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Return of the Knave
Drink It Black
Thursday, 3 June 2004
I'm not suggesting there's no place for the boo, the jeer, the catcall. Polite applause at appaling displays do no one any favours. But the distinction I would make is this: if a speaker were, say, accusing Natasha Stott Despoja of grandstanding then I would hear them out since that is a real possibility. If they got insulting about it and said she was a 'media tart' I might get offended. The line is crossed when you start colouring your terminology.

Additionally, if the claims can't be substantiated, or it will take a while to unravel the discourse that justifies your attack, then a modicum of restlessness in the audience is permissible. In this case, it could occur if Doctorow had opened his speech by stating that the Bush administration 'allowed 9/11 to happen'. His argument here might be that, while such a fiendish plan naturally took the rest of the world by surprise, it can't be said to have done so in the case of parties who were given specific and repeated information about the intended action beforehand. True enough as it stands but difficult to relay in a short acceptance speech. Better to document this in a report where all the necessary links, quotes and references can be made.

But stating that Bush started the Iraqi "war" on a false premise is unassailably true so it behooves anyone with a scintilla of manners and respect for natural justice to hear the man out. Not a point that any of the rabid Bush supporters are even capable of comprehending.

I also don't buy the accusation that it was 'inappropriate' to make a political speech at such an occasion. Doctorow tied it to the points he was making and, as a guest speaker, he must have some lieuway to choose his topic. There could hardly be a topic more pressing to deliver to the youth of America when many of their number are being killed overseas and they are under threat of being enlisted themselves. It is more of an abrogation of responsibility to do as the mainstream press is doing and going soft on the Bush position.


Keep your boos locked away for such things as:
1) the lead singer of Brian Jonestown Massacre behaving like a wanker (apparently he does this sort of thing often)
2) reality shows that set guys up with a 'stunning chick who turns out to be a bloke' or any other combination of humiliation and degradation that's out there.
3) cynical 'by numbers' art such as songs that repeat 'baby', 'never gonna give you up' et al and cop shows and medical dramas
4) transparent lies and distortion
5) idiots who scratch graffitti on the train windows
6) people who take littering that one step further by smashing glass on the footpath thus creating the possibility that an animal or barefoot child will cut themselves

The list could go on forever and never reach EL Doctorow but would probably include Bush apologists who try to shout down the facts. I'm pretty sure of it.

Posted by berko_wills at 4:11 PM NZT
Updated: Friday, 4 June 2004 4:31 PM NZT
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Monday, 31 May 2004
Is anyone who was previously noncommittal, shocked at seeing a front page photo of a lifeless hooded prisoner - not one of our boys fallen victim to religious terrorists but a victim of 'our boys' instead? When did we so comprehensively become the bad guy?!
Normally I try to skirt the news, not out of a sense of ennui or lack of interest, but just because you don't need to come to a blog to get this stuff - it's beamed at you as you eat your cornflakes and again when you settle down to fish fingers, peas and potatoes [insert own culinary preference here]

But it becomes urgent when events move from covert attempts to put itching powder in Castro's beard to flagrant acts of war crime activity. Terrible acts, what's more, arising from an illegal invasion, widely opposed. Left right left right and swing from side to side but never fully recognize that the superpower you looked on to deliver you from evil is dealing plenty of its own on its rapid drift away from what we would commonly identify as democracy.

Mainstream news stories tell us of E.L. Doctorow being booed in a college graduation speech because he mentions all the Bush lies and inconsistencies, straightforward and unembellished.
Boorish college students, however, can't compete with this school principal from New Mexico, a disgrace to his position and an enemy of free speech everywhere.

In their rush to innure their leader from criticism, haven't these schmucks forgotten that, if America stands for anything, it is freedom and independance. What GWB is doing to advance the cause is not clear since his tools are those of every oppressive usurper throughout history. He may not have Hitler's gift for oratory but he has his own 'bombing of the Reichstag' as a lynchpin for a rise in untrammeled power and lack of accountability; playing all the while on a misplaced patriotism. He may not have Stalin's goons to frighten the populace into obesience by taking their possessions and forcing them to cheer long and loud at his words but he has oafish thugs aplenty to try and shut detractors down. The troops may not be committing hara kiri but their commander-in-chief shows spectacular insensitivity when he laughs off his reason for sending them to their death.

Possibly the President of the United States of America will always be a moneyed creep with secret connections and a desire to use economic and military might to boss the rest of the world. But the incumbent is highly dangerous nonetheless.

Posted by berko_wills at 1:46 AM NZT
Updated: Monday, 31 May 2004 3:34 PM NZT
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Saturday, 29 May 2004
Licker Laws
The drink tag is restrictive; otherwise I could call this 'Laws Unto Himself'

There is no way you can have a discussion on radio without mentioning the Grand Vizier, the wizened king of wireless... John Laws

Long ago Laws seduced us with his voice. He could sell us on his story - he could even change tack (ref: para 5) - and we'd believe him. "You've Never Been Trucked Like This Before" he declared and, breathless, we checked his rig.
Toot your horn, John, overtake us all.

When you not only lend your voice to more ads than any one of your scratchier colleagues, your shriller compadres, but actually have other companies namechecking your work in THEIR ads, and you know you're on to something special.

DJs who've moved states build their profile, often by having a parallel career on TV, in a newspaper column, or - as with serial broadcaster, presenter, journo Derryn Hinch [page 16 - you don't want to wade through the Russ Hinze eulogy that precedes it] - bounding between each until management lose their patience.

But I was familiar with John Laws - had heard the golden tonsils - the voice had reached a kid living at 118.06889 longitude, -30.35639 latitude. I doubt there's another announcer who has that range of years and miles, or anything close.

Not that I tune in. The last time he manifested on the office car radio I caught '- or as I like to call them, young people' Was he being bafflingly affable or bluffingly effible? Was he just babbling?

Right now I'm listening to 2SER as they're playing five hours of Bob Dylan.

Posted by berko_wills at 3:09 AM NZT
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Monday, 24 May 2004
I'm sorry, Mr Beatty, this isn't intentional honest! The radio station I used to listen to while living in New Farm was 4ZZZ. The one that a National Party student president closed down for a while there.

Here's a joke for you:

Q: Why do Queenslanders call their beer XXXX?
A: Because they can't spell beer.

Posted by berko_wills at 3:54 PM NZT
Updated: Tuesday, 25 May 2004 3:48 PM NZT
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Tuesday, 18 May 2004
Just to warn you, it's coming up to a year since I started this blog and I'm thinking of closing it down.
I'm not quitting the blogging game altogether - it's way too much fun - but a number of people have been having trouble accessing it. First Jannine said she couldn't access it on her home or work computer. Then there was a (temporary) glitch on the Aussie Blogs site. And then Full As a Goog, who also list Australian blogs, told me that they were unable to access the link. I reported the problem to Tripod but they have done nothing about it.

And, hey, what's the point of prolific prolix and proselytising if there's nobody to read it.


My musings on radio inspires me to give you a short history of my own experience:

Growing up it was 6MD or ABC Regional. They were the choices. And, of course, it was all AM or occasionally Dad's fiddling about receiving the odd shortwave broadcast.

When I boarded away we got country radio that was actually WORSE (quite a benchmark). I remember pledging money on a 6AM radiothon and going into the studio to select a song. After what seemed like hours, I finally settled wearily on Dr Feelgood's rendition of "(Get Your Kicks On)Route 66"

Of course I did receive some freebies from their DJ Wheels Dwyer when he visited the school including "Mary of the Fourth Form" the single by the Boomtown Rats and sundry crap like Carl Douglas.

6MD transmitted 6IX for part of the day and 6AM transmitted 6PM so I already had some exposure to Perth commercial radio before moving there.

And that was enough to make me avoid it as much as possible (there were a few workplaces that insisted on playing the monotonous crap). I mean hey I'd had a taste of community radio; far more palatable and diverse. As I've previously mentioned, I used to sit in my room way up there in the sticks, vainly tuning in to programs like Shake Some Action and One For The Money and hearing newly minted tracks like "TV OD" by The Normal and the eponymous "The Monochrome Set"; songs you won't have heard then or since on 6KY

It was while I was still on the farm that I first heard Riders On The Storm and that really blew me away. It acted as some kind of balance to perhaps otherwise making the mistake of each generation of only getting into whatever was new at the time.

Moving to Perth I continued to listen to alternative radio, naturally enough, and there were some truly outstanding programs aimed at all the various sectors: wimmin, old hippies, folkies, bootscooters, and so on. One particular show must have taken hours to put together as it differed in theme each week and dug out the most obscure tracks that all did a sterling job of tracing the history.

When I moved to Sydney, Double J had become Triple J but still had some latitude to play things beyond just being the Youth Network. Sunday evenings Arnold Frollowes even had an ambient music program.

There's little more to tell. I tend to veer between Triple J - even though I passed the demographic a while back - and community stations like 2SER-FM. Oh yes, I taped the launch of ABC-FM for posterity but that posterity is probably buried in a box somewhere.
Commercial FM radio was originally sold to us as AOR, which, kiddies, stands for album-oriented rock, but, needless to say, it soon degenerated into overly familiar singles, prefaced by "This is []off the album []"

Posted by berko_wills at 3:52 PM NZT
Updated: Friday, 21 May 2004 4:02 PM NZT
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Sunday, 16 May 2004
I was wondering why I still had an old newspaper from February lying around. Now I know:

Sauce is not sure that 2GB's The Parrot will appreciate this plug for his show by his rival over at 2UE, Mike Carlton.
Ray, a 2UE listener, leaked this email correspondence with Carlton to the internet gossip sheet Crikey.
"From: Ray the listener
Sent: Tuesday, 10 February 2004 6:02 PM
Subject: Didn't hear
My Dear Dropkick,
didn't hear your interview with Carr this morning expect bit of a promo quick grab...well done now that's much better...I wonder if you have the guts to get that little grub David Marr on and get into him about being a misguided lying son of a b*tch...still going on about Iraq and who said what in the UK...may as well go on about what the Japanese diplomats said in Washington prior to Pearl Harbour. You might help him get over it. Then again I suppose a small step forward...I should be grateful
Regards Ray
Carlton's reply:
Dear Raymond.
Just by chance, I have discovered a bunch of your mad little emails in my junk folder. You truly are a pig-ignorant, foul-mouthed, drivelling half-wit. I imagine that you drool saliva when you write...that your knuckles drag on the ground when you walk. You are a moron, a nerd, a sour and toxic polyp on the anus of society. You are a mental pimple.
They have programs for people like you, though. One is called the Alan Jones Show. It's on 2GB 873, same time as mine. Go listen.
Mike Carlton

Posted by berko_wills at 1:57 AM NZT
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Monday, 10 May 2004
Half pint
It was one of the big things I used to do with my Grandad but there isn't that much you can say about darts is there? I mean, we used to go for long walks around Mandurah as well.

He was good company, not overly talkative but a mine of information on a time now long gone. I would not have wanted to be faced with the same situations that he and Nana had to deal with. The pioneer spirit has been replaced by the culture of convenience, and the cause of war not as clearcut as it once was.

Posted by berko_wills at 3:56 PM NZT
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Friday, 7 May 2004
Pastor Flagon, Rector Civilisation
The one thing those wretched reactionaries revel in is in how 'soft' and 'pc' the Left is. This might be true of your upstanding social democrat type who's a member of the union and votes for Labor Right but over on the fringes where the dear ol' anarchists play methinks it's a different story.

For one thing, we don't buy into the idea of 'the native whose way of life was perfectly attuned to nature until the evil whiteman came along' Any more than a cursory examination of tribal customs will reveal that they can be shockingly sexist, ridiculously superstitious and tragically unjust. Which is no more reason to discriminate against them than it is for another racial group to pick on us for having stupid and dangerous ideas like 'a woman should keep silent in Church' or 'thou shall not suffer a witch to live'(I'm paraphrasing but not by much).

In the case of our own indigenous population, I find it wonderfully ironic that after the rather paternalistic attitude of our pater, my sister should end up marrying a Pitjanjarra man. So we're related by blood.
Which gives me a - tenuous - right to comment as follows:

For once I am in agreement with the Liberal government: ATSIC was so horribly corrupt that it had to be shut down. You could argue that there needed to be changes made at the top. No doubt. But wasn't it then a responsibility of the Aborigines themselves to express dissatisfaction with their leadership and seek a replacement?

Secondly: the recent Redfern riots. I lived in Redfern and it was no fun. I had an inventive time working out detours so I wouldn't be constantly badgered for handouts; especially, paradoxically, on pension day.
The reason there is such a police presence? Because the police are inherently racist or because there is more than your usual level of trouble and potential crime? Who has examined this in any kind of critical light without immediately taking one position or the other?
And, yes, you can make a very good, and valid, case for why a disenfranchised people would turn to crime and drunken disorderliness but, nonetheless, if you're to protect those potentially on the receiving end of this disaffectation then you need cops, right?

A kid panics (why? had he done something wrong?) when he sees a cop car, hurtles off on his pushbike and loses control flipping onto a spiked fence. Horrible yes. But what was the cause of the riot? One community commentator stated that 'the cops pushed TJ onto the fence', which is ludicrous in the extreme. So a sector of the Redfern aboriginal population ripped up pavement and did their usual job of defacing the place, threw rocks at people, endangering their lives, and SET FIRE TO REDFERN RAILWAY STATION because a kid panicked at seeing a cop car and came off his bike.
Makes sense to me.

Posted by berko_wills at 4:04 PM NZT
Updated: Monday, 10 May 2004 4:13 PM NZT
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Friday, 30 April 2004
What'll it be, guvnor?
The issue of becoming a republic won't vanish from the agenda unless the full choice option the Opposition is proposing gets up and the people still vote to retain their constitutional monarchy (and even then...). When push comes to shove, I don't think that will happen. It's just that a republican debate hosted by a staunch monarchist was doomed to failure.

There is also word that the present form of government might last only as long as the reign of Queen Elizabeth II (I in Scotland) as 'we' don't take to Prince Charles, especially not after Camilla. I don't think he's as bad as all that. Of course he's going to have something of the upper class twit about him but that's understandable. At least he has interesting ideas and is passionate about his pursuits.

The thing about all this - and I'm pro-republic by disposition - is that 'untying the apron strings' will have ramifications here too. The political parties will go on doing their deals but it's at the vice-regal level that the nation could feel the most impact.

This may seem a strange thing to say since the state governors barely register on the national conscience. I'd been wanting to put Ted Egan in the picture for a while and thought I should just scout through the other governors' profiles before I went and nominated him as my fave.

Now I'm a Western Australian native and I didn't know who the Governor of Western Australia was. Lieutenant-General Sanderson is the most conservative appointment but he isn't any old military man, he was born in Geraldton and rose to become head of the Australian army.

Having sports stars make the transition into more reserved public life is not without precedent. A rugby player has been Lord Mayor before. So perhaps the Governor of South Australia and the Governor of Victoria are not surprising choices. The ceremonial role is appropriate for someone who has achieved unambiguously. Being first across the line is unrelated to your political, religious or personal inclinations so is uncontroversial (in a way that the clergy no longer are)yet profoundly dynamic.

Then there is the community-building and nation-building move to appoint someone who exemplifies high achievement outside the WASP environment. The Lebanese community in Australia isn't that old - and is suffering bad P.R. thanks to some criminal jerks in the western suburbs - so the Governor of New South Wales represents a proactive choice.

And if you want to be truly diplomatic, why not select a career diplomat. Step up, Richard Butler, Governor of Tasmania

As for Ted, he's an unorthodox choice even for the Top End. The NT tilted at statehood a couple of years back but the people voted against it so Egan is Administrator of the Northern Territory rather than Governor.

The Governor-General is another WA military man. After his disastrous predecessor, it must have seemed to the Prime Minister, who is the worst judge of character, to play it safe by selecting not only a military coot but one who has previously been State Governor with relatively little controversy.


Postscript: well Tasmanian readers of my blog will be thrilled - a different state got forgotten this time. Somehow I managed to completely forget about the second biggest state and, incidentally, the state I moved to when we were having our first baby.

And I hadn't heard of this Governor of Queensland either.

So that's three women, one academic, one lawyer, two runners, two generals and one singer-songwriter/larrickin. Governors at their best are colourful and reflective of our aspirations as a nation. They have the luxury of representing high office without needing to be tainted by wedge politics.

Posted by berko_wills at 4:00 PM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 6 May 2004 12:19 AM NZT
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Sunday, 25 April 2004
Dedicated to bringing you fun

I'll tell you what I did (yes I went to the Ironfest at Lithgow but that's another story), I flagged the intention to write more - or point and shoot more - comic book stuff (for those interested in that sort of thing), when I was pointing to something that I had saved in draft format but which would then post before the entry that announced it. Confused? The illusion of a flux in the timestream might be a good segue to that very comic discussion. And if it's a time based protagonist you want then one can't go past Hourman. Or can't they?

To me, calling yourself Hourman when that's how long your vitamin supplement that gives you your powers lasts, is akin to starting out your caped crimefighting career as Sensitive Groin Region Man.

No superhero whose raison d'etre is based on power limitation is all that popular. Ultraboy is not a name you hear often.
Whereas wielding a magic ring or being able to leap tall buildings is a superpower that can help identify the character and make them interesting, The Hourman and his ilk usually possess vast power but in a limited fashion and that only extends the 'variation on Superman' perception.

Whether Tyler is the first drug-taking superhero depends on the properties you ascribe to Miraclo; does its boosting qualities make it like ginseng or is the effect more like a speed user whose wits are momentarily sharpened? The temptation to use some outside agent as the source of the protagonist's prowess is irresistible and not even the squeaky clean British weeklies were free of herbally-enhanced characters. And it was a couple of decades before the famous Denny O'Neil/Neal Adams social relevance would make Green Arrow's sidekick Speedy a heroin addict. A couple more decades before a character's book would be advertised on a double-page spread as "This is Sludge" and "This is Sludge on drugs"

Posted by berko_wills at 4:02 AM NZT
Updated: Sunday, 25 April 2004 12:01 PM NZT
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