PELICAN Vol 82 Edition 1 Genesis
Koko Wozniak & Patrick Marlborough
Wayne Chandra Bec Kohn
Advertising Alex Pond
Books Editor Ben Sacks
Callum J Twigger
Music Editor Josh Chiat
Politics Editor Thomas Adolph
DON’T FREAK OUT! No harm came to this child. Hell! It’s just an illustration of a child. It’s actually a portrait of Patrick in the womb (note the gigantic head). Everything worked out fine! It was a caesarean birth; he was of his mother’s womb untimely ripped! But he is ‘ok’ now. Remember, an illustration is just that.
Thomas Adolph Kiya Alimoradian Ella Bennett Liam Blackford Josh Chiat Kevin Chiat Chris Colalillo Sarah Dunstan Ed Fearis Rachel Fuller Djuna Hallworth Jeremy Hill Blair Hurley Alison Inglis Lachlan Keeley Sarah Kiel Sarah Lam Katherine Lane Samantha Leung Bill Marlo Chenée Marrapodi Robert Mead Aurora Milroy Sarah Motherwell Naomi Munford Michael O’Brien Lewis Peaty Daniel Pillar Ben Sacks Gideon Sacks Callum J Twigger Mark Wilson Jessica Wright
Amy Church Megan Higgins Evelyn Froend Lola Lin Ena Tulic Camden Watts
Sub-editors Ben Sacks Ian Janes
Megan Lorna Higgins: Meg is a versatile illustrator, tattoo designer, doll maker and puppeteer. She can essentially draw anything you ask her to draw in any style (hence the two very different foetus pictures). Meg loves rabbits and has a white one named Frankie. Meg is very keen for more illustrator work; if you would like to contact Meg, or see more of her work, email her at MeganLorna@gmail.com
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the word from the mountain
evil eye: state of disunion
fresher: friend or foe?
the dissolution of evolution
genesis of genesis
our federation crisis
the beginning of the end
the beginning of innocence
honey, there’s a penis on my head
old testament punishments
let’s talk about sex
Sarah Dunstan challenges our preconceptions about the innocent child
Ever wished there was a sex scene in Jurassic Park? That included the dinosaurs? Then read this!
building babel: the origins of language
the age of the reboot
secession in sudan
albums of the year
interview with bag raiders
Pelican dives into the bags of O’Day headliners, Bag Raiders
Lazarus reprising: Bill Marlo’s uneventful return!
australian cinema: razorback
37 festivoramalodeon 38 reviews
by the fireside with resident hottie, ben sacks
kim scott interview
arts 44 reviews
ed + pres
The two stooges
The Benevolent Man of the People Tom Antoniazzi aka Tom
Patrick Marlborough aka Patches I have always been obsessed with origins. There is perhaps nothing brighter than the original spark: the fresh event, idea or creation, which occurred as a blip in time, long ago in some mirage town between memory and imagination. The search for that ‘Genesis’ event has taken me down many spiraling roads, walking through the foggy ruins of time. It was my obsession with Bob Dylan that made me buy a Leadbelly record when I was 15. I now suffer as a “blues junky”: someone who desperately haunts record stores in search of a rare press of a Papa Charlie Jackson record, or a recording of Roy Miller’s ‘My Girl’s Pussy’. I have to know which artist did it first, so you find yourself tumbling through an infinite list of influences that never ends. You can make it back to Aeschylus and still be miles from the True Beginning. But this obsessive hunger for that bright spark has opened up beautiful worlds to me, ones that would have otherwise gone unknown. As I sit here in my sunflower grove, with my banjo and corncob pipe, I am struck by how my own ‘Genesis’ seems so far gone. Not my caesarean birth (I have a monstrous head). Fondly, I recall my obsession with palaeontology as a kid – dinosaurs were my be-all and end-all. Recently it is no longer ‘dinosaurs’ but ‘dinosaur porn’ – an alluringly morbid shift from my childhood passion. But also I think of how odd it is to be editing the Pelican, with my archenemy, Koko Wozniak. It seems only yesterday that I was writing pretentious incoherent drivel for a small readership, using crass words just to get some attention. Well, so much has changed… oh… wait… Anyway, I feel as though this edition has already stirred some controversy and I’m thankful to all contributors for making it enjoyable to work on. Who ever thought a strangled foetus could offend someone? Alas, sensitive types are everywhere. Yes’m, welcome to Pelican 2011, this be the beginning. (SPECIAL THANKS to GRAND GLORIOUS ‘PRESIDENT’ INDEFINITE MOJIBTSU for his financial support. I hope his “banana plantations” flourish.)
Koko Wozniak aka Kokzniak
The first transgenic artwork by one of my favourite bio-artists, Eduardo Kac, was titled Genesis. Kac took a phrase from the Bible that solidified humankind’s supremacy over other life forms and translated it into Morse code. After converting this into DNA, he then transplanted this code, known as the “artist’s gene”, into a bacterium and placed the organism under UV light, a known agent of mutagenesis. Via webcam, viewers of the artwork could turn on the UV light, inevitably leading to the mutation of the DNA and thus the biblical quote once it was translated from this altered genetic code. Kac posed a philosophical dilemma: if one didn’t agree with the biblical sentiment – that humans had dominion over other creatures – then the only way to kill the idea was by deliberately causing damage and altering the DNA sequence, or life code, of the bacterium. The point of the exhibit was to show that we continuously create new understandings about the world that we inherit; what was written some 2000 years ago, no longer stands relevant and as we symbolically change the “artist’s gene”, we are creating new meanings to old ideas.
My name’s Tom – I’m the President of the UWA Student Guild.
During the lead up to this first edition, my entire belief system has been challenged. I have always believed that dinosaurs and humans have never coexisted, but an email addressed to the Pelican editors by one Lachlan Keeley has changed this notion. Jurassic Park doesn’t seem like too far-fetched an idea since the two species have finally found a realm in which they, at last, can make contact: pornography (page 26). In the same way that our reading of the Book of Genesis changes (see Callum J Twigger’s interview with UWA Chaplain, Father Armando on page 14), perhaps amendments need to be made to archaeological and historical records. I hope you enjoy this first edition as much as we have enjoyed creating it. It has been a pleasure.
For many freshers, the burning questions are always what is the Guild and what does it mean to me? Well, let me tell you a story that has been passed down by generations upon generations of UWA students since the Guild’s inception. You’ve all heard the story that God created the world in six days, right? And on the seventh day, He sank a few beers and admired His creation. Little do many people know, God knew something was missing – He dragged himself out of bed on Monday morning to weave some more magic. So it was on the eight day that God decreed: “Let there be Guild!”. And there was Guild. God saw that he had created an organisation run for students by students, and it was very good. Meanwhile, two lovebirds by the name of Adam and Eve found themselves in the Garden of Eden. It was alright, but they craved something a bit more exciting. There was an oak tree in the middle of the Garden that held the juicy red apple of Higher Education. It was tempting, but God had forbidden them to touch it. One day, Adam and Eve’s thirst for knowledge became too much and they snatched the delicious apple from the tree. As they sunk their teeth into the juicy flesh, their eyes were opened and they became students! Suddenly, Adam and Eve were acutely aware of their nakedness, but they did not care for they were students. And, as students, they miraculously knew the answers to everything in the universe. God was pissed off. Really pissed off. He henceforth banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, destined to live on inadequate Centrelink payments and free sausage sizzles for the rest of their days. Luckily for Adam and Eve, they had the Guild. The Guild provided them with student representation to ensure they got the best out of their education. They were given loans and grants when times got tough. They were also invited to a heap of raging parties, including O’Day and End of Semester Show. Adam and Eve knew how important the Guild was for students, and elected to pay their $60 Amenities and Services Fee either online or at the post office. Not only did they receive a heap of benefits – like a free student diary, food discounts and free tickets to Guild events – they were also doing their bit to support a Guild that had basically saved humanity. Amen.
Pelican road tests toilet training -------------------------------------------------------
There’s no polite way to put this, so I’m just going to get straight to the point. We don’t often talk about relieving ourselves. And no, that’s not a sexual statement, as you might quickly assume due to the magazine you’re reading. Put simply, articles about dumping are usually dumped. Why is this? We all do it. You can’t escape it. The more you try, the harder it gets. Management students are about to learn about Maslow who suggested that we can’t do anything unless our basic needs are satisfied. Anyway, please enjoy my discussion on some issues commonly faced by the modern nervous pooer. If you’re one of them, then don’t worry; whether or not you can admit it, you’re not alone. Issue One: P-I-P (Pooing in Public) The most common issue facing nervous pooers is the uncomfortableness with leaving their “home throne”. The biggest issue is obviously sanitation, which seems to have a direct correlation to the suburb you’re in, but that’s another story. Those who have experienced the various bathrooms that our campus has to offer will definitely know which ones they will and will not be returning to. Another issue with less reputable public toilets is the ‘mosquito problem’ – which guys will certainly appreciate. Issue Two: P-O-P (Pooing Overseas Problems) This world has a variety of cultural norms – one of which you can even experience in the bathrooms between Hackett and Winthrop Hall! You might even find some situations where paper is substituted for a hose. Some people avoid the squatters in favour of Western thrones, but beware: the plumbing in some Eastern countries is substantially thinner than ours, so cutting back on the paper flushing is recommended. That said, the heated seats of Japan are definitely appealing.
Issue Three: P-I-M (Pooing In Motion) Not to be confused with Peeing-in-motion syndrome, P-I-M causes more men to fall over on aeroplanes than anything else. I was terrified the first time I used a pressure-flusher on a plane and the ‘fasten seat belts’ sign always seems to come on the minute you make it to the cubicle. Paper availability is always a concern as well. Issue Four: P-D-S (Poo Delay Syndrome) Whether you’re in the middle of a sibling’s graduation ceremony, a speech at a wedding reception, a long-haul flight (as mentioned earlier) or one of those painful three-hour seminar classes, putting it off is sometimes difficult. Apart from the difficulty of covering sound effects with a cough (as seen in Family Guy), keeping the abhorrent wafting at bay is often impossible. A friend of mine has therefore implemented the day before travel a “curry, chilli and satay free zone”. You may wish to do the same. Issue Five: P-W-D (Pooing While Drunk) Alcohol does a wild number of things to you, and it can be especially unsettling. But as most of you know, the last place you want to drop one is in a nightclub or the outhouse in the back of a kebab store at 2am. Once again, forward planning is your best friend; the lack of it could even ruin the best of friendships. Case Study: The Issues in Practice Imagine this. It’s 2am. It’s a dark night; clouds are covering the hiding moon. You’ve had a few and slammed the last one down not long ago. A soft wind is blowing from the West. Oh, did I mention you’re on a boat, a few hundred metres off Rottnest with a broken toilet and no dinghy? You try and sleep it off, but you can’t. The swaying of the boat does not help
Is Alan Robson worth four or more of your favourite lecturers? In an era when we are reassessing the pay of executives in the private sector, we seem to be very silent about the remuneration of the VC and other university executives. In the past ten years, VC pay has risen by 30%, twice the increase given to the academic staff. At present, UWA’s VC is being paid $455K per year, as well as a free car, housing subsidies and other perks. Two questions: Is he worth it? And what is any VC worth? Former University of Canberra VC Don Aitken tied his pay to that of professors. He was to get exactly double a professorial salary, which seems about fair. Were Robson to follow suit, his pay would go from $455K
Illustration by Megan Higgins
matters. You wonder if anything’s ever knocked so hard on your back door. And then the reality strikes: your mate, in the same situation as you, puts your thoughts into words. “Like it or not, it’s coming out one end or the other.” You’re scrounging for options. Cantilevering off the edge of the boat is quickly ruled out. Plastic bags are suggested and denied, and all-male skinny-dipping is undesirable. Getting to shore is the only option. And the only way you can get to shore is a single-person kayak, which you and your friend both mount and desperately paddle to shore. After abandoning the kayak on the beach, you scurry past a couple getting beach-friendly and pass multiple quokkas en route to the toilets near the general store. And your final concerns are dismissed as you pleasantly remember that Rottnest toilets are maintained with much more care than public toilets on the mainland. Ah, the relief. What a pity you don’t have a newspaper. But regardless, you look back on the mission you have just completed, and realise you’ve overcome all of the issues of a nervous pooer. Perhaps the clubba toilets this year won’t be such a challenge after all.
to $298,866. More than a quarter of a million dollars must be classed as superb pay for anyone. It’s more than the premier or prime minister get! And what could be done with the money? We could fund many more tutors and decrease tutorial sizes. We could modernise and enlarge library collections. We could fund undergraduate scholarships or post-doctoral positions, or two professors who would bring in research revenue and repute to the University. But this is more than a questioning of Robson alone... what is the position of VC worth to the University? It can’t be tied only to the financial aspects of a university. A visionary VC who spends money, but invests in better staff, more research, more post-grads and
helping undergrads is surely worth more than one who sits on investments and watches them increase. It also depends on how hard the VC champions the university, lobbies government, secures commercial research partners, and creates ties with elite international universities. We must ask ourselves, if our VC – and indeed, any Australian VC – is performing adequately at present. Is higher education garnering the sort of respect and attention we’d expect when we pay someone close to half-a-million dollars, and in some cases, over a million? Is any VC worth that in an age where they seem to be incapable of stopping the withdrawal of government investment in universities? Anonymous
Bad luck dating --------------------------
I’ve never been really lucky in love. When I was 17, my girlfriend cheated on me, leaving me broken hearted, questioning whether I had an STD, and quite disheartened about dating women... possibly turning me gay. Correction: definitely turning me gay. My love life has been interesting to say the least, and I like to compare the drastic change in my sexual preference (due to my bitch-face exgirlfriend), to giving up a deceptively yum looking plum (I love plums) that is in fact ridiculously sour (yuck) for a cock flavoured lollipop. And believe you me, no matter how homo you are, cock flavoured lollipops are not something you want to put in your mouth… most of the time. There are a lot of things I blame for my dating bad luck: sometimes myself, but most of the time it’s my fucked up love interests, my mum and a very large mirror I broke when I was 17... and maybe a gypsy I insulted at a carnival. According to my mum, at the end of the day, no matter how bad your decisions are you need to stick with them. Well fuck you mum! But on the upside, this column allows me to: a) Allow me to extract revenge on all the fucktards I’ve dated; b) Give you something completely mindless to read before/after/during class; c) Coincidentally make me famous, and get me a book and movie deal,where Matt Damon will play my final love interest and we shag a lot. So, my fellow uni students, watch this space for hilarious anecdotes which may or may not include gay homophobes, holocaust deniers, and giants that look like they have Down Syndrome. Yep! I know how to pick ‘em.
What’s on Campus? Marxism Conference The conference features over 70 sessions and international guest speakers. Topics include radical history, LGBTI liberation, imperialism and the Middle East, socialist theory, the global economic crisis, and workers’ struggles today. Visit marxismconference.org.
Oxfam UWA AGM Come along and meet other Oxfam UWA members. Put your name down for this year’s executive committee. Positions for President, VP, Treasurer and Secretary need to be filled, and, if anyone is interested, Promotions and Marketing officer, and Events Coordinator. There will be snacks. Hope to see you there!
When: 21 – 24 April Where: Melbourne Australia
When: 5pm, 22 February Where: Guild Council Room (top floor of the Guild building)
PROSH IS EIGHTY! Prosh started in 1931 as a spoof of The West Australian, and, surprise surprise, they complained. To apologise, the money raised went to charity, and everyone learnt their lesson. Lol, jks. In 1932 it happened again and this year it happens on APRIL 13. Get into Prosh before it gets into you.
The Carbon Futures Challenge is an online simulation where participants incorporate environmentally sustainable habits into their everyday lives. Over three weeks, participants compete to make the biggest sustainable reduction to their carbon footprint in the categories of water, transport, and energy consumption. Sign up at http://carbonfutures.biz.uwa.edu.au
Sundowner is the first Arts Union event of the year and it promises to be a big one. Come down to the Matilda Bay Foreshore at 5.00pm, Wednesday March 2 to meet committee, catch up with some old friends, make some new ones and generally get excited about the year ahead. Food, drinks and Good Times will be provided.
Illustration by Lola Lin
Girl’s Night in --------------------------
People love to dance You’re out in Northbridge with friends one Saturday night, excited about busting out some of your famous 80s moves at the Mint. You line up for 20 minutes, only to meet a surly-looking bouncer at the door. “What do you think you’re doing here? Women can’t dance!”
Like sport? The requirement that you wear a hijab will prevent you from competing in most sports, unless all spectators are female. This makes it almost impossible for you to compete at the Olympics, unless you’re Homa Hosseini who rows for her country wearing a hijab.
If we stopped and thought for a moment, we’d realise that this could never happen in Australia. S22 of the Sex Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to refuse to provide goods and services to somebody on the basis of their sex.
Like activism? So does prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. She’s been sentenced to 11 years in jail for acts against national security and circulating anti-regime propaganda. Other male and female human rights activists have been imprisoned for peacefully protesting and collecting signatures in support of women’s rights in Iran.
Now transport yourself 10,000 km to Tehran, the capital of Iran, where women are denied the right to many forms of self-expression, including dancing. At age 13, your father gave your hand in marriage to a man 50 years your senior without your consent. He already has two permanent wives, and retains the right to have as many temporary wives as he wants. On the other hand, if you commit adultery you’ll be stoned to death. If you expose any part of your body other than your hands or face, you’ll get 60 days in prison or 70 lashes.
Human rights activists in Iran banded together in 2006 to launch the One Million Signatures Campaign for the equality of women; men and women are risking lengthy jail sentences to campaign for the equal treatment of the oppressed women of their country. We like activism too And in Australia, we don’t have to take any of these risks when we campaign to end human rights abuses. Take two
minutes to support these women, and help put an end to gender discrimination in Iran. By signing a petition online you can show the Iranian government that these inequalities are completely unacceptable. Log on to www.amnesty.org.au and take action to defend human rights. When human rights are violated, Amnesty International works to truthfully report facts, encourage people to take action across the globe and pressure governments for change. Amnesty International UWA is a group of student activists who work passionately to promote and protect human rights. If you would like to get involved and meet up with like-minded people on campus, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for free membership and visit Facebook to see some of our amazing past events. Keep an eye out during 2011 as we celebrate 50 years of Amnesty International activism with some exciting events and campaigns. Alison Inglis is the Vice President of Amnesty International UWA.
Aggression in American Politics: The Beginning of the End? ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Poisonous political discourse in the United States of America is a noble tradition, and an endless goldmine of humour. Even outright political violence enjoys a fine history in the States. But the Arizona massacre has led some to decry the tone of recent political discourse and even suggest that the Arizona shooter may have been influenced by the aggressive rhetoric of media pundits and some politicians. While I have no idea what the shooter’s personal motives were, I can respond to the notion that violent rhetoric is somehow a new thing and reflects a decline of the American political system. When I said that this stuff was a noble tradition, I wasn’t kidding. Alexis de Tocqueville, road trip enthusiast and famous observer of early American democracy, arrived in America in 1831 and was astonished by the level of vitriol he saw in the press. He preserved one of the first articles he read, from which I shall selectively quote, “In all this affair, the language of [President] Jackson has been that of a heartless despot… intrigue is his native element… but the hour of retribution approaches… and [he will be forced to] end his days in some retirement, where he may curse his madness at his leisure; for repentance is a virtue with which his heart is likely to remain forever unacquainted.” The article flat out states that President Jackson was an insane megalomaniac who needed to be removed from office; American journalists have never fucked around when it comes to expressing extreme opinions. The views of journalists aren’t just ineffectual ranting either; they articulate popular ideas and their tone is a reflection of the passion their readers feel. It has been claimed that the media has incited violence, but this seems unlikely to me due to the nature of media as a mirror of public opinion. It seems much more likely that this is a case of confusion between correlation and causation; saying that media causes violence implies
that it can somehow fold a person’s anger back on itself again and again until they lose control. Maybe this really can happen to some people, but I strongly suspect that if it were common then all countries with free press would collapse pretty quickly. Whether or not media actually stokes the flames, political upheaval frequently turns into violence. You can pick any contentious issue and find a time when talk has broken down and the conflict has become physical. From militant student protesting to trashing abortion clinics, all that’s required is two opposing groups of people who won’t compromise. That said, political upheaval has been declining for years. A quick visit to the trusty, and obviously infallible, Wikipedia List of Civil Unrest Incidents page tells me that the past decade has actually been pretty trivial in terms of politically motivated violence, especially when compared to previous eras. Almost every “riot” involved sport or music events, with no recorded deaths. In comparison to the 60s, 70s, and 80s, when people died protesting war and discrimination, the present era is pretty docile. Regardless of how we compare to previous eras, the recent polarisation of the political spectrum is still a legitimate cause for concern. What if the aggressive political climate is foreshadowing future unrest? When Glenn Beck held his “Restoring Honor” rally I laughed out loud at the visual analogy to Hitler’s infamous rallies and I know many people were a bit unnerved. But you have to keep things in perspective and I’ve come up with a theory to help you do that by blaming the Internet. In much the same that way the Internet allows people from all over the world to form subcultures devoted to dressing up as animals and having sex with each other; or becoming inhumanly fat and having sex with each other; or watching anime and not having sex with anyone, the
Internet also allows people with brainless political ideas to get together and express themselves. Using my own internet skills, I dug around for a nugget of conversation which I felt was representative of your average, internet savvy Tea Partier. Avid YouTube commenter PotHead420Pro wrote, “Obama and republicans and THE US FEDERAL RESERVE are controled by Big Business and banking czars and who manipulate communist healthcare forms on behaf of Wall Street. WAKE UP AMERICA!” To which 2012isnear responded, “I agree – the truth is out there but average Amerikans are edukated into stupidity. sorry… I kannot use my see key sinse I spill koffee on my keyboard :(” Powerful stuff. But if you think that those guys and the Tea Party, which represents them, are a threat to democracy then you’re wrong. The Tea Partiers are just regular people who are angry because the economy is terrible and politicians are largely to blame, but now they have a voice. A lot of vicious stuff has been said but it really pales in comparison to previous eras when people literally fought for their lives against discrimination or against going to war. Fears of a real threat to the US political system are completely baseless while Tea Party protests are still being put to shame by British undergraduates rioting over student loans. The Tea Partiers don’t even share a coherent ideology as far as I can tell, other than animosity towards the government. I’m predicting that if the recession improves, then Tea Party sympathies will die down until the next time the stock market crashes. And if this is a high water mark for 21st century political strife, then the USA is doing pretty well.
Illustration by CamdenWatts
A Vegetarian’s Guide to Eating Chicken ---------------------------------
I’m a vegetarian and generally agree with these positions. However, I can also see that absolutely refusing meat is not consistent with the arguments. The health benefits can be achieved by eating less meat rather than none. The philosophical objection is to mistreatment, rather than killing, or put simply, it’s ok if you’re the one doing the raising, catching and killing. So this Christmas my family and I decided to walk the talk by raising our own chooks for Christmas dinner.
Pulling in chicks This initial step was a matter of coincidence. Some neighbours of ours keep layers, and had purchased pullets in September to replace the aging and presumably menopausal old hens. However, in a case of gender misidentification, one of the so-called pullets promptly started crowing and grew a comb. Since pedigree cocks can fetch an attractive price, our neighbours hoped to capitalise on the breeders’ mistake by letting the cock go to work with the layers and soon enough, one of the hens was broody. After some time, it was clear that the intuitions of the broody hen were unfounded. In the interim, a local three-year-old (child) had been apprised of the arrival of what we assumed would soon be new chicks and so, to satisfy her curiosity, a ruse was devised. A batch of chicks from Scitech were rescued from their fate at the zoo and in the darkness of the night, the broody hen was introduced to her surrogate progeny. The three-year-old was thrilled. After some weeks, their owner was less thrilled to find that the Scitech surrogates were growing at a genetically optimised rate. Quelle horreur! These broilers were not likely to lay, and so the question was, did anyone want to take on a grisly task?
Chicken feed We certainly did. As my parents already kept chickens, I could easily add the boilers to the coop. Consulting the experts at City Farmers, and with the aid of an heirloom edition of Keeping Poultry, we set them up in a separate enclosure to avoid disrupting the pecking order. These animals ate like horses and grew like weeds. I found that a mix of feed, cracked wheat and bran disappeared most readily when combined with warm water to form a kind of mash; the size of these things, especially their legs and breasts, was incredible at the age of six weeks. By December they could barely support their own weight, staggering around our backyard as if perpetually dumbfounded by the freeness that the range afforded them.
There are many arguments for eating less meat. For example, there is good evidence that reducing the amount of meat in the diet is protective of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Another line of argument stresses the collective impact of meat consumption on the environment, through the contributions of industrial animal husbandry to energy use, degradation of ecosystems, gaseous emissions, and material wastes. Yet another argument poses a philosophical challenge: Animals are sentient beings, and to mistreat these beings is objectionable.
Curtains Come Christmas Day, the time arrived to prepare our meal. Word had spread of the task we had set ourselves, and increasingly elaborate advice was offered on the best way to slaughter poultry. Some suggested that, like in the movies, we should chop their heads off and enjoy the subsequent entertainment. Others proposed that, in biblical fashion, the more pressing concern was to drain them at least overnight and ensure the cleanliness of the flesh. We settled on a compromise: we wrung their necks, then chopped off their heads. We extracted the gizzards in one quick fistful, scalded them in hot water, and plucked the feathers before hanging them to drain while we went on a cleanse ourselves at the beach. Aside from the first bird which had been over-scalded and inadvertently skinned, things went improbably to plan. The most effective technique was to hold the victim under the right arm with a good grasp of at the base of the neck in the hand, then, with the throat encircled by the left, pull apart sharply with a clockwise twisting motion. Oh snap!
Chicken dinner The resulting roast was predictably delicious. Despite our familiarity with the animals, the meal was remarkably unburdened by guilt; I think this was the result of their pre-morbid condition towards the end of their short lives. Whilst cooking, we observed that the smell was a good deal more pungent than usual. Whilst eating, we encountered the occasional quill in an otherwise gamey and flavourful Christmas meal. And I have ethically justified chicken stock in the freezer.
Glossary Broiler: Chicken varieties selected for high growth rate and reared in close confinement for meat production Broody: These cantankerous hens sit resolutely on their nests, neglecting their own health and expressing an instinctive conviction that their eggs (fertilised or not) will hatch any minute now Comb: Red thing on top of a chicken’s head (especially on male chickens) Gizzard: The ventricular (or muscular) stomach, sometimes containing small pebbles for aiding mechanical digestion, in birds and reptiles (I meant it in a pejorative sense referring to all the viscera) Layer: Any hen of egg-laying age Pecking order: Within a flock, chickens establish priority access to feed and nesting sites Pullet: Female chicken younger than one year
The longest a chicken has ever survived without a head is 18 months. During this time, the chicken had to be fed with an eyedropper. Visit www.miketheheadlesschicken.org.
Raised to Eat:
STATE OF THE DISUNION Thomas Adolph presents the Evil Eye’s guide to the ‘Palestinian question’ in 2011.
The persistent tensions in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem may be the world’s premier unresolved conflict. The hostile states of Palestine and Israel each deny the legitimacy of the other, resulting in a permanent and escalating state of aggression. Despite a civilian majority on both sides preferring a two-state solution, the two factions are now extremely unlikely to produce a working model for Palestinian statehood. Indeed, both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suffer approval slumps whenever they agree to discuss it. Yet a recent diplomatic leak has displayed the willingness of Palestinian leaders to make major concessions in order to peaceably achieve statehood. It now seems that Israel, and the issue of “settlements”, are the primary bar to peace. As key intelligence agencies warn of a growing stockpile of weapons in Palestine, the stakes and the impetus to achieve accord could not be greater. Yet unless the United States is willing to make one helluva a break from precedent, no force within the international community is capable of enforcing it. 2011 is more likely to see the revival of violence than peace, on a scale for which Israel seems under-prepared. The conflict so far is characterised by the “Israel Doctrine”: the application of overwhelming force in response to every apparent threat to the state. This has included the invasion of Palestine on several occasions, ostensibly to combat militant groups within its civilian population. Such combat has often led to the restriction of critical supplies to Palestinian territory, notably medicine and food, and eventually its outright annexation. In 2006, Israel began the process of demolishing homes in occupied Palestine to make way for Israeli settlements. It is this practice which caused
the latest outbreaks of violence, derailed the recent talks and attracted the condemnation of the international community. The process of “settlement’’ was declared illegal by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in January this year. It is also the subject of a further resolution which condemns the practice and demands its immediate cessation. US President Barak Obama has said as much himself, yet neither censure has particularly affected Israel – the process was resumed in 2009 after a cursory 10-month “freeze”.
8% of Jews in Israel regard a resolution with Palestine as their nation’s priority. And with the settlement process centring on land to which they have an ancestral link, Israelis regard the policy as not only lawful, but just. So as long as the fragile calm is maintained, they have every reason to be content. The Palestinians, conversely (or at least a militant minority), are decidedly unhappy and are likely to respond with violence soon.
In January, a diplomatic leak revealed a swathe of incentives offered by President Abbas in order to achieve peace. These included the surrender of holy sites in East Jerusalem, the adjustment of borders to allow almost all of the current settlements to remain, and the surrender of the rights of some six million Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in occupied territory. President Abbas obviously believes in the peace process; with each of the alleged concessions proving vastly unpopular, he has very likely sacrificed his career to facilitate it. Having already over-stayed his current term, Abbas’s fragile hold on office may yet be severed. Yet his accommodating stance appears to be wasted; Prime Minister Netanyahu seems unwilling to entertain anything less than total acceptance of his largely illegal policies. For its part, Israel contends that any returned territory could be used as a staging ground for further rocket attacks. Large parts of the region are still ruled by Hamas and Hezbollah, violent factions independent of President Abbas. If Abbas loses power, these factions would stand to reap the benefit. If he stays, they remain beyond his control and render any terms of peace he negotiates meaningless.
Israel has radically changed in the past few decades. Once utterly dependant on American support, Israel is now strong, economically stable and quite capable of unilaterally sustaining wars against any of its neighbouring nations. But the revival of violence this time will invariably mean greater civilian casualties for Israel. What few have acknowledged is that a war of any scale will probably drag in Iran, almost certainly Syria, and possibly even the US. In 2006 and 2009 Israel fought wars in Lebanon and Gaza. These battles are characteristic of the overall conflict – vicious and bloody, yet limited in scope and rarely decisive. The Israelis regard their five week war in Lebanon as a substantial conflict. It is suspected that the entirety of Hezbollah’s functional missile arsenal, some 4000 missiles, was launched in that period, yet Israel suffered relatively few civilian casualties. Because of the short striking capability of most of these weapons, Hezbollah was forced to employ the majority against local military targets. Since 2009, Iran and Syria have supplied Palestine with an estimated 50,000 rockets. Documents issued by the CIA in November warn that this stockpile will include the Zelza II missile, capable of accuracy at up to 200km, well within range of Israel’s largest cities and way over the heads of UN peacekeeping forces.
These legitimate concerns conceal a more serious problem, principally, that Palestine no longer has anything to offer the Israelis. Suicide attacks in Israel have sharply declined since the erection of a concrete barrier isolating Palestine. It has been two and a half years since the last bombing. Israel has attracted terrorist violence for decades in spite of the ongoing peace talks. Optimism about a non-military solution has long since waned in Israel – now it can scarcely be said to be on the to-do list. Time Magazine reported in September 2010 that only
Though they continue to pay lip service to the process, most Western leaders have put Palestine in the ‘too hard’ basket. Expert opinion on the region has held for some time that the peace process is dead, a view reflected by the public on both sides. Yet the West has a growing interest in resolving the conflict. Polls conducted by CNN, the Guardian newspaper and the Brookings Middle East Policy Centre confirm that the growing dissatisfaction among populations of US-aligned Arab states derives from this concern. Much of the progress
made by the Obama Administration has been reversed in recent months, with these countries reflecting Bush-Era levels of approval. A re-jigged Egyptian government will be far less Israel-friendly than the (presumably) outgoing Mubarak. Though Egypt and Israel have interacted without hostility for the past 30 years, Egypt’s policies have never truly reflected the views of the public. The prevailing equilibrium is likely to be disturbed as public disapproval surfaces over the handling of Palestine. Likewise Turkey, a long-time US ally, has broken ranks over the settlement issue. Contrary to its strategic agreements with America, both of these prominent Arab states have renewed ties with Iran, a country that continually tests the boundaries of peace. Iran makes no secret of its efforts to discredit and destabilise Israel, openly transporting weapons to its enemies. In 1998, incumbent Yugoslavian leader Slobodan Milosovich thought he could call America’s bluff. He assumed they would lack the willpower to dirty their hands, and their soldiers’ feet, with a ground war in Kosovo. In 2011, Iran will be sure. Ayatollah Khamenei’s government has threatened to use nuclear weapons against Israel – when they eventually get them. Yet most of the Middle East, including US allies, is increasingly comfortable with the notion of a nucleararmed Iran. It is indicative of Washington’s deteriorating influence that it can no longer muster global consensus on simple issues. An outside force is now required to reconcile
a sovereign conflict. Presidents Bush #1 and Bill Clinton once presented the factions with an outline for new borders, holy-site allocation and a distribution of rights and privileges in Palestine. These “parameters” were the first legitimate show of initiative in the region for some time, and still represent a genuine hope for peace. What was missing was the willingness to enforce the plan with pressure or, if necessary, to forcibly impose it. Yet to impress any such plan on its closest ally would be incredibly distasteful to the US. Accordingly, they are likely to veto the UNSC resolution despite its close alignment with the President’s position. It is also very likely to be otherwise unanimous. To be fair, Obama has had a tough crowd and a worse gig. It might be unreasonable to expect a President inheriting so many spot-fires to focus on anything but damage control. And Palestine is a big problem to solve. When it became clear that the Israelis would not play ball on the settlement issue, Obama picked a fight. Perhaps alone among US presidents, he openly condemned Israel’s militaristic policies and demanded that the settlements be permanently stopped. Before long though, he was forced to back down. With the mid-term elections looking disastrous and the Republicans offering to exclude Israel’s military grants from federal spending cuts, Obama couldn’t afford to offend too many Jewish voters. As it turned out, the midterms were a disaster anyway. The incoming Congress is overwhelmingly Republican; more
specifically, it is TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party infused, and united by no trait more than the intention to be obstructive. Where foregoing presidents have been able to rely on a certain degree of congressional unity on matters of national interest, Obama is likely to be opposed at every turn. With the economy strained by the GFC, the treasury drained and the military overburdened by multiple engagements, the President simply won’t have the oxygen to move on this issue till he’s safely settled in a second term. It is unlikely that Israel will contemplate a Palestinian state – likewise Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas have made it clear that they will never accept a Jewish state in the Middle East. Yet a two-state solution promises to diffuse much of the extremist thought that prevails in the region. It is the continued imposition of statelessness on Palestine which gives traction to such attitudes. It also alienates Israel’s few remaining friends. But as long as both sides are paralysed by ancillary concerns, no peace will be possible. There will come a time when the world stops thinking that these factions can work it out themselves. If nothing else, it makes sense to protect the trillion dollar investment we’ve made in the region’s stability. The year 2011 may mark the start of a serious war in the Middle East, and, by God, there have been enough of those. Whatever view you take of the parties, one thing is certain. Neither can afford to let this stew much longer.
Fresher: friend or foe? Ben Sacks smells fresh blood
February is my least favourite month. I like mild days and cool nights; February doles out blazing sun and muggy evenings. Kim Jong-il was born in this month while Don Bradman’s 92 year innings finally came to a close on February 25. There’s the gooey inanity of Valentines Day, and – this year at least – the start of the two-month-long disgrace known as the Cricket World Cup. And then there’s the annual unleashing of the fresher menace. For the uninitiated (probably freshers that have not yet heard the moniker), a fresher is a first-year student at university. During one of my regular sessions trolling Internet forums and anonymous blogs, I discovered that my misgivings about freshers were shared by a sizeable chunk of the online community. For a number of reasons, a lot of people seem to view freshers with an outlook that ranges from mild annoyance to blind hatred. But why all the negativity? In the UK and US, there are very real reasons for anti-fresherism. Scores of 18-year-olds are crammed together in halls and colleges, away from their families for the first time. The intoxicating effect of this dizzying independence is amplified by the fact that first-year academics are a joke, so there’s no need to spend time doing any study or even attending classes. These freshers are young people with few responsibilities, lots of energy and a feeling that they are entitled to have a good time, all the time. Much drinking, fucking and being loud and messy ensues. Unfortunately, these things tread on the toes of everyone in close proximity to freshers. Lecturers have to suffer empty classrooms and shoddy assignments; older students are kept up the night before their final exams by the off-key chanting of freshers outside their windows; and no one can hope for a quiet night out because there’s a good chance some drunk fresher dressed as a pirate will throw up all over your shoes. By contrast, Fresher australis is a far tamer creature. For starters, most of the student population still lives at home, especially in first year. This means that any shenanigans are usually confined to the campus itself, avoiding the scenario where entire suburbs are taken over by rowdy first-years. First year study might not be that challenging, but unlike in the UK, your marks do still affect your final average. In addition, because WA students begin uni at 17 and we only have one dedicated student bar, UWA’s freshers are generally less drunk. If British and American freshers are the Spanish flu, then we merely experience the common cold. That’s not to say that they don’t have their foibles. Older students are invariably accosted by panicked first-years trying to find Old
oW hing your W s a r c s b 0 0 n of Like a bunch made fun of. e b to d e e n ers server, fresh
Pharmacology or the Social Sciences Lecture Theatre. Until midsemester break – by which time half the freshers have given up on classes – it’s impossible to find parking within a three-kilometre radius of the campus. Teeming hordes of freshers congregate noisily on the Oak Lawn, in the Refectory and outside the Tav. They bleat about upcoming eighteenth birthdays, cute classmates and getting their licenses. Even the lecturers struggle at times – I’ve heard dark mutterings from staff frustrated by tutorials where 14 students are too petrified to speak, while one know-it-all tries to hold court. But most annoying is the fact that freshers seem to think that this is still high school: The air is thick with talk of TERs and an obsession with wearing the right thing and having the right friends. So how do we alleviate the irritation? One option is to follow the UK and US, where freshers’ habits are seen as part of an incurable, albeit temporary, affliction. First-years are viewed with a mixture of disdain and resentment, and basically avoided for a year. Aversion therapy does seem to work – in second year they miraculously emerge from their drunken stupor older, wiser and ready to take their place among the university hierarchy. A second option is to lend a supportive arm and help guide them through the ups and downs of university life. After all, as the old chestnut goes, “we were once freshers too”. My feeling is that the first response is too harsh, and the second too timid. Our breed of freshers aren’t bad enough to be shunned completely, but neither should we feel the need to coddle them from the challenges of university life. Above all, we need to have fun at their expense. In this spirit, I propose a third path: tough love. Like a bunch of n00bs crashing your WoW server, freshers need to be made fun of. Tell them the Ref nachos are excellent, the coffee even better and that there are plenty of computers available at the Reid Library. Insist that you can get tickets to the ECOMS Ball at the door. If you’re asked where Old Pharmacology is, feel free to send the throng of wide-eyed first-years down Hampden Road. And please, scare them with apocryphal tales of seven-hour exams and 15,000 word assignments. At the same time, lend freshers a helping hand when it’s truly needed. Encourage them to read the Pelican, involve them in your societies and lend them your notes before exams. Like Azaroth, university can be a tough place to survive and flourish. With a mix of tough love, hard work and good fortune, this year’s fresher intake will join the rest of us as we continue our quest through university, and through life.
Did you know that writing for Pelican is without a doubt the best way to experience campus life? Join us in the Guild Meeting Room at 5pm, March 2. There’s free pizza that everyone can enjoy (… until it runs out)!
The Dissolution of evolution The missing link was never missing ---------------------------------------
In Midland Gate Shopping Centre, my predominant place of employment for the month leading up to Christmas (commonly referred to as ‘December’), I bore witness to some of the most valiant struggles for human survival possible within a developed nation setting. Whilst cost-minded shoppers bought up discount sheets and imitation perfumes (my work catered towards the lucrative ‘people who don’t give a shit’ market), I observed with fascination and sometimes with horror – there was a kid that was pretty much all forehead, with eyes and mouth as an afterthought – that we will perhaps never evolve beyond the transverse and longitudinal arches in our feet that carry us around a shopping centre (albeit one with over 180 specialty stores and a cinema complex!).
– the kinds of foods humans ate prior to the agricultural revolution, and the kinds of food Hollywood celebs eat now (Megan Fox is on it, so it has definite scientific roots). Conversely, modern foods – like those longlife lychee jellies that come in tiny sealed cups you get from Asian supermarkets – are entirely indigestible, containing absolutely nothing of benefit, unless your life goal is attainment of type-2 diabetes. We’re still programmed to consume as many fats and sugars as we can when we find them, since they occur less frequently in nature. Nowadays we have replaced ‘nature’ with KFC, which trades exclusively in fats and sugars, and our bodies have no mechanism beyond heart disease and kidney failure to remind us that we also need vitamins and minerals. We can’t even handle milk. Recently, some Canadian scientists found that the sight of cooked red meat calmed men, and nothing says ‘primitive nature’
As a species, we humans have ceased to evolve physically, instead spilling into a unified blob of existence, thanks to disabled access ramps It doesn’t matter how much horseback yoga and heart surgery. This isn’t a superiority rant do, our world is beyond our bodies. – I can assure you, I recently fell asleep on the stairs with a piece of cheese in my mouth, I’m struggling too – but our intellectual like comfort eating. A full stomach might be the closest advancements no longer match our physical capability to we can get to satisfaction. heed them. It doesn’t matter how much horseback yoga Our ideas about the attainment of happiness are you do, our world is beyond our bodies. similarly beyond our brains, which evolved during the Present-day man evolved around 150,000 years ago. Even Ice Age, a time of ice, floods, danger and famine. We have though we have largely done away with the ritualistic ‘catastrophic brains’, hardwired to focus on what is wrong cannibalism and fear of witchcraft since then (both great with our lives – contentment is dangerous. When you advances), our spines still can’t handle the level of bipedal stop running, that’s when they catch you; so you have to locomotion we wish they could. Evolutionistically* keep running. We are thusly never satisfied, never happy, speaking, we should still spend a hefty portion of our day whilst we are trying to survive. lazing in the trees, scavenging for fruits, nuts and seeds. We may have developed a complex set of social rules Instead we spend our days in computer chairs, scavenging and manners for interacting with one another, but as on the fats, salts and sugars of vending machines. young adults can attest, hormones are like the wild card As the Paleo Diet tells us, our bodies can really only of the UNO game of life: suddenly anything/anyone handle lean meats and non-starchy vegetables and fruits
seems possible. At Midland, I was lucky enough to see one teen walking along with his hand(s) down his female counterpart’s “shorts” which were more akin to shredded denim knickers; what I can only justify as a return to instinct felt like the crux of a JG Ballard novel, where they start eating their pets and throwing shit at each other. Shit, even, is still hilarious, especially when it is on someone’s face (see I’m Still Here). We’d like to think we’re so cultured, with our sound art and widely available orthodontia, but then I saw a floral-overall’d woman spit sandwich at her small child when it asked for a bite. Similar women, tired and heavy with the weight of ready-cooked meals or serious thyroid problems, pushed their progeny in metal-frame transport courtesy of Coles (one enterprising lady had fit five kids into one trolley). Their instinct was to survive, procreate, and pass on whatever knowledge they have to ensure the survival of our species; it doesn’t matter that there are now too you many of us for the world to support. Evolution abandoned us still with a range of vestigial organs and the belief amongst some males that Lynx is somehow better than our sweat-and-skin-bacteria scent of body odour (it really isn’t). This logic is rooted in the soil of instinct that scent will distinguish us to someone of the opposite sex, confirmed by science in scent-based pheromones, which you can now buy off the Internet in a bid to appeal to that special someone who has, up until now, always found something off-putting about your smell (it’s probably Lynx). There’s something about the way we began as Homo sapiens – be it our convex cranial vault or reduced tooth size – that, like a rural upbringing or birthmark, cannot be removed from our existence. Our beginning is with us… till the end. *This word just evolved to suit my ‘journalistic practices.’
The record holding largest stomach belongs to a 23-year-old london model that ate 8.6 kilograms of food until her stomach burst and a system infection set in. the contents included two apples, four pears, ten peaches, one cauliflower, one pound of liver, two pounds of kidney and four bananas.
Genesis of Genesis An interview with a preacher-man about the origins of the Christian origin myth -------------------------------------------------------
Callum Twigger -------------------------------------------------------
Beginning at the beginning. The first two chapters of Genesis contain two different accounts of creation, right? That’s correct. Chapter One tells of the Lord creating the world in seven epochs; chapter two tells of Adam, Eve and the origin of Sin.
You said seven epochs. I thought it was seven days? Of course not. The Hebrew word used can be loosely translated as Ages or Epochs. Regardless of the word used, God is so magnificently, infinitely huge that it makes much more sense to assume that the periods in which He works are quite beyond our perception. And then there’s the scientific evidence –
Humans were made by God from clay 6000 years ago and fossils were put on the earth to test man’s faith. Haven’t you been to a museum? There’s the evidence for the scale and size of God’s creation; if you read closely, you’ll notice that throughout the first book, creation is described as occurring, that is, it’s a continuous process. Every day, millions of creatures are born, and millions die; new species rise, others fall to extinction. Evolution fits perfectly into a good understanding of the Bible; it’s made explicit that God’s creation is a flowing, constant phenomenon.
Blimey. It’s more complicated than that.
Hopping to our next book o’ the Bible, the story of Adam and Eve. As the second creation story in the Bible, it’s a fundamental of Christian belief and a key component of Western philosophy. I’m guessing now that it shouldn’t be taken too literally. What does Eden
mean to the 21st century?
became known as the Bible.
It’s not just about a fruit. It’s a creation story, and as I said, God’s creation is continuing: it hasn’t stopped. Eden is the story of man sundering God’s law, an eternal law of creation.
When did this grand collection occur?
But the fruit – Don’t think of the fruit of the tree as a fruit! It’s not an apple! It represents a natural law, any natural law, and our freedom to obey or violate. We’re always free to break God’s laws; Adam was, and Adam did. But that feeling inside, that guilt, that fear, is the knowledge [that] we have done something truly awful. Murder, theft, abuse; God’s law is love, and when we break that, when we make that choice, we can’t escape that fundamental guilt. And the serpent that tempted? He’s not a snake. He’s all ill things, all bad council. It says that he will blight Eve’s children for all time. And that’s what bad choices, vain choices do. People who live only for themselves cause evil everywhere: whether they’re people on the street, in skyscrapers, or even in the Catholic Church itself.
Say wha’? That’s right. Some of the medieval popes provided very ill council indeed. They were wicked men. The church as an institution is only half divine: the other half is human, capable of good or evil. Humans are free to choose to be evil. Some of the popes were very, very bad men who abused their power and violated God’s laws. We’ve been talking about a lot of metaphors, which has shadowed a significant question: is the Bible infallible? Well, it was written by humans; a great number of humans over a long time. The Israelites were the primary authors of the Old Testament, which contains Genesis. They collected up the teachings and records of their faith in a document that
Around 500BC, many Israelites had settled in Babylon, which was the largest city in the world at the time. The Babylonians were polytheists – they believed in many gods, and they weren’t afraid of absorbing the deities of other religions into their pantheon. The Israelite elders were afraid that the word of their Lord was going to be diluted and corrupted by the cults of Babylon. As such, they formed councils that debated, reconciled and eventually collected the myths of Israel into a written document for the first time [which] became the Old Testament. Prior to this, the word of the Lord had been preserved in an oral tradition, in spoken recollections within the tribes. The first two books of Genesis give two different accounts of creation – the story of the seven days and the parable of Adam and Eve – and they represent the dominant creation myths in Judaism at the time.
So the Bible is a collection of human testimony on the divine? Yes. Varying accounts of the same event are inherent in the Bible: look at the Gospel, four stories about the same person, Jesus Christ. It was a long time ago. The Old Testament was written by a wandering and scattered people. There was much confusion.
But it’s fundamentally divine? Of course. Man is not perfect, but the Bible is by far the most accurate documentation of the divine’s work in the ancient era. Father Armando is UWA’s resident Catholic Chaplain and is available on-campus for consultation on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Alnwick Poison Gardens is a garden devoted entirely to plants that can kill. Inspired by the medicinal Botanical Gardens in Padua, Italy, it features flame-shaped garden beds containing belladonna, tobacco and mandrake as well as other plants grown purposefully as drugs, unwittingly or in the wild. The Alnwick Garden also has a license to grow cannabis and cacao; obvious forbidden fruits are grown in cages.
OUR FEDERATION CRISIS
Australia’s federation is in a state of crisis. Many of Australia’s problems stem from the centralisation crisis between the Commonwealth and the States. The role of the High Court since federation has not been complimentary to the States and has only compounded this crisis. The power of the Commonwealth in Australia has been expanding for decades and at federal elections the Commonwealth is being held to account for issues that are within the jurisdiction of the States, such as health and education. It is no wonder that the Commonwealth, therefore, feels obligated to sequester State sources of revenue to fund these areas which it is now being held to account for by the public. This growing onus on the Commonwealth to solve issues within State areas of responsibility has led to a duplication of bureaucracy, which in turn leads to large amounts of waste within the public service. Although the responsibility of the Commonwealth has increased, the responsibility of the States has not diminished, but their revenue sources have. State governments continue to rely heavily upon Commonwealth grants and resort to imposing anti-growth, anti-competitive taxes such as payroll taxes and stamp duties. The Commonwealth is not in the best position to deal with traditionally State areas of responsibility. However, States do not have the revenue to fund their infrastructure projects and programs. This is where the restructuring of revenue collection and allocation must occur. Up until World War Two, income taxation was the largest source of revenue for the States. It could be again, if some changes are made. The Commonwealth could still be responsible for determining the tax thresholds and collecting this tax to make it logistically simpler to collect. Then, 50% of this revenue could be returned to the States based on population size or the amount of tax raised from those States. This would allow for
Chris Colalillo -------------------------------------------------------
the States to abolish payroll tax and stamp duties which would create more employment opportunities and make investments more affordable. Since there would be a reduction in unemployment as a result of this abolition of payroll tax, there would be a greater amount of revenue raised from income tax, and therefore, more money for the States.
The more financial independence the States have, the more accountable they are for their decisions. Due to the large size of Australia, it is only natural that we will benefit from strong regional governments.
The capital gains tax could also be significantly reduced or even abolished altogether as a Commonwealth tax. This would encourage people to make investments since it would be more profitable. If people were to spend the money made from these investments, there would be an increase in the amount of GST revenue collected, which could be redistributed to the States. There is also the issue of a bias attitude in favour of the Eastern States within the Commonwealth public service. The needs of other States and Western Australia in particular, are sidelined in Commonwealth decision making. The fact that WA is in need of vast infrastructure improvements to service the growing mining sector is ignored when determining GST allocation and Commonwealth grants. As a result of Commonwealth neglect and our resort to alternative revenue sources, WA raises inefficient taxes mentioned earlier. The WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry has rated WA the most taxed State per capita. In a period where an increase in business activity is required, this is unacceptable. Reforming Federal-State relations, however, is not as simple as re-arranging finances. State Parliaments need to recruit talented members so that key ministries are held by competent people. State politics is viewed by many as a place where people end up if they are not talented enough to enter Federal politics. This community attitude, coupled with a decline in States’ legislative powers, has discouraged many respected figures from entering State politics. This attitude needs to change if improvements are to be made. Candidates who are assertive and have a wide range of experience in the workforce need to be recruited into State politics.
The idea that the Commonwealth should determine what is taught in schools or control the way hospitals operate is absurd and will have a devastating impact on local communities. Local communities will find it difficult to raise concerns and initiating any change will be a protracted process. Decentralised decision making provides for more attention to detail and greater accountability. State and local government are more aware of what their needs are than those who reside on the other side of the nation. The more financial independence the States have, the more accountable they are for their decisions. Due to the large size of Australia, it is only natural that we will benefit from strong regional governments. The door is closing on the revival of our federation, and a limited number of people are concerned. WA Premier Colin Barnett has refused to hand over a third of our GST allocation for the proposed change to the funding arrangements for healthcare, as well as opposing the Mineral Resources Rent Tax. For the sake of States’ rights, we should hope that other Premiers follow this lead.
The Beginning of the End Seven Signs of the Apocalypse -----------------------------------------
Wil l end the wo r Pro in 2012 ld bab ly. H ? can I thin say su ow c thes g? Just h a l e of in seven ook at hav format pieces e co i llec on I ted.
Mark Wilson --------------------------------------
5. Gravitational alignment
1. It’s pretty hot Been outside lately? Did you feel that unpleasant sensation that resulted in your skin releasing a salty liquid? That’s due to something called heat, and it’s on the increase. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, temperatures in Perth in 2010 were “near average to above average”. Scientists unanimously agree on the fact that heat exists, and that it can be deadly at high levels. 2. The anc
ient Maya ns
e black hole at the Did you know there’s a super-massiv us A*, and it centre of our galaxy? It’s called Sagittari er solstice, the probably exists. Every year, on the wint fall into alignment. Earth, Sun and the galactic equator icted that the When this happens in 2012, it is pred clouds called the Sun will intersect with a band of dust ancient Mayans. “Black Road” by none other than the happens, it will It has been suggested that when this t between the Sun “somehow”1 create a gravitational effec c on Earth. The and Sagittarius A* that will cause havo ified, but I assume nature of the havoc has not been spec e Alone 2, with the it will be like a global version of Hom y as the burglars. Earth as Macaulay Culkin and humanit References: 1. Wikipedia
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A Bible theme park is under construction in Kentucky. The park, known as Ark Encounter, is planned to have a ‘Walled City’, a petting zoo known as ‘Noah’s Animals’ and a 30 metre ‘Tower of Babel’. Sponsor a piece of the ark today by visiting arkencounter.com. $100 will pay for a peg; $1000, a plank; and $5000, a beam.
Did you know that writing for Pelican is without a doubt the best way to experience campus life? Join us in the Guild Meeting Room at 5pm, March 2. Thereâ€™s free pizza that everyone can enjoy (â€Ś until it runs out)!
The Beginning of Innocence Why Children Are Not What We Want Children To Be ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Childhood is invented. Society’s treatment of children, in real life and in art (where divisible), has always swung wildly between the sacred and profane, the innocent and the supposed vulgar. By assuming children to be powerless, adults’ attempts to represent them visually in visual art, and literature in particular, places them in a political, social and sexual economy that is not necessarily greater than the contingency of the child, but a gross misrepresentation of what it really means to be a child. In particular, girlhood has become a pivotal site of social contestation in the 21st century. In 2011, My Little Pony’s head has grown to foetus-like proportions since the mid 1980s when she looked like an adult horse. So-called “low-brow” pop art from all around the world, as well as cartoons from Asian countries, glorifies young girls and their bodies, ending up on the Tumblr cults with url addresses like “bunnychild”, “childslut”, “sadchildhood”, “sadfawn”, “1990-1999”, “rapeblossom”, “nymphet” and “kinderslut”. Yet most people would be surprised, and probably disgusted, that Vivienne Westwood used children to model adult clothing 14-years ago. Gayle Rubin was accused of advocating paedophilia in her essay ‘Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory on the Politics of Sexuality’ (1984), in which she proposed that child sexuality, or rather a child’s understanding of sex, is constantly denied in Western culture and delegated to a realm outside the “charmed circle” of apparently normal sexuality, along with homosexuality and fetishes such as leather. Rubin correctly identifies that sexuality is a “human product” – it follows then logically that childhood is also a human product that is essentialised and used as a political agent. The constant juxtaposition of “bad” and “good” girlhood in the modern era is a perfect working example of this.
There is nothing more sexy than a young girl looking old. Vivienne Westwood (allegedly)
The artist Bill Henson believes children, particularly in adolescence, “gravitate naturally to whatever no-man’s land they can find.” Henson, quoted in David Marr’s The Henson Case, goes on to describe “an accumulating wilderness through all peoples’ childhoods… a
sort of lost domain. Your body has memories of these places, and they condition the way we respond to the landscape for the rest of our lives.” Adults can never adequately represent being a child, but what they can do is appropriate “childhood” for their own purposes. Any one who says that childhood is completely innocent and argues in favour of protecting children from the dangers apparently seeking to destroy “childhood” – drugs, paedophiles, public transport, freedom – is re-appropriating “childhood” for a purpose far greater than anybody could by taking nude photographs of a child. Henson’s comments are an admirable attempt to articulate the experience of youth, and are largely unfettered by ideas of perfect or innocent childhood created by adults, socially and creatively. Importantly, Bill Henson is the artist who was denounced by Kevin Rudd and the vast majority of Australians when his photographic exhibition contained nude images of tweens. Henson was publicly denounced and his photographs seized when they went on display in Sydney in 2008. Commentator Phillip Clark on commercial radio station 2GB bemoaned – “They are images of 12 and 13-year-old girls naked. Don’t tell me they are not pornographic because they are. As I say, if they were found on a computer in the workplace, you would call the police.” The images, some of which have now been published in David Marr’s book The Henson Case, are indeed of nude girls. Though Henson uses dark lighting, one girl’s breasts and genitals are clearly visible. And there is no doubt that she is a girl, not a woman, based on the developmental physiology of her body. However, these images were not found on a computer in a workplace. Their creation and exhibition can be clearly distinguished from images of underage athletes from boys schools which were copied from a school website and placed on a gay porn website in 2002. The uncomfortable line Henson’s images straddle, in terms of both maturity and femininity, is placed more to the test when they appear on the aforementioned Tumblrs – mostly blogs started by teenage girls or young
women themselves – alongside teddy bears and Japanese artwork of prepubescent girls in nurse outfits or with band-aids. Aesthetically, they should remain artwork, despite being placed in another context, but is it dangerous that girls themselves now idolise childhood, in particular girlhood, and its frilly trappings, which are a largely adult construct in themselves?
Romantic era and came to a head in the Victorian era. It maintains that children are in a kingdom of their own: so pure and innocent to all exterior forces that they automatically know what is best for them, and even more grandiose truths about mankind. This construction of perfect childhood innocence manifested itself in child imagery in art that was feminised, marginalised and very sentimental.
disappear amidst nature (or into a time warp), is a good example of an Anglocentric Australian identity anxiety. This mindset of “white” vulnerability as embodied by children has only been challenged relatively recently by the Stolen Generation – stories of children that Australia remains uncomfortable with because they are so far from what adults expect narratives of childhood to be.
Dr Faulkner believes that children should not be led Fairy painting from the Victorian era often It seems the fetishism has evolved – it is not men to believe that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and portrayed fairies and imps as nude children and who want Lolita, but women who want to be Lolitas. the Tooth Fairy have any basis in fact. But children young girls. According to scholar Jeremy Maas, Gustav Klimt’s protégé, Egon Schiele, painted invent their own folklore if they aren’t already fairy painting was “the centre of the Victorian explicit nudes including young, undeveloped provided with some by adults. In insisting that women (Standing Female Nude (1911) is a good example). Schiele was arrested for using girls as It seems the fetishism has evolved – it is not men who children see things the way adults see them, we may be steering clear of the Romantic cult of the models and for allegedly “seducing an underage want Lolita, but women who want to be Lolitas. innocent child, but still destroying what it means girl” so in light of this, his artwork could to be a child, a mindset which is just as likely be held up as the perfect example of the reto vilify Henson’s art work and view everything subconscious” and therefore presented conflicting appropriation of women’s bodies for the sake of men. “through the lens of a paedophile”. Children aren’t social values, from new attitudes towards sexuality Today, childhood and girlhood is re-appropriated innocent but this doesn’t mean they don’t need to and religion, and retreat from new developments by children and young girls themselves. be protected. The dangers we envision befalling such as photography and science. The representation Children can be described as “border identities”. children are often extreme and different in nature of children as fairies is hence polarised – they are This means that they help adults in a search for to what really is a danger for a child. Children are either dainty, flower-like children representative identity, and act as conductors of cultural anxieties indeed abused and murdered by strangers outside of nature or profane, coarse and fearsome imps and conflicting social values. Indeed, the way the home, but abuse and neglect occurs at home as engaging in crazed romps. children are represented in art is almost always well, and in environments supposedly “enriching” Similarly, in Renaissance and Baroque art, the cogent with the way society at a particular time feels a child’s life – see the documentary Little Girls in naked winged babies usually referred to as cherubs about their ‘Self ’. For example, in the Middle Ages, Pretty Boxes. or cupids were really divisible into cherubim, which when human mortality was high, children were It would be unwise to invoke children who kill were sacred representations of children as close to painted as very small adults with no attention paid children, namely the 10-year-old duo that killed God, and putti, literally “little men”. The latter were to their different bodily proportions or dress style. toddler James Bulger in 1992, or 10-year-old Mary inspired by Greek mythology and were children Historians believe this was the case because once Bell, who mutilated and killed two toddlers in 1968 engaging in Bacchic romps, drinking and even a child surpassed the dangerous stage of infancy (“Brian had no mother so he won’t be missed” she masturbating – and, at the time, thought of as men they became an adult person no different to their wrote in a note), as typical examples of the violent inside children’s bodies rather than actual children. parents. In contrast, as Phillippe Aries notes, their potential of children. However, when Robert brothers and sisters who had died as babies but Dr Joanne Faulkner, author of The Importance of Thompson, one of James Bulger’s murderers, was allowed a place in family portraits despite being Innocence: Why We Worry About Children claims questioned, he confessed through dolls. Though he long gone, were represented very differently. They that Anglo-Australian identity finds solace in the had denied killing Bulger, when asked to re-enact were typically small, infantilised, or huddling in archetype of the innocent child and innocent girl the acts performed on the little boy using dolls, groups so not all parts of their body were visible. because of its sense of “not belonging” in the harsh, Thompson broke down and cried. It seemed that in alien environment that is Australia. According to A second example can be found in the ‘Romantic the unique mind of the child, the dolls were more Faulkner, Picnic at Hanging Rock, where young girls Cult of the child’, a set of ideals, which began in the real than the brutal murder of an infant.
The earliest orgasm on record (a Kinsey observation) was witnessed in a three-year-old girl. Israel Meizner, of The Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine, witnessed a 7-month-old foetus “grasping his penis in a fashion resembling masturbation movements” though no ‘happy ending’ was recorded.
Honey, there’s a penis growing on my head God created man, but what created imposex? ----------------------------------------------------------------------
All women want penises. Fact. I have always been envious of men for being able to urinate whilst standing up and for not using so much toilet paper to wipe themselves clean. In the case of a toilet paper emergency, it’s not the man that’s left sitting on the toilet, grappling at the end of the roll, pathetically waiting for more toilet paper to miraculously appear. Having a penis does have its disadvantages, though, especially if you’re a female sea snail. Hermaphroditic children are infrequently born to unwitting parents within our own species, but – so far – there has never been a case where all females within a community have developed a penis. Such was the unfortunate case when in 2005 sea snails were surveyed in the main Fremantle port. My interest in this topic first arose when I stumbled across a news story entitled ‘Marine Pollution Threatens Snail Sex Life.’ and I was so distraught by the idea that snails weren’t receiving the pleasure that they were entitled to through sensual relations, that I contacted Associate Professor at Curtin University, Monique Gagnon, to talk about this phenomena known as imposex. Imposex was first observed in the 1970s and described by Stephen Babble in the article ‘The occurrence of a penis-like outgrowth behind the right tentacle in the spent females of
Nucella lapillus.’ The penis observed in female snails was “not sickle shaped like a functional penis, and in no case has it been seen to exceed four millimetres in length.” No testes were observed along with the penis, though a vas deferens was noted in more acute, or extreme, cases. At first it was believed that the penile growth was a natural part of the snail breeding cycle, but over time, a strong cause-and-effect relationship was seen between penis growth and industrial regions – namely ports. The cause of imposex? Tributyltin, or TBT. How can I get a penis? TBT is a chemical commonly used as an antifouling agent to stop the growth of a bacterial layer on ships that attracts algae, then starfish, seaweed and various other things. Whilst simultaneously acting to protect the vessel, low concentrations of TBT are invariantly lost into the sea where they have a half-life of around six hours. “[Its half-life] is more is sediment,” Gagnon says, “it can be several decades in cold environments like in Quebec,” and that’s when the problems arise. Although TBT is a synthetic compound, it acts like a male hormone. Within female snails, it induces a “non-functional penis, usually. It’s like a man taking oestrogen – he’ll develop breasts but they won’t necessarily be effective,” Gagnon explains. “Of course, the contaminant doesn’t act perfectly as the steroid,” which is why the penis is smaller is females than in male snails. On a side note, the penis size also changes with the seasons: When metabolism is quicker during summer, it is larger.
Is it possible for a penis to cause so many problems? Although it may be hard to believe, the male appendage can be life threatening. When it’s very large, imposex has the potential to “block the oviduct and the release of the egg... [The egg] starts rotting, the egg capsule bursts open, and basically she [the mollusc] dies.” Just another argument for why ‘bigger’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘better’. The snail researched by Gagnon’s team, Thais orbita, is ecologically important to the ocean floor flora and fauna and is one severely affected by imposex. The mollusc acts as a predator: it eats blue mussels which settle on the rocky shore by the coastline. Without the snail, blue mussels – or “the invaders” as Gagnon quite aptly put it – settle on this area. When I asked what impact the loss of molluscs to imposex would be, Gagnon replied, “The shoreline would be covered with blue mussels. If you remove one animal, you open up a niche so another can settle and biodiversity increases. But if you remove all snails, for example through imposex or as part of my study, then the whole shoreline will become blue mussel only.” There would be no more starfish, a thought that unsettled the little girl within me that often went to AQWA and tortured the five starred creatures because they were “pretty”. The child asks to save the starfish In 2003, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) stopped the antifoulant application of TBT and in 2008, TBT was no longer allowed on boats, as a response to the rising imposex pandemic. Since 2005, levels
Deep-sea squids have massive sex organs. One such mollusc was found to have a 67cm erect penis. The biggest testes belong to the bush cricket, however. Its testes constitute 14% of its weight.
Imposex in the City: It’s not a new sitcom based around the lives of four female snails that actively discuss pressing sexual difficulties with mass appeal because female snails have been waiting for an open discussion on previously taboo topics. It’s a penis that develops on the ‘head’ of the snail, quite literally creating a ‘dickhead’
of imposex in the Fremantle main port have fallen to 68% and, as a general rule of thumb, most non-commercial marine areas now have imposex rates below 50%.
Let’s get Old Testament about this! ---------------------------------- Samantha Leung -----------------------------------
In accordance with a slightly sadistic need for balance, we thought we’d remind our peers about how people ‘back in the day’ (as all those older generations enjoy reminiscing about) used to handle all those little issues that were not considered socially acceptable. Inspired by that ol’ testament style we have created a new criminal code: The Criminal Code Amendment Act 2011 (WA). Let the hellfire and stoning begin!
Part I: Minor Offences Against Humanity
“The port of Fremantle and Garden Island – a navy base, where boats are repainted– are very responsive to legislation,” Professor Gagnon explains. Instead of using TBT, copper and zinc pyrithion (ZPT) – found in anti-dandruff shampoos – are now frequently used as antifouling agents. When I asked if dandruff was a pressing issue for the molluscs, Gagnon looked at me blankly and replied “snails don’t get dandruff.” Diurone, an agricultural herbicide, is also commonly used. There’s a fine balance between doing something that helps industrial applications and causing ecological problems. In Gagnon’s words, no matter what chemical we use as an antifouling agent, “obviously we’ll be killing something.” It was then that I noticed an email pinned to her board suggesting that diurone has caused spinal deformities in pink snapper.
These offences include but are in no way limited to those that prove most irritable on an everyday basis.
Despite the marked improvements in Perth, TBT remains the most effective and cheapest way to prevent fouling and boats from Indonesia and Africa, for example, continue to use it as an antifouling agent. They continue to bring TBT into our waters, threatening our sensitive ecosystem. “Often people would rather have fruit and goods imported from Indonesia than a few snails with penises on their heads,” Gagnon says. “For them, access to food is more important than a snail with a malformation.” I can’t help but wonder if we would feel the same if humans were all of a sudden sprouting dickheads.
s.ii) Personal Space Invasion. For the hideous excuse of a human being known for the highly inappropriate ‘club brushing’ or unwanted touching that occurs in the overly cramped environments of the clubbing atmosphere, the State suggests that slavery ought to be implemented. Those convicted of this touching or brushing will be punished with an infinite closeness to their victim – in others words, you’re mine bitch!
s.i) Overuse of “like”. How is it that ‘like’ has become a word responsible for the overcrowding of a sentence, making its user resemble an extra of an ‘American teen’ TV program? The corruption of humanity (in the sense that using ‘like’ continuously can make you sound like a total idiot) must stop, therefore the State recommends that all those who use ‘like’ excessively be doused continuously with buckets of water whilst being ‘flooded’ with questions containing the appropriate use of the word ‘like’, such as: “Would you like me to stop?” or “Do you like this?” “And God said to Noah...‘I am going to bring a flood of waters on earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of [like]’” (Genesis 6:1318).
s.iii) Confused Weather Syndrome. This crime is deemed to have been committed when persons are witnessed wearing miniscule (and often high waisted) shorts in conjunction with thigh-high boots. ‘Confused Weather Syndrome’ is not an acceptable defence and perpetrators shall be transformed into pillars of salt where only their boots and shorts shall remain (Genesis 19:26).
Part II: Moderate to Medium Offences Offences pertaining to the category Moderate to Medium shall be judged on the basis of their level of rudeness, while those offences that are also considered to be damaging to the human race shall be given more imaginative and extreme punishments. s.iv) Texting whilst Talking. The Plague of the iPhone has finally hit the shores of Oz – a curse in itself. The devil’s right hand is responsible for the halting, one-sided conversations overpopulating the pristine state of WA today. In order to directly combat this downward spiral of degradation, the State recommends the immediate crucifixion of the iPhones perpetuating this issue. The perpetrators of ‘texting whilst talking’, defined explicitly as paying greater attention to an inanimate object than to others participating in the conversation, shall very shortly be forced to watch as their iPhone is slowly nailed to a cross in front of them – whilst ringing out for help, we might add. The State sees this as an effective version of behaviour modification – at least until the iPhone 4 rises up again as the latest, greatest and most heavily marketed version of itself. s.v) Over Complimenting or the Excessive and Unnecessary Use of Compliments (EUUC – pronounced “Yuck”). Compliments today seem to have become fickle, fickle things where one professes an often disingenuous like for some possession or fashion continuously and unremittingly. The dangers of over complimenting are taken extremely seriously by the State and are seen as equally treacherous to the iPhone in creating boring conversations where nothing meaningful is said. Let’s rectify this, and “May the Lord cut off their flattering lips and silence their boastful tongues” (Psalm 12:3). Part III: Major and Inexcusable Offences Those Offences that are inconsiderate and just bloody annoying. s.vi) Irresponsible Drivers (i.e. those who refuse to stop at stop signs/red lights and insist on driving in your lane on a two-lane road). One of the banes of modern day society: the irresponsible, inconsiderate and, very possibly, blind driver. For the complete eradication of this generally death-defying species the State suggests the stoning... of their cars. For what the Great Storm of Perth started, the State shall finish. Thanks be to Government.
Let’s talk about sex ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Sex is a sin – well, according to Christianity – but not if you’re married. And you can’t enjoy it, because that’s definitely a sin. Despite having no biblical origins, sex and masturbation have been condemned by Christianity for years, a negative outlook adopted from the Greeks. Prior to 1139 AD, when priests were prohibited from marrying, it was the norm for a man to have several female partners. Today, even non-religious households feel the presence of the sexual sin weighing them down.
A high school friend of mine, starting having sex with her boyfriend at an early age, “doubling up” on condoms just to be safer. At the time she was not aware that doing so would increase the danger of a breakage. I wish I could have turned to my friend and raised her awareness but I was just as naïve as she was. The unaddressed issue of how to have safe sex is resulting in teenagers turning to magazines and their friends for information and advice, which is often falsely relayed.
Sure we all talk about sex – it’s everywhere. Condoms are positioned awkwardly at every supermarket checkout and unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably figured out that that’s how the human race keeps going. But when was your last safe sex talk? Do you know the full consequences of your actions? If we’re not careful, teenagers might start believing that the only way to have safe sex is to act out the full body condom scene from The Naked Gun.
The Western Australia Drug and Alcohol Office proposed it’s own strategy on safe sex: a specialised sex education program designed for Year 11 and 12 students before events such as school balls and Leavers. John Barich, the president of Australia Family Association WA, stepped in and said “a harmminimisation approach could ‘normalise’ sexual behaviour for teenagers”. Barich said his organisation would write to politicians discouraging the program unless teachers emphasised “the safest option for students was not having sex”.
Compared to the rest of the world, Australia isn’t too bad when it comes to sex education. Our teen pregnancy rate in 2008 was 17.3 births per 1000 women below the age of 19. Most shocking is the United States with a teen pregnancy rate double that of any industrialised nation. As for STDs, there are 1000 new cases of HIV in Australia every year and 80% of adults will have some form of herpes by the time they are 25. That means that eight out of 10 people you know have herpes, something that a simple condom could have prevented. Now it’s easy enough to say “you should have worn a condom” but the disturbing truth is not everyone knows that. In 2009, the ActNow website released findings showing that 48% of teenagers in Australia don’t know that using a condom will prevent them from contracting herpes. Furthermore, 30% of teenagers are unaware that they can contract an STI from oral sex.
Illustration by Megan Higgins
So what are we doing to educate the youth of Australia on safe sex? Sex education in Australia has never been more than an anatomy lesson with grainy videos of a boy getting a boner on a diving board and a sex pinball machine. It’s not mandatory but it is part of the curriculum under the subject “personal development”. In 2010, Family Planning Victoria proposed a program to hand out free condoms to students in Victorian high schools in Years 10 to 12, even installing vending machines to dispense contraceptives. Both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbot opposed the proposal at the time. Gillard herself said the plan “is completely absurd”. It seems that even our stuffy politicians would prefer to give snappy sound bites than talk about sex.
“Most kids aren’t having sex, so why should we be expecting them to have it?” Barich said. “Figures show that 50% of girls haven’t had sex before they leave school. We should be trying to make that 60%, or higher, rather than making it more acceptable to have sex.” The thought occurs then, that if 50% of girls aren’t having sex, then what is the other half doing? There’s no proof that teaching teenagers about condoms encourages them to have sex. In fact, research shows that children who are taught proper safe sex education are more likely to have sex at a later age and have fewer sexual partners. On a side note, a 2006 study by the Guttmacher Institue also found that national pregnancy and abortions rose by 3% at the height of the abstinence program in the United States. We’re at a point where sex education has stopped becoming a matter of sexuality and has now become a health issue. Just knowing about your body and how it works should be common knowledge. Our grandparents probably told our parents “don’t have sex or your eyes will fall out and you’ll go to Hell.” No one ever taught them how to talk to their own children about sex, and let’s be honest, that’s not something you’ll find in “personal development”. Safe sex should be the only way to have sex. We talk about so much these days but say so little. Why not make it count and have a conversation that could not only open your eyes but also change your life. Contraception is like wearing a seatbelt: you wouldn’t drive without one on.
Score some free condoms. Most companies will send out free samples if you place an inquiry on their websites.
DINNER FOR LESS! Head to Greco’s Restaurant on Broadway for a $20 Mid Week Special (every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday). Normal price normally priced at $25 but show them your student card and get to choose from Chef's pasta of the day, Grilled Barramundi or Veal Parmigiana and get a glass of house wine, a Portuguese beer or a soft drink for just $20. LUNCH: Thursday, Friday and Sunday, 12pm - 3pm www.grecos.com.au
Students can also get 10% discount off the total bill anytime (not valid on the $20 Mid Week Special).
DINNER: Tuesday - Sunday from 5pm.
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PTERANADON THREEWAY Resident palaeontologist Lachlan Keeley digs for DINOSAUR PORN
Since the first human struggled out of the primordial goo, humanity has gone through a colossal series of developments. Some of these developments have been for the better, some for the worse, but it is impossible to deny that humans have become the bearers of a prodigious number of talents. One of these is the ability to generate ideas that seem very good at the time but are later regarded as being completely fucking retarded. With this in mind – and an awareness of one of humanity’s other innate talents: the limitless capacity for wasting time watching internet videos of questionable entertainment quality – something happened. This something was Dinosaur Porn. But first: a preamble concerning dinosaur cocks. If you harbour doubts as to whether investigative journalism is a hazardous profession then you should definitely try researching dinosaur-related pornography. That’s not to say that prehistoric erotica is the nastiest thing out there in the vast
and unexplored depths of cyberspace, but certain words take on unexpected meanings in certain contexts and this can lead to a host of unpleasantries. In this case, a relatively innocent search for “dinosaur porn” resulted in the discovery of a number of videos featuring “dinosaur cocks”. While this sinks in, I’ll allow this poem (yes) from the description of one of the videos to speak for itself: Old man, you stroked my clit and g-spot so good. Now I gotta wetcha. You come round here with that dinosaur cock. Did I love it? You betcha! But you made me cum too many times, and made my thighs start quivering. Now I gotta wetcha. It’s like you did a drive-by with that big fat fuckstick. Better hope I don’t catch ya. No man ever fucked me so good, before or since. Now I gotta wetcha. You said you love young girls the best, and that’s my bad luck. I wish I never metcha. Splish, Splash. Old man, now I gotta wetcha! [sic] One big pile of [sic], really. Obviously this is not going to win the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, but the tags for the video were “gonzo” and “squirting”, so this is clearly journalistic, somehow. One can only hope that this article is the catalyst by which ‘gonzo squirting’ becomes part of the common vernacular. And maybe ‘dinosaur cock drive-by’, as well.
Clever girl Illustration by Amy Church
Semantic intricacies exist concerning dinosaur porn, too. As was mentioned before, supposedly innocent terms can take on unexpected meanings when transferred into certain contexts. One simply has to scan the personals section of any newspaper to observe this behaviour in practice – the most conspicuous offender being the use of the description “Greek”, which in this context is not exactly the label of ethnicity one might normally expect it to be. But how does this relate to dinosaur porn?
In Japan there is a very popular form of cinematic entertainment known as tokusatsu (roughly translatable as ‘special filming’), a genre of film in which the focus is upon the fantastic elements generated by special effects. The most popular types of tokusatsu feature superheroes, mechas, or – most relevantly – very large monsters having their way with the infrastructure of cities. This particular type of tokusatsu has its own subgenre title, kaiju, which translates as ‘strange beast’ or ‘monster’. Godzilla is probably the most recognisable kaiju film, and the fact that it features a dinosaur is very important (and also provides a very easy way for me to segue into the next paragraph). It takes a lot of imagination to clear the “What if this monster wasn’t fucking a city, but fucking a woman?” hurdle, but the genesis of kaiju porn was probably not an isolated event (let us ignore the existence of godzillabukkake.com). Between then and now, someone decided that it would be a good idea to make a porno featuring two men dressed as pterodactyls having their way with a woman who was definitely not paid enough for what she had to do. But who decided to bring this fetish into the public eye? Who was sitting around watching a rerun of Jurassic Park and thought to themselves, “You know, what the world really needs right now is a video of a woman being plugged by two men dressed as pterodactyls. Also they should flap their wings. Just make it happen, okay?” One can only imagine the scenario. A man trying to remain unseen – black overcoat, reflective aviators, used surgical gloves – sidles into an alley behind the seediest sex shop in the city. He cautiously shuffles up to a shadow waiting behind a dumpster and coughs awkwardly, keeping his eyes on the ground. The second man clutches a crumpled (and questionably stained) brown paper bag in his hairy hand, an oblong object hidden inside. The first man swallows nervously and ogles the bag. He points at it and says, “Ah, I think that’s, uh… for me.” The second man grins and says, “It’s not anybody’s except mine until I see some money.”
The Velociraptors in Jurrasic Park were more akin to Deinonychus
And now, some observations: #1: The missing link is no longer missing: Pterodactyls are blessed with the same genitalia that one would normally find upon a male human. The ramifications of this are rather repugnant. #2: Pornography actors (is that even the right term?) evidently take their work very fucking seriously. The woman in this video plays her role so extremely straight you’d think she was auditioning for a role in The Cherry Orchard. She doesn’t even seem to notice that there are two pterodactyls trying to penetrate her; perhaps to some people a penis really is just a penis. Naturally, the one very important thought raised by this video is whether anyone is actually capable of finding a pair of pterodactyls with skin conditions porking some poor woman ‘erotic’. I then remembered that I was calling the taste of the entire Internet into question. The answer was – unfortunately – obvious.
Incestboard.com You’re not alone
---------------------- Naomi Munford -----------------------The Book of Genesis condemns many things – gays, sleeping with your neighbour’s wife, gambling – but one thing it doesn’t seem to have to big of an issue with is incest.
Incest has always been a bit of a taboo subject; having a kid with a blood relation is pretty gross and will probably lead to a baby with an assortment of deficiencies (and an appearance on Jerry Springer), but to the 80,000+ members of Incestboard. com – described as the web’s best online incest forum – having relations with a relation comes as naturally as avoiding the thought altogether comes to the rest of us.
Incestboard offers heaps of friendly and honest guidance. Beefcake (actual user name) asks how he might initiate sexual relations with his mother as he has tried giving her massages to no avail. Masterlurker advises, “You can be a bit more obvious with the massages, caressing her ass and even cupping her breasts. If she calls you out on it, say, ‘oh I’m sorry, that was more to relieve my tension. Let’s get back to focusing on your tension’.”
Another user, 52butch, wonders whether his daughter is into him: “She walks by me in the hallway and usually drags her hand across my chest real slow. I am 57, a little slower in most things, but she is starting to make my blood boil when she is close…” But he’s hesitant to make his move because, ya know, he’s still married to her mum and all. Crblover’s response just tells it like it is: “If you are interested, just let her know. Don’t bs around the bush – be forthright. If she let’s you hit that ass, I am sure she will be discreet about it, also. No kid wants to intentionally ruin a parent’s marriage. But if you are not sure, let her take the lead and don’t make closed comments which may turn her off the idea of banging you.”
Aside from the rankness of the entire thing, Incestboard.com is actually a super supportive community of people. Users can expect respectful, honest and helpful advice. The site is based out of the Netherlands, the Mecca for sexual liberties, where freedom of speech in encouraged. Members can read a wide variety of topics ranging from “Politics and Current Discussion” to “Advice” and “Incest Stories” to “Numbers and Letters Games”. The list goes on, proving that there’s more to members than their desire to bang relatives. There is, however, a no tolerance attitude to paedophiles and minors because hey, the forum members are trying to be responsible in their indiscretions.
Anthropologists say that an incest taboo is inherent to human nature. This makes sense because interbreeding results in a smaller gene pool, but it doesn’t explain the fact that it occurs throughout human history. Freud famously stated that our first sexual desires are directed to family members. Levi-Strauss says that the taboo comes from the preference of exogamy (marriage between different families). Exogamy has heaps of social, demographic and economic benefits – not to mention that it safeguards the human race from moving backwards. In the old days, marriage was about more than love; it was about a transaction with two tribes coming together.
At the end of the day, incest is pretty gross but if you fancy your brother, you’re not alone. It’s also one of the few things Christians and Scientists don’t really disagree on. Adam and Eve or the Out of Africa theory both trace the origins of humanity back to two people and if this is true, then we’re all sleeping with our long lost cousins.
The first man hits himself in the head with the palm of his hand as if ashamed of himself for being too eager and then pulls some bills out of his pocket and hands them over. The second man hands him the bag in exchange. The first man excitedly rips open the bag, revealing the title of the tape that was hidden inside – Edward Penishands – and a look of disappointment creases his face. “Oh… I’ve seen this…” The second man shrugs, mutters “Not my problem, pal” and begins to walk back out to the street. Overcome by fear, sweat pouring down his face, the first man rushes after him and grabs him tightly by the arm, stopping the second man from leaving the alley. Stammering in his nervousness, the first man blurts out, “Can’t you get me something more… exotic?” The second man fixes him with a suspicious gaze, their shared discomfort rising. “What do you mean by that?” The first man deliberately coughs and avoids the second man’s gaze. “Weird stuff. Different. Videos you can’t find anywhere.” There’s an awkward silence. The first man coughs again. “Maybe… with dinosaurs, or something.” There’s another awkward silence. “… Dinosaurs?” “Y’know, like Barney.”
Kiya Alimoradian explores the origins of language
Human language is a stamp on our identity and perhaps one of the most intriguing elements of our everyday life. No other animal has yet been found to have a language system as sophisticated as ours and it seems that humankind’s capacity for language is indeed unique. We may very well have the most developed method of communication but it is odd to think that while this aspect of human life sets us apart from other life forms, it also sets us apart from each other.
There are currently 6909 languages known to man, of which a mere 389 (6%) account for those spoken by 94% of the world’s population. Seeing that the remaining 6520 languages have a following of less than a million speakers each, it seems fair to ask just how exactly did we end up with such diversity, and has it always been so? If humans really did evolve from their primate prototype many years ago, can we assume the same for his use of language? UWA linguistics faculty lecturers, Mark Ellison and Daniel Midgley were kind enough to sit down and answer my questions on this topic. Opinions at times opposed, their answers reflect the complex, and in many ways uncertain, explanations of language origin.
One language for the people? Chapter 11 of the Book of Genesis tells the wellknown story of the Tower of Babel. Basically every person on Earth speaks the same language. With everyone being able to communicate with one another, humankind begins to build a tower reaching to the heavens: the legendary Tower of Babel. Concerned about the potential power of humans as he watches the tower grow, God scatters his children all over the world, breaking humankind’s unity through language and distancing us all. Now, while this story is highly implausible and most probably an inaccurate account of the way language evolution evolved, is it possible that there was originally one language spoken by all humans? “It’s possible that there might have been separate groups of people that didn’t communicate with each other that evolved or innovated language at the same time, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to think there would be one single time when language popped up in the human community,” says Midgley. “I would find that more of a stretch,” starts Ellison, though soon after adding, “but I think there’s one point that we probably did have one parent language and that would be if the ‘out of Africa’ hypothesis is true, and everything seems to point to that. A small group of people left Africa about 100–120,000 years ago and if it’s the case that all modern humans came from this group of people – seeing that it was only 100 to 150 individuals – they probably all spoke the same language.” Being with language It is indeed a possibility that all the world’s languages stemmed from one original language. But have humans always used language? “If you define human beings as ‘beings with
Illustration by Megan Higgins
In White Gun Valley, South Freo, ‘cunt’ is more commonly pronounced ‘kent’.
language’, then yes, by definition,” states Midgley. “And actually, that’s not a bad way to define when humans became humans. Humans have been around for about 150,000 years; maybe we can go a little longer, maybe a couple hundred thousand years. Maybe human language hasn’t been around that long but certainly the things that allow us to do language where in place by then. For example our vocal tract, [and] our brain that was able to handle abstract manipulation of symbols and the ability to represent things using other things.” So yes then? “It’s always going to be a speculative question,” Ellison explains, “we define humans in archaeological terms as whenever we can’t tell them apart from modern humans in terms of structure. That at least allows us to come up with some date for when finding fossils to say ‘that’s modern humans and that’s not’.” A point to consider is the necessity of language. If the first humans had the same ability for language as humans today, then surely language would have arisen when needed? “If you’ve got a brain like ours and there’s more than one of you living together, maybe it is necessary that you end up with language. We do seem to see that [today]; if you put a bunch of kids together with no given language, they make one up. So, on that score, I would tend to think that if these people were like modern humans in terms of their brain structure and everything, [then] they probably couldn’t have helped using language.” In fact, it is possible that Neanderthal man was also capable of language. Sporting many of the same language-related structures as modern humans, Neanderthals fell short linguistically with a partially descended voice box, prohibiting the same vocal abilities of humans today. So how would they have communicated? This brings us to another popular question: did language originate as a vocal system, a sign system or a mix of both?
“For the Neanderthals, they might have had a completely functioning language system which was just like people who use sign language because of a deficit in hearing or speech,” Ellison says. To this, Midgley adds: “But no modern humans use a sign language as their main language unless they’re unable to hear. Everyone could use a gesture-based system but nobody ever does; it’s always sound based.” The future of languages: A return to global monolingualism? Let me introduce you to an indigenous Australian language from New South Wales called Bandjigali. It’s a language not many people know about; it doesn’t have a Wikipedia page and there is very little information floating around about it. This is all somewhat understandable though, as with only one native speaker left, Bandjigali probably won’t be around much longer. Language death actually happens a lot more than we realise. Usually it is the result of a community becoming bilingual with the introduction of a new language, but over time shifting towards the prioritisation of this new language. With each new generation, more and more languages are lost while others grow in size. Indigenous languages of Australia are a good example of this, with English playing the role of the second language that over time led to the endangerment, and ultimately death, of the original language. The topic of language death brings me to my final question: if languages continue to become extinct while others become more and more commonly spoken, is it possible that one day there will be only one language left? Can there ever be just one ‘official’ language? “I don’t think so,” Daniel Midgley says. “Let’s just pretend that tomorrow everyone speaks a single language – we’ll call it ‘Globish’. Everyone speaks Globish. What happens next? Well, what happens next is what always happens with a language –
There are currently 6909 languages known to man, of which a mere 389 (6%) account for those spoken by 94% of the world’s population.
people who are separate from each other start to speak slightly different from each other. Pretty soon we have different languages again.” Disagreeing with this, Mark Ellison says, “I reckon that it could easily happen. The reason why is because the forces which lead to linguistic differentiation are weakening in our current world.” An interesting idea. Geography and identity pressures may cause differences in language and it seems that both of these factors are actually growing weaker every day. With technology having eased the geographical hurdles of interaction between cultures, surely more and more languages will come into contact over time. With pressures keeping cultures separate from one another slowly softening between countries – a great example of this would be the European Union – who knows what will happen? “But keep in mind that some of these languages that we’re talking about – Spanish, French, Chinese [for example] – are spoken by a million or a billion people; they’re not just going to walk away; they’re not just going to give up,” adds Midgley. “I can see maybe ten languages worldwide [in the future].” Hypothetically, if there were just one language in the future, which of the major ones would it be? Would Mandarin Chinese steal the show with its 1.1 billion speakers (the most speakers of any language; Hindi follows not very closely at 350 million)? Or would English, currently the language spoken in the largest number of countries, take the throne? While the history, and subsequent destiny, of the world’s languages may not be set in stone, there is one thing that we can be sure of. Who we are is represented through the language we use. Be it the actual language we speak or simply the words we use, the way we communicate says something about us on both a personal and societal level. With this in mind, perhaps it does make sense to define humans as “beings with language” after all.
In 2008 scientists managed to reconstruct the Neanderthal vocal tracts and mimic the sounds they once may have made around 30,000 years ago. Neanderthals have traditionally been viewed as inferior versions of Homo sapiens but most modern theories regard them as simply Hominids highly adapted to the cold and unable to cope with rising world temperatures.
The Age of the Superhero Reboot Hollywood’s creative quagmire ----------------------------------------------------------------
We are living in the cinematic age of the reboot: old stories, repeated and retold for the new generation. In the desperate race for cash, Hollywood has entered a Ragnarök like cycle of death and rebirth. Franchises are sequelised until there is nowhere left to take the story. Then, a new cast and crew are brought in to tell the story all over again. So what makes a reboot different from a film remake? Reboots are generally associated with blockbuster movie franchises, where there’s more money to be made off tie-in products than the film itself. By rebooting a franchise, producers can continue to milk their intellectual property long after a story’s natural end. They just start from the beginning again.
Kevin Chiat -------------------------------------------------------------
For the 2009 reboot of Star Trek, the creative team led by JJ Adams knew that they were walking on sacred ground. If their reboot was seen to be disrespecting the history of Star Trek, then they would have to face the wrath of a million angry Trekkies shouting “Abrams” at the top of their lungs. Knowing this, they directly connected the reboot to the original series. Leonard Nimoy reprised his role as the original Mr Spock to ease the transition from the old cast to the new. Abrams’ film, for the most part, pleased a seemingly unappeasable fan base. These successful reboots all had a couple of things in common. Firstly, the franchises had all been out of the public eye for some time before the release of the reboots. Secondly, they all told origin stories which hadn’t been shown on film before.
have the rights to, then they’ll lose them. In Fox and Sony’s case, the rights would revert back to Marvel, now owned by Disney. The desire not to let go of a potential cash cow – and to prevent anyone else from making money off it – will be the impetus behind future reboots. Films will be made to adhere to legal requirements, rather than creative desires. For example, a legal dispute between the heirs of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel is forcing Warner Bros. to rush a Superman reboot into production.
Reboots are not always wanted by fans. The best example of this is the current plan to make a movie reboot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fans were livid when the plans to The desire not to let go of a potential cash cow – and to reboot the franchise were announced, only seven prevent anyone else making money off it – will be the impetus years after the TV series left the airwaves. Most of The current age of the reboot begins with 2005’s Batman behind future reboots. Films will be made to adhere to legal the anger was sparked by the news that the creator Begins. The plan was to tell the story of how Bruce Wayne of Buffy, Joss Whedon, would not be involved in the requirements, rather than creative desires. became Batman. Batman’s origin had only been glossed project. In addition to this, the producers only have over in the earlier Tim Burton and Joel Shumacher the rights to use characters from the forgettable 1992 film and films, which, like the 1960s TV show, were more interested in getting big stars to camp it up as villains. Batman Begins was The real test for the reboot will come when the Spider-Man are unable to use characters from the far more influential TV a commercial and critical success, and later producers, when reboot is released next year. Only five years after the release of show. justifying their own reboots, point to it as proof that reboots Spider-Man 3, the film will star The Social Network’s Andrew Garfield and will be directed by 500 Day’s of Summer’s Marc Being created solely to cash in on the vampire craze created can succeed artistically and commercially. Webb. by the Twilight series, the Buffy reboot will have to win over new fans to be a success. Only time will tell if the Buffy reboot Next in the wave of reboots was 2006’s Casino Royale, rebooting the longest running English language film franchise, Little is known about the film other than that Peter Parker will be able to follow the lead of Star Trek and placate a hostile James Bond. The last Bond film starring Pierce Brosnan, Die will be a high school student again. It remains to be seen how fandom. Another Day, was appropriately titled: the series might as well much patience audiences have to sit through ‘nerd gets bitten have been dead. The films had grown increasingly overblown by spider, uncle dies, great power comes great responsibility, There will be good reboots and there will be crap ones. fight the bad guy’ again. The reboot will have to take its story Characters like James Bond, Batman and Spider-Man will and ridiculous. in a new direction to stand out from its predecessors. always be popular enough to warrant films being made about them. However, looking into the cinematic future that Bond producers had the advantage of being able to tap into the original source material. Casino Royale, Ian Fleming’s first There’s an ulterior motive behind Sony’s rebooting of the we seem to be heading towards can be a tad depressing. It James Bond novel, was also the only one of Fleming’s Bond Spider-Man franchise. It’s the same reason they’re making appears to be a future where the same stories are being told novels not to have been officially adapted to film. Starring a Ghost Rider sequel that no one, except Nicholas Cage, over and over again. A future where original stories are rarely Daniel Craig (at the time, a controversial choice due to his is interested in. Fox is being driven by the same motive to given the chance to find a mass audience. A future forever blonde hair), Casino Royale admirably updated the Cold War develop Daredevil and Fantastic Four reboots. If they aren’t rebooting. actively developing films based around the properties they setting of the novel to the modern day.
Batman’s first film appearance was in a 15-part 1943 film serial.
Secession in Sudan A nation torn
------------------------------------------ Blair Hurley ------------------------------------------
War-torn Sudan is split into two countries following a weeklong referendum to decide whether the southern region would secede and form a new country. The state had been in continual civil war even before its independence from the British in 1956, barring the cessation of conflict between the north and south from 1972 to 1983. Sudan is home to many ethnic groups and violence still persists in other regions in Sudan, such as poverty-stricken Darfur where rebels have been fighting the Khartoum-based government since the mid-eighties. That’s not to say that the peace achieved by the US-brokered 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) has been perfect and ‘comprehensive’. Colonialism is a persuasive but controversial argument for the cause of Sudan’s costly and prolonged civil wars. The northern, and largely urban, region of Sudan is dominated by Arabic-speaking Muslims and has a population of around 22 million. The south has a population of around six million with its people surviving through subsistence farming and involved in the practice of traditional sub-Saharan belief-systems. Throughout much of the past, geographical barriers prevented the dissemination of Islam into Southern Sudan, and the British politically enforced this ad-hoc cultural and economic separation in the 1920s when separate administrative bodies governed southern and northern regions. The British also prohibited Sudanese living north of the tenth parallel from moving any further south, and forbade those living south of the eighth parallel from travelling any further north. This strict policy operated to prevent both the spread of malaria
within the then-colony, but made the divide between Sudan’s Islamic and non-Islamic populations official. Despite the lengths to which the British went to separate the Sudanese north and south, the two spheres of interest were forged into a single state, much to the horror of those from the south who maintain that Khartoum has ruled non-Islamic people oppressively. Such assertions don’t require too much convincing – the south is home to over four million of the civil wars’ internally displaced persons and refugees; the conflict having not only uprooted people within Sudan but also destabilised others in neighbour states, indiscriminately spilling over borders. Despite Sudan’s average GDP per capita being above $1600 US a year, many in the south live on less than a $1 US a day. Knowing this, it should be easy to understand why most of the world awaited the outcome of the Southern Sudanese secession vote with great anticipation – such a change could provide the means to secure the lasting fulfilment of human rights to a long-struggling nation of people. The secession vote is the result of the CPA between Khartoum and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M), the premier rebel group in the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983 – 2005) and major political party in the Southern Sudan’s semi-autonomous government (also a provision of a CPA). Commentators speculated on the sincerity of Khartoum’s assertions that they will accept a result that affirms independence but there is no guarantee that a positive vote will make things any easier, or better off, for the region. Southern Sudan is home to many different political
factions and ethnic groups, and many are wary of a Southern Sudanese civil war. An example of the volatility of the current relative peace in Sudan is the deflection of some displeased ethnic warlord-led fighters from the SPLA last year – such a group killed 20 SPLA soldiers on December 20 – the dissolution of a single Sudanese state presents enormous potential for rebel-groups to develop and make claims to power. A Southern Sudanese state is not a simple exercise of line drawing, either. Many Southern Sudanese will follow Islam, for example, the Southern Sudanese capital, Juba, is one of the most Arabic speaking centres in the world. Independence spells an increasingly difficult political climate in the region. Problems with independence aren’t even limited to conflict within Sudan – an independent Southern Sudanese state would face the immense task of obtaining the means to enforce national security in a fiercely unstable region. In many respects, both internal Southern Sudanese stability and external regional stability are inexplicably linked. The separated Sudan also faces hurdles in the vast supplies of oil that lie within the region. Multinational corporations claim that there are about 6.7 billion barrels of exploitable oil in Sudan, and almost all of Sudan’s productive oilfields lie on the border between the north and the south. The south produces 85% of Sudan’s total oil output, and as per the CPA, it receives half of the revenue made on that oil. This breakdown of revenue might not make sense until you realise that the infrastructure needed to export Sudanese oil runs through the north. Oil revenue constitutes an incredible 98% of the Southern Sudanese government’s budget, and frustratingly, much of the seven billion US dollars earned on Sudanese oil since 2005 has been squandered, lining the pockets of groups of regional fighters. Around one billion US dollars are expected to be earned on Sudanese oil in the next year, and it too is expected to be wasted. An independent Southern Sudan would have only money from oil on which to depend on at first, and it absolutely needs that revenue. The distribution of Sudanese oil revenue between the north and south may become a matter of dispute following official southern independence, and, more worryingly, the expiry of the CPA in July. This issue aside, co-ordinating the exploration and exploitation of oil in Southern Sudan may prove to be a very difficult job when being pursued by two separate and mutually self-interested sovereign agents. Success in the road ahead for Southern Sudan depends on the mantra “diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy”. All one can do is remain patiently determined to create peaceful resolutions to disputes which, unfortunately, are almost definitely expected to present themselves.
Illustrated by Evelyn Froend
------------ What’s in their bag? -----------Music, Uni Parties and losing your shit! Josh Chiat starts off the year by catching up with Jack Glass from 2011 O-Day Festival headliners, Bag Raiders. Our theme this edition is ‘Genesis’. How did you guys start making music together? I was in the year above Chris in school and we did orchestra and choir together. We hung out amongst the music nerds, so I think we were kinda the cool kids of the nerds. It wasn’t really until a few years after school that we used to hang out and talk about music and swap music. We found out we had similar taste in music, and with our musical backgrounds, it made sense that we would try and make it.
Last year we actually ran a segment inspired by your band where we literally raided people’s bags and tossed out the contents. Are you ashamed to inspire that? [Laughs] Am I ashamed? No, I actually really like it; the more bags that get raided the better. It’s an honour.
How did you get the name? Back when we were making our first mix CDs and we were hanging out with Bang Gang DJs, and guys like that, we didn’t have much of our own music and we used to “raid” their bags and take stuff to put in our mixes.
You guys started out as DJs didn’t you? How did you get into making dance music? No, in the beginning we were trying to make more ambient, electronic music and then we started making blends and edits at the club for our buddies who were running a club night called Bang Gang. We started to move in towards that scene by making bootlegs and CDs that we gave to the DJs at the club. That’s how we started to make more straight up dance music.
It’s been really cool. We’ve done these festivals before but we’ve never done them at this level with the live show and playing our own songs. It’s more stressful, but it’s been really rewarding when you look out at the crowd and see people losing their shit.
What’s the coolest thing that’s ever happened at one of your shows? When we first started playing the big festivals I was blown away by the sea of people. The sheer numbers just make you step back and go “holy shit that’s a lot of people.” We still love playing in clubs, which is more immediate and in your face, but there’s something about festivals that just can’t be beaten.
[Fool’s Gold] Are really cool guys as well; the only hard thing is the tyranny of distance. It’s always easier to get things done when you can pick up the phone and just talk to someone, but being there’s been sick.
You’re one of a long line of dance groups, particularly Modular artists, that have crossed over to the indie scene. Did you always aim to get that sort of recognition?
You’re going to be playing UWA’s O-Day Festival this year on February 25, what do you expect of that show?
It’s hard to make aims for how your music will be received. What we aimed on the album was to delve into the song-writing world and away from straightup dance music. If we stayed with dance music it would have been better to just release 12’’s because a lot straight-dance albums are very boring.
I think that [O-Day’s] gonna be really fun. We’re doing a tour of all the uni parties and they’re always really fun to play, people normally go really wild. We’re expecting big things of the uni tour and Good Vibes.
There’s a great range of styles on the album, from classic rave and house to more straightup pop. How does the (self-titled) album match up to your influences, and what inspired you growing up?
You’ve made some really great videos to go with your songs. Do you aim to bring that visual aspect into your live sets?
When we first started out we were very ambient. I listened to bands like Boards of Canada and Autechre and it wasn’t until I started going out to clubs that I really got into dance music. I think you’re right about the house and rave sound. We really wanted to give the album a bit of a party feel and make it exciting.
For our last tour we had a cool lighting set-up with these weird venetian blind sculptures hanging from the roof and a big LCD screen flashing Aztec patterns on it. It’s important to us, especially ‘cause it’s only two of us – you need something big and in your face so that people don’t have to look at our stupid heads the whole show.
You were commercially successful as well. In the first week Bag Raiders (the album) got to No.7 on the ARIA Charts. It’s good to be able to put a number on it, though we never saw it that way, or expected it to do that well when we put it out. It was a big surprise.
Did you always plan to be a live performance group?
You’ve had a huge couple of years, but not so long ago you started out on Bang Gang’s Modular imprint?
I guess the focus was production stuff, making music. We were doing that before the DJing and then that translated to a live show after we moved to more song writing, rather than techno/club stuff and a proper show where we play and we sing.
We did two 12’’s through Bang Gang. We’re buddies with them and with a lot of the Modular guys. It’s been really great working with them. They’re coming up to their 50th release soon, which is pretty insane. To move to Modular was easy, it made sense.
We have the international release (of the album) in about a week, and we’re doing a lot of promotional stuff in North America and Europe. First we do the Good Vibes Festival, and then the Uni Parties and then we’re heading overseas to do that.
What’s it been like moving from the club scene into headlining the big festivals, like Parklife and Good Vibes?
And you’ve also been working with Fool’s Gold in America. What’s it like being on an international label?
Bag Raiders will be playing at this year’s 0’Day Festival, we’ll see you then.
You’ve had such a big 2010, what are your plans for 2011?
TOP 10 of 0’10
------------------------------------------ Pelican’s favourite albums of 2010 ------------------------------------------
1. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Tw isted Fantasy ‘21st Century Schiz oid Man’ was writte n for Kanye. Despite the loadin g of guest stars, ev ery voice is his own, presented as the parts of his psyc he forming his “beautiful dark twisted fantasy.” Ri ck Ross plays the world-beating Kanye on ‘Devil In A New Dress’, Pusha-T’s the media -baiter on ‘So Appa lled’(“CNN said I’d be dead by 21”) and Nicki Mina j plays the monster on, uh, ‘M onster.’ It all comes to a head on ‘Runaway’, where Ka nye delivers a brok en-hearted apology for being a douche-bag and ‘Blame Game’’s second verse, where multiple ‘Ye’s contr adict one another and argue over his role in a br eakup. It says a lot that in a year when Kanye domi nated Twitter, and had more writte n about his persona lity than his music, the album wa s his greatest trium ph. No one man should have all that power.
– InnerSpeaker 2. Tame Impala of rock” out the “saviours I’m not so sure ab merica have attached to in A e Strokes tag some people thing downed Th of rt so at Th aren’t really them. la pa Im e and Tame tim a on up ce on eir own tiee. Inspired by th “rock” in that sens ories of a decade they only em dyed shirts and m usic, Tame jump straight m its h inds and know throug back into their m e’s a de ce re h, rt er out of Pe “Th n. ow ep into your ” Yeah, d? te then pull you de vi in is ne -o and no party in my head t party as well. ea and it’s a pretty gr 3. Janelle Mon ae – The ArchA ndroid Embodying O utKast’s call fo r a “power music/ electric reviva l” a decade prev iously, Monae’s debut album ta kes broad influ ences from th past (Sign O’ Th e e Ti era Prince, Mic mesha el Jackson, Janet se – Teen Dream Jackson, 4. Beach Hou t os m OutKast) and en Dream al blends nuary 2010, Te year when Released in Ja them into a un us io ev pr e th of ique lic re a e ys lik Bo seemed form of neo-so to the Beach ul losely aligned C t. w ou sa e m ch ca hi it that’ll still be pl explosion, w p po tar ayed 09 d 20 inspired Collective an in Monae’s futu ess for Animal cc re, su of r t ve se so ng os so cr 2289 AD. Dream is a ten entation. zly Bear, Teen Griz experim ith flourishes of rustic songs w production in p -u ok a step Beach House to the fuzz is still e around, but quality this tim ckground for ba al an ethere there, forming cals. d’s enigmatic vo Victoria Legran
Illustrstions by Ena Tulic
– Halcyon Dig est
Halcyon Diges t teeters on a ba lance between the su nny and intros pective sides of psychpop. One minut e th cheering “come with me woah- ey’re oh” on the delirious ‘D esire Lines’, the next lamenting “I do n’t their fourth albu wanna wake up”. On m, Deerhunter co to be emotiona lly and artistical ntinue ly wild, and they’re all the m ore fascinating for it.
6. Flying Lotu s – Cosmogra mma How do we ca tegorise Flying Lotus in 2010? year, Flying Lo This tus left behind all memories of John Coltrane’s being Grand-Nephe w, his “Post-D label and Adu illa” lt Swim bumpe r music past, m towards a soun oving d that approxim ates jazz fusion, electronica, hi p hop and psyc hedelia withou relaxing into on t ever e groove. Brea thless and eclectic, Cosm ogramma shows that FlyL o is a genre unto himself. pening tem – This Is Hap
7. LCD Soundsys of placing rstands the irony wanted de un y ph ur M es Jam “You ng with the hook -song run a nine-minute so ur fo a er aft ts” hi do a hit/but we don’t e year’s best pop songs. th As Murphy including some of ny there himself. the iro e th t Hell, he pu on op he shuts up sh gets smarter (and gins to eschew the musical be he LCD project), in 2002’s that he catalogued w LCD reference points sa at ’. For anyone th ‘Losing My Edge a band, just their last year as in m Soundsyste at the very nts say they were wk when like hearing pare ga ill w ur children yo , ow sh n Ca st fir e in the flesh. u saw Murphy liv you tell them yo
8. Vampire Weekend –
Contra opens with ‘Ho rchata’, a kiss-off to all the people who hated on the upper-class imagery, classical arrangements and ‘misappropriated’ afropop of Vampire Weeke nd’s first record. What the fans know is that the cla ssical arrangements ble nd perfectly into the music of the tightest four-piec e in pop. Vampire Weeke nd got into legal troub le for ‘mis-appropriating’ something else entirely (Contra’s cover photo), but the music is brillia nt. ‘Appropriate’ according to half the world anywa y. 9. Arcade Fi re – The Subu rbs
Initial reacti ons to The Su bu comparison with Arcade rbs forced it into a Fire’s first tw After time’s se o albums. t is better than in, I think it’ll come out that this Neon Bible (Th Funeral). Exc hanging gran ough probably not diose statem a depressive’s ents vi of a Middle A ew of the boredom and is for ol merican upbr melodramat inging, it’s st ation ic, but far m ore honest an ill d relatable.
ch 10. Gorillaz – Plastic Bea
this year and Gorillaz did a Pinocchio d. Built around ban l rea suddenly became a yptic future of the concept of an apocal stic Beach avoided Pla environmental decay, del (fitting for an the singles-and-filler mo on making music d imaginary band focuse members) of d ban n too videos with car ys to produce their Gorillaz and Demon Da th yet. ng l-le most satisfying ful
We Are All Related
Instrumental hip-hop is a small genre. Most music gravitates towards the sounds crafted by DJ Shadow on his seminal 1996 release Endtroducing... and J Dilla on 2006’s Donuts. Even pretty great albums, like RJD2’s Deadringer, bear undeniable resemblance to Shadow in style and sound.
Degeneration Street is the fifth studio album by The Dears, an indie rock band from Quebec. They are best known for ethereal and gloomy music – the kind one might use to withdraw and lock themself in their room with, hoping to provoke some profound thought.
Diger Rokwell counts RJD2 as a major reference point for his music but manages to avoid close comparison to the greats by crafting a sound that rejects the accepted norm of soul sampling and replaces it with spacey tones influenced by oriental music and 70s psych-rock.
However, to lock yourself in your room with Degeneration Street is beyond withdrawal – it would just be selfish. This music is for sharing! Tracks such as ‘Omega Dog’ and ‘Yesteryear’ arouse feelings of a brewing hope and joviality that pine to be communicated with others. The general emotional vibe of this album is more optimistic and hopeful than The Dears’ past albums, which tend to be forlorn in sentiment.
We Are All Related’s densely layered synth, drum, bass and guitar parts are augmented by Rokwell’s greatest strength (and distinguishing feature): his terrific ear for samples from far-off lands. Almost as impressively, it plays as an album from front-to-back with few weak moments. That’s even with individual highlights like the bouncing, piano-led ‘Free Ticket’, which loops a gorgeous West-Asian sample over a scattering West-African drum-beat.
Anyway, enough about emotional impressions of the album, the truth is that this music is also really catchy. It flows well with a great variety of tunes ranging from up-tempo tracks such as ‘5 Chords’ and ‘Stick With Me Kid’, to slower more soulful pieces such as ‘Lamentations’. A real bonus with this album is lead singer Murray Lightburn’s outstanding vocals. He could really show some of these crappy new Indie vocalists a thing or two.
Along with its avoidance of existing instrumental templates (aside from the spoken word that often threatens to drag the songs into pretention), is a distinction between WAAR and the accepted Australian hip-hop norm of skip-hop. With its eclectic sampling and space-rock influences, WAAR is a little bit of variety, and that’s what Australian hip-hop needs right now.
The Dears are a great indie band and their latest album is probably the best place to start with if you are unfamiliar with their music. An all-round brilliant album that’s easy to listen to as well.
Golden Age of Knowhere
Dye It Blonde
Often a record comes out early in the year that you find yourself becoming quickly attached to; sustaining you throughout the winter slog. Dye It Blonde, the sophomore record from Chicago rockers Smith Westerns, is sonically addictive and already feels like a strong contender for essential winter sustenance. This foursome have an average age of 19, and spend the record’s 36 minutes singing entirely about girls and dreams whilst drenching these ten tracks in irresistible vocal swoon, jangly guitar hooks and lush synths. Their sound is a hybrid of 60s T-Rex glamrock and 1990s Supergrass-style britpop, while producer Chris Coady (Beach House, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) ensures that Dye It Blonde is a more listenable piece of work than their basement-recorded debut, highlighting their impressive musicianship. Standout moments include the doo-wop- like chorus of ‘Weekend’, ‘Imagine Pt. 3’s final guitar breakdown which George Harrison would have been proud of, and the sincere yearning of ‘Only One’. However, ‘All Die Young’, a Beatles-indebted power ballad, is both the best and most peculiar moment. Its jubilant chorus is destined for a singalong, which might have been out of place at previous Smith Westerns gigs. Dye It Blonde is all about teenage forlornness, youthful abandon and being in love with the idea of being in love. If buckets of “Oh Girl!”’s & “A girl like you”’s don’t make you physically sick then this might just be the band for you.
Having not been exposed to Funeral Party before, a Californian band that ranked 47 on NME’s Best New Bands of 2010, I have deduced that they consist of a punk-inspired drummer, a funky bassist and an indie-pop lead singer and guitarist. The reasoning behind this is clear upon listening to their debut album Golden Age of Knowhere – think Kings of Leon with a pop-punk feel. For a first album it achieves expectations. It doesn’t exceed them but does succeed in offering a different sound to other bands of similar genre – a hard feat nowadays. ‘Giant Song’ and ‘New York City Moves to the Sound of LA’ offer a fast pace and an upbeat mood to come with. The rhythm section of the band let loose on ‘Finale’, and ‘Where Did It Go Wrong’ is bound to get stuck in your head. Funeral Party attempt to get into the recent electronica and synth resurgence on ‘Postcards of Persuasion’ but despite several concerts alongside Julian Casablancas, lead singer of The Strokes, Funeral Party is not exactly a band to boogie down to as much of the electronica and synth sounds are used mainly for effect leading into and out of songs. This album would be the perfect complement for a lazy afternoon spent at the beach watching the sun slowly set. Jessica Wright
Landmarks Of Lunacy EP Released as a free digital download on Christmas day, Landmarks of Lunacy is a collection of five songs recorded by UK indie dance outfit Klaxons, which did not feature on their sophomore album Surfing the Void released last year, after they were rejected by the group’s record label Polydor for being “too experimental for release”.
Recorded over three weeks of nocturnal sessions with Myths of the Near Future producer James Ford in an attempt to shake off their glow stick waving ‘new-rave’ tagline, the band aimed to expand their sound to create what bassist Jamie Reynolds described as a “prog doom” album.
T.I’.s seventh album was originally titled King Uncaged to celebrate his release from prison in December 2009 after serving nine months on weapons charges. In September 2010 T.I. was arrested for drug possession, resulting in an 11-month jail term and a slightly embarrassing change in marketing.
Half expecting a barely listenable collection of noise tracks, I was blown away by its delicate psychedelic folk. Polydor’s rejection of the sessions with Ford seems to have been determined by commercial interests rather than artistic integrity maintenance; all five songs abandon the remix friendly drum beats and angular guitar riffs which characterised the group’s debut in favour of a softer sound. The beautiful vocal harmonisations created between vocalists Righton and Reynolds have been pursued, better lending themselves to the group’s otherworldly lyrics. ‘Wildeflowers’ and ‘Marble Fields’ are the standout tracks, both drifting along waves of distorted guitars and hypnotic keys.
However, No Mercy is a slick, 14-track pop-rap album, which includes a gangsta’s paradise line-up of features from other rappers and hip-hops artists (including Eminem, Kanye West and Christina Aguilera). It opens with T.I. crowing about “Fast money, fast cars, big diamond rings” on the bombastic ‘Welcome to the World’ before taking a more introspective turn with tracks such as ‘How Life Changed’ (where T.I. looks back ruefully at his misspent youth) and ‘Get Back Up’ (which addresses his more recent life choices). The album concludes with the thundering beat of ‘Castle Walls’, although the actual lyrics (“The king’s life seem glamorous / As seen through the eyes of untrained amateurs”) represent a somewhat asinine display of self-pity.
Overall, Landmarks of Lunacy is a fine collection of songs well worth the download and offers Klaxons fans some compensation for the sometimes underwhelming second album, Surfing the Void.
Whether you’re Johnny Cash, Ray Charles or 2Pac, the conventional wisdom is that jail time produces reflection in a musician; a hardening of the soul and unfogging of the mind. No Mercy is the sound of a rapper addressing his idiocy without sacrificing his swagger. Let’s hope T.I. can get his shit together and produce a similarly powerful eighth album.
Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em The DeAndre Way
Far from the biggest joke in hip-hop, but pretty far from being the hottest MC in the game, The DeAndre Way is Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em’s latest instalment in his rise from total obscurity to Interscope artist with a #1 Billboard single. Unfortunately, there is nothing on The DeAndre Way that’s as good as ‘Crank Dat’, which is evidence that DeAndre’s musical talent might have hit its limit. Everything about this album is simple, and nothing about it is confused. Soulja Boy’s personality is a hip hop cliché (“Word around town I got bitches on my dick”), nothing about the music is experimental or adventurous, and not even 50 Cent on ‘Mean Mug’ gets things happening. So when DeAndre tells us on ‘Grammy’ that “the world should hear my story” and that he deserves a Grammy, the obvious question is “why?” But simple is fine if that’s all you want. ‘Touchdown’ and ‘Speakers Going Hammer’ work well as party jams, as does the hilarious ‘First Day of School’. The Album highlight is its lead single ‘Pretty Boy Swag’, a crunk dubstep-speed track with gloriously vapid vocal delivery (except for wicked lines like “no homo shawty but my chest is straight flexin”). Stick to the hits and skip the filler. If nothing else, Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em gets top marks for making sure he said everything he wanted to say.
Upcoming Gigs Full Moon Festival Way too indie for Triple J? Immersed in the local music scene? Just out to have a good time? Toodyay’s inaugural Full Moon Festival promises to collect some of the best of Perth’s independent and unsigned music scene over one night in April. Headlined by Perth’s Stoner Rock stalwarts Scotch of St. James and alt-folkers Wolves At The Door, the Full Moon Festival takes the festival environment away from the sun and underneath the stars, offering a camping experience that doesn’t separate you from the music. Located just over an hour’s drive north-east of Perth, the festival offers full camping (BYO tents) and parking, and for campers there will be more acts playing on the morning after. If you love Perth music, or have felt the need to do more to check out the scene, the Full Moon Festival is a great entry point to our own brand of local alternative music.
Playing: Scotch of St. James, Wolves At The Door, Diger Rokwell, Carl Fox, Lucy Peach, Kathryn Rollins, Ten Mountains Date: April 2–3 Price: $30 + BF (through greentix.com.au) Location: Full Moon Farm, Lot 10 Coondle West Rd, Toodyay More Information: Check out the Full Moon Festival Event and Dionysus Events on Facebook.
THAT’LL DO PIG a look at the Australian Cult Classic: Razorback ------------------------ Lachlan Keeley -------------------------------You probably don’t spend a lot of your time watching Australian films. And you’re not the only one.
“Baz”? Of course, considering the quality of Mr. Luhrmann’s most recent cinematic abortion (MAGICAL ABORIGINIES: THE MOVIE! etc.), it might be for the best.
Australian cinema seems to be one of the leastregarded and least-promoted national cinemas in the world (that even New Zealand seems to have a superior reputation to us says a lot) – and this is a real fucking shame seeing as some of the greatest and strangest movies in the world have been created by Australians (adopted Australian directors count as well). There is a literal goldmine of idiosyncratic Australian cinema lurking in the darker corners of our video stores – the title of Peter Weir’s first film, The Cars That Ate Paris, being a perfect example of the unique strangeness this column hopes to reclaim from the underworld.
Disappointingly, following the sudden cult success of his early career, Mulcahy soon faded into obscurity. Until he decided to unleash Resident Evil: Extinction upon the world. But better to leave that to another column.
Now that the vague socio-political cultural pretension is out of the way, I shall reveal the true purpose of this column. To wit: This is really about providing an impetus to revisit bizarre Australian films of yesteryear that have been lost in the depths of the miasmic murk that is our national culture. Following the viewing of these celluloid oddities, this column will be the vantage point from which I am to wax poetic about the positives and negatives (mostly positives, natch) of said films. Quite simple, really. But what shall be the first film to receive this audacious treatment? Why, Razborback, of course! Thankfully, this has nothing to do with that ridiculous episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer about psychic hyenas (or something) eating the school mascot, and instead has very much to do with an obscenely large pig devouring people in the Australian outback. I can tell that you’re sold on this one already! Razorback is a 1984 horror movie and the debut feature of Australian director Russell Mulcahy. His name is not one that immediately springs to mind when it comes to discussions regarding Australia’s film alumni (admittedly, even the figureheads of this group are frequently neglected), which is odd, seeing as he not only directed both of the Highlander films but also happens to be one of the most prolific music video directors of all time. You’d think he might have managed to garner at least some recognition, but no! When was the last time you heard his name mentioned alongside
To return to the subject at hand, Razorback is an unusual film. There’s a sense of otherworldliness imbued throughout much of it, most noticeably in the bizarre hallucination sequences that abuse smoke and lighting past their legal limits yet somehow still manage to remain compelling. This pervasion of fantasy would come to a more obvious head in Highlander, but the roots of it can be traced back to the composition of Razorback, which make for a very impressive film, visually. Valid parallels could be made between the uncanny nightmare sequences found Razorback and the bizarre hallucination in Wake in Fright, as well as the superficially light-hearted but equally
disturbing dream sequences in Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures. I’ll just go on a minor tangent here and say that the scene in which the protagonist makes a delirious journey across a salt lake and is menaced by a hallucination of an undead horse is probably the greatest scene in the movie. If you look past the big – and admittedly very enjoyable to watch – pig that is the ostensible centre of Razorback, this film actually seems to have more in common with George Miller’s triumvirate of Mad Max films, rather than other big killer animal movies like Cujo, Rogue, Dark Age, maybe even Jaws. The focus of this film, unlike the other aforementioned big animal movies, is upon Mulachy’s cinematography and lighting and how he uses these to build a variety of cinematic atmospheres. In the grand schemata of Razorback, the presence of a large creature that occasionally eats people is arguably negligible (even if it does happen to do so in a very exciting way) as Mulachy’s focus here is actually upon the focus – that is, what you are actually seeing upon the screen, and the way he can use this to make an atmosphere of confusion or excitement or whatever. Admittedly, confusion seems to be the general trend. But it’s some really nice-looking confusion. The film is not without its cathartic visceral pleasures, though, and the greatest of these occurs when one of the semi-retarded but extremely vicious antagonists (who has been a major bastard throughout the film, natch, with an attempted rape of the female protagonist not being the least of his faux pas) is finally dealt his comeuppance. A highlight of which being when his face is lovingly chewed to bits by everyone’s favourite pig. So, to conclude: Razorback is completely fucking ridiculous, but in a good way. The dialogue is gloriously Australian, special effects are indulged to the point of incomprehensibility, and the eponymous monster is barely present for most of the runtime – all the hallmarks of an excellent horror film. Razorback is without doubt one of the greatest achievements of Australian cinema, and you really ought to dig it out of whatever vault your closest video store is keeping it locked up in (or, failing that, look into ulterior means of acquisition). I’m not even being sarcastic!
FESTIVORAMALODEON Film for the Discerning Eyeball -------------------
Callum Twigger & Samantha Leung -------------------
This year, Pelican has turned its small, marble-like eyes to focus on Perth’s festival film scene; Festivoramalodeon was what resulted. A quasi-regular peep at what’s showing where and how you can get there.
A new pea in the William Street pod, 1Up is part clothing store, part micro-cinema. Dotted between the merch racks are the Dalek-like husks of retro arcade game systems. In an inspired act of techno-lobotomy, these have been gutted and refitted by store-owner Matt Darch: where once eight-bit game glory reigned, now award winning short film loops.
Each arcade system has its own film and they’re cycled through every couple of weeks. Screening at the time of review was the wickedly short Meanwhile in the Fruitbowl by Dan Moller; Mystery of the Flying Kicks, a quirky glimpse at the practice of hanging tied sneakers from power-lines, and Ultraman, a tragicomic look at a Melbournian superhero by Hannah Moon. These microcinemas are as much a part of the store as the clothes are (stocking Melbourne’s I Hear They Eat Cigarettes), and worth checking out in of themselves. It’s the kind of project that makes Perth a better place: an idea that sets itself out on its own, not just a facsimile of something cooked up over East. 1Up has grand ambitions: there’s a small bar and 20-person cinema in the pipe; with the master scheme being a regular schedule of festival, cult and short film for the good folk of our city. So drop in and check it out.
The Moon is the quintessential student cafe; bohemian, affordable, and always a rewarding zone for first dates. The good folk at Moon HQ have put together Cinema in a Cave: a series of free film screenings every final Sunday of the month. What makes Cinema in a Cave is the atmosphere: the amber glow, the good food, and the better company. It’s a damn sexy union of form. When: Fourth Sunday o’ the Month. Where: The Moon Café, William Street, Northbridge Web: themoon.com.au/ cinema-in-a-cave
When: Whenever you want. Where: 1Up Microcinema, William Street, Northbridge Web: insertcoins.com.au
Cinema in a Cave
The film selection is entirely at the whim of the Moon’s mysterious masters, so check the website to make sure that what’s screening is to your tastes; but be assured that the cult film custodian will never be far from thoroughly impressed by the selection. Noisy co-diners can clash with the film’s soundtrack; it’s entirely likely you may be seated next to wankers who won’t shut-up, but most patrons give the film a relative silence. Likewise, as the seating arrangements are constantly under siege by the physical limitations of the Moon’s courtyard, a clean eyeline to the screen can be a stretch. It’s an issue the establishment ought to address; as delicious as a free screening plus meal can be, tickets (at even a nominal price) might do a mighty job of throttling the inconsiderate.
Ford Fiesta Moonlight Cinemas
Moonlight Cinemas hit our Western shores in 2004, eight years after its birth in Melbourne, after which it has proceeded to expand slowly through Australia’s capitals like a fungus. An awesome, atmospheric fungus.
It’s midsummer and Moonlight is back: touching down in the absolutely gorgeous Synergy Parkland within King’s Park. Who can resist an outdoor film fest in the midst of sprawling greens, with perfect night-summer weather and a wicked selection of film? Patrons perch contently and picnic on the grass in front of a giant screen surrounded by trees. It’s BYO; snackables are to be encouraged. The lounging is particularly comfortable for those wanting to splurge on Intel Gold Grass tickets (that’s $30 folks); one of these bad boys scoops the lucky punter a glass of wine and a bean bag. For those who prefer to indulge not quite so heavily, beanbags are up for rental grabs at $6 (plus a $10 refundable deposit). Alternatively, an enlightened viewer can wait til everyone clears out and then relax on the now completely free beds. This admittedly compromises the whole gig, but it’s fucking comfy.
When: Evenins’ till the 24th March 2011 Where: Synergy Parklands, King’s Park, Perth Web: moonlight.com.au/ home.php?location=Perth
Moonlight is amazing. It conjures fond childhood memories of Drive-Ins and sets up an experience that is unique out West. Must-sees include Rocky Horror, Pulp Fiction, Black Swan and The Social Network, but don’t stop there: the festival has a range that caters for almost every variety of viewer.
Life During Wartime
Director: Todd Solondz.
Director: David O Russel.
Directors: Ethan & Joel Coen.
Director: Darren Aronofsky.
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale & Amy Adams.
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfield & Josh Brolin.
Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis & Vincent Cassell.
Life During Wartime is a film interested in humanity’s ability to forgive and forget itself – even in the wake of terrible, life-changing events. And also sexual perversity. Molestation and rape and stuff.
The Fighter tells the true story of boxer Micky Ward, a working class Irish-American who fought his way up to the top of his division. Directed by David O Russell, the film’s biggest strength is its fantastic cast.
This is a kind-of sequel to Solondz’s previous 1998 feature, Happiness, and most of the characters from that film are reprised here. But there’s a catch: all of these characters are now played by completely different actors, an idea that may be referencing Luis Bunuels’ 1977 film That Obscure Object of Desire, in which the lead character is deliberately replaced by a completely different actress halfway through the movie.
Mark Wahlberg plays Micky Ward as a stoic figure dominated by the larger personalities of his mother and brother. Christian Bale is electric as Micky’s older brother, Dicky Ecklund. Dicky, a former boxer who famously knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard, is now Micky’s trainer and a drug addict. Bale is a lock for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for the role. Footage of the real Micky and Dicky at the end of the film displays how well Wahlberg and Bale captured the essence of the brothers in their performances.
In typical Coen brothers fashion, True Grit takes what could easily be tedious and unimaginative and adds a snappy script, classy seasoned actors and some grotesque violence to liven up the remake of this John Wayne classic.
Backstage bitching is at face value not fresh film territory, but in Black Swan, director Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler) injects the faintly familiar rhythm of dance school politick with body horror and brooding psychodrama. From the resulting tangle, he pulls one of Natalie Portman’s best performances and a pivot-piece that cements its place as a 2011 must-watch.
Starring: Shirley Williamson, Williams & Roslyn Ruff.
The only tangible effect this casting change has upon the film is that it confuses you for the first five minutes before making you feel extremely clever as you smugly whisper, “hey, I know which character that is!” This only happens if you’ve seen Happiness, of course. In other words: the casting change is pretty much arbitrary. Solondz seems to belong to a John Watersinspired clique of film-makers (Harmony Korine and Larry Clark being the other tips of this cynical iceberg) who seem to be under the impression that you can validly judge any subject – no matter how taboo – as long as you approach it detachedly; but unlike Waters, Solondz and Korine’s characters are severely lacking in appealing qualities. There’s some vague explorations of post-9/11 politics and Jewish identity in modern society here as well, which don’t really mix all that well with the rest of the film. The bottom line is that you probably won’t know what the hell is going on – let alone approach the threshold of enjoying Life In Wartime – if you haven’t seen Happiness. And even then, it seems extremely weird to recommend a film in which a woman is almost raped by the depressed ghost of her exboyfriend.
Melissa Leo also stands-out as Alice, Micky and Dicky’s mother and manager for much of his career. Alice acts as a domineering matriarch, trying to keep her large and dysfunctional family under control. Amy Adams plays Micky’s new girlfriend, Charlene, in a role as far away from Enchanted as possible. Family ties in The Fighter are portrayed as both immensely important but also capable of holding a person back. Micky only begins to succeed in the ring when he breaks off from his mother’s control of his career. However, he can’t fully divorce himself from his family or the lessons he learnt from his brother. The Fighter sticks closely to the standard sporting biopic formula, but the film is ultimately elevated by the strength of its casting. The fantastic acting and complex relationship of Micky and Dicky makes The Fighter a stirring and engaging film.
B+ Kevin Chiat
First timer Hailee Steinfield is charming as headstrong 14-year-old Matty Ross embarking on a mission to avenge her father’s killer (Josh Brolin). Investing in the help of a mostly unintelligible and hilariously drunken US Marshall (Jeff Bridges), the film focuses solely on their journey through the West, with no side story, love interest or musical numbers which could have been used to divert attention from this simple story of revenge. There is a lot to like about True Grit: for Coen brothers fans, it takes the element of chase from No Country for Old Men, the sharp banter from Intolerable Cruelty and the quirky humour from A Serious Man, and still manages to deliver something very different. However, the dialogue is almost a little too polished and, unfortunately, loses a lot of its effect when mumbled by Bridges and rushed through by youngster Steinfield. The end really does not do the rest of the film justice, particularly when it was approached with such a light touch. And the narration by a 40-yearold Ross also adds nothing. Being based on a novel, some parts do not translate to the screen as well, so the achievement is perhaps doing a good job at adaptation and not so much at a great stand-alone film. I’m sure it will improve with repeated viewings and secure a fond place in the history of everyone involved, a rather amusing looking Matt Damon included. Extra credit for making a Western watchable.
B+ Djuna Hallworth
Naïve Nina Sayers (Portman), a talented ballerina, is given the principal role at a top New York production of Swan Lake. Asphyxiated between the demands of her director, her exballerina mother and the nattering acolytes of her dance academe, Nina’s psyche starts to splinter as she pushes her body to the point of snapping. Her director (Vincent Cassell) mocks her innocence, and her saucy understudy (a steaming Mila Kunis) plays with her suppressed sexuality as Nina falls into a fractured state, punctured by her obsession with perfection. In order to embody the darkness demanded of her by her role, she has to abandon the discipline and fragility that made her the company’s best ballerina. The beauty of Black Swan as a film can’t be understated. Aronofsky’s cinematography uses the mirrors of the dance academe like taught wires, snapping and switching perspective to consistently trip up and trap the audience. Close-shots of raw nails, split flesh and stainless steel contrast between the plump white of stage make-up and satin; keeping the audience suspended in Nina’s horror as she goes quite mad. In both matter and form, Black Swan channels the warlord of the art thriller Dario Argentino (case: demented ballerinas/artful insanity, see: Suspiria). If anything, Aronofsky was, like his broken heroine, too perfect and clean in his direction; at times it felt like Black Swan wanted to be a wilder, bloodier and more debauched film, but was cut clean by commercial considerations. However this is barely a minor drawback.
Simply put, Black Swan is this month’s homework for fans of highbrow horror.
ACallum J Twigger
The King’s Speech
The Green Hornet
Director: Eric Brevig.
Director: Tom Hooper
Director: Stephen Frears.
Director: Michel Gondry
Starring: Dan Akroyd, Justin Timberlake.
Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush & Helena Bonham Carter
Starring: Gemma Aterton & Dominic Cooper.
Starring: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou and Christoph Waltz
The schematics for Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech don’t look promising.
Tamara Drewe was a perfectly pleasant film which had the middle aged women in the audience madly cackling, and I believe at some point, even stomping their bunyoned feet. The film is set in the countryside of a rather quaint but boring town, where the title character Tamara (Gemma Arterton) returns after a lengthy hiatus.
The Green Hornet teams up the writing team behind Superbad and Pineapple Express with Michel Gondry of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fame. This adaptation of a pulp hero – originally created for radio in 1936 – is an entertaining mash-up of the styles brought to the table by the two halves of the creative team.
By far the greatest achievement of this film is its ability to bestow an unshakeable sense of liberation upon its audience as it draws to an end. Warner Brother’s Yogi Bear combines beautifully crafted computer-generated animation and live action sequences to bring Hanna and Barbera’s beloved childhood cartoon into a world of big screen mediocrity, following on from 2002’s disaster, Scooby Doo. Yogi and his sidekick Boo Boo lead a mischievous life of stealing “pick-a-nic” baskets from campers in Jellystone National Park at the expense of the Park’s uptight curator, Ranger Smith, until one day they are forced to cooperate in an effort to save the Park from deforestation at the hands of the fiendish town mayor. The film follows the standard school holiday recipe of combining wacky gags, buffoonish characters, an environmental message and a gag reflex educing love interest to create good ol’ family fun. But its grotesque screenplay neither lends itself to children nor adults. The majority of the film’s hideously clichéd and uninspiring script follows the lamer than life human characters rather than the far more entertaining bears, both of whom are voiced admirably close to their original two-dimensional selves by Ghostbuster Dan Aykroyd and pop-star Justin Timberlake. The jokes aimed at adults barely scratch the surface of a smile whilst the unsophisticated slapstick gags and bandwagon 3D effects intended for youngsters will be met with blank stares. Yogi Bear is a white elephant in a post Pixar age of witty children’s films. Converting a five minute long cartoon into an 80 minute long Gen-Z friendly feature has proved too difficult a task for the writers and director of this film, who resort to needless dance scenes and eye popping 3D animation in a ploy to pull big holiday box office sales. Let’s just pray this year’s up and the coming Smurf film is not this bad. [Ed’s note: It will be]
F Robert Mead
Stuffy period tropes. Eccentric royalty. Aussie larrikin hijinks. It’s tempting to assume that the film won’t even scratch box office figures, and as for awards, a forgettable nomination for best costume? But to make that kind of call is wrong. The King’s Speech is possibly the best film to come out of 2010; one hell of a crown considering last year’s saturation of successes. Duke Albert (Colin Firth) was never to be King of Great Britain. In the shadow of his lecherous elder brother, King Edward (Guy Pearce), he worked as a brilliant diplomat and philanthropist, albeit one blighted with a stutter. But when his brother abdicates, Albert is hurled into the spotlight: the voice of an Empire in strange and dark times, his stammered public speeches become a matter of imperial significance. Which is where astute colonial Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) is slipped in from down under: a last chance for the tongue-tied monarch, Logue’s unorthodoxy proves to be the circuit that ultimately diffuses the King’s disability. Firth and Rush make the film. As two outsiders pushed into the cold and crusted institution that is the monarchy, their banter is warm, their friendship is human, and their evolution as individuals profound. Helena Bonham Carter takes a break from creep duty to back up the force of the main performance as the Queen Mother, and Guy Pearce is suitably slimy as the weak King Edward. The King’s Speech is superbly shot, working away at a perfect pacing that steers the film comfortably beyond its challenges: Albert’s stutter is never milked for sentimentality, Logue never falls into caricature, history sets the background without obstructing the foreground. Only an idiot would scorn King Albert Windsor once they passed his superficial flaws and the same is true for The King’s Speech: they are both truly glorious to their core.
A+ Callum J Twigger
The standard boy meets girl, boy dumps girl because his mates don’t think she’s hot enough, girl gets revenge by moving away and getting a nose job before inevitably returning home storyline is surprisingly well hidden behind the schemes of the ensemble cast. The film starts with the antics of a successful crime writer who cheats on his doting wife, Beth (Tasmin Greig, aka Fran from Black Books). They run a writers’ retreat from their home in the country and play host to various people seeking inspiration for their books, be it lesbian punk fiction or a Hardy biography. The list of characters continues with two teenage girls who are hopelessly and hilariously in love with the rock-star Ben (Dominic Cooper) who beds Tamara, as does the cheating crime writer Nicholas and Andy. It’s hard to accurately, and succinctly, describe the film, so I’ll just say that if you like hot girls, the countryside, middle aged people, indie drummers and/or teenage girls (as well as fairly gratuitous shots of a scone covered in jam and cream), you should see this film.
B+ Katherine Lane
Co-writer Seth Rogen stars as Britt Reid, an irresponsible slacker whose father runs a major LA newspaper. After his father’s seemingly accidental death, he meets Kato (Jay Chou), his father’s genius mechanic and martial-arts expert. They decide to become masked crime fighters, driving around in a tricked-out car called The Black Beauty. They raise the ire of Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz), a mid-life crisis inflicted crime boss. Kato is the real brains of the Green Hornet team. Kato does the heavy lifting in fight scenes and Britt comes off more as the bumbling comic relief than the film’s hero. The Green Hornet team create almost as much havoc as the criminals they chase and the chemistry between Rogen and Chou is one of the strongest aspects of the film. There are touches of Gondry’s signature style. Most prominently a split-screen montage showing how the LA underworld spreads news of a bounty placed on the Green Hornet. However, the action scenes were a bit rote and not as inventive as I’d expected from Gondry. The Green Hornet is for the most part a funny and entertaining film. Unfortunately, the plot drags in the middle with a predictable conflict between the hero and sidekick. I’d also recommend seeing the film in 2D if possible, as the 3D adds little and costs you more.
The Book of Genesis – Illustrated by R. Crumb -------------------------------------------------------
Patrick Marlborough -------------------------------------------------------
Robert Crumb is the most notorious ‘comix’ artist in history. The “king of the underground” comix scene, which emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, Crumb is an iconic genius, known for warped illustrations of his sickening neuroses, misanthropy, and bizarre sexual perversions. His artwork captured the madness of a generation. Like all great artists however, Crumb has remained relevant because of his ability to adapt. His work is continuously evolving, and thus contains that same spark of originality that was present in his infamous early work. Last year he produced a work unlike his psychedelic sexual fantasies. This was the Book of Genesis – Illustrated by R. Crumb. Crumb admits in his introduction to being an atheist. He notes how most comic books that have illustrated the Bible believe it to be “the word of God” yet constantly inject modern dialogue and narrative arcs to make it more digestible for the modern reader. Crumb, who ironically does not believe in God, has insisted on translating Genesis literally – including obscure descriptions, recurring stories, and (of course) using the archaic and often cryptic dialogue. It would seem impossible to translate the text so literally into the comic medium, but Crumb being Crumb, has made Genesis more at home in his panels than in the Bible itself. What this creates is an entirely unique perspective on a truly fascinating text. Crumb’s use of a vintage comic style complements the narrative elements of Genesis perfectly. The fact that his interpretation is so literal shatters the reader’s preconceived notions both spiritually and visually. It has always been the detail in Crumb’s work which has astonished me, and Genesis is by far the most stunningly detailed work of his that I have come across. Crumb has extensively researched the time period: the geography, geopolitics, the architecture, the fashion, the facial characteristics and beard styles of people are all given his obsessive treatment. He has essentially reconstructed a world that has been gone for over 2000 years. Again, it just emphasises how much Genesis lends itself to the comic book medium. Each character in Genesis – from Eve to Isaac – is given life through Crumb’s pen. My personal favourites are ‘the Serpent’ represented as a 1950s sci-fi snake man, and of course, God, with his flowing white robe and big white beard which make him look like he’s escaped from a Cecil B Demille film. The “begat” pages are truly inspired as Crumb does a sketch of the 50 or more sons “who begat Bob who begat Barry” etc. and no one is left out. There is also plenty of sex – usually daughter on father. Now, Crumb is known for drawing such things in the past (see Joe Blow) but in this situation, he is just accurately illustrating the text. There simply is a lot of sex in Genesis. It is such a literal visual translation that only the most sensitive of people could take offence. I honestly believe this to be a more inspiring and more accessible version of Genesis than that found in the average Bible. The text seems to operate better in this medium with the images complementing the text as opposed to cheapening it. I think the printed text suffers from being an awkward compilation of oral tradition. The comic medium balances the difficulty of Genesis with its beauty spectacularly well. For all Crumb fans, this is a must have. It is also a great way to ‘enjoy’ The Book of Genesis, even if you don’t believe in a sky man with a big white beard.
Illustration by Lola Lin
By the fireside: A series of glib literary introductions The Canon -------------------------------------------------------
Ben Sacks -------------------------------------------------------
Imagine that Literature was a person – a really, really old person. No one is quite sure where they were born or who their parents were. Like all of us, Literature’s life consists mostly of moderately interesting moments that flow neatly into one another. There are, however, a few moments that stand out; moments that have shaped and defined the person you see in front of you. Wouldn’t you want to hear those stories? The so-called Western canon is a loosely defined group of writings that have been the most influential in shaping Western culture. Together they provide many of the most recognisable themes, tropes and stylistic elements present in modern books, TV and film. Any epic tale of adventure has to doff its cap to Homer’s Odyssey, and other Greco-Roman writings provide the basis for our understanding of satire, tragedy and a host of other literary forms. Say what you will about its status as a Holy Book, the Bible provides some of our most powerful and evocative stories of temptation (Adam and Even), the problem of evil (Job), betrayal (Judas Iscariot) and self-sacrifice (Jesus). It’s a damned good read. Any fan of the English language should treat themselves to Shakespeare, while those less Anglo-inclined can take comfort in Dante, Balzac, Dostoyevsky and many others. Of course, it’s not all fun and games. If the Western canon were a person, then he would be an old white guy with a short temper and an often-incomprehensible vocabulary. His stories would often be obscured by inside jokes from his youth that have very little relevance to you. His views towards women and the non-Western world could be politely described as “old fashioned” and people often roll their eyes when you start talking about him. But despite its quirks and challenges, reading the Western canon is an extremely rewarding experience. It’s best done at a leisurely pace – I certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone take out a subscription to Great Books of the Western World or dedicate themselves solely to “the classics”. You’ll end up very old, very white and smelling strongly of brandy and pipe tobacco. Instead, supplement your staple diet of TV shows, movies and modern books with a blast from the past. So sit down by the fireside, open one of those leather-bound tomes and let the good times roll.
DANCING WITH THE DEAD -----------------------------------------
Ben Sacks interviews Kim Scott ----------------------------------------
It’s been 11 years since WA’s Kim Scott won the prestigious Miles Franklin Award for his second novel, Benang: From the Heart. Now he has returned with his latest book, That Deadman Dance, which has been attracting glowing reviews ever since it hit the shelves in late 2010. Kim chatted to Ben Sacks about his influences, the personal dimensions of writing, and his latest book
Running with the Genesis theme, how has your early life and background influenced your writing? In my early years sitting on the floor, drawing on big bits of paper, I think some of that tactile pleasure of paper and pencil led into writing. I still get a bit of that buzz sometimes when things are going well, even if it’s on the laptop. I was relatively isolated in my early years, and I think that that goes together with reading and writing. And a fair bit just on reflecting on issues of identity: when I was a kid I didn’t know we were living adjacent to what I now regard as Noongar ancestral country, and I didn’t know that for a number of generations my Noongar family had lived adjoining where a lot of people were killed in the late nineteenth century. So those things inform my writing. You know, to fill a silence really.
Was there any one time when you thought, “I’m going to become a writer”? When I was teaching English in high school, in my naivety I thought, “If I’m teaching people how to write, I should make sure that I know how to do it”. That meant I had to try and get published. And that was the really decisive bit.
Having read a few of your books, I would describe your writing as very personal. Do you feel you’re exposing a part of yourself when you write? I think all writers worry about that vulnerability. I try to be sincere and frank, and it’s also a very privileged position to have a one-on-one communication with someone for a number of hours. There’s a South American writer, Eduardo Galeano, who said, “we writers send messages to all our friends – many of whom we do not know, in far away places – and we embrace them with our language.” There’s a personal dimension to that level of communication. So I think it’s a privilege to communicate really intimately with people, and one’s personal preoccupations inevitably come out in that process. That’s how I react to that personal thing: it feels quite courageous, you make yourself vulnerable, you try not to be self-indulgent and you care about language.
Your writing is also political, in that you encourage your audience to think about certain issues. Is there a tension between the personal and political? Absolutely. I don’t always intend to be political in terms of supplying ammunition for one cause or another. I think sometimes the political imperative, particularly as an indigenous writer, can get in the way of good storytelling. In the most recent book I’ve tried to address that.
Moving onto your latest book, That Deadman Dance. What would you say inspired it? The town where I grew up, Albany on the South coast, is partly what it’s about – to find out that that was called the “friendly frontier”. Who made it the friendly frontier? Is that bullshit or not? And how come the massacre country isn’t that far away?
How did you get the title? Part of it was to get a more marketable title, as I’m not very good with titles. One of the inspirations for the novel was Flinders in 1801 in Albany – he spent two weeks there and had good relationships [with Noongar people] as far as one can determine. As he left, the marines performed a military drill, and Noongars appropriated that and turned it into a dance – the Deadman dance. There are many other examples of Noongars appropriating the cultural forms of the “other”. So is that a culturally dynamic thing, or is it part of the beginning of the end? I don’t think that is the case, so I was playing with that dance: is it a dance of death, or is it a creative process? I tried to get ambivalence in the title, and it seemed marketable as well.
What kinds of sources did you use? Did they tell a similar story? Depends how you read them. It’s oral history stuff, archival stuff and Noongar language stuff. The Noongar language informs the novel in some ways, particularly in the attitudes of the protagonist, Bobby Wabalanginy. His confidence, risk-taking and willingness to innovate came from some old Noongar stories. They go against the grain of some
more political narratives, which are overwhelmingly about resistance. Noongar accounts also touch on the idea of place manifesting in one’s spirit, and the impossibility of people wanting to conquer one’s spiritual country. Historical archives often give a derogatory and belittling representation of Noongar individuals, but not completely so. To have the backdrop of those Noongar stories helped me to pick up and grab moments in some of those journals I wanted to expand on.
In the novel there’s a lot of cultural exchange – of songs, dances, language – but also of food and clothing. What’s the significance of that? I see early Noongars initiating those cultural exchanges. As for the clothing bit, in some of the historical material Noongars putting on the clothing of the “other” is seen as some sort of primitive assimilation. But I think it’s a really sophisticated thing they’re doing, and when Noongars would meet each other (as relative strangers) they would exchange cloaks. I think that’s a very intimate thing to do, to be enclosed in the skin of another. And the exchange of songs –to take on the songs and sounds of another – is also working from deep Noongar cultural impulses. I think there’s an idea that your song is who you are, and you show who you are, and your country, through your sound and rhythm and song.
Finally, you’re going to be appearing at the Perth Writer’s Festival. Are you looking forward to it? Have you got something special lined up? [Laughs] No, it’s bit like exams to tell you the truth – you get given a topic and 15 minutes to talk about it. But yes, it’ll be… very exceptional. Kim Scott will be appearing at the Perth Writers Festival 6 – 7 March 2011. His book, The Deadman Dance, is available now.
What Pelican read this month C
Beneath the Shadows Sara Foster
Beneath the Shadows is a novel by West Australian author Sara Foster. It is a simple read, and can be summarised as the story of a single mother in a foreign land, facing mysteries of loss, strangers, scary tales and just a hint of romance. We follow Grace as she searches for answers on the Yorkshire moors, where her husband went missing the year before. This is her tale – we follow her thoughts, confusions and
hopes for most of the time. We can see how much Grace loves her young daughter and we can appreciate her difficulty in moving on blindly from an open-ended past. The setting is beautifully painted, with vivid imagery and good descriptions easily transporting you into each scene. However, it’s rather difficult to gush about this book. Sometimes, its prose reads too juvenile, and while the plot is a slow and steady journey, the somewhat predictable ending, numerous unanswered questions and shallow supporting characters are definite sticking points. Some vague gothic elements are attempted but not fully developed. At least the story does not drag as we wonder where everything is heading. I suspect this is a book for the quietest of nights or middle-aged women with nothing better to do. But I’ll be fair! Maybe it does depend on your mood, your tastes and your reading level. Sarah Lam
arrival in Metropolis. Clark comes off as a typical 21-year-old graduate, confused about what he wants to do with his life. He resists the call to become Superman, tempted by the money he could make by using his powers on the sporting field or as a scientist. He is forced to become Superman when an alien invasion led by Tyrell – one of Krypton’s greatest enemies – arrives on Earth.
Superman: Earth One
Along the way, classic members of Superman’s supporting cast such as Lois Lane, Perry White and Jimmy Olsen are introduced. Olsen is the most heavily revised of the characters, a daredevil photographer rather than an eager cub reporter.
The Earth One line of graphic novels is the latest attempt by DC Comics to introduce their superheroes to new readers. Fittingly, the first entry into this line reintroduces the original caped crimefighter: Superman.
Davis’ art is cinematic and fits well with the realistic tone JMS aims for. The story leaves some intriguing questions to be followed up. Unfortunately in trying to make Superman seem more conflicted, Earth One’s Superman comes off as self-centred instead.
J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis
Written by Babylon 5 creator, J. Michael Straczynski (known by fans as JMS), and illustrated by Shane Davis, Superman: Earth One rewrites the origin of Superman. The core elements of the mythos remain the same: Superman is the sole survivor of the destruction of Krypton and is raised in secret by the Kents. However Superman’s characterisation may irk purists. The graphic novel focuses on Clark Kent’s
It’s not the best Superman story ever (All Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitley), or even the best origin story (Birthright by Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu). However Superman: Earth One is still an entertaining read that sets up future instalments effectively. Kevin Chiat
celebrity status in a matter of minutes, their money issues evaporate into thin air, and they are faced with the new problem – keeping their marriage afloat amongst the chaos of tours, outrageous parties, and the ruthless paparazzi.
Although not as sexually daring as her earlier release, Chasing Harry Winston, Weisberger once again gets the heart racing by expertly painting a picture of a world filled with lights, glamour and fame. Her writing style successfully transports readers into the mind of the protagonist until we are almost tearing the book up in frustration, be it out of sympathy for Brooke or as a result of her doormat demeanour and “woe-is-me” attitude.
Lauren Weisberger once again takes on into a world that most of us can only dream about in her latest novel Last Night at Chateau Marmont. This time, Weisberger takes on the lifestyle of the rich and famous, and tackles the question of whether fame and fortune do equate to true happiness.
The only downfall to the otherwise enthralling novel is its clichéd happy ending. While giving hope to broken relationships by suggesting that the saying “once a cheater, always a cheater” doesn’t always apply, Weisberger sacrifices her protagonist’s pride by insisting on the happily ever after finish.
Brooke and Julian Alter are the epitome of the perfect couple – young, happy and hopelessly in love in spite of Brooke working two jobs to support her husband’s struggling career as a musician. When Julian is discovered by a Sony exec and reaches
In spite of this, Last Night at Chateau Marmont is a compelling and light-hearted read, an ideal way to pass a five-hour plane flight.
Last Night at Chateau Marmont
What I particularly enjoyed was Carter’s unique way of encapsulating a sense of time and place, and the local setting will be delightfully familiar to Western Australian readers. Carter’s very impressive first novel is already in line for a few awards. I was also pleased with the skilled way he managed to sustain several threads of story throughout, before finally tying them all together neatly at the conclusion (because we all like a nice neat ending).
Prime Cut Alan Carter
If you have a penchant for crime novels, reruns of CSI or simply a have a long flight with lots of time to fill in, then Alan Carter’s debut novel is worth picking up for its captivating, page-turning thrills. Prime Cut is set in Hopetoun in Western Australia, where an unlikely turn of events gives a disgraced cop another chance at the big time as a dark plot slowly evolves. True to generic convention, a protagonist with a disturbing past and some tumultuous romance are also thrown in for good measure.
Although I’m not a huge fan of the crime genre, Prime Cut has the classic gripping story line and is an easy read for a summer afternoon (or in my case, a plane flight to Sydney). I also think Carter has some talent, which – given my usual aversion to crime novels – I would love to see applied to another genre. All in all, Prime Cut is not a bad read and I would definitely recommend it to those who love the intrigue and mystery of this genre. Rachel Fuller
scene and giving interesting insights and details regarding forensics.
Much of Beckett’s writing concentrates on strong character development, which was good to a point. However, about half way through the book I just got so fed up with all the characters. Most of the them were just too prickly and really got under my skin – kind of the way Harry Potter did when he was becoming an angst-filled teenager.
The Calling of The Grave Simon Beckett
The Calling of the Grave is Simon Beckett’s fourth book featuring the protagonist David Hunter, a forensic anthropologist. After excavating the remains of a victim of notorious serial killer Jerome Monk, the team is unable to find his other victims. Eight years later, Monk escapes from prison and strange events bring the killer and his dead victims’ graves back into Hunter’s life. Short chapters, easy prose and a generally intriguing plot all contribute to a book that’s extremely hard to put down. Beckett also excels in bringing the reader into the crime-
That Deadman Dance Kim Scott
Set near modern-day Albany in the early 19th century, That Deadman Dance explores the dynamics of early contact between white men – whalers, sailors and settlers – and Noongar people. Told in a collection of interwoven narratives, Kim Scott’s latest novel tracks the gradual fraying of relations on the so-called “friendly frontier”. It is worth noting upfront that Scott writes well. The language skips deftly between pidgin and poetic; characters, events and landscapes are revealed in prose that is beautiful to read, but the characters’ narration never loses its authenticity, nor the story, its urgency.
Although the book kept me reading ferociously to the last page, I was not completely satisfied with the way it ended. Everything we thought we knew at the beginning was “unexpectedly” turned on its head, but I was expecting a twist and when it came I was not surprised. Maybe this is just because of the formulaic nature of the genre. This is the kind of book you can’t trust yourself with, because you might end up reading through the night till sunrise. So long as you’re just doing it for the thrill of a reading binge and not expecting it to change your outlook on life, you won’t be disappointed. Gideon Sacks
Through the eyes of the novel’s principal narrator, the young Noongar Bobby Wabalanginy, we see encounters initially marked by reciprocity in the exchange of clothing, food, resources and song and dance. Bobby joins the Europeans hunting whales and exploring the hinterland. Slowly but surely, circumstances change and the relationship between the groups becomes increasingly lopsided, with Bobby caught in the middle and forced to choose sides. It is only in the final pages that he fully comprehends he has “surfaced in some other world” where curiosity and friendship have been displaced by mistrust and antagonism. However, this is no simple anti-colonial polemic – Scott deals with the issues of dispossession and cultural reciprocity in a restrained, understated way. The tragedy is foreshadowed and hinted at, but never explicitly detailed beyond the reader’s own awareness of history. There is sadness and anger, but also hope – and not bitterness. Instead of a polemic, we are left with a superb novel: subtle, thought provoking, compassionate, and beautifully written. Read it. Ben Sacks
and Louise soon embark on an intense relationship, in which she sees him as her “father, mother, brother, sister, lover, in no particular order.” This is where the novel is at its strongest – Ruta paints a romantic portrait of student life in the 1960s and the characters she constructs are rich and engaging. Soon enough though, familial loyalties take their hold and Louise and Wally return to their home countries, with Wally taking their love child. Forty years later, with Louise now a married woman, she seeks to find the truth about the child and lover that she deserted.
To Algeria, With Love Suzanne Ruta
It seems to me that novels set in a country no one knows a great deal about are continually popping up and selling well. Suzanne Ruta’s novel To Algeria, With Love aims to be one such effort. The novel follows Louise, an idealistic Jewish New Yorker, as she takes up a scholarship in the South of France in 1961. She promptly falls for “Wally”, a gregarious Algerian refugee who teaches her “French grammar, syntax, history, slang ... table manners without a proper table ... [and] cooking, politics, religion, all in the same pot”. Wally
We Had It So Good Linda Grant
Linda Grant has said that the idea for her fifth novel, We Had It So Good, sprouted from the ashes of September 11. She wanted to write about the baby boom generation, which had enjoyed an incredible period of peace and prosperity but had never fully understood its enormous good fortune. According to Grant, such a realisation has only come about in the past decade. We Had It So Good explores the life of this generation, now middle-aged and middle class. The central character is Stephen Newman, a first-generation American who leaves for
There are a few slight annoyances: the title is a bit naff, frequent short (often untranslated) passages in French are a bother and the first half of the novel is definitely stronger than the second. There are also peculiar references to 9/11 and the Iraq War throughout, presumably for no other reason than that some of the characters are Arabic. Overall, though, this is a very strong effort, very readable and I’m not afraid to say, even quite heart-wrenching at times. Ed Fearis
Oxford after winning a Rhodes scholarship. Depressed by “history’s insistence on not getting out of the way” at Oxford, he broadens his experiences by manufacturing LSD and spending time with Andrea, an eccentric redhead with bad teeth. They soon marry so he can avoid his call-up for Vietnam, and they “settle” into English domesticity, albeit a 1970s version of it in an “urban commune”. Middle-class respectability eventually follows, and Stephen and Andrea are telling their story to their adult children, Marianne and Max. However, the narrative viewpoint shifts between characters, often unexpectedly, and the story also includes Stephen and Andrea’s own parents. Grant’s subtle and meaningful insight into crossgenerational cycles and themes is one of the novel’s strengths. We Had It So Good is replete with contrasts, binary oppositions and false truths, and I suspect it will similarly polarise its readers. Yet the novel is nothing if not thought provoking, and it articulates the uncomfortable understanding each generation has of the debts it owes to the one that went before it. Sarah Kiel
Free piaf events Slim purse? Perth International Arts Festival events that won’t cross anyone’s palms with silver. Les Girafes – Compagnie Off
25 February, 7:30pm “Nine naughty giraffes” make a scene in Northbridge and still have time to provide “a love story, a romance.” Revive your love for French street performance (a lá the silver Angel Lady) and bump into this troupe of invasive clowns and acrobats in the vicinity of the Perth Cultural Centre.
Dialogues with Landscape – Rachael Dease, George Egerton-Warburton, Gian Manik, Bennett Miller, Diokno Pasilan, Nien Schwarz and Julian Stadon.
15 February – 7 March Seven artists implant and disperse (sound, sculpture, install and perform) on campus in honor of UWA’s cherry pop (…centenary). A celebration of spaces, feat. native seedlings.
Beheld – Genevieve Thauvette
19 February – 13 March Sneaky Thauvette disguises herself in paint as the greatest muses and icons, like Kahlo. From the woman who also painted duplicates of herself as the Dionne quintuplets! Go to the Perth Centre for Photography, Brisbane Street Perth.
Rising Lotus – Maschi Fontana (Tom Muller and Jean-Thomas Vanotti)
29 January – 20 March Ambient music, print, sculpture and live performance combine in a sci-fi witchy cacophony involving at least two beams of light on the grounds at Fremantle Arts Centre.
John Gerrard / Roderick Sprigg
17 February – 3 April Irish Gerrard and Australian Sprigg present different works that comment on the Australian landscape and industry. Take a peek at the “virtual sculpture” and frightening machinery permeating the land at Perth Institute of Contemporary Art.
Looking Through a Glass Onion Regal Theatre
A man stood outside the Dakota apartment building in New York City for five-hours on a cold December night in 1980, carrying a copy of The Catcher in the Rye. Ten years after John Lennon’s death, another John, John Waters, decided to use his talents to relight the flame Lennon left burning in the heart of his fans. For people like myself who didn’t grow up while Lennon was alive, this wonderfully collaborated production provides great insight into a time that shaped the world we now know. Despite the wealth of knowledge and appreciation you may have for the many Beatles and Lennon songs, their legacy is nevertheless overwhelming and beautifully commemorated by John Waters as Lennon and Stewart D’Arrietta as supporting characters. Waters doesn’t dress in a Sergeant Pepper psychedelic wardrobe or the infamous circular glasses but he comfortably steps into Lennon’s shoes with a swagger and a smooth Liverpool accent. It’s the only performance, when sitting in the back rows, which gives you to the illusion of actually seeing Lennon. The 20 years of practice truly pay off as Waters not only Beatlised himself in person but in flawless song. Looking Through a Glass Onion takes you through some of The Beatles and John Lennon’s best work. Great hits like ‘Working Class Hero’ and ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’ transformed the Regal Theatre from a rustic stage to a full on rock hall to the point when you forgot about the uncomfortable seats. Water’s insightful dialogue grasps the mindset of Lennon with unbelievable clarity and realism. Every song has a story that comes with a laugh, but behind it all there is the unspeakable sadness and loneliness that was withheld from the Beatle’s spotlight. The only drawback from this performance is that you feel it is very much a theatrical production. The rigidity of a seated production conflicts with the rock concert ambience of Water’s performance. Although the dialogue between songs sucks you in to the story, the music urges you to stand up and wave your arms to songs like ‘Revolution’. Looking Through A Glass Onion clearly idolises Lennon from the perspective of Waters, there’s rare mention of his abandonment of his first wife Cynthia Powell and their son Julian and his violent outbursts against women. Lennon’s indiscretions are almost completely whitewashed to give us a clear picture of a man who suffered his burdens and spread the word of peace. Considering however, the negative criticism against a complex and private man who had no chance to defend himself, it’s possible to withstand this rose tinted outlook on Lennon. The powerhouse of The Beatles truly took its toll on Lennon; the attention-seeking artist clashed egos with Paul McCartney more than was seen by the public eye. Even more difficult was the bashing Yoko took from the press when she was blamed for The Beatles’ split. One message that’s clear for the audience is that life is like looking through a glass onion – you can’t see all the different layers at once. Imagine a world without John Lennon. Sarah Motherwell
Want free entertainment? Pelican has 5 double passes to give away to see UK based comedian Mark Watson (Regal Theatre, March 3)
Since his humble debut in 2006 Mark has been selling out to crowds across Australia and the UK. Back in his home town of London he’s hosted his own game show, We Need Answers, guest hosted Never Mind the Buzzcocks, published three books, performed three endurance 24hr shows, won numerous awards for stand-up and an installation at the Edinburgh Fringe, written a daily blog, accrued over 20,000 twitter followers, and unleashed his inner sportsnut in his new sports panel show, Mark Watson Kicks Off. First five people to email firstname.lastname@example.org will win the tickets!
Alas, poor Shakespeare… For those who regularly kick back with their wine and cheese in the idyllic surrounds of King’s Park to enjoy the playful renderings of Shakespeare’s classics, this year’s production of Romeo & Juliet will be a bitter disappointment. Overall, the tragic subject matter of the play was in discord with the otherwise lighthearted ambience of the outdoor venue, and the production as a whole failed to excite. The tragic genre not only jarred with the outdoor theatre experience, but also with the hammed up acting styles of much of the cast. In previous years, with performances of The Taming of the Shrew or As You Like It, the more the players overacted, the more side-splitting and thus enjoyable the experience was for the audience. This year, however, with suicides, murders, and lovers’ vows, much of the cast failed to handle the emotional complexity of the subject matter. Cody Fern as Romeo was a particular disappointment; his character
choices were superficial, and his incessant chuckling made me want to shove my picnic blanket down his throat.
Romeo & Juliet Performed by Shakespeare WA
There were however some stellar performances, including Claire Munday as the Nurse, and Will O’Mahony as Mercutio. The captivating comic performances of Munday and O’Mahony epitomise what Shakespeare in the Park should be. Rose Riley as Juliet was also pleasantly surprising, since she brought maturity and depth to the role, and outshone some of the more seasoned cast members. Overall, I felt that director Paige Newmark held back in his interpretation of this classic tragic romance. There was minimal audience interaction, and the bawdiness, sexuality and violence of the story were underplayed in many scenes. Other directorial choices, such as the sparsity of the set, only added to my feeling that Newmark had exercised too much restraint in his artistic vision. Aurora Milroy
What’s shakin’ shakespeare For Opheliacs and the like…
Mandurah Performing Arts Centre August 25
THEATRE Shakespeare on Swan – The Tempest
Queens Park Theatre, Geraldton August 27
South Perth Festival March 12 – March 27
GRADS – Twelfth Night GRADS 2011 Summer Shakespeare Season New Fortune Theatre, UWA March 15 – March 19, March 22 – March 26 (10 shows)
Black Swan Theatre Company – A Midsummer Night’s Dream Heath Ledger Theatre May 7 – May 22 Bell Shakespeare Company – Julius Caesar Heath Ledger Theatre, Perth August 17 – August 20 Albany Entertainment Centre August 23
West Australian Ballet – The Taming of The Shrew His Majesty’s Theatre September 9 – September 21
ON FILM National Live Theatre on film Luna Leederville & Luna SX Fremantle •
Hamlet January 15 & 16
King Lear February 19 & 20
The Tempest (2010) with Helen Mirren as ‘Prospera’ (a female main character alternative to Prospero) and Russell Brand as Trinculo To be released in Australia in 2011.
OVER EAST ON UNI BREAK? Straylight Australia – Shakespeare’s Mothers: Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know Adelaide Fringe Festival Bakehouse Theatre, Adelaide 21 Feb – 26 Feb, 28 Feb – 12 March
Bell Shakespeare Company – Much Ado About Nothing Sydney Opera House April 23 – May 14 Canberra Theatre Centre May 21 – June 4 Melbourne Arts Centre, Playhouse June 11 – June 24
Australian Shakespeare Company – The Comedy of Errors Shakespeare Under the Stars Royal Botanical Gardens, Melbourne Till March 12
HOWL # 9 – The Return them down shuddering mouth wrecked and battered bleak of brain” are not an allusion to the dissipation of youth’s innocence or some shit. No. Ginsberg’s friend, Brian Cannastra, stuck his head out the window in the subway and CHOOM hit a pillar – DEAD. Why does this slither of Ginsberg’s anecdotal memory come in to work as a great cog in a poem that tumbles forth like an unstoppable machine? I’m not too sure. I just know it is an awe-inspiring work and in it there is the key lesson that s e l f - e x pre s s i on / performance can elevate you above all the tawdry details of day-to-day life.
Who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war, who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull – From ‘Howl’, by Allen Ginsberg
Howdy. I suppose it has been a year since I wrote the first ‘HOWL’ column for Pelican. In it I attempted to lay down a skewed method for interacting with the column. I think I followed this up with strange ill-written pages, one after the other, for consecutive editions. It is all a very hazy memory. Perhaps past readers will recall that last edition I was imprisoned and savagely beaten in Peru, where I awaited execution. The thing about a beating is that it affects your ability to remember. It also has some positive effects in that the time spent in the Pelican Health Ward offered me a chance to sit and ponder my current position and what to do with this column. For the New Blood: Welcome, jolly good having you! Oh yes, I hope it is all swimmingly dandy on your end! Stiff upper lip etc. Y’see, this column was originally designed to offer a brief sketch of my shifting neuroses, while also enlightening you, the reader, in regards to the finer things in life – things which people tend to over look when they are studying things such as [shudders] Contract Law. Already I can see my usual authorial voice is struggling to peep through the page and that is because of the rumbling transformations in myself, and also my little Pelican nook. When I originally drank a bottle of turps and huffed some paint, and wrote the first Howl, I had it in mind to deal with three things: 1. DEATH TO BOREDOM/THE BORED 2. GET YO’SELF EJUKATED 3. VIVA LA STRANGE! For the most part, I still agree with these ‘rules’. But when I wrote them I was entering 2010, and I was a wayward philanderer with a whiskey-based diet, consuming every new idea that fell into the Pacman maze that was my mind. I wasn’t mad, per se, but I did find myself in over 13 duels that year, and I now have five rather permanent musket ball scars on my stomach. Such things don’t happen to everyone, I concluded. I’d been hanging around port towns playing my banjolin, in hope that my father, Herman Marlo, would show up amongst the gnarled, wine bearded sailors. He never did. I wept outside an orphanage for
three days straight because I had fallen in love with the nurse. All this is not conducive to a sound mind or healthy disposition. In my heart there was that deep contempt for ‘boredom’ and especially those who said that they were “bored”. There was also my desire to stand on a soapbox and lecture people about obscure trends in pre-war country music. Every UWA student I saw with their constantly distanced gaze and ear-plugged ears and lonesome trudging – the kind that lives in their education like a bio-dome – well hell, it made me so solemn that I’d try all kinds of tricks to help them have fun outside of binge drinking on Oak Lawn. But over the course of the year, a great change came about in me. I would like to say ‘acceptance’ but it was more of a ‘fading’ feeling. I began to be comfortable for once. I settled down with a pretty puppeteer girl in a seaside cottage and just watched her marionettes all day. I slowed. The column slowed. That is, until I went to Peru and got beaten. But my point is that I have had time to reshape this column in my head. I can perhaps steal it away from superficial anachronisms and the odd glossedover reference. I am still encouraging a ‘war against boredom’ but because I so hate that Rupert Murdoch rhetoric, let’s call it instead a ‘lively conversation with boredom’. There may still be the odd tale of highoctane madness but nothing is guaranteed, not even your own execution. The column is still named after Allen Ginsberg’s seminal poem. This is not some obscure literary reference or pretentious hipster kowtowing to a cult writer. No, Ginsberg more than most people fought the tyranny of tedium in both his life and work. ‘Howl’ the poem – in its breathless thin mercury hum – is an epic autobiographical introspection that just happens to intersect with the desires of entire generations. That is why it is an immortal work. It is strictly personal – there was not a great desire to encapsulate the angst of a generation in Ginsberg’s poem. Lines such as “…who chained themselves to subways…brought
So, as I said at the beginning of last year: I’m not too sure where to take this column. I am constantly at an impasse. But an impasse is always a nice spot to lay down a rug and set up a picnic. So let’s see where the year takes us, as I try to give this column more of a focus. Let’s try and create some media instead of always consuming it. Also, if you ever go to Peru, wear a helmet. Cordially yours,
Boredom: ‘Howl’ is a performance poem, read it out loud to friends. Ejukate: Ginsberg had a fascinating life and is easily the most sympathetic character of the Beats. Generation. Read Barry Miles’ fantastic biography, Ginsberg (at Reid). Strange: Write for Pelican
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