Archives: September 2005

29 Sep 2005, Comments (0)

We need more draconian laws!

Author: Helen

C’mon, people…

They‘ve killed 261 people in Victoria in 2004, and already killed another 264 in 2005, to date. More, by the time you read this.

High school kids seem to be particularly vulnerable – even babies and toddlers aren’t spared.

They killed 522 in NSW in 2004.

The annual body count to the end of February 2005 was 1558 for the whole of Australia (for the 12 months March 2004-February 2005).

So you can see the threat is real. We have to take this seriously. This is unacceptable!

…Oh, sorry, you were talking about terrorists? I meant cars.

Carry on, then.

(References here and here)

21 Sep 2005, Comments (0)

Pure photographic Gold

Author: Helen

Student Union (“amenities”) fees at Melbourne Uni… Between $78 and $392 / year.

Student Union fees at Newcastle University: $254- $360 /year.

Tricking Brendan Nelson into being in your shot as you photograph two friends holding up an anti-VSU placard: Priceless.

Apparently not.

How do we respond to the many writers, bloggers, commentators and others who have blamed the New Orleans population, specifically the poor and black population (with special reference to single mothers). The mental picture they conjure and reinforce is of people who only know how to take, don’t know how to give.

They might hold a mirror up to themselves; particularly if they’re paid by the big media organisations who have links with entertainment organisations, the “record labels” as we used to call them. Anyone who has profited from the vast, globalised behemoth of a US entertainment industry– and that includes film, TV, broadway and other strands. And the rest of us, who consume that culture daily, who rely on the entertainment industry for out leisure time, aren’t off the hook either.

That behemoth is responsible for a good deal of the GDP, exports and lifestyle of the US. And none of it would exist in its present form if it wasn’t for the musical history of the poor, black population of the Mississippi delta.

Many of whom, it’s been pointed out, may be household names, but are still struggling while people who have profited from their pioneering music live large in luxury.

Maybe a bit of gratitude is in order. Perhaps it’s the people of New Orleans who have given, and we’ve taken and taken and forgotten where the magical honeypot of popular culture came from.

Good morning America, how are you?

This song has been on my mind since New Orleans flooded… and its citizens came in for such cruel comments from its fellow citizens. Say, don’t you know me? I’m your native son. It was written by Steve Goodman and recorded by Arlo Guthrie, becoming Guthrie’s best selling single.

This version in G is my preferred way to play it (weak left hand, so I avoid F chords), although a couple of the chords and lyrics are wrong so you need to refer to a recorded version.

I haven’t managed to play this song to the end, though. When I try to sing the last verse, something funny always happens to my throat.

16 Sep 2005, Comments (0)

The Great Unwashed Speak Out

Author: Helen

You’re a commuter who has driven your gas guzzler family sedan into work for as long as you can remember. And for as long as anyone can remember, the State government has been pandering to you and to motoring lobbies like the RACV, trying to ignore the reality that it just isn’t sustainable to do that forever. Every time motorists squeak, vast tracts of Australia are ripped up for freeways, tollways, overpasses and other massive bituminous monuments, which then quickly clog up again. Meanwhile, the public transport system and its users have been treated like shit and the system allowed to run down under a privatised arrangement. (Maybe these two things are related…?)

Anyhoo, one day you drive up to the petrol station and it looks like this:


This continues for a few weeks so you decide it’s no longer feasible to drive the g… sorry, family sedan, into work and you decide to jettison your dignity and mix it with the rest of us, in your own words, Great Unwashed.

Now I’d like to say that we’ve welcomed you with open arms, car driver (“Welcome to our world! Glad you came over to Our Side!”), but unfortunately not in my case. First, because the system has been run down and treated like shit, and there are just not enough peak hour trains. So where I might have had a fighting chance before of getting a seat on the 7:50 from Footscray, or at least something to hold on to, now I am stuffed in like one of those poor sheep on the live sheep transports to the middle East.

And you people, finding out for the first time just how run down and shitty the system is, not only do you bleat about it as if no one ever pointed it out to you before. No, you just couldn’t care less before. You just have to compound it by complaining about US – the longtime users of the ahem, “service” – the ones who weren’t competing with you for road space but doing the right thing all along, and now have to put up with YOU packing in by the hundreds… It’s so painful for you to have to mix it with us, the great unwashed carless hoi polloi.


Are you going to get onto the State government now to say, “OMG WTF! I never knew how bad the situation was with our public transport, or how much we need it. I demand you extend it exponentially and run it properly as a clean, safe, reliable service!?”

No! You’ll just complain about the GST on petrol and demand they remove it so you can get back into your car and blessed forgetfulness.

But… what if it’s not the GST that’s the problem? Excuse me, but is that a turd on your table?

15 Sep 2005, Comments (0)

Imitating the BAG

Author: Helen

Yikes! Did this photo in the morning paper shock you, too?


The ghastly face, drained of colour– Philip Ruddock has looked better on a good day. Photographed from outside the car window, he appears to be sinking into darkness.

BAGnews notes would have a field day with this one. See the reflection on the car window which runs past Latham’s shoulder? This photo has been cropped– the one in the paper showed the reflection much more clearly as a suburban street. This is poignant given Latham’s appeal to the outer suburban voter and his determination to embrace that part of the culture. It also gives rise to various visual puns – A bad reflection on him?… A reflective moment?…

Latham’s face is also ghostly grey in contrast to the bright, fiery orange reflection; it’s as if he is fading from the world.

10 Sep 2005, Comments (0)

Biloxi Blues

Author: Helen

If it keeps on raining, levee’s gonna break
If it keeps on raining, levee’s gonna break
When the levee breaks, got no place to stay.
Led Zeppelin

For anyone with access to a computer anywhere, the blogosphere is alive with interconnected information about the New Orleans disaster. Blogs like Making Light, Barista, Respectful of Otters and Lan Downunder, which link to information sources such as this wiki and counterspin from hundreds of sources. (The wonderful Majikthise is actually down there volunteering.) I’m not even scratching the surface of what’s available. I’d like to thank these people, from the rest of us who try simply to keep up with the slew of happenings and comment.

Two things I’ve noticed in the past two weeks. One is that conservative bloggers/commentators have claimed that we have no right to criticise the Bush government, and that looking to institutional factors such as tax cuts and the privatisation of FEMA for explanations for the scope of the tragedy are either unjustified, or even anti-american (that letter writer can’t have been reading American blogs!)

People pushing this line really did have selective vision. choosing to ignore all the right-wing discussion points flying around: The people who were left behind chose to stay, because they were feckless and waiting for a handout. (“”These people,” as we keep hearing them called with disdain”.)And the people who were left behind were not deserving of our sympathy because they were criminals and looters. Or the destruction of New Orleans was deserved, as a latter day Sodom or Gomorrah. Or just simple ignorant, insulting comments from the US elite. The media whoring.

There doesn’t seem to have been a gag on this kind of media commentary, and the US bloggers have been right on top of it from the start. So why complain about comments which single out Bush and the US administration? (Sure, Bush isn’t personally responsible for everything that happens, but he didn’t exactly respond with alacrity.)

Perhaps it’s because “liberal” bloggers and writers are pointing out to the institutionalised problem of privatisation, outsourcing and its relationship with the administration, as well as the inability of privatised systems to respond to as disaster of this magnitude. it’s also because they turn the microscope on the entrenched social inequality that a laissez-faire, Tax-cuts, low-wage economy has generated, as well as a lot of ugly racism.

It’s one thing to criticise the powerless, another thing to criticise the system that keeps “us” (the ones earning more than the minimum wage, or welfare) all rich.

You might like to read Teresa Neilsen Hayden on the politics of the word “looting”; and Almeida on what he might do in that situation. Sometimes we can make pronouncements on a topic without really doing the thought experiment on what we might do ourselves, faced with the prospect of no food, water and medical supplies for our vulnerable small children.

If you haven’t seen it already, go and read Get off the Fucking Freeway, via Nick Possum.

All last night sat on the levee and moaned,
All last night sat on the levee and moaned,
Thinkiní íbout me baby and my happy home.
Going, goíní to chicago,
Goíní to chicago,
Sorry but I canít take you.

6 Sep 2005, Comments (0)

The way we were

Author: Helen

Well at least there was Bazza

Here’s another music meme from Body and Soul. For this one, you need to go here and type the year you graduated from high school into the search box.
(Yeah, it shows everyone instantly how old you are. Depends how cagey you want to be about that one…)

Click on the link “Top 100 hits of… (your graduation year)” and cut and paste the results into your blog.

Bold the songs you like, strike through the ones you hate and underline your favourite. Do nothing to the ones you don’t remember (or don’t care about).

Top 100 Hits of 1974

1. The Way We Were, Barbra Streisand
2. Seasons In The Sun, Terry Jacks
3. Love’s Theme, Love Unlimited Orchestra
4. Come And Get Your Love, Redbone
5. Dancing Machine, Jackson 5
6. The Loco-Motion, Grand Funk Railroad
8. The Streak, Ray Stevens
9. Bennie And The Jets, Elton John
10. One Hell Of A Woman, Mac Davis
11. Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do), Aretha Franklin
12. Jungle Boogie, Kool and The Gang
13. Midnight At The Oasis, Maria Muldaur
14. You Make Me Feel Brand New, Stylistics
15. Show And Tell, Al Wilson
16. Spiders And Snakes, Jim Stafford
17. Rock On, David Essex
18. Sunshine On My Shoulder, John Denver
19. Sideshow, Blue Magic
20. Hooked On A Feeling, Blue Swede
21. Billy Don’t Be A Hero, Bo Donaldson and The Heywoods
22. Band On The Run, Paul McCartney and Wings
23. The Most Beautiful Girl, Charlie Rich
24. Time In A Bottle, Jim Croce
25. Annie’s Song, John Denver
26. Let Me Be There, Olivia Newton-John
27. Sundown, Gordon Lightfoot
28. (You’re) Having My Baby, Paul Anka
29. Rock Me Gently, Andy Kim
30. Boogie Down, Eddie Kendricks
31. You’re Sixteen, Ringo Starr
32. If You Love Me (Let Me Know), Olivia Newton-John
33. Dark Lady, Cher
34. Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me, Gladys Knight and The Pips
35. Feel Like Makin’ Love, Roberta Flack
36. Just Dont Want To Be Lonely, Main Ingredient
37. Nothing From Nothing, Billy Preston
38. Rock Your Baby, George McCrae
39. Top Of The World, Carpenters
40. The Joker, Steve Miller Band
41. I’ve Got To Use My Imagination, Gladys Knight and The Pips
42. The Show Must Go On, Three Dog Night
43. Rock The Boat, Hues Corporation
44. Smokin’ In The Boys Room, Brownsville Station
45. Living For The City, Stevie Wonder
46. The Night Chicago Died, Paper Lace
47. Then Came You, Dionne Warwick and The Spinners
48. The Entertainer, Marvin Hamlisch
49. Waterloo, Abba
50. The Air That I Breathe, Hollies
51. Rikki Don’t Lose That Number, Steely Dan
52. Mockingbird, Carly Simon
53. Help Me, Joni Mitchell
54. You Won’t See Me, Anne Murray
55. Never, Never Gonna Give You Up, Barry White
56. Tell Me Something Good, Rufus
57. You And Me Against The World, Helen Reddy
58. Rock And Roll Heaven, Righteous Brothers
59. Hollywood Swinging, Kool and The Gang
60. Be Thankful For What You Got, William Devaughn
61. Hang On In There Baby, Johnny Bristol
62. Eres Tu (Touch The Wind), Mocedades
63. Taking Care Of Business, Bachman-Turner Overdrive
64. Radar Love, Golden Earring
65. Please Come To Boston, Dave Loggins
66. Keep On Smilin’, Wet Willie
67. Lookin’ For Love, Bobby Womack
68. Put Your Hands Together, O’Jays
69. On And On, Gladys Knight and The Pips
70. Oh Very Young, Cat Stevens
71. Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress), Helen Reddy
72. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John
73. I’ve Been Searchin’ So Long, Chicago
74. Oh My My, Ringo Starr
75. For The Love Of Money, O’Jays
76. I Shot The Sherrif, Eric Clapton
77. Jet, Paul McCartney and Wings
78. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, Elton John
79. Tubular Bells, Mike Oldfield
80. Love Song, Anne Murray
81. I’m Leaving It All Up To You, Donny and Marie Osmond
82. Hello, It’s Me, Todd Rundgren
83. I Love, Tom T. Hall
84. Clap For The Wolfman, The Guess Who
85. I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song, Jim Croce
85. The Lord’s Prayer, Sister Janet Mead
87. Trying To Hold On To My Woman, Lamont Dozier
88. Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing, Stevie Wonder
89. A Very Special Love Song, Charlie Rich
90. My Girl Bill, Jim Stafford
91. My Mistake Was To Love You, Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye
91. Helen Wheels, Paul McCartney and Wings
93. Wildwood Weed, Jim Stafford
94. Beach Baby, First Class
95. Me And Baby Brother, War
96. Rockin’ Roll Baby, Stylistics
97. I Honestly Love You, Olivia Newton-John
98. Call On Me, Chicago
99. Wild Thing, Fancy
100. Mighty Love, Pt. 1, Spinners

This list goes a long way to explain why I’m a neurotic misanthrope who loves to complain. As you can see, 1974 was dire. If you had had to listen to someone’s beloved copy of Tubular Bells on constant rotation on the 6th form (antediluvian term for VCE student, kids) rec room turntable, punctuated by Slade Alive! (which does not feature on this list but certainly featured ad nauseum among my classmates), you’d be scarred for life too.

1974 was certainly a year of spectacular musical badness, with a few isolated spikes of brilliance. In the Bad corner, look no further than no. 1 on the list, The Way we Bore, one of the most hated songs of last century. A few more choice selections:

The Stylistics, You Make me Feel Brand New: Whining set to music!
John Denver – two songs, Sunshine on my Shoulder and Annie’s Song— hard to say which is more dreadful.
The Carpenters, Top of the World: I know she’s a beautiful chick drummer and she’s dead, but their songs were horrible.
Brownsville Station, Smokin’ in the Boys Room: I have never heard anything else from this band, which figures.
Blue Swede, Hooked on a Feeling: As above. And what does their name mean, anyway? shoes made out of vegetables?
ABBA, Waterloo: They were huge, but I still hated them. I still have to crank up my postmodern irony levels to full bore to enjoy their stuff.
The Hollies, The Air that I Breathe. Pure Shite.
Helen Reddy, Leave Me alone. Only too happy to.
Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Taking Care of Business. This is the kind of shuffle-boogie-with-flattened-fifths that makes my eyes glaze over. Cookie-cutter stuff. I loved fanging around the backblocks in the EJ to the sound of You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, though.
Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: An OK song, but done to death, just like
Mike Oldfield, Tubular Bells: Aaaaaaaaaiiiiiieeee!
Janet Mead, The Lord’s Prayer: The oldies thought this would make churchgoing “groovy” for the “teens”.


The most egregious dog’s balls of the lot,
Olivia Newton-John, I Honestly Love you… I don’t want to be overly critical of a nice person going through a traumatic experience, but she didn’t happen to sing that one to him just before he disappeared, did she? because that could explain a few things

Even the greats, like Aretha Franklin, were a bit off that year. Until You Come Back to Me is an OK song, but not among my favourites. I loved Joni Mitchell but can’t for the life of me remember Help Me.

But there were some standout songs too in that year, and some of them by quite unlikely people. Like David Essex, Rock On and Barry White Never Never going to Give you Up. I was a bit too young to appreciate Barry properly in those days, but I have made up for it since. Then there was Gordon Lightfoot Sundown, Steely Dan Rikki Don’t Lose that Number and that mighty classic, Golden Earring’s Radar Love, which I got to cover in later life. But all up, 1974 was a celebration of mediocrity in the top 100.

No wonder so many of us Generation Jones gave up in disgust at what was on offer in the mid-70s commercial airwaves and embraced the Saints, the Go Betweens, the Birthday Party. I’ll find time to blog all that one day.

I’m sending this meme on to FX Holden, Flop-Eared Mule, Burnt Karma, and Brownie.

5 Sep 2005, Comments (0)

He’s a Fingerknittin’ Fool

Author: Helen

My little boy is mad for fingerknitting.

It’s just done (as it sounds) on one finger, and it produces a long, long… thing… that just goes on for metres and metres and metres.

I think his finger knitting is about equivalent to a couple of house blocks now. He’s in competition with his friend Matt. I think I probably shouldn’t have suggested the Guinness Book of Records.


Anyone remember French knitting? Boynton pointed me to a link on how to do it, and how to make the little gadget with cotton reel and nails. It’s from the 8th Dalviera Girl Guide Co. of Pretoria.

Now to find a wooden cotton reel.

3 Sep 2005, Comments (0)

Go you good thing!

Author: Helen

If you have any good vibes left over from the ones you’ve already sent to your favoured bunch of bladder kickers and the wretched of New Orleans (who the US National Guard is now allowed to kill with impunity), spare a few for Gummo Trotsky, who has taken up the challenge to write a novel in three days.

Right now, he’s bloodshot, exhausted, stoned, immaculate and probably halfway out of his tree. Send him a barrage of positive thoughts, go on.

Go, Gummo! Go you good thing!