Wednesday, April 16, 2014

It is nice when your efforts are appreciated


Hey, look, not a problem! Seriously dude, it's my pleasure! It is just nice when someone appreciates you efforts, you know?

(Heads up to Ben for pointing out the existence of a sign dedicated to my life's work.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dear ... I LOVE COAL!

"Coal sector muscles up to green activists". So read the headline of a PR fluff piece op-ed in The Australian on Monday morning.

It said: "Australia's coal industry is hitting back at its vocal opponents and returning fire with the tools used by anti-coal activists as it steps up its campaign to gain support for the struggling sector."


And so said struggling sector has pooled its resources to launch a website as "part of a multi-million-dollar campaign that will include television advertising, an enhanced social media program and increased political engagement".


The aim of this initiative of the Minerals Council of Australia is "to give a voice to the sector", The Australian reported in piece that quoted representatives of large mining corporations on all the good work they do for communities but not a single representative of any of these communities who are up-in-arms protesting and blockading eternally grateful for the joy coalmining brings to their lives!


Now finally, after far too long, this downtrodden sector has a voice! And not before time, because the website's homepage explains: "Coal in Australia is under attack from powerful groups"! QUICK! TO THE INTERNET!!!


And so the website was launched with its own Twitter hashtag #Australiansforcoal to allow what the MCA calls the "silent majority" to speak out against the greenie commie extremists and let the world know how much all TRUE AUSSIES LOVE giant lumps of black coal!





All true Aussies LOVE coal!!!


Tragically, proving just how *powerful* the evil forces the coal industry is up against truly are... the hashtag merely provoked sustained and still ongoing ridicule.


But in all the excitement about the hashtag, the website itself has been almost forgotten. This is a shame because it is highly informative.


It features sectors on jobs (they employ people! how could anyone oppose an industry that employs anyone?); the economy (they make large amounts of money! how could we oppose an industry worth $118 billion?);  energy (they produce a lot of energy! WHO KNEW???); and, my personal favourite, the Great Barrier Reef (they... ah well they really just claim dredging and dumping to expand coal does not actually damage the reef, coz what are they gonna say that's positive? "Coal makes the reef grow faster! YAH!"?)


And, learning from their enemies, they have a section where all TRUE COAL LOVING AUSSIES can "Take action!" and stand up for the voiceless, powerless victimised coal billionaires and "Send your MP a message!"


Inspired by the site's convincing arguments, I thought YES I WILL SEND A MESSAGE! THE WORLD MUST KNOW MY LOVE OF COAL! And I was going to send the message, but I discovered one important difference with their enemies. 


Most sites that seek to get people to send off some message of protest or support, in a bid to make the process as quick and easy as possible for the busy internet procastinator, provide a ready-made email so you can simply click "send" and return to scrolling through Tumblrs of cute kittens ASAP.

But such sites let the more thoughtful, should they wish, provide a little of their own voice to the message, to alter it or even write their own from scratch. As the sites often say, personal messages will get more attention. And so, as much as I appreciated Australians For Coal's pre-written message, I wanted to let my elected representative hear a bit of Carlo Sands' own voice. I was extremely disappointed to find the message ENTIRELY UNALTERABLE! You have to send their pre-written spiel WORD-FOR-WORD.


Well, coal giants are not the ONLY ONES who don't like having their voice silenced by powerful forces! And so, here is the message I wanted to send, in which I sought to slightly expand the points Australians for Coal raised in their original email. They are minor changes and you probably won't be able to tell what they are without a close analysis of both versions, so I really don't know why they are too scared to let supporters add their own thoughts.


* * *


Dear ...


The Australian coal industry employs about 50,000 people directly and pays wages and salaries worth more than $6 billion per annum. AND THIS IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT IS A WELL-KNOWN SCIENTIFIC FACT THAT NO OTHER INDUSTRY IS PHYSICALLY CAPABLE OF PROVIDING JOBS! THE ONLY JOBS PEOPLE WANT ARE DOWN COAL MINES! IT IS LIKE THIS TOTALLY COOL HIPSTER RETRO 1940s THING! NO ONE WORKING IN COAL WOULD BE CAUGHT *DEAD* WORKING IN A RENEWABLE ENERGY JOB LIKE WHATEVER SO UNCOOL SO OBVS THE ONLY WAY TO EMPLOY *ANYONE* IS TO MINE AND BURN COAL!!! AND SO WITHOUT COAL WE'D ALL BE EATING BABIES IN THE STREETS! BABIES!!!


It employs a highly skilled workforce, including mine operators, engineers, geologists and skilled tradespeople. AND NOT BABY EATERS! THAT IS IMPORTANT SEE ABOVE POINT! The industry pays some of the highest wages in the country and provides support for education, training and apprenticeships and contributes tens of millions of dollars annually to fund community social infrastructure. GREAT COMMUNITY SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE LIKE THE ABBOT POINT COAL TERMINAL FROM WHICH MILLIONS OF CUBIC METRES OF SAND AND MUD WILL BE DUMPED IN THE GREAT BARRIER REEF MARINE PARK! A GREAT COMMUNITY PROJECT AND FUN FOR ALL THE KIDS NOT LIKE THAT STUPID REEF THAT JUST GETS IN THE FUCKING WAY OF ALL OUR COAL-LADDEN SHIPS! HOW MANY APPRETNERSHIPS HAS THAT FUCKING REEF PROVIDED? THANK CHRIST IT WILL SOON BE GONE ...AH... I MEAN NOT IN ANYWAY AFFECTED BY DREDGING!


The coal industry also provides indirect employment for around 150,000 Australians, mainly in rural and regional Australia. YEAH AND IT'S LIKE A *FACT* THAT NOT ALL OF THEM WILL DEVELOP SOME SORT OF SERIOUS HEATH PROBLEM RELATED TO COAL MINING! SOME MIGHT BE OK! MAYBE! I MEAN THEY MIGHT DIE IN A GLOBAL WARMING-RELATED EXTREME WEATHER EVENT INSTEAD!


These jobs are under attack from activists and extremists determined to shut the industry down AND GODDAMN WE WOULD HAVE GOT AWAY WITH IT, TOO, IF IT WASN'T FOR THOSE MEDDLING KIDS!


I am writing to support the 200,000 Australians who work in the coal industry and I urge you to support them too. COZ THE COAL INDUSTRY WON'T! HA, IT'LL CHUCK 'EM ON THE SCRAP HEAP AS SOON AS PROFITS AREN'T HIGH ENOUGH! SO YOU BETTER BELIEVE THOSE WORKERS NEED SUPPORT!


If you want the facts about Australia’s coal industry please visit www.minerals.org.au. IT IS A TOTALLY UNBIASED INPARTIAL PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL THAT IS NOT AT ALL RUN BY BILLIONAIRE MINING GIANTS WITH HUGE PROFITS AT STAKE!!! HAHA!!! NO IT IS JUST A SITE MAINTAINED BY A BUNCH OF INTERESTED PEOPLE OUT OF THE GOODNESS OF THEIR OWN HEARTS COZ THEY ARE TRUE AUSTRALIANS WHO JUST *LOVE* COAL!!!


Yours sincerely,


Carlo Sands (NOT A COAL BILLIONAIRE! I KNOW RIGHT! WHAT CAN I SAY I JUST LOVE COAL! A LUMP OF COAL IN EVERY POT! COAL FOR BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER! IT IS THE AUSTRALIAN WAY!!!







And oh my,
Well i hear the sound of horses' hooves
Come the middle of the night
And oh my,
Its time to get your gun license
I see four horsemen riding through
A cold and endless night

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Life, CityRail and Shovels and Rope

I am going to write an epic novel all about a man whose train is four minutes late. Just four minutes late. Not very late. Just the exact amount of lateness to FUCK EVERYTHING UP. AGAIN. Thereby driving the man to leap off the unbearably overcrowded platform and sit on the tracks and contemplate the meaning of life in the four remaining minutes before the train puts him out of his agony.

It has a happy ending — the train is actually SIX minutes late, giving him a full two minutes more of contemplation! And in those TWO EXTRA MINUTES he contemplates some of the MOST AMAZING THINGS ever contemplated in the ENTIRE HISTORY of HUMAN CONTEMPLATION! And (SPOILER ALERT) in a FINAL TWIST, just as he stood up on the tracks to impart his wisdom to the platform overcrowded with sad, desperate people hating everyone and everything around them, to FINALLY let them know the TRUE MEANING of life, the TRAIN CAME and they ALL CHEERED FOR *FINALLY* THEY COULD FUCKING GO HOME!

I think I'll call it "FUCK YOU CITYRAIL".



A rare sight: a CityRail train arriving.


In other news, I have decided not to bother following the news any more. Instead, when I wake up, I'll just get two large rusty nails and drive them straight into my eyeballs. It saves time, and efficiency is the new watchword according Our Overlord's Accountant Joe Hockey.

No longer can we can assume we are entitled to be depressed unspeakably by the news, we must take the initiative and stand on our own two feet and just imagine all the horrifically depressing things this bunch of neo-fascist reactionary racist misogynist poor-hating scum are getting up to.

Therefore I say thank christ for the likes of Shovels and Rope, the glorious husband-wife country duo from South Carolina. (I REFUSE TO USE TERMS LIKE "ALT. COUNTRY" AS THOUGH THIS KINDA SHIT IS SOMEHOW "ALTERNATIVE" AND NOT *REAL* COUNTRY! NOT PROPER OCUNTRY! JUST SOME SORT OF INDIE HIPSTER FEEBLE IRONIC STAB AT COUNTRY! BULLSHIT! THIS KINDA SHIT IS REAL COUNTRY! ALL THE POINTLESS CORPORATE-MANUFACTORED CRAP SHOULD BE CALLED "ALT. COUNTRY". I AM SORRY GARTH FUCKING BROOKS IS NOT COUNTRY! NOT COMPARED TO SHOVELS AND ROPE! NOT EVEN IN THE SAME FUCKING GALAXY!)

Here are a coupla tracks for ya all. No worries, buy me a beer sometime.




Well all this chasin after sunsets, all this shootin at the moon
Got us drinkin from the gutter pickin food out of the broom
Well it ain't hard to second guess yourself
When you're dressin up a wound
Ain't that the truth
That's the truth ...

So now there's grass, cocaine, alcohol, and pills
Yeah they might even drag you under or help supplement your bills
It just depends what you need worse, be it the money or the thrills
Well, I could use both ...


ALL THE FUCKING WORDS!





'And if that ones for the winner, this one must be for me...'

Yeah, here are ALL THE FUCKING WORDS.

Well I'm going through the motions
Seems it happens every night of every week
Well it's an ever running cycle
And the chance of breakin out of it seems weak
Well my mind becomes a freight train
And it never lets me get no decent sleep
Oh
Well my head starts a worrying about all the little things I cannot change
And my heart it starts a pounding
Messing up the way the blood goes through my veins
Oh
I never dream of nothin pleasant
I'm always lost or gettin booed off of the stage

Well the west coast was a desert
And New York City black
So I spent some time in Carolina
Make my money back
There's a trail of blood that trickles down from Denver to the sea
And if that ones for the winner, this one must be for me

Oh
Well there's this busy little corner
Half a mile down the road from where I live
Where all these beautiful women
Work the sidewalk for the little take and get
Oh it's like an escalator walkway
I just mind my own bus, make sure my money's here
Well I got this friend, he takes his money down there every day
When he gets done from work
He asks for Georgia cuz she's special,
She reminds him he's a man he has worth
Oh but I don't judge him cuz he's honest
Which is more'n I can say I've been since birth ...

So if you're led into a wasteland or made to stumble through the dark
You leave the cartoon color legacy or a common watermark
We always back the underdog because he's the only one we trust
And if that ones for the winner, this one must be for us

Monday, March 17, 2014

Australian for 'The People want an end to the regime!'


"It's Australian version of 'The People want an end to the regime'," said photographer and Alcoholic's Guide to Modern Life Melbourne correspondent Conehead the Barbituate of this banner at the Melbourne March in March rally against Tony Abbott's Reign of Terror.

Tens of thousands marched around the country over the weekend in many cities against the racist, anti-poor, anti-worker, planet-hating, corporate giant loving misogynist prick who rules this godforsaken fucking land. You can read a national round up of it all here, filled with like videos and shit, and see a fucking shitload of photos here.

FUCK YOU ABBOTT -- these large and widespread actions are true testimony to the power of hate.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Well, this is one fucked-up place... so here's five great live performances

It is near impossible to capture just how fucked up shit is in this country, let alone world. Great Barrier Reef? Oh well... well it was only getting in the way of exporting coal. Asylum seekers? Well, obviously we are concerned that they are being encouraged to take "dangerous journeys"... so we'll throw the desperate people that come here on small life boats, send them off the Indonesia to fend for themselves even though at least three people have died as a result. We had to do that otherwise they might have died.

Fuck civil liberties, fuck unions, fuck public education, , fuck the disabled, fuck working mothers, fuck the ABC, fuck the Tasmania's forests, fuck marine life, ... fuck any hope of any kind of civilised life on a fucking planet capable of hosting civilised life.

And may the Good Lord have mercy on your poor, pitiful soul should all of this make you want a MOTHERFUCKING DRINK in this goddamn state of NSW.

And the rest of this goddamn motherfucking world ... well, what is there left to say? I could point out that 85 people control half the world's wealth while much of the rest are condemned to Hell.

But... I mean, I made my case some time ago that we serioiusly needed to find a decent sized wall for these fucking pricks, but did you goddamn aresholes *listen*? HUH? I even *tried to find a wall*. Goddamn you.



I even fucking suggested this wall for the goddamn pricks, you useless motherfuckers.


Well fuck. This is why God in His infinite mercy gave us music. There is not much better than live music done well, when a song swells with emotion and power until it seems it will explode. It is self-evident that such things are best actually experienced live. But, I have spent far too many evenings getting drunk and surfing YouTube to not know that there are some truly great, even breathtaking, life performances captured on film and uploaded there for our enjoyment.

So here are five great live clips. Trying to actually pick a "best five" would be impossible. This is a long way from that (among other things, I avoided Tom Waits coz once you go down that path, every single song will be Waits. You want some great Waits' clips, and who doesn't, I suggest my blog post Tom Waits' Top 20 Tearjerkers Of All Time.)

I simply chose five great live clips that I could think of right now -- and I can already think of some other great clips with no less claim to be on this list. These ones are great for different reasons -- the Springsteen clip is set on fire by Tom Morello's guitar solo; Janpis Joplin's astonoshing brilliant-but-raw vocal performance is out of this world; the Dubliners clip, as befits a folk song, brigns the story to life; and Kurt Cobain's shrieking is horrifying and spine-tingling in equal measures.

Anyway, the clips are below and, as ever, in a YouTube playlist.

* * *



'He was a sick man, he had murder in his heart...' Weddings Parties Anything were a glorious folk rock band that toured one end of this country to the other -- the type of band the closing of so many live msic venues has seemingly condemned the hiustory books. They developed a reputation for one of the great live acts of their day -- and this clips helps show why. The song is about the infamous case from 19th century Tasmania, in which escaped convict Alexander Pearce turned to cannibalism... and developed a taste for human flesh.


'Now history is a pack of lies, as any fool can tell.
So when I got down to hobart Town I told my story well.
But do you think they would believe a word I said?'





'The highway is alive tonight. Where it's headed everybody knows...' Tom Morello's guitar solo alone would be enough to make this re-imagined version of Springsteen's originally accustic tale of the "new world order", with its old world poverty and suffering, utterly electrifying. Add to that... well everything else about this performance, and you've got yourself a gem.





'Honey I know she told you she loved you much, much more than I did....' Well, really, this is how you sing a song. An incredible vocal performance in which Janis Joplin inhabits the song entirely. Every line is delivered like her entire future happiness depends on it.





'With their tanks and their guns, oh my God, what have they done...' This version by the Dubliners of a song written by Phil Coulter about his home town of Derry is a great example of how you perform a track about war and oppression. Coulter's autobiographical words capture the tragedy of British occupation of Ireland's north and the violence it wrought by capturing the way it actually affected people's lives. Luke Kelly sings it with real emotional power so that each line is a fresh heartbreak.





'I will shiver the whole night through...' This raw, hard-edged cover of the traditional song made popular by Lead Belly as "In the Pines", is haunting and unsettling until Kurt Cobain starts shreiking, at which point it becomes like a knife in guts. It is a very potent performance that is a fitting conclusion to Nirvana's groudbreaking MTV Unplugged acoustic set.

It is also, in popular mind, inevitably bound up with the fact the Unplugged album was released after Cobain committed suicide -- it seems to add extra gavitas to the performance and make a track like this even more haunting. But it is worth keeping in mind Cobain was not suicidal while he performs this. If he was, he'd have killed himself there and then, not spent a few hours in front of a crowd to record a show in which he did some of his finest live work.

What it is, rather than some inevitable swansong or pointer to the tragedy that was to come, is a sign of Cobain's talent and most of all, his potential. It is a sign of why his premature death was such a loss -- it showed what he was capable of. We can only imagine what he could have given the world had he lived.

* * *

BONUS TRACK!!!



'We're hanging here in an inch of our lives, from the day we're born till the day we die...' Shovels and Rope!!! Christ I love the glorious country folk duo that are wife and husband Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent.. Let no one accuse me of being *purely* negative... I end on this fucking heartfelt call to action to fucking DO SOMETHIG OF VALUE WITH OUR LIFES. Like you know.. finding a decent wall for all the motherfuckers...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

'Little bit of dirt mixed with tears' -- five songs by Lucinda Williams

Despite her share of critical acclaim, American country singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams remains underrated when her success is compared to her talent. Emmylou Harris said of Williams, "She is an example of the best of what country at least says it is. But, for some reason, she's completely out of the loop. And I feel strongly that that's country music's loss."

Williams has long been an artist I have been aware of as the kinda singer I'd like. Whenever I came across her, she impressed me -- and made me think "I should really investigate her stuff more seriously". For some reason, it was only recently I did -- first, these being the times they are -- via random songs on YouTube and then more seriously, album by album, on Spotify.

From the start, I was deeply impressed -- even blown away by the quality of the songwriting and, in the live clips, Williams' ability to inhabit a song and draw out all of its emotional power. In fact, the combination brought to mind Tom Waits in its potency -- which anyone who has read this blog knows is not small praise from me.

So here are five Lucinda Williams songs. They are not an attempt to be her "Five Best Songs", but a taster -- five songs that seem to me to be able to can draw out some of her power as a performer, which is why all five are clips of live performances. It is also a YouTube playlist.

* * *




'Little bit of dirt mixed with tears...' A wonderful poem about daily life put to great music and performed very solidly in this clip. When I decided it was time to start looking at what Lucinda Williams had to offer on YouTube, this was the very fist clip I played -- and I was instantly hooked. From the 1998 album of the same name.




'How would broken find the bone?' Well... talk about great poems... this one is beautiful and hopeful and melancholic and devastatingly, heartbreakingly sad all at the same time. It is songs like this that are needed to process the world around us, in all it horror -- big and small. This is what art is for. From the 2003 album of the same name.




...Take the high road or take the low
No one but you and God will ever know
And you might play rough and win or lose
Either way, love, you'll get the blues

From the cradle to the grave
You will always be a slave
To the quiet darkness of your memories
And that's the truth, my friend
The ugly truth, my friend...


Yeah well, start to finish, a killer track that one. From Williams' most recent album, 2011's Blessed.




'Sun came up it was another day. And the sun went down you were blown away...' Williams' scintillating, heartfelt song for down-and-out Texas country singer Blaze Foley, tragically killed in 1989 defending a friend. The jury let the killer off, in part, it has been said, due to a lack of belief the white Foley would have been in a predominantly poor Black area simply because he friends with a Black man rather than a more sinister reason. From 1998's Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.




'Please come find me and help me get fucked up ...' Sometimes, love is meant to be a bit fucked up and accompanied by some really cool guitar playing. From the 2001 album of the same name.

* * *

BONUS TRACK!!!




'Hush a wild violet, hush a band of gold. Hush you're in a story I heard somebody told...' Williams spinetingling cover of Tom Waits' 'Hang Down Your Head'. There was noway I'd get through an *entire* blog post without Waits in some form.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My prediction for tonight's Victory-Wanderers match in Melbourne.

My prediction for tonight's match between Melbourne Victory and the Western Sydney Wanderers in Melbourne is all the 9.30 news bulletins tonight (and then all news shows repeatedly for the foreseeable future or until the next time Lleyton Hewitt wins anything) will show any footage at all of anyone at, or in a 100-kilometre radius of, AAMI Stadium looking even vaguely cross while the news reader hyperventilates over "more violent scenes" bringing "fresh concerns of sokkah thugs" followed by a representative of the Victorian police insisting on the need for "stern measures" to stamp out the scourge of hooliganism that has taken over this country and then the Football Federation of Australia calling a press conference to announce they are expelling the two clubs forever from the A-League and all that A-League fans carrying membership tickets in active support areas will be preemptively shot, causing the Daily Telegraph's Rebecca Wilson to complain at the soft, conciliatory approach of the FFA for refusing to place all Red and Black Bloc member's heads on spikes outside Parramatta Stadium to make a clear stance against criminality, before she drunkenly plows her car into a nearby kindergarten, killing dozens.

This will be rapidly followed by Scott Morrison announcing plans to round up and deport anyone caught wearing a "sokkah shirt" while Christopher Pyne announces a reworking of school curriculum to ban any mention of any sport not played with an egg-shaped ball that isn't called "cricket".


The Red and Black Bloc, active support for the Western Sydney Wanderers, responds to repeat drink-driving offender and Murdoch media hack Rebecca Wilson, who wrote a hit job on the RBB without a word of truth in it that, among other things, said the decidely multicultural group "made her skin crawl".


Below is an alleged leaked email from Channel 10's Chief of Staff to Channel 10 staff today, posted on the Passion Is Not a Crime Facebook page dedicated to defending football supporters from various attacks. It could well be s sign of what to expect in media coverage of tonight's game. (You can see a screen shot of the alleged email, signed, here.)

"Hi everyone,

If you happen to be going to the Melbourne Victory / Western Sydney Wanderers game tonight at AAMI Park could you please keep your smartphone handy in case crowd tensions boil over.

News would be interested in any amateur vision shot of flares / push and shove / security evicting people / verbal abuse etc etc. Inside and outside the ground.

The last request is that you please tip your phone on its side to film ... so any vision is captured in landscape.

Please email me ASAP at this address if you manage to film something."

Oh, and in terms of what'll happen on the pitch -- I say Wanderers 1-0.