up with your girlfriend until the wee hours of the morning when you finally fall asleep in each other’s arms.
So how I will proceed in comparing these two states of relationship status is by outlining a logical scenario and describing the events that would occur if I were in a relationship and if I were single. The scenario I have chosen is a very typical one. Around once a month there is always that lazy Friday night which creeps up on a person silently. You’ve made no official plans and literally don’t know what to do.
OH NO RUSSELL, YR SINGLE. WHAT’D YOU DO THIS TIME?
Below is the outline of what single Russell and relationship Russell would do on a lazy friday night. CONGRATULATIONS RUSSELL, YR IN A RELATIONSHIP! The evening would begin with the realisation that it’s Friday and you and your girlfriend have nothing to do. You decide to go out for a nice meal followed by a lovely walk around town. Conversations of little substance yet great meaning would occur, which would in turn bring you closer together. The drive home would instigate a trip to McDonalds drive through where a frozen coke and McFlurry would be purchased and shared between the two. The passenger would feed Ice cream to whoever was driving.
Illustration by Ena Tulic
Arriving home you decide to collapse in front of the TV and maybe have a beer or a glass of wine while watching old episodes of Seinfeld. You then head to bed with your girlfriend and make passionate love resulting in the two of you reaching orgasm at the exact same time. You tell her you love her and she whispers it back to you with such delicacy and sincerity that you can’t possibly imagine life with or without anyone else. You then go on to have amazing post-sex pillow talk for the next two hours and talk about everything and anything. This would result in more sex.
7.46pm: Realise that your best friend has bailed on the night of hanging you had planned for some slurry. Your friend has effectively abandoned you for tup tup. 7.49pm: Play Starcraft 2 on the beast of a PC that you bought. 7.58pm: Come to the immediate understanding that you still suck at this game and almost suffer a panic attack during the first five minutes of being absolutely raped by some Korean guy online. 8.58pm: Realise you’ve been playing Starcraft 2 for an hour now and think to yourself how it’s only felt like 10minutes. 9.27pm: Losing your third game online you begin to get extremely angry, resulting in you abusing your opponents online with childish insults via chat. “YO MAMA GOT A GLASS EYE WITH THE FISH IN IT YA DUMB BIATCH!!!” 11.52pm: Bleary-eyed, you lose for the 8th time in a row and leave the game in a foul and wicked mood. 11.58pm: You think how fat you are for doing nothing with your life but play video games and attempt to do 20 pushups to try and counter the lazy, slobbish hellhole that is your existence. 12.03am: Masturbate to Porn. 12.04am: Survey your expansive DVD collection and try to decide which series you want to re-watch, finally deciding to go for Trailer Park Boys. 12.12am: You get bored with watching the show and stop because you’ve already seen it 80 times and know all of the words.
12.13am: Masturbate to porn. 12.15am: Try and do sit-ups. 12.16am: Fail at doing sit-ups. 12.22am: Contemplate suicide and the least painful way to go about it. 12.24am: Realize you still haven’t seen the final series of Lost and decide that you should kill yourself after you watch the final episode that you hope will explain everything. 12.30am: Masturbate to porn. 12.43am: Lie in the dark and stare at the ceiling. Contemplate suicide again. 4.11am: Finally get to sleep. So what wins out? From what I’ve written it would be a pretty safe bet to say that being in a relationship is far better. Of course, you’d be wrong. Quite simply, if I were in a relationship I couldn’t play computer games for five hours straight. I couldn’t masturbate to the most incredible pornographic videos multiple times in one night and I couldn’t have true existential, introspective insights into my psyche and my place within the universe. Being single is the shit. Don’t forget it.
Swings & Roundabouts
GET OFF THE MONKEYBARS ALREADY:
WHY ADULTS NEVER LEAVE THE PLAYGROUND ZEV LEVI
When I get drunk I feel like the weird kid who touches himself in the playground. What’s the difference between him and me? We both indulge our own hedonistic desires and, by doing so, leave the rest of the world (and everyone in it) as an afterthought. Would it really be less weird if there was a playground in a school where all the little boys and girls were sitting alone playing pocket soccer? No, a local norm does not make rejections of socially inclusive rules less disturbing –that kid’s education is flawed. I often wonder about the education of the nowgrown-but-evidently-infantile-adults I come into contact with. Take my neighbours for example. They’ve got at least 20 years on me and our units share a wall. The house was designed poorly so the use of our water pipes makes a noise inside their bedroom wall. They ask us not to use our water system after 11pm, which we try to honour, but you’re mad if you think you can control someone’s bathroom habits.
Illustration by Ena Tulic
What confuses me is that they demand obedience, as if my showering or dish-washing was some prosecutable and immoral offense. What makes me question their social education (and actually encourages me to secretly vomit in their letterbox) is that they leave half-eaten fruit and other miscellaneous rubbish on our doorstep and lawn as punishment. At what stage in their education, exactly, did they learn that it was ok to do that? “You are all just older versions of children,” my mentor told 200 of his leadership staff at a twomonth informal education retreat in 2006, “as am I.” He doesn’t speak to me anymore because I broke up with the girl of whom he approved, and chose to work in my local Perth community rather than return with him overseas. Kind of proved his own point there, didn’t he?
The point is that we grow out of certain childish behaviour for whatever reason, but we don’t grow out of all of it. We no longer cry when reality doesn’t conform to our expectations; we’ve come to accept that’s not how life works. We no longer avoid painful surgery or injections because we’ve reasoned that the experts know ‘what’s good for us.’ The difference between maturity and childishness seems to be found in the method we use to make decisions; socially oriented logic or selfish emotion. Half of the things we’re told are ‘childish’ as kids, we are taught to abandon in the embrace of maturity. Though we try to deny it, we still act like bitches. Adults display tendencies that we dismiss as ‘childish’ when we see them in children; a prime example of our culture’s double standards. The truth is, that if adults are smart or rich, they don’t have to be nice to make friends or be influential. So people, ambivalent or rich enough in social currency, spend some of it on the transaction that is the hedonistic rejection of logical communication. They get erratic and mean. For a society that prides itself on productivity and the logical pursuit of knowledge, this trait is an embarrassment; we sabotage the social goal we’re working towards to stroke our own egos. It is an ignored hypocrisy, but now there’s at least one fantastic article about it. So for humanity’s sake, get the hell off the monkey-bars already.
UWA LABOR Do you see that light on the hill? Do you like fighting tories? Then UWA Labor is your club! If you’re a progressive student make sure you get involved with our awesome events and initiatives for 2012. We’re running a policy campaign to improvement Public Transport for young people and uni students - you can also get published and come along to the UWA Labor Party at the end of semester. ‘Like’ UWA Labor on Facebook to receive updates on how to get involved or send an email to Tom at labor. firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAMSS Kick off your Easter break with one of the biggest student parties of the year - Allied Health 2012: Scrub In! Presented by the Western Australian Medical Students’ Society, this is your chance to consult a doctor to prescribe the cure you’re thinking of, find a nurse to check your pulse - or get it racing, or beg a physio for a full body massage. Amazing drink specials and entertainment from 7:30PM on Thursday April 5 at Metro City. Tickets $20, available on Oak Lawn, or visit www. wamss.org.au.
AIESEC: LIVE THE CHANGE If you’re looking for an experience that you will never forget, an AIESEC internship is the perfect opportunity for you. Go abroad, experience a different culture and gain practical work experience all while making memories that will last you a lifetime. We offer internship opportunities in countries like Cambodia, Mauritius and Turkey, working on social issues such as environmental sustainability, cultural awareness and children’s rights. For more information, please visit www.facebook.com/aieseclivethechange and/or contact email@example.com
MORE INFO: Head to our facebook page www.facebook. com/RobogalsPerth
Bratwurst und Sauerkraut Sizzle! - Thursday 5th April from 12-2pm, Oak Lawn.
To become a KAOS member or participate in our upcoming events (such as Duckstein Brewery Expedition) have a look at the KAOS Facebook page or come down to the Tav on Wednesday 11-1pm for Stammtisch! Non-members welcome:)
perth [sic] ‘babes, water, waves’: While the original plans to call the band Bayswater Waves landed them in hot water with the eponymous aquatic recreational facility, the band continued their light-hearted approach to song and dance by naming their band after the city in which they reside. The band’s debut album “Babes, Water, Waves” is a homophonous nod to their former title and is a celebration of the orgiastic and experimental nature of the band. The album can be downloaded at www.perth.bandcamp. com or www.facebook.com/perthband RIYL: Animal Collective, Boards of Canada, Manitoba, Four Tet
The Blackstone Society will be running the following events in the coming months: Dinner debate: Friday 11 May, a panel of students battle against some of the profession’s finest in a light hearted debate on the legal industry. Includes a two course meal and four hour drinks package; The 2012 Blackstone Careers Handbook is now available free online; Ronald McDonald House: Come and help Blackstone Volunteering cook a dinner for kids with cancer and their families. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to express interest. Please see our website for a more comprehensive list of Blackstone’s events and initiatives: www.blackstone. asn.au.
Hello fellow readers, Have you heard of the Arts Union Showcase!? Well, it’s a fantastic event being held in the New Fortune Theatre (Arts Building) on Thursday the 19th of April at 7pm. Keep the date open for some fun shenanigans and brilliant acts, talents and quite possibly people making fools of themselves! With this in mind we are requesting submissions of bands, drama, art, photography and anything you have to bring to the stage. Applications close on the 13th of April, so please make sure you email them to email@example.com. Hope to see you there!
Guten Tag Komrades! Presenting MOVIE NIGHT every fortnight – starting Thursday 5th April at 5pm. Come watch the best of German cinema and munch on some popcorn! Held in Arts seminar room 2.43 (second floor).
KAOS - German Club
Gold coins for entry!
Postgraduate Students’ Association The annual Quiz Night is taking place in the Tav on the 10th of May starting at 7.30pm sharp. Tickets will be on sale soon, check the Facebook page or mailing list for more details. Applications are open for PSA Small Grants and PSA Travel Awards! Applications close the 4th of May at 5pm, no late applications can be accepted. For more information and application forms, email Aisling at firstname.lastname@example.org or see the website: www. sponsored.uwa.edu.au/psa/grants
UWA French Club Every second Monday night, starting Monday 2nd April, we (the French Club) are holding conversation soirées from 6-8pm at Juanitas Bar, 341 Rokeby Road Subiaco. Come and chat with us in French over a glass or two of red and get to know your fellow francophiles.
PANTO “UWA Pantomime Society presents The Sound of Murder: Crime boss Don Trappelli hires a hitwoman governess to teach his children how to become better mobsters. Featuring a live (for now) band and audience interaction, The Sound of Murder is fun for the whole “family”. The show is on April 12th, 13th, 14th, at 7:30PM in the Dolphin Theatre, UWA. Tickets are now on sale from the Oak Lawn, 12-2pm, April 2nd - 6th; or email uwapanto@ gmail.com to book. $10 for Guild, $12 for non-Guild.”
UWA Atheist & Skeptic Society “Are you an atheist, a skeptic, a freethinker or just interested in topics surrounding these ideas? Then come join UWA’s Atheist & Skeptic Society for discussion and laughs Mondays 11–12 in Reid Library Cafe or Wednesdays 1–3 in the Tav! Find out more on Facebook: facebook.com/uwaass”
ROBOGALS PERTH! Want to meet more girls in engineering, or see more of them in theclassroom? Robogals is a global, volunteer run organisation that aims to reachout to girls and encourage them to pursue areas of engineering, science and technologyby travelling to different schools and conducting robotics workshops. We’realways keen for more volunteersto join our amazing Perth chapter so get involved!
C’MON Decoding what makes ‘Brimful of Asha’ such a popular song isn’t difficult. Western ears prick up whenever they detect that lazy I-VIV shuffle, and the chorus is as catchy and circular as a game of catch played by people playing in a circle. When Cornershop played it as the penultimate song of a tentative, flat and occasionally boring set, people who’d been fiddling with their Birkenstocks for the hour prior promptly lit up and danced for five minutes; they couldn’t help themselves. And that was about it, aside from an imperious, noisy rendition of their VU-via-Delhi ‘6AM Juliander Shere’, which was twenty minutes of a very lonely magnificence.
WILL MOULDHAM Re: Will Oldham – I’m a cynic. He writes heaps of songs about sadness and misery, but it’s difficult to tell if he’s ever actually felt anything. He started off as an actor, and he still scans as one, treating country music as a costume, a tradition to cloak himself in. That’s a rough way to speak, but his performance at PIAF didn’t exactly shift that, as he walked gracefully with grey eyes through a long set replete with purdy harmonies and barely there sonics. His voice frittered and meowled, aloft and above, going through the motions of feeling things very deeply. Though, upon seeing the throng of couples slowdancing to a disappointingly anaemic version of ‘New Partner’, I suppose all that authenticity stuff is secondary. One can live happily inside the house Oldham makes with his songs; whether I think he’s building on sand or not is irrelevant. That said, getting such an acclaimed songwriter here was a coup for PIAF, and it’ll be a hard act to top next year in terms of Awe.
PIAF’s nod towards buzzbands came in the form of Neon Indian, Slow Club and MEN playing a triple header. Slow Club make me feel like I’m having my brain scrubbed raw by blonde English majors who run knitting circles and use the word ‘wonderful’ a lot, so I’ll skip that. Alan Palomo, on the other hand, is one of the more interesting daguerrotypists around. His work as Neon Indian triangulates a very specific set of influences (TRON, being youthful, getting high with sexy women), but his ability to tie them together into conceptually neat packages that exhibit his vivid imagination for tonal colour tends toward redeeming whatever deficiencies he has as a songwriter. As a stage presence, though, he’s a bit of a smarm. A lovin’ smarm, but a smarm, and it dented the vibe enough to make trudging through his more paint-bynumbers tunes an effort and sticking around for MEN a little much for me – sorry guys ☺
BENDERS GON’ BEND Congolese madiaba band Staff Benda Bilili are comprised of a gangly and formerly homeless musical prodigy, the most dynamic rhythm section ever, and four polio-crippled men (three of them in wheelchairs). They play elongated, frantic, celebratory pop music slinking around eternal rhythms and five-part harmonies. SBB translates to ‘look beyond appearances’, and it took all of twenty seconds for them to render their unorthodox looks completely irrelevant; we all lost our shit. Perth crowds aren’t known for getting involved in anything unless it’s James Morrison playing the hits of Chisel, but the Festival Gardens were completely possessed by SBB’s hustlin’ spirals, as they turned the crowd into a desperate, frenzied hive of swarming limbs and metre-wide grins. Elderly women elbowed and gamboled for space to dervish and whirl, girls fluttered and shook, boys stamped; noise and joy everywhere, as much on the stage as off it. Goddamn! You know those things you wish would happen to you? This was one of them.
PERPETUUM BOURGEOISIE Closing out the Festival Gardens program was the English, sorta-classical ensemble Penguin Café, who play an imagined form of wordless folk music equally indebted to Celtic and South American folk forms, the courtly dances of the Renaissance, and a greenery-fringed sense of wonder. Sorta like Dweezil Zappa playing Apostrophe, Penguin Café sees Arthur Jeffes lead a band through his dead father’s songs, originally written during the 1970s when Peter Jeffes led the Penguin Café Orchestra. Despite the fact that the governing principles behind Penguin Café and SBB are much the same (inclusivity, pan humanism, dance rhythms, pure joyousness), Penguin Café saw the entire crowd seated sedately, in stark contrast to the previous evening’s revelry. Those who were seemingly expecting a tame recital would have been surprised though, as Jeffes Jr. and co. produced lively performances of the old classics, replete with warm humour and a fair bit of barnstormin’ panache. No mere coaster, Arthur is adding to his father’s legacy, as his own compositions were amongst the strongest pieces played, and certainly the most dynamic; indeed, the brooding piano-led ‘That Not That’ might have been the highlight of the whole set. Sure, call ‘em straitlaced, but at their best, they evoke the same kind of expansive, pastoral feeling Wordsworth nailed.
Cagey, nomadic and inscrutable, Cass McCombs has been skirting around the zeitgeist for the best part of a decade, churning out some of the best songs written by anyone anywhere on some of the patchiest albums by anyone anywhere. On his first trip to Australia, McCombs remembered to pack a masterly band with him, and they gave his songs a life and colour he does not always attain on record, playing them with a wry intelligence that often gave way to eloquent solos or group sprawls that flirted with ‘Riders on the Storm’. ‘Love Thine Enemy’ was astonishing, whirring, humming taut and Krauty, ratcheting tension to a hilt before flicking it off blindly. At the mic, McCombs imbued his songs with what they needed, whether fricative (‘Lionkiller’) or bleak (‘Buried Alive’). Cass chose wisely by closing on one of his greatest achievements to date, to a by-now rapt audience: the sparse, cryptic ‘County Line’, which (appropriately for Perth) conflates endless suburban expansion with sprawling psychic emptiness. It could have gone forever; wo-uh-oh-uh-oh.
Towards the Low Sun
Mississippi-born Big K.R.I.T isn’t your typical Southern rapper. Sure, there are a few mentions of sippin’ sizzurp and smoking weed, but for K.R.I.T, these references are more than unabashed braggadocio. On ‘Down and Out’, K.R.I.T explains his substance abuse as a failed mechanism for dealing with hardship: “Sippin on this drink don’t ease my pain/ Lord I wish it would”. 4EvaNaDay, K.R.I.T’s third mixtape, is laced with introspection from start to finish, as he reflects critically on his personal demons and southern upbringing.
Much-loved Australian post-rock icons Dirty Three have released their first album in seven years – an event which, for long time fans, has been met with a mixture of trepidation and enthusiasm. After all, what more could this band possibly do? What new ground is there for them to tread? The band themselves admitted to being imbued with the same fears; this one took a while to get right.
Ekstasis is the second album by L.A hype darlin’ Julia Holter, and it has me quite convinced. It’s a melancholic and nostalgic record that reaps its crop from a wide range of pastures. Holter’s voice is perhaps the greatest feature of the record, which often replaces traditional instrumentation with more unorthodox textures. I’m a sucker for Casiotone and Microkorg sounds and this album has them in abundance, as swirling angular synths and artificial clavichord/ harpsichord timbres underpin dainty sine wave bells.
Woollen Kits are a Melbournian three piece, and their self-titled LP is a surf-grunge adventure worth sitting down with. Or should I say driving with? I cranked it down West Coast Highway at 3 in the morning and damn it felt good.
4EvaNaDay is ample proof that Def Jam’s reluctance to release K.R.I.T’s debut album Live from the Underground hasn’t dampened his desire; rather, it’s inspired him to release a mixtape displaying both his determination and undeniable talents. On ‘Boobie Miles’, one of the highlights of the release, K.R.I.T raps “The only difference between a winner and a loser is a winner play until he wins” over a beat laced with saxophone and vocal harmonies. This resolve is the cornerstone of 4EvaNaDay – K.R.I.T raps not only for himself, but to inspire the success of a whole range of people struggling with the same everyday afflictions. This mixtape serves as confirmation that K.R.I.T is hip-hop’s most talented producer/rapper to emerge since Kanye West – each track’s production meshes perfectly with his introspective lyrics. 4EvaNaDay is a thoroughly cohesive effort, setting the stage for K.R.I.T to emerge as one of hip-hop’s brightest talents when his debut album finally drops. Def Jam should be wary of intervening with his formula for success, for as K.R.I.T snarls on ‘Handwriting’, “I make albums, not hits”.
As it turns out, there is a lot to like here. Opener ‘Furnace Skies’ seems to kick off mid-sentence with a layer of grimey guitar noodling, but with more energy than the entirety of 2005 record Cinder. ‘Sometimes I Forget You’ve Gone’ is beautifully restrained, open, and full of Jim White painting his snare drum delicately all over the place. ‘Rising Below’, seems more optimistic than Dirty Three have ever been before. It’s a wonderful thing to behold. This newfound energy seems to have been brought about by a change in methodology: the bulk of this record is built on the band playing together live, whereas previously the focus seemed to be on more considered forms of repetition. Songs ebb and flow around the very natural interplay between the three band members and most of the time it sounds splendid. My only real complaint is the woodwind-augmented ‘Ashen Snow’, which sounds ridiculously out of place and probably could have been left off entirely. On the whole though it’s a damn fine record, and I’m glad Dirty Three made it.
‘In the Same Room’ is the standout. It’s somehow uplifting, contemplative and lonely, all at the same time: essentially, it’s what I love about music. Another highlight is ‘Boy in the Moon’, which creates great space with ambient textures providing the backdrop for Holter’s voice, delicately treated with delay. The understated, languid groove of ‘Goddess Eyes II’ will have you softly bopping your head with satisfaction. ‘Four Gardens’ fuses the choral chanting with a distinctly Eastern tone. However, here it doesn’t come off so well, giving me the distinct and dreaded ‘the Goddess is dancing’ feel: suddenly I’ve woken up at Stonehenge to an ancient druidic ritualistic orgy and I spy some William St. hipsters moaning in true Gregorian style to the sounds of Kate Bush cooking up a Tikka Masala. Perhaps this is unfair, but it’s the only track on the album where Holter warrants criticism. This aside, it’s an extremely pleasant record that will impress fans of Olaf Arnalds and Julianna Barwick.
These 9 tracks are gritty guitar driven gems that give you the feeling of someone pouring lukewarm cement and mercury over your head. You can hear the influence of bands like The Modern Lovers and Beat Happening; simple melodies with a recurring bass line, thumping yet uninvolved licks, and a consistently engaging guitar tone. Fans of surf-pop and garage music will feel at home here, but I’d recommend it even if this doesn’t sound like your kinda thing, since the enthusiasm and simplicity of Woollen Kits is infectious. Woollen Kits are part of the impressive and expanding roster of Sydney label R.I.P Society, and the album was mastered by Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Total Control and the Ooga Boogas). Woollen Kits have a similar, if less refined, sound, so if you are a fan of Mikey’s work, then this is definitely for you. It’s good to know that more Melbourne bands are picking up and continuing the thread of reinventing and reinvigorating garage rock that Young and his cohorts have established. The primitive proto-punk-garage-surf-pop bonanza that is Woollen Kits left me with a goofy grin on my face. I’d highly recommend it, especially if you are an insomniac prone to 3am drives.
SWINGs and ROUNDABOUTS
Break It Yourself
Love at the Bottom of the Sea
Mom + Pop
March 14, 2012
Rock Bottom Virgin Records Originally realeased 1974
Armed with an impeccable vocabulary, an infinite supply of sweet melodies and a whimsical whistle, Andrew Bird has become a model of musical consistency. Each release has built upon the solid foundation laid by its predecessors, producing an enviable back catalogue in the process. It’s been relatively easy to chart Bird’s natural progression from one album to the next, though his latest offering, Break it Yourself, feels like a departure of sorts. And although the shift is subtle, it’s still very much palpable, as his characteristic lyrical acrobatics, elaborate metaphors and playful analogies are noticeably less frequent.
For those who aren’t familiar with The Magnetic Fields, they’re unusual stuff. They are the project of the prolific songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Stephin Merritt and over the last two decades, they’ve played an effortless and charming mix of folk and synthpop, with a mix of country, gothic and even Broadway underlying their work. It’s the kind of music you might listen to if you and your mates were to head off on a road trip – one that spanned the length of a cheerleader’s armpit.
For the 63 year old Charles Bradley and his band (arranged from the collective that comprise the Dapkings, Budos Band and Menahan Street Band), retro-soul is played a little straighter than yer Aloe Blacc or Raphael Saadiq.
Yet, in spite of Bird’s paring down of the very qualities that built his reputation as a mercurial talent, Break It Yourself still manages to impress. In fact, the privileging of lyrical simplicity (well, at least by his own lofty standards) allows Bird to more adeptly showcase his emotional side. For instance, ‘Lusitania’, his duet with Annie Clark (St Vincent) has the poignancy of an old-country collaboration. Similarly, the playful ‘Danse Carribe’ has a peculiar nostalgic quality. While nearly every other track shares a similar emotional resonance, lead single ‘Eyeoneye’ actually suffers from Bird’s newfound candour; it’s flat and predictable. Whilst things may be blunt, Bird’s honeyed tones are at their finest. Likewise, his creeping acoustic plucks and violin-stained melodies have never sounded better, particularly on the magnificent ‘Hole in the Ocean Floor’. To appropriate some poetic license from the man himself, listening to Break It Yourself feels like you’ve just woken up from a delicious afternoon catnap. And I fucking love a good catnap.
Their latest release, Love at the Bottom of the Sea, is no exception to this. With previous albums delivering what their titles promise, like 69 Love Songs (which includes, surprisingly enough, 69 love songs) and I (where all songs start with an ‘I’) you’d expect this one to induce thoughts of yourself in a submarine exploring the far reaches of the aquatic world with your love by your side. Unsurprisingly, it does. The synth-led sound that dominated their early 90s work has returned, which complements Merritt’s deep rumble of a voice. The lyrics are no less witty than usual, with Merritt’s tongue in cheek wit remaining undimmed, if titles like ‘I’d Go Anywhere with Hugh’ and lyrics like “My only love was Andrew in Drag” are anything to go by. Despite the sprinkles of humour, Love at the Bottom of the Sea is a solemn affair next to their other records, and it also lacks the diversity of their earlier work. However, it remains an inventive and curious alternative to all of the dull love schmaltz you’ll find on the radio when you’re feeling sentimental.
For a relative rookie (Bradley only started singing professionally in 2002), he has showmanship down to a tee. He collects a fake phone-call on a white antique telephone before the bitter-sweet ‘The Telephone Song’. He kicks and gyrates across a toasty Bakery stage. The sonamed “Screaming Eagle of Soul” delivers his words with an fevered, religious shout that elevates lyrics surrounding the generic wishing for greater things (‘Why Is It So Hard To Make It In America?’) or the anonymous loving of whoever might be in his audience tonight (‘Lovin You, Baby’ and almost all of his stage banter) into meaningful statements of intent. However, his showmanship steers far too close to the accepted legends of the genre. James Brown and Bobby Bland are the most closely echoed here, maybe even Syl Johnson or Baby Huey. Perhaps Otis Redding at a stretch (and he may well have sounded as husky and shouty as Bradley does now if not for the plane crash). To the audience, Bradley is vicarious listening/ viewing. He is a specter of the James Brown live show they can no longer see. Not that any of that matters to a fan, or even a casual observer – It’s an entertaining spectacle. Bradley gets a deserved encore, before which he walks through the crowd and collects free hugs from everybody. It’s a worthy reward for his industry, energy, sincerity and self-belief: He means every song, every movement and every word. But intentions be damned, don’t be surprised if you leave his show, like I did, with ‘It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World’ occupying your mind.
At the risk of sounding like the opening comments of an episode of Australian Story, it’s unlikely that Robert Wyatt saw much of a silver lining when he awoke paraplegic for the first time, having lost the use of his legs after a fourth-storey fall. After all, Wyatt’s legs had been good to him; in his work with prog-pop innovators The Soft Machine, he’d been p’haps the most limber, astonishing drummer to emerge during the 60s, whilst doubling from behind the kit as an idiosyncratic vocalist. Refusing to be merely “good for a crippie”, Wyatt renounced the drum-kit that he’d built his reputation on, forcing a radical reorientation in his approach to music. Though he’d already begun writing a new set of songs prior to his accident, the manner in which they could be recorded had to change; the mix of whimsical, frenetic pop and rhythmically complex improvisation which characterised his prior work disappeared. Rock Bottom doesn’t miss them one bit. It’s a spacious, sunken masterpiece, building wordless depths from aqueous textures and rich, unconventionally articulated chord structures. The record is replete with nighimmortal melodies, and Wyatt’s winsome, frail voice inhabits them with a strange, complete wisdom. ‘Sea Song’ is one of those songs that might well stick with you forever; Wyatt rises from a damp seabed of synths, contemplating the impossibility of truly pinning down the woman to whom he has given his life in joyful, searching poesy. For rhythm, he simply taps on a hand drum. Though devotion is a key theme, Wyatt’s mortality is never far away; ‘Alifib’ uses a defibrillator to keep time, and on “Alifie”, he descends into infantile, needy garbling, betraying the dependency he’d been reduced to. Rock Bottom is an unapologetically weird world (check Ivor Cutler’s guest spot), but it’s a uniquely welcoming one.
Oscar and I were always going to have an uneasy relationship. I was born in the year that Dances With Wolves inexplicably trumped Goodfellas for Best Picture honours. Not exactly the most auspicious start for our cinematic union. I still hate you Kevin Costner. Yet, in spite of past cruelties, the build up seems to evoke a giddy sense of excitement in me. Whilst on the other hand, the depressive post-show comedown leaves me utterly drained. As the silly folks at Pelican headquarters have put me in a position of power to do so, I present to you a guide to the 2012 Academy Awards born of that sense of absolute dejection.
Everything Old is New Again And now ladies and gentlemen, in a celebration of a year of exciting and original cinema I present to you your host BILLY CRYSTAL! Wait, what is this 1990 again? 91, 92, 93, 97 or 98 for that matter? In his defence, he didn’t look like the Billy Crystal of yesteryear. In fact, for the first thirty minutes I was convinced it was Christopher Walken presenting. Well, at least when he wasn’t in blackface; although one could make a pretty strong case that was the second most racially offensive feature of the night behind The Help. Oh and while were on The Help, what a fantastic remake of Driving Miss Daisy. You gotta hand it to ‘em. I mean it’s been a long time since one film has so effectively managed to trivialize racism, poverty, sexism and domestic abuse in one fell swoop. Almost as good as Crash! I suppose this means that in the name of neutrality I have to criticize three films that I legitimately enjoyed here. That is Midnight in Paris, The Artist
and Hugo, or what we shall now refer to as the Meta Francophile Trio. It seems that retreating into the past, especially one infused with a Parisian touch, won you major kudos come award season this year. What a shame Woody and Martin placed their bets on the wrong side of the Atlantic. This really pains me to write, as I actually adored Midnight In Paris beyond belief, but to hell with cinematic adoration. Are we really rewarding Woody Allen for creating a script about a selfabsorbed screenwriter who misses the good old days? Big fucking stretch there Woody. While I’m on a roll, sorry Steven Spielberg, nice Oscar baiting attempt. I really mean it. Take a successful West End play instill it with a bit of David Lean and John Ford and hey presto, you’re on to a winner! Ok, so not quite, the true ‘Warhorse’ on February 26TH was Meryl Streep (cue the Sarah Jessica Parker jibes).
Also, I’m not sure that we’ve canonised Meryl Streep’s cinematic performances enough. I mean really, at this point shouldn’t there be an entire wing of the Smithsonian dedicated to honouring her? I jest; I’m not one of the Meryl haters. It’s not as though she’s to blame for delivering a solid performance in a dog’s breakfast of a film. Still, you can’t deny it says a lot about just how stale the Oscars have become when one of the biggest upsets is Streep collecting yet another award…
The Slippery Status of the Statuette So apparently, the original intention of expanding the Best Picture field from five to ten films was to make room so that “more widely viewed, popular and well-made fare could break through the Best Picture ceiling”. Hmm. I call bullshit. Don’t be fooled, get your tinfoil hats out! The studios have been leaning on
Where’s The Diversity At? All right, I realise that this particular complaint makes me sound like an over-zealous Gender Studies major, but hear me out. No, I’m not lamenting the lack of ethnic diversity (we gave Halle and Denzel those Oscars, duh), or the dearth of female producers, directors and screenwriters. Although in all seriousness both of these are very real concerns. Alas, being the perpetually apathetic girl that I am, I can’t quite bring myself to undertake a sincere criticism of the Academy’s patriarchal bigotry. However, I can take aim at its propensity for predictability and monotony. It seems that each year the (now expanded) throng of Best Picture contenders is entirely expected. It’s not as though we were asking the academy to piss off the various Guilds or anger the Gods of greedy studios with left-field selections. But come on: Extremely loud and Incredibly Close? Really guys, really?
the Academy to do this for years. It’s a shrewd marketing ploy and I can’t help but be impressed by just how cunning it is. Statistics show that major award contenders can, more often than not, parlay nominations into box office earnings. The Descendants was a major beneficiary of this. The week after the Academy announced its nominations, Fox Pictures aggressively upped its theatre count from 650 to 1700. That’s a pretty damn suspicious correlation. Beyond this, you can increase your subsequent DVD sales if you can whack a few boasts of Oscar noms on the cover. The unfortunate side effect of this is that being nominated for Best Picture just doesn’t accord the same prestige it once did. It’s a real shame. The cream of the crop shouldn’t be lumped in with the tokenistic. On top of this, the Academy could only come up with nine nominees –not exactly a glowing endorsement for the past year in cinema. (Apparently films like Drive, Shame and Martha Marcy May Marlene weren’t worthy of fleshing out the pack. But hey, fuck throwing some well deserved recognition the way of independent filmmakers…) Then there’s another pet hate of mine. When did we stop rewarding acting performances and privileging ‘impersonations’? For instance, nine of the last thirteen recipients of the Best Actress award have portrayed real-life people. Of course, if you do it well enough then by all means you deserve the honour. It just seems a bit alarming that we are constantly privileging imitation over character creation.
In reality, out of nine Best Picture nominees Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life is the only one that can lay claim to being a truly innovative film. Sure, Hugo was technically mind-bending and The Artist was a wonderful cinematic digression but they, amongst nearly everything else, were relatively safe excursions into the past. And while it was quite clear from the outset that Malick’s Palme D’or winner never had a chance in hell of taking out a major accolade, at least it received some acknowledgment. This is an example of cinematic pioneering, you academy swine, recognise it more often. Oh, and while we’re on the subject of the board of Academy voters, here’s a fun fact: they’re 77% male and 94% white. On top of this, the median age of a voting Academy member is 62 (rich silver fox alert, gotta get myself to one of their social mixers!). At the end of the day, old white dudes don’t want to see Michael Fassbender’s dick; admittedly, you wouldn’t either if you had erectile dysfunction and a prostate the size of a watermelon.
It’s A Culturally Endorsed Jerk-Circle I realize the cynical vitriol has far outweighed the constructive critique I initially envisioned. Whoopsy Daisy! But let’s be honest, at the end of the day, the Oscars are just four hours of Hollywood facefucking itself. Only this year it was even more indiscreet as Hollywood unashamedly fell in love with a fetishized version of itself all over again. Will somebody please pass the tissues to Harvey Weinstein?
For those who missed out, here’s a summary: OH GOD, THE ACADEMY GOT IT WRONG AGAIN; TOTES SNUBBED MY FAV DIRECTOR/FILM/ACTOR or THEY’RE TOO MAINSTREAM/ARTHOUSE FOR THEM TO RECOGNISE ANYWAYZ. The message came across loud and clear as millions aired their witty grievances in 140 characters or less. Really, we get it Twitter. We’re all vaguely pissed off that Meryl Streep won another Oscar despite the competition being agonisingly weak. And yes, all of these ‘twits’ managed to channel into 140 characters or less what I’ve wasted the past 1500 words on. DEAL WITH IT. If you’ve read this far you’ve been doing exactly the same in your own time. If not why are you doing this to yourself you masochistic freak? Today The Oscars are irrelevant self-serving drivel. There I said it, God I sound bitter. We can’t save the Academy from its own dull fate; it’s over, the pendulum of tedium has swung too far. But forever a constant in our lives, they’ll be back next year. In 2013 Hollywood will shit platinum and bleed holy water all over again. And as though I’ve developed a chronic case of Stockholm Syndrome I’ll willingly put myself through the same ordeal because: ‘It’s my fav night of da year!”.
But you know what’s worse? The fact that we the movie-going public will just lap it up and we’ll love it. Hell, even if we don’t agree with the winners we’ll still fucking love it. And here’s why; it gives us the perfect opportunity to fashion ourselves as more discerning critics. If, like myself, you witnessed the subsequent Twitter meltdown you can also appreciate just how pervasive this self-serving phenomenon was.
Finally, I suppose it goes without saying that the media circus the ceremony has devolved into has played a major part in The Academy’s demise. This year, it appears we were more concerned with Angelina Jolie’s ridiculous leg (for the love of God somebody feed that thing!) than the award she was actually presenting.
The Rum Diary
Director J.C. Chandor
Director Bruce Robinson
Director Roman Polanski
Starring Jeremy Irons, Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore.
Starring Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Amber Heard.
Starring Christoph Waltz, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly, Jodie Foster.
For a while, it seemed as if Jeremy Irons had become one of those actors who, justifiably, seemed to have accomplished all they could have with their career (Dead Ringers, Reversal of Fortune) and had sunk back under the spotlight, only surfacing occasionally to appear in low budget trash accidentally stumbled upon by people raiding the ‘Cult’ section of their local video store (ie. Dungeons and Dragons, The Time Machine). Thankfully, Margin Call is neither low budget, nor trash, and is in fact one of the best films that Irons has been in for a long time. However, before you get overwhelmingly excited by the fact that Jeremy Irons is acting again, let me get you even more excited by saying that Kevin Spacey is in this film too. And he’s kind of fat! It’s great. Irons also has a really silly haircut. Margin Call is about the global financial crisis. Spacey and Irons are both senior members of a fictional company in which a risk management acolyte accidentally stumbles across information about the impending economic implosion of the company due to junk bonds and inflation or something. Don’t let this turn you off the movie – it’s well-paced, the cinematography is competent, and the actors all play their roles very well. There’s just the small issue of the conversations filled with financial jargon that go completely over my head. The scenes in which the characters hurriedly confide in each other regarding economic collapse could have actually been about Mao Zedong’s Five-anti Campaign and I wouldn’t have picked up on it. Apart from this minor problem, though, the film is pretty good. And might have even been relevant too, if it had been released three years ago!
The Rum Diary, based on the book of the same name by Hunter S. Thompson, originally began development in 2000 and has finally reached our screens after 12 years with the help of Johnny Depp and his personal production company Infinitum Nihil. If you’ve read the book you may be slightly confused by the screen adaptation of The Rum Diary, the plot still revolves around protagonist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) and his alcohol-fuelled infatuation with a woman named Chenault (Amber Heard), though several central characters have been rewritten or removed completely. Kemp gains work as a journalist in Puerto Rico, presumably in an attempt to escape the monotony of 1950s America. He is soon entangled in a conspiracy with a group of wealthy businessmen, the most prominent of which is Hal Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart). The film is supposed to be a spiritual prelude of sorts to the 1998 film adaptation of Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, in which Depp also starred as that film’s protagonist, Raoul Duke. However, apart from the autobiographical similarities, the films have very little in common. Depp still delivers a solid performance, though it isn’t enough to save the film from becoming tedious, particularly in the second half. Writer/Director Bruce Robinson has written in several scenes that can only be seen as superfluous, including one about the use of hallucinogens. It’s clear that the film is more of a tribute than an accurate depiction of the novel, and overall it fails to capture the visceral insanity that Hunter S. Thompson is renowned for.
Roman Polanski has unfinished business in America. Wait, no, not that sort of business you sick bastards. I’m strictly referring to dealings of the cinematic variety here. I’ll start again. Polanski’s latest offering, and master class in comedic timing, Carnage, is a wonderfully bizarre exchange of Euro-American culture. Set in a Brooklyn apartment (thankfully, not Jack Nicholson’s), it documents the struggle of two bourgeois couples whose polite get-together to sort out a playground fight between their children descends into near-savagery. Adapted from Yasmin Reza’s Tony Award-winning play God of Carnage and cleverly shot in a studio just outside of Paris, (complete with crafty digital inserts of the Brooklyn waterfront) the cultural transaction is fairly self-evident. The important thing however, is that Polanski handles the material with impeccable flair and experienced aplomb. In his assured hands Carnage is as much a satirical skewering of middle class life as its theatrical forbear. Liberal civility is thrown into delightful disarray, with the hypocrisies, power plays and smug moralizing of the supposedly ‘enlightened’ exposed in the process. Of course, we’ve seen this sort of dramatic trajectory before (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and The Discreet Charm of the Petit Bourgeoisie immediately come to mind) but that’s beside the point. So what if the plot is unexceptional or unoriginal? When you have a truly spectacular performances from the film’s four major players who really gives a fuck. I honestly can’t remember the last time that an ensemble has performed so meticulously as a whole. Christoph Waltz is pitch-perfect, John C. Reily is wickedly foulmouthed and Jodie Foster is back to her best as neurotic micromanager Penelope. Oh, and Kate Winslet’s projectile vomiting deserves a nod too. Carnage also excels on a technical level. And given the limitations of the stage-based material it’s impressive how wisely Polanski uses his space. In fact, the visual flair of the film is almost as immaculate as the acting itself.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
This Means War
21 JUMP STREET
Director Phil Lord & Chris Miller
Starring Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy.
Director Stephen Daldry
Starring Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, ICE CUBE.
Starring Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max Von Sydow.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close follows Oskar Schell (Thomas Ford), an intelligent, withdrawn boy who appears to be living with something akin to Asperger’s, as he struggles with the loss of his father (Tom Hanks) following the 9/11 attacks. After finding a mysterious key inside his father’s wardrobe that offers only the name ‘Black’ as a clue to its purpose, Oskar embarks on a quest to discover the lock that the key will open, convinced this is one final ‘reconnaissance expedition’ his dad meant for him to complete. Oskar enlists his grandmother’s enigmatic tenant to help with his investigation, an elderly gentleman known only as ‘the renter’, who is so traumatised by his past that he elects not to speak. Let’s be realistic: a film about the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre, seen through the eyes of a grieving eleven-year old, was always going to be emotionally charged. This rather sentimental film has proven to be as polarising as the novel upon which it is based (of the same title, by Jonathan Safran Foer), having received a divided critical response thus far. Stephen Daldry’s film handles its sensitive subject matter respectfully and without descending to cheap and exploitative emotional appeals. The devastating impact and extent of the Schell family’s loss is explored, and so is Oskar’s troubled path to realisation and a degree of acceptance of his dad’s passing. Seeing Oskar and his mum begin tentatively to rebuild their fragile relationship is one of the high points of the film. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close seems to provoke a distinctly love-it-or-hate-it response – you’ll either come out of the theatre sobbing like a small child, or utterly unmoved.
This Means War must’ve begun in some Hollywood boardroom where executives had written on their whiteboard “generic action film + generic romantic comedy x Valentine’s Day release date = maximum cross-gender audience appeal.” Directed by the ridiculously named McG, This Means War sees Reese Witherspoon playing stock rom-com protagonist Lauren Scott who’s romantically pursued by a pair of CIA agents played by Chris Pine and Tom Hardy. The spy plot is forgotten about for most of the film. Inglorious Basterds’ Til Schweiger plays the villain but the character is simply a cardboard German villain from central casting. The film’s spy world is made up of unfunny techies as comic relief and Angela Basset playing Shouty American Black ‘M’. The film’s action is generic. The climactic stunt loses all tension because the car flying towards Reece Witherspoon’s face is so obviously CGI. The only action sequence which really works sees Hardy unleash his magic spy fighting powers on the paintball field. Hardy and Pine make for two of the pettiest screen spies ever wasting millions of taxpayer’s dollars on their love lives. Also, the film never explains (not even with a dialogue fix) how the very British Tom Hardy ended up working for the CIA instead of MI6 What does the film have working for it? Well Hardy and Pine are both charismatic screen actors who have a decent buddy cop chemistry between them. Witherspoon is inoffensive. There’s also the occasional joke that works or set piece that’s amusing. The rom-com side is basic, though the script does a decent job at adding some mystery as to how the love triangle will end. Of course, if you do your rom-com mathematics the answer becomes clear.
I think Channing Tatum’s privates retracted somewhere into the region of his lungs during the filming of this movie. For those of you who don’t know, his wife had a spectacular failure of tact a while ago and told the press about an accident that had damaged his penis. This intrigues me because he used to be a male stripper – was it an occ. health and safety issue? Anyway, this is relevant because there is some violence to penises in what is otherwise a great date movie. It’s full of the expected Superbad-esque humour and a cast of eye candy. Though sadly a disclaimer: Channing Tatum does not take his shirt off in this movie, not even once. Hottie Brie Larson (best known for portraying ‘that hot daughter’ in United States of Tara) stars alongside James Franco’s ridiculously pretty little brother Dave as the cool kids whose environmental consciousness and studiousness confuse the slack, apathetic former cool kid and now undercover police officer Jenko (played by Channing Tatum). Jonah Hill plays his partner, a former high school loser-cum-narc, and has lost so much weight since Moneyball he looks as though he’s CGI. The only person in this movie who looks weirder is ICE CUBE as the stereotypical angry black police captain. His face was so ashen I spent the whole time expecting a cancer sub-plot to pop up. The plot in general is deliciously lowbrow typical action-comedy fare and yet surprisingly meaty in terms of intertextuality. There are nods and winks to many members of the action film canon and its tropes. It’s a great film for fans of the genre.
Granta #117: ‘Horror’ Stephen King, Don DeLillo, Paul Auster, and others
8/10 For the sake of brevity, I’m reviewing the two stand-out stories from this collection: Stephen King’s ‘The Dunes’ and Don DeLillo’s ‘The Starveling’. If you don’t like Stephen King you’re an idiot, and if you don’t like Don DeLillo you’re probably just a normal person. So there. ‘The Starveling’ is not really horror in the cosmic, Lovecraftian sense – though one idea that could’ve been stolen from Lovecraft is the formless horror. DeLillo has stripped back horror to the bare bones and rather than apply it to some monstrous grotesque, the formless horror is just the main character’s demented thought-processes. ‘The Starveling’ focuses on a man who lives his life through the obsessive viewing of film – voyeurism in the vein of Powell’s Peeping Tom is the only important thing in his life. DeLillo explored this idea previously in Point Omega’s prologue and epilogue, and it’s still an interesting topic. ‘The Dunes’ is a standard Stephen King piece, and, as is typical of King’s short stories, it’s excellent – hardly a surprise, given he’s one of the world’s greatest living writers.
A Perfectly Good Man BEST BIT: What the main character of The Starveling does in a female toilet.
WORST BIT: There is only one ‘horror’ themed Granta. WHAT DO I DO NOW?
by Lachlan Keeley “dabbles” in writing and tried reading The Beach once (would not recommend).
Scenes from Early Life Philip Hensher
6.5/10 Philip Hensher adopts the voice of his husband, Zaved Mahmood, to retell the story of his family’s life during the Bangladeshi war of independence. The focus of Scenes from Early Life is mostly on the politics and interpersonal dynamics within Zaved’s pretty well-off family, whose role in the war was a rather passive one. As such, the material is more mundane than you might expect. That said, Hensher does a pretty good job of things - there is tasty, neatly-packaged value to be extracted here. But not always; sometimes things get quite dry, perhaps more than they should, and it’s these bits which may give many readers real problems. To its credit, the novel is honest in its limitations. Nevertheless, it’s a mostly-digestible and modestly rewarding read.
6.5/10 Patrick Gale has been lauded for his sensitivity, faith in humanity, coastal village landscapes, and acrobatic prose. What is most striking about A Perfectly Good Man, however, is its distinctly antiquarian quality. There’s something firmly nineteenth-century about this book, from the quaint qualifier in its title to its mystified references to the Internet, Smart Phones, and Facebook Groups (all capitalised). The Reverend Barnaby Johnson (I’m serious) is the muchloved vicar of a village in Cornwall, where everyone seems to be married by 25. Pushing us back into the present day is the Nembutal overdose of wheelchair-bound Lenny Barnes, whose suicide, witnessed by the vicar, throws up lots of questions about propriety and the power of prayer. We’re not talking about a Dickens or Thackeray here: this novel is squarely in the mould of Anthony Trollope, firmed up with some of George Eliot’s moral seriousness. The prose is polite, restrained, subtly telling; we are dealing not only with big moral issues, but small theological ones too.
BEST BIT: Jumps through time and across character inventively and flawlessly. Achieves both depth and fluidity.
WORST BIT: The suspicion that this is the nice, normal social novel of the 19th century reinvented in a deliberately ‘edgy’ way.
by Zoe Kilbourn studies second year Law/Music. She recently met Germaine Greer and it was magical.
The Walls of Delhi BEST BIT: The characters, although occasionally a bit one-dimensional, are generally endearing and well written.
8/10 What does a lowly street-sweeper with a cache of black money have in common with a Dalit suffering from a case of uppercaste identity theft, and a slum child whose head simply won’t stop growing?
Numerous sections are banal and seem selfindulgent in the process. As a result, the book feels longer than its 320 pages.
Certainly they are all bizarre scenarios with the same magical realism of a Salman Rushdie novel. However, what ultimately links these seemingly disparate stories together is the underscoring concern of caste and class, an irksome vestige of the past that is still very much a reality for an alarming majority of the nation.
by Connor Weightman
Each microsomal narrative in The Walls of Delhi is a biting satire of the suffocating pervasiveness of this system. And Uday Prakash has no reservations about his targets; from corrupt bureaucrats to dogmatic slum-dwellers nobody is safe from scrutiny.
can rarely make up his mind about anything. He doesn’t yet own a smartphone.
Candid and imaginative at the same time, this trio of thematically linked tales is immensely enjoyable and utterly absorbing. Prakash’s prose is refreshingly economical and although contemptuous it never falls into the trap of moralistic proselytizing.
BEST BIT: The wonderful eccentricity of Prakash’s protagonists.
WORST BIT: Not enough mentions of parasitic organisms. We’re part of Indian culture too!
by Dupree Reeves A parasite from Punjab who resides in Alice Mepham. Loves contaminated water and ineffective courses of antibiotics
GERMAINE GREER, PIRATES AND OCTOPUS PORN: PELICAN’S WRAP-UP OF THE PERTH WRITERS FESTIVAL By Yvonne Buresch.
The swanky Opening-Night Party was attended by myself and former books section editor Ben Sacks. Ben detected the presence of Stephen Romay, books editor of The Australian, easily recognisable with his piratical goatee and moustache combo. We contemplated accidentally-on-purpose bumping into him or spilling drinks down his front so we could introduce ourselves and beg for jobs. We were nearly as giggly as Pelican politics editor
Richard Ferguson was when he spotted Philip Adams at the ‘Endless Multiplying Banality of Politics’ event the next day. It was a recording of Late Night Live and Richard got a question in at the end, so a Pelicano is now officially on the radio. He also got his picture taken with Carmen Lawrence, Robert Manne and Annabel Crabb, who he bumped into about a half-dozen times but was definitely not stalking... The pirate theme continued with a sighting of Peter FitzSimons, author of bestselling popular history books, wearing a red bandanna on his head. A former section editor who will remain nameless for his own safety (FitzSimons is an ex-rugby player and has the build to prove it) reported that he wasn’t very nice and refused to talk to people who went to the authors’ tent to get their books signed after ‘Batavia’. You can be a jerk to your fans or you can be a ridiculous-looking fully grown white man wearing a red bandanna around your head like you think you’re Penelope Cruz in Pirates of the Caribbean, but dammit you can’t be both. ‘A Private Life’, featuring every law student’s favourite anti-hero Michael Kirby (AKA “the Great Dissenter”), had a line out the front so long you’d think it was an electric blanket shop in Siberia. My beloved media passes only granted us seats subject to capacity so we waited in a separate line for media while the paying ticket holders filed in. While waiting I chatted to a political journalist for The Australian who turned out to be a former Pelican hack – there is hope for us all! Queensland author and bookseller Krissy Kneen spoke at several events over the weekend
and was extremely (ahem) memorable. At ‘Sex, Lies and Literature’ she read aloud an extract from Triptych, her new collection of novellas. I think next to “awkward” in the dictionary there is a picture of the Romeo Tent full of strangers listening to Krissy Kneen’s breathy voice describe a woman seducing an octopus while being hyperaware of the distance between their neighbours’ knees and their own. At ‘Laying it on the Line’ she shared a gem of a writer’s tip. In order to overcome perfectionism-asprocrastination while writing her memoir she engaged in competitive blogging with her friend Chris, making sure she matched or exceeded his word count every day. His blog was called Furious Horses, hers was called Furious Vaginas. More great tips for young writers can be found in Kevin Chiat’s interview with international bestselling author Lauren Beukes on the next page.
Illustration by Grace McKie
Isn’t it funny how sometimes the things that stick in your head aren’t the things that were meant to? Germaine Greer opened the Perth Writers Festival with a speech on eco-feminism. This speech no doubt contained many gems of eco-feminist wisdom but the thing I remember most is this: she spotted a spider from five meters away. Talking about something (I zoned out a little) she diverted the flow of her speech into the new topic – without pausing – “There’s a big spider on the front of your frock.” The lady she was pointing at with outstretched arm had obviously zoned out too, or else was so confused by the seamlessness of the transition that she thought it was part of the prepared speech. After a few seconds she got up, started shaking her dress out furiously – flicking it like a beach towel – and everybody laughed. The other highlights of Germaine’s opening address were slime moles, spray douches (don’t ask) and referring to Gina Rinehart as a “grossly bloated figure”. Pelican’s Zoe Kilbourn was the single member of a standing ovation at the end, and got to talk to Germaine for a few minutes afterwards about rape (again, don’t ask). Zoe also got an interview with the fabulous Marieke Hardy, which appears on page 42.
Photo by Nico Krijn
Taming the Literary Beast – Lauren Beukes LAUREN BEUKES is a South African novelist, comics writer and screenwriter. Her latest novel Zoo City is set in a world where murderers find themselves saddled with a spirit animal as a mark of their guilt. Kevin Chiat met up with the Arthur C. Clarke Award winner at the Perth Writers Festival to discuss the novel, South African society and muti magic.
K: When did you first start writing and how did you transition to creative writing?
K: Could you talk about Zoo City’s relationship with South African class and social tensions?
LB: I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was five years old. When I figured out that it was actually a viable career and you could get paid to make up stories, which seemed very unlikely, I became a freelance journalist and that just gave me so much freedom to play in, it was like a backstage pass to the world. I signed up to do my MA in Creative Writing. I wrote Moxyland, I messed around for a long time on that. It took me four years to write and eventually I only finished it because I was going to get chucked out of the program. It’s a real privilege to get paid to make stuff up [though] I still bitch about it and it’s still hard work.
LB: Fundamentally, the book’s about that big South African obsession of crime. I wrote it just after the xenophobic attacks in 2008 when African foreign nationals were killed in the street. At least one man was burned. Some others were driven off the top of a building and they fell to their deaths. It was horrifying because of how many of these other African countries had actually supported us during apartheid and helped our struggle-activists against the apartheid government. Those are all social and class tensions. It wasn’t the nice middle-class people being attacked in their homes or doing the attacking; it was the people on the lowest rungs who are worried about joblessness, who have the most intense social pressures on them. Race is always going to be an issue in South Africa, but I think class is much more of an obvious issue right now, especially in the urban centres. We have 40% unemployment, it’s bad out there. So I wanted to explore all those ideas, and some of it in the novel is really obvious. Mrs Luthuli who’s supposed to be looking after the twins: that’s Luthuli House, that’s the ANC. And I think Luthuli House has failed our country. That’s a really obvious and quite painful metaphor but not that many people have got it.
K: How was your experience in journalism? LB: I don’t think I’d be the writer I am if I hadn’t been a journalist. You know, I spent a lot of time working in the townships, I interviewed vigilante groups, I interviewed electricity cable thieves, HIV activists. With Colours Magazine the brief would be “this theme is about food, go find us stories about food”. We’d just walk around the townships talking to people and taking photographs of food. It’s a license to be nosy.
K: What sort of research went into portraying Johannesburg in Zoo City, and then extrapolating fantasy elements onto the city? LB: Obviously I’ve added magic and you’re not going to be able to use exactly real-life, you have to twist stuff to make it work for fiction. I spent about a week walking around Hillbrow with a fixer who was a facilitator, translator and security. Journalism will open doors, but saying you’re writing a novel, people were just like “Oh yes please, come in, let us show you, we’ll give you the grand tour.” That was an all-access pass because people aren’t worried you’ll be writing something bad in a journalistic sense. I also visited the Central Methodist Church where there were around 5000 refugees and it was very harrowing and depressing. I had this idea that I wanted to set a big scene in the Central Methodist Church and make it central to the plot. I went there and it was just the most awful place I’ve ever been. There was such a sense of despair and rage. You got down to this basement and there wasn’t standing room and these women were going to have to try to lie down and find a place to sleep. They were bathing babies in buckets, lots of whom were the product of rape at the border. What was interesting was my fixer’s reaction, because a lot of people there
41 were Zimbabwean and he was Zimbabwean. He was an ex-refugee and he’d been living in South Africa for ten years with his family. I was shocked and shaken afterwards and he was angry, and worse he was contentious and he kept saying, “It’s pathetic, it’s pathetic”. I said “What do you mean? They’re basically your people.” I realised it was his way of disassociating himself and just kind of pushing it away and saying “this is nothing to do with me.” I think that’s partially what fiction does so very well. It personalises this faceless horde of people and this huge overwhelming problem and I think that’s why we need more narrative genres. We can try and get to people’s stories behind the headlines. K: How did traditional African beliefs influence Zoo City’s magic? LB: I’ve interviewed the investigative psychology unit and they reckon there’s a muti murder once a month where a human being is killed for their body parts for either a powerful politician or just dodgy people. This stuff happens and you can’t make it up. There was a news story just before I left about a Muskandi musician (African folk rock). He supposedly came back from the dead and it was all over the headlines. Thousands of people came to see him and he had five wives and two of the wives swore he was the real guy and eventually the cops were like “Nu-uh, come for DNA testing” and he was a total fraudster. But two of the wives still swear it’s him returned from the dead. And you can’t make that up, it’s amazing. It’s that mash-up of technology and traditional belief systems, and the fact that for a lot of people magic is real and it’s fascinating. K: Zoo City’s protagonist, Zinzi, is very damaged. What attracted you to write such a flawed lead? LB: I think paladins and straight good guys are fundamentally boring. I think we all have darkness
in us, and I think people are complicated and difficult and often contradictory. Also the whole point is she had to find her redemption which meant that she had to be fucked up. K: Zoo City has interludes away from the main story, such as an academic paper and documentary film database entry. How did they come about? LB: I stole that from Alan Moore. K: From Watchmen? LB: From Watchmen and V for Vendetta. These extra[neous] materials seem incidental but they’re actually crucial to the story. I have to make it clear in the new edition that three of those chapters are actually written by other people. It says in the acknowledgments but some people miss that. I didn’t want to do the classic infodump of the two characters sitting in the bar saying, “Oh you know I can’t believe that thing happened in 1996 which made the world turn out like this. Can you imagine if it had just been different?” You know it’s just painful, I hate that. So I wanted to do it another way. The world is so media rich and we get our information from all these different sources so I wanted to play with it. K: Is there anything you can say about the film? LB: It’s been optioned by Helena Springs, a South African producer. What’s really cool about that is that she’s not going to recast Zinzi as white and reset it in New Orleans. She wants it to be a Jo’burg story, she wants to have a black actress, even though that’s not really commercially viable. It’s nice to have someone that foolish. I’m writing the screenplay with Sam Wilson – we’ve worked together for a long time as scriptwriters. Obviously, what I think is really important about a
movie adaptation is that it’s not absolutely true to the book, because it’s a different animal – pun intended. K: You’re writing an arc in Fairest, the new spin-off from Bill Willingham’s Fables comic at Vertigo, how did that come about? LB: I met Bill at WorldCon in 2009. He came along to my reading, we chatted a lot and had so much fun. I wanted to do Goldilocks because I love Goldilocks, she’s nuts, but Bill was writing Jack of Fables at the time so he said “Nah, pitch me something with Rapunzel.” So it’s set in Japan and it brings in a lot of the Japanese fairy tales and mythology and ghost stories. K: What advice would you give young writers? LB: Try and get a day job where you actually do interesting things which you can feed into your fiction. Observe and steal as much as you can from the real world but also know when not to take something verbatim and know how to twist it for yourself. Finish stuff. Stop polishing the first three chapters and just write the whole damn book because things will change along the way. Even if you have a brilliant laid-out plan you will think of something else that works better. Look out for opportunity, be ready for it. Being a writer is great, I’ve got this really great book deal and it’s changed my life. But it was such a perfect storm, it was winning the Arthur C. Clarke award, it was coming up with a cool sexy concept like a time travelling serial killer, and having the right agent, being in the right place at the right time. You’ve got to be ready for opportunity but you’ve also got to realise it’s bloody hard. It’s a ten year overnight success if you’re lucky. Basically you’ve got to learn to roll with the gut-punches. But you get paid to make stuff up. It’s awesome.
Marieke Hardy@mariekehardy hedonist, raconteur, bon vivant.
UNDERPANTS ARE FOR QUITTERS
In Reply to Zoe Kilbourn
You’ll Be Sorry When I’m Dead is an intoxicating mix of the provocative and literary. She opens a hilarious account of her fascination with prostitutes with a Dorothy Parker reference. Her memoirs are witty and controversial, no doubt, but they’re equally heartfelt without ever slipping into sentimentality. Hardy handles topics from preteen friendship to relationship breakdown to cancer with poise and sincerity, which parallels the irresistible openness and good humour she exudes in person. So irresistible, in fact, she’s still reeling from a spontaneous gift of jewellery given prior to our interview. “I said it was a lovely necklace and she just put it over my head… I’m overwhelmed.”
Marieke Hardy matches hipness and hedonism with an extremely bookish streak. She’s well known and loved for her work in television and radio – a career which has included regular Triple J and First Tuesday Book Club appearances, the Laid television series (co-created with Kirsty Fisher), and screenwriting credits on every major Australian show from Neighbours to Packed to the Rafters. She ran a left-wing clothing label called Polichicks (with Sara-Jane Chase). She’s even written the script for an educational video called Digital Duck. But she’s in Perth for the 2012 Writers’ Festival as just that – a writer. Her collection of autobiographical essays You’ll Be Sorry When I’m Dead was released in September 2011 and she has a novel due for publication this year. As if that’s not enough, she is co-curator (with Michaela McGuire) of a regular event called Women of Letters, at which authors write and share letters on a theme. She has an invigorating passion for the written word.
As it turns out, there were originally three potential titles for YBSWID. Hardy explains that it’s a phrase she has used often – like its rival working titles You’re Not My Real Mother and Underpants are for Quitters. She’s been warned by her publisher not to share anything about her new novel at the Festival, although after some unusual questioning by fellow Pelicano Lachlan Keeley, Hardy has revealed the font. She usually writes in Times New Roman, but since her friend and fellow writer Benjamin Law showed her a text in Garamond, she’s been converted.* Hardy is firmly left wing and passionately political, and she’s particularly enthusiastic about the attendance of Germaine Greer and Robert Manne at the Festival. “I saw him on the plane - I think I might have called him Bob or something.” Her real political journo crush, however, is on the formidable Bob Ellis, who is the subject of her YBSWID essay ‘Man Bites Dog’. Hardy bears a tattoo that is homage to both Ellis and Kurt Vonnegut (“And so on, and so it goes”) and has even named her dog Bob Ellis in the provocateur’s honour. I ask her what sparked the obsession.
“I love his writing. I read Goodbye Jerusalem – I think I had one of the unpulped copies before he went through the Abbott and Costello defamation case. I just loved poison in the pen, and he writes with such grandiose passion. I was living under Howard, and I was a really wide-eyed, passionate political supporter. I just love the blood in his writing. My grandfather died in 1994… they were very similar men. Cantankerous, contentious, provocative. I was in some sense gravitating to him as a Frank figure as well.” Frank is, of course, Frank Hardy, the political activist, journalist, and novelist. His most famous novel, Power Without Glory, was a fictionalised account of prominent businessman John Wren and the subject of a celebrated libel case. Hardy remembers her grandfather affectionately: “Pipe-smoking, big beer belly, skinny stick legs – he always gave the family a copy of one of his books for Christmas because he was always broke from gambling. I was glad I got to read Power Without Glory before he died so I did get some sense of his body of work, but it wasn’t until after he died that I gained some real understanding, particularly of his work with Indigenous Australians.” An interesting feature of YBSWID is the inclusion of responses from the people she’s written about. Hardy has used real names, and has revealed some less than flattering truths. The responses have been overwhelmingly positive, although there has been some reinterpretation of the facts. One particularly forgiving letter came from Bob Ellis himself. “Everything’s true with Bob Ellis. He wrote me a text afterwards saying, ‘My children will be appalled’. I thought, ‘Your children are probably appalled quite often.’ I believe he’s still fond of me. He still defends me on his blog whenever he gets in fights with people.” Hardy takes a very honest approach to her work. “If someone had read a story about themselves
43 Photo by Lauren Croser
and had written a piece going ‘You’re a fucking idiot, I hate you, our friendship’s over’, I would have printed it. It was for the most part unlikely – they were all written about my friends and family. My ex, who’s in my first story, Matty – I hadn’t seen him for years. He’s a writer so he’s respectful of the writer’s process, but he could have easily written something really harsh and I would have left it in. I felt it was the honourable thing to do.” Hardy has, however, faced hostility and misogyny from a faceless nameless public – her reaction to which seems to be aligned with the ‘haters gonna hate’ school of thought. “It’s not even working in the media, it’s through blogging. I started blogging in 2006 and that gave me a very thick skin … I don’t seek it out. You just don’t self-Google.’ She continues, “If my mother or my partner or my best friend said something really aggressive and horrible, I would have been mortified, but I don’t know any of these douchebags. I’m relieved I first got that when I was in the blogosphere.” She explains that a lot of the angst is due to exposure through freelance work. “I guess the thing for me now is just getting the fuck out of people’s faces for a bit. As a freelancer you’ve got a mentality that you have to say yes to every job offered to you because no one’s ever going to ask you to work again. With writing television, that’s good because it’s faceless.” She gives an example of the freelancing predicament: “People go, ‘Oh, would you come on my gardening show?’ You want to please everyone so you say, ‘Oh, yeah, I’d love to’. Eventually people are going ‘Can that girl fucking go
away?’ and they don’t want to read anything you’ve written.” In a country where many up-and-coming artists and intellectuals feel the pressure to move overseas, Hardy has had an overwhelmingly Australian career. “I had no drive to go overseas because I’ve just been working and doing what I love for years and years. The only place I’d ever want to go overseas to live is Iceland,” she says. Hardy attended a friend’s wedding there last year and was fortunate enough to be trapped by the 2010 volcanic eruption. “It’s full of art and music and writers, it’s just amazing… the landscape as well. It’s not pretty, but it is beautiful. Striking. I’ve never seen anywhere like it. The language,” however, “is fucked.” She speaks with great warmth about a Melburnian version of the Algonquin Round Table: Ronnie Scott, who runs the Lifted Brow zine; Krissy Kneen, based in Brisbane; Lorelei Vashti of the Dress Memory blog; Benjamin Law, Michaela McGuire, and Anna Krien. Hardy met them all through the National Young Writers’ Festival. “You do feel like you’re part of a community, which is good, because writing is such a lonely job.” A recurring theme in the YBSWID essays is the freedom and joy of drinking. One particular essay, ‘Down the Hatch’, is a beautiful defence of alcohol and a lament for the lack of female drinkers in literature. I ask if she has any advice for the many wine-soaked English majors here at the university. “Just write about it, and write about it in a way that’s not sissy and prissy, and write about it in a way that has tobacco in it, I
guess. That’s what always frustrated me – the only good books I could read about women drinkers were women who had given up and gone ‘And then I found Jesus’.” Hardy is currently undertaking a ‘Summer of Rosé’, though when I ask about a signature drink she mentions a particular fondness for Frangelico on ice. We have a little more book chat. Hardy has just read Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman, which she loved, prompted by Professor Greer’s upcoming appearance on The First Tuesday Book Club. “Every book I picked up I could hear her in my head, going, ‘What would you read that for? Nancy Mitford, how wet!’ She also talks with enthusiasm about Tim Winton’s Breath and Malcolm Knox’s The Life. One final question. Does she know any dirty secrets about The First Tuesday Book Club host Jennifer Byrne? Yes, but she’s not sharing. “She’s scarier than Germaine Greer!” Hardy can reveal, though, that “She’s really piss-fit. She and I once drank Chris Taylor from the Chaser and Robbie Buck from Triple J under the table. I don’t know how she does it. If she kills me, I’ll come looking for you.”
*This interview is in Garamond.
HAVING FUN IN THE SUN WITH ART feat. I don’t want to do this shit. Louise Abbott and Thomas Livermore
Louise Abbott: 2012 marked the eighth annual WA Sculpture by the Sea, held on and around Cottesloe Beach, as well as a minor indoor exhibition at the Cottesloe Surf Lifesaving Club. The event has been described as the most important outdoor sculpture exhibition in WA, and features works by artists from all across Australia, as well as China, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Italy, France, Japan and America; the collection could legitimately be described as diverse, with much of it displaying incredible technical skill and imagination. Thomas Livermore: Normally, I would choose not to brave the fierce outdoor sun, hot sand and the obnoxious hordes that choose to amass on our Perth beaches. However, this was no ordinary occasion. Yours truly was, for some reason that escaped me at the time, invited to attend the eighth annual WA Sculpture by the Sea exhibition, held in, on and around Cottesloe Beach. Works were described by local 720AM radio-presenter Russel Woolf, as “weird wacky and wonderful”. More of my thoughts soon! This years’ exhibition was given more media coverage than usual when one of the most popular sculptures Childhood-Morning – by last year’s Peoples’ Choice winner Chen Wenling – was broken off at its base at the ankles and stolen from the beach. It was found a couple of days later by police; hidden in some guy’s roof space. Enough of the boring crap! What really happened: police staked out the meth-head’s living quarters and after tense negotiations police were forced to make a SWAT-like breach on the stronghold. After an intense gun fight and several unfortunate causalities the fugitives were finally neutralised and peace and order was restored. Most of the assailant’s remains are yet to be scraped from the walls. Luckily, the art was recovered and was still technically presentable, after several bullets were removed. Alas, even if this is only what I wish occurred, what you really must take away from this parable is that stealing art will get you fucked up, ROYALLY. Don’t steal art, even if you think it will be a good story to tell your friends at a later date because our police really have nothing better to do than make you into a national news story.
The NAB WA Sculptor Scholarship was won by a Western Australian sculptor, Paul Caporn, for his aptly-named work dump: a large yellow dump truck unloading sand on to the beach. Some crowd favourites from the exhibition included a life-size rusty panel van on a grassy knoll, a green glass pillar, a gold rock hidden on the groyne [Ed: This is actually a word], a group of stuffed “slugs”, and a crowd of hundreds of red paper shoes climbing up the dunes. Sculpture is a funny thing – what’s the deal?! While it doesn’t save lives and can’t do cool things like back-flips, it gains undeniable appeal due to allowing a completely belligerent fool, such as myself, who knows nothing on the said subject’s technicalities or nuances to still rock up and blurt out things like: “Wow there is a giant yellow ‘OMG’ in the sand, that is so awesome.” The bitter tragedy in the seamless comedy is that the people and the corporations alike did not vote for this wonderful and hilarious creation. Why, I hear you ask? Alas, all I can do is sit back and wonder myself. The great thing about Sculpture by the Sea is that you probably won’t like everything: the works are so diverse that there is something for everyone, and something for no-one, too. If you did not go to see Sculpture by the Sea this year, I feel bad for you. It was really great. The exhibition provides an opportunity for everyone to experience some of the world’s finest works of sculpture – and for free! The organisers provide services such as Tactile Tours for the disabled and beach wheelchairs for easy access to the sand. It is really nice to see people from all walks of life coming together to see the exhibition; especially the old men in socks and sandals wearing bucket caps. It’s on again next year some time around the start of Autumn or – as it should be more accurately titled – ‘Summautumn’. What my learned counterpart is trying to say is: If you did not attend, you’re a very silly person and should definitely look into rearranging the priorities of your life.
RED SILK - The Blue Room 15th March 2012 Elizabeth Howard If you’ve seen the recent films Melancholia, A Dangerous Method or even Shame, you’d have some inkling that psychology is back in the cultural spotlight. Relationships between characters, for a brief moment, have been overtaken by the often tumultuous relationship we have with ourselves. In the above titles mental illness, addiction and how those factors are treated are what drive the narrative and Red Silk, a new play by Lois Achimovich, is of the same ilk. Add the intrigue of a controversial celebrity and The Blue Room have a very juicy season premiere indeed: a creative imagining of the somewhat mysterious, factual therapy session between Anne Sexton, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet of the 60s, and her two psychiatrists. On the third night of performances the bar and balcony of The Blue Room exuded a palpable excitement. I wondered whether it was because each ticket holder was entitled to a free glass of champagne or because the star of the show, Roz Hammond, has been well-loved ever since her prickly girl-gang role in Australian film favourite Muriel’s Wedding. I cradled my half-imbibed glass of champagne and proceeded to shuffle into the larger of the two performance spaces. I was soon to be grateful for choosing a seat in the front row as the the audience was seated along two opposite walls of the space creating a narrow alleyway set in the cross-fire of our gazes. Every facial twitch and gesture was perceptible thanks to this intimate arrangement by Lawrie Cullen-Tait, complemented by exceptional lighting. As everyone stealthily tucked away their bags and propped up their drinks, the lights dimmed, and I wondered how much prior knowledge people have brought in to support their experience of the piece. I had read a little about Sexton but none of her poetry until afterwards, touched by the performance. If you want to see this play, I wouldn’t fret a lot about background knowledge, as the dominant issues are the personal and professional limits and ethics of psychological treatment. The writer urgently asks us: can such methods, by an institution that has become enshrined and ubiquitous, lead to a cure? Against the background of second-wave feminism, can women be treated as anything but hysterical in therapy? This question is invariably complicated by the emergence of a risky love affair. As the prologue ends, in which Sexton is illuminated on a podium reciting at the Auden Poetry Recital in London, we
are brought back to the sterile room we entered. A stern, rotund man in a green suit, Martin (Luke Hewitt), is waiting for someone. Soon Anne bombastically enters the room with all disregard for custom and dress – shoes gripped in hand – and in minutes enquires after a glass of vodka. Anne talks with fervour about her trip to London and her professional confidence is established but, as the dialogue progresses, rifts rapidly appear between the two and the power shifts to Martin, her psychiatrist for over ten years. By the time Ted (Anne’s second doctor played by Dan Luxton) enters, the atmosphere is already turbulent. The conversation, or rather the threeway argument, that ensues calls in to question Ted’s professional conduct, Anne’s personal life and Martin is set up as an emblem for the dubious practices of the profession as a profitmotivated whole. There are a lot of plot strands to tease out here and the script fails to fully explore any one of them to an end. That said, Anne’s spiraling condition as a result of this meeting is compelling and her poetic wit is marvelously distilled in each scene. Roz Hammond has clearly thrown her entire self into this role as her stage presence and emotional conviction are intense. How can we question her sanity with lines like “plenty of deaths occur in therapy: souls, bodies, hopes, dreams”? This teasing out and intertwining of open-ended strands should perhaps be viewed as a testament to the complexity of mental illness and the separation of fact and fiction. Anne Sexton’s life will remain open to speculation after this performance but her poetry is sure to garner new devotees with such a despairingly theatrical climax. Riveting theatre.
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Australia’s No. 1 university is coming to you.† Meet Melbourne in Perth. Find out more about:
Thursday 10 May 2012
sª Undergraduate and graduate degrees at Melbourne
6.30 – 8.00pm
sª Career outcomes
Duxton Hotel, 1 St Georges Terrace, Perth
sª Scholarships and course costs
sª Entry requirements and how to apply
sª Housing options.
Tel: 13 MELB (13 6352)
† Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2011-2012
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14/03/12 9:56 AM