Thursday, July 10, 2014

AC/DC Finish New Album, Malcolm Young In Hospital


By Darryl Mason

You may now call him Dr Rock, but AC/DC’s lead singer Brian Johnson had even bigger news when he picked his Doctorate in Music from Northumbria University, in his hometown of Newcastle, England: 

The new AC/DC studio album is finished.

Earlier this year, rumours swamped the world’s media that AC/DC were finished, after news leaked that rhythm guitarist and founding member Malcolm Young was seriously ill, and unable to play.

But after two weeks of an incredible outpouring of emotion and grief from millions of AC/DC fans that filled millions of tweets and tens of thousands of Facebook posts, 

Angus Young and Malcolm Johnson defied ‘AC/DC are RIP’ claims and decided to push forward with plans to record the band’s first new album since 2008’s Black Ice. They recruited Angus’ nephew Stevie Young (who had replaced Malcolm Young on tour in 1988, while Malcolm Young had been in rehab) and did what Johnson had earlier promised. They picked up their guitars and had “a plonk.”

Johnson said, in April, they were going into the studio to jam and to see “if anybody has got any tunes or ideas.”

Turns out, they had both.

Through May and June, AC/DC recorded their 15th studio at Warehouse Studios, in Vancouver, Canada, with veteran producer Brendan O’Brien. The sessions have been described as quickfire, even frantic, and new songs were built up from jam sessions.

For their last album, Black Ice, which sold more than six million copies worldwide, becoming the 2nd highest album of 2008, Malcolm and Angus had worked on the songs for five years, amongst tours.

But this time, it was back to the way Angus Young had begun recording AC/DC songs at Alberts Studios in Sydney, in the mid-1970s. Ideas were jammed, songs were written on the spot, notebooks scoured for lyrics.

Johnson told Classic Rock magazine yesterday, “We’re done,” describing the recording sessions as “brilliant. I’m very excited and we’ve got some great songs.”

The presence of Malcolm Young, recognised by most longtime AC/DC fans and friends as the man who really ran AC/DC, was sorely missed in the studio, Johnson said, revealing Malcolm Young was now in hospital in Sydney.

“But he’s a fighter,” Johnson told Classic Rock. “We’ve got our fingers cross that he’ll get strong again. He’s a small guy but he’s very strong.”

Stevie Young looked delighted to be recording with AC/DC, in photos that circulated online in June. photos that also revealed Angus was now completely grey-haired, and had aged considerably since the band last toured in 2010.

“Stevie was magnificent,” Johnson said. “but when you’re recording with this thing hanging over you and your work mate isn’t well, it’s difficult. But I’m sure (Malcolm) was rooting for us.”

Johnson said he had proposed calling the new AC/DC album ‘Man Down’ to honour Malcolm, but feared fans might find the title a bit negative. The proposed title does, however, fit with the Youngs notoriously dark sense of humour.

The new album, whatever title they settle on, is expected to be released later this year, to tie in with a proposed 40th anniversary world tour. Johnson had previously said any new AC/DC tour would not be as long or as extensive as earlier ones had been now they were all in their 60s, and may instead simply be 40 shows in total.

The two year long Black Ice tour was one of the highest earning in music history, racking up more than $430 million in ticket sales, and another six figures in merchandise.

Johnson hinted to Classic Rock that AC/DC may return to Wembley Stadium in 2015, but no word as yet when AC/DC might return to Australia. Stevie Young is expected to fill-in for Malcolm Young if he is not fit to tour.

Darryl Mason is now writing a biography of Doc Neeson and The Angels.


Wednesday, June 04, 2014

THE LEGEND IS GONE - RIP DOC NEESON

Photo of Doc Neeson by Tony Mott

Doc Neeson is gone. It's still hard to believe he was ultimately mortal, but of course he was.

He was kind, generous, vulnerable, and he suffered more for his art - the music and theatre of The Angels - than most so-called artists ever will. He physically suffered for his art, being knocked unconscious by crowd-lobbed missiles more than once, shattered knees, busted ankles, a broken arm, lungs scarred from decades of deep inhalation in smoke-filled venues.

There will never be another rock star like him again.

I've been writing a book about Doc Neeson and The Angels, and I'd recently gone back into my archive to re-read the dozens of interviews, stories and live reviews I wrote on The Angels in the late 1980s and 1990s. The story below leaped out at me.

This is the original version of a story/interview I did with Doc Neeson decades ago. A shorter, rewritten version appeared in Juke Magazine, in early 1990, but I'm publishing the original here for the first time now as my tribute.

Thanks Doc, thanks for all the rock.


DOC NEESON LEAVES BLOOD ON THE MOON

By Darryl Mason

Doc Neeson signals to a guy standing at the centre of the stage, crushed up against the barricade. Behind him is a crush of two thousand people, the crowd fills every nook and cranny of Selinas at the Coogee Bay Hotel, right up to the front doors. Outside, people roar at bouncers they have tickets and wave them frantically in their faces, still trying to get in, even though The Angels have been onstage for 40 minutes. Some grown men are weeping, others trying to force their way in. But there’s nowhere to go even if they cross the thresh-hold.

Back at the barricade, at the front of the stage, the guy Doc signals to is in his early 20s, wearing a vintage Angels shirt that could only have come from his dad, or uncle, he is dripping sweat, the heat from the throbbing bouncing crowd raises the temperature onstage by ten degrees or more, the crowd is like the world’s largest radiator.

Doc signals the young man again, he waves back. Doc shakes his head, exasperated. He walks to the edge of the stage, leans down over the barricade and grabs the guy’s hands, pulling them into the air.

“Catch me!” Doc mouths at the guy, who finally gets it, and nods so enthusiastically his head might fall off.

Doc falls onto the guy’s outstretched hands, his shoes for the moment still touching the edge of the stage, his microphone clutched tightly in his fist.

The crowd goes crazy, and surges forward, crushing all those people already squashed up against the barricades. Some of the girls shriek in pain as their ribs crack and throw elbows back at those behind them to get off, but they can’t move either. Roadies watch nervously from the sides of the stage, hand signalling each other concerns over some of those down the front. Time to pull them out? A headshake, not yet. They swallow hard, their concerned eyes sweep the front rows.

Everyone wants to help hold up Doc Neeson, or touch him, as he is rolls across hundreds of hands. Some hands touch, some grab, some grope, some try to tear off pieces of his clothes, others grab his hair, he smacks away one girl trying to rip out some of his hair, angrily mouths, 
“No!” she apologises, then gets upset. The drama is intense. The passion of the audience so real real, so vivid, so dangerous.

Some go about their mission of holding up Doc as he speaks French during the Marseilles breakdown with a steely determination. Doc is a heavy bloke, even in his fitter, more nimble days, he's almost six foot four, but others hold him aloft with glowing faces, like they’re touching the Messiah. Which, in some ways, they are. Some in the crowd have driven long distances to be here, some have travelled pilgrimages of walking, bus, train, bus to get here from up the coast, or the outer Western Suburbs, they’ve come to worship, they’ve come to bear witness, to revel, to shout the words of the songs they love so much, to be a part of the gathering of the Angels tribes.

It's a religious experience. People are in raptures, losing their shit to the music.

And we love every single second of it.



For fifteen years now, The Angels have been doing this to audiences. Doc Neeson has managed to keep his crown of Australia’s Greatest Frontman firmly locked onto his head. The enigma lives.

New songs are debuted tonight, the Angels are preparing to head into the studio for their first new album in 15 years, and most of the new songs are welcomed, if not as warmly as the classics, they still get a debut reception most bands would kill their grandparents for.

Five hours earlier, in the empty afternoon cavern of Selina’s, the Angels are starting their soundcheck. 

In the bar next door, Doc Neeson sits down for an interview. His band launches into a booming pulse that rattles the wall. He looks about, on edge, as he chews the ice left over from his drink. 

He fixes that incredibly intense gaze on me as my mind goes instantly blank and I fumble for my question sheet. 

I’ve been watching Doc Neeson since I was a little kid, catching them on Countdown, staying up too late to watch a Night Moves live concert, watching and then rewinding and then watching again the extraordinary Angels: Live At Narara video tape. To an eight year, wild-eyed Doc Neeson could be terrifying. He seemed unreal, and even though our paths have crossed in recent years, I find myself incredibly nervous interviewing him like this.

“Relax,” Doc says, and smiles, then the intense gaze again as he studies my face.

“Have we met before?”

“Err, yeah,” I stumble, “briefly.”
 
“Where? When?”

“First time was here, outside, around the back, years ago. I was underage, I was waiting around the back for you to come out before a show. You took the time to say hello. I told you I wanted to be a writer and you said, 'Well, writers write, so get writing.'”

Doc nods, “and now you’re a music writer.”

I nod. Shit, yeah I am.

“But we’ve met a few times since, haven’t we?”

We had, and I remind him of recent encounters and a few backstage visits when I was reviewing Angels live shows.

The Angels, without him, blast into Marseilles next door. He sits up straight, looks at the wall separating him from his band.

“Okay, ready?” Doc says, “questions.”

“I’ll be quick.”

“You’ll have to be,” Doc says, “we’re rehearsing new songs today.”

Sitting with Neeson, one on one, shatters a few myths you might have in your head if you’ve only seen him on TV, or in concert. For one thing, he’s nowhere near as scary. His eyes are gentle, than intense, then gentle again, soothing. His voice seems deeper, more silken, and he can be completely still, where onstage he can’t seem to stop whirling.

The four brand new songs showcased on this tour sound different to previous Angels songs. They sound like The Angels, but also something different, new.

Whereas before, members of The Angels wrote in pairs, or alone, this time new songs were jammed live in rehearsal, written as they were played by three or four members at once.

“Whereas before it was mostly Brewster-Neeson-Brewster writing most of the songs,” says Doc, "now the whole band is getting in on it.

“Then there are songs that the guys came in with already written, and even now we are still writing as he we set up to record.”

The Blood On The Moon tour raised a bit of controversy amongst Angels fans by dropping Be With You and See Your Face Again from the shows and finishing the night with no encores, which are almost as much a part of Angels shows as Rick Brewster standing motionless.

“It does get tiring when we’re touring,” Doc says. “I don’t mind the shows, it’s the travelling four or six hours every day up and down the coast to get the shows that I’m beginning to hate.”

And he means “hate.” He spits out the word.

“If there was a way for me to get to the shows instantly…”

“Teleport.”
 
“Yes” Doc laughs, “if there was a way for me to teleport to the shows instantly, then that would be fantastic.”

Doc also hates that in so many towns and cities around Australia, the band comes offstage to find anywhere to get late night feed already closed. He muses about insisting on a tour chef, and how fantastic it would be to have a freshly cooked meal waiting once he’d come down from a show.

“That’s probably not very rock n roll,” Doc says.

“The Stones do it, heaps of bands have cooks with them.”

Doc nods, “I might have to bring that up at a band meeting.” He laughs his unforgettable laugh.

Next door, The Angels begin another song, unfamiliar, a new tune. Doc shifts in his seat, we order another drink.

Three other new songs filter in and out of the live shows. Stop Being A Bitch was a regular on the last two tours, Money also made a few appearances, and a song with the working title Out Of Reach bobs up every now and then.

He won't go into too much detail about the new album.

“Don’t you like surprises?” he smiles.

The interview is interrupted by a young girl, perhaps 15, who has been hanging around the doors of the bar for the whole interview, clearly waiting to meeting Doc. She can't take it anymore and runs over to the table. She pours out her story to Doc - she was raised on The Angels, her dad played the band constantly, some of the first words she ever spoke, her dad told her, were words to Angels songs off their debut album. Her father died from cancer the year before, and she wants Doc's autograph to leave at his grave. Doc begins to tear up as tells her to calm down, that everything's OK, that he's so proud to hear her first words were from Angels tunes. He signs an autograph for her, as she trembles.

"Don't leave it at your dad's grave," he says, "he'd want you to keep it for yourself, wouldn't he?"

Yes, she gasps. She hugs Doc suddenly, then apologises repeatedly for interrupting the interview.

Doc says this sort of encounter is not unusual, the Angels have that kind of emotional effect on people.

The new album is due out towards the end of the year, and tours will follow. There is also a plan to return to the United States, with the blessing of Guns N Roses, who are telling music journos The Angels are one of their biggest inspirations.

Axl Rose has even told music press and European radio that The Angels inspired the band to form in the first place, and The Angels are one of the best bands in the world.

There is bound to be a tide of new fans and media interest waiting to see The Angels when they get back there.

Doc wonders if this time, “we’ll break America.” It’s been a long battle, and many tours, and many disappointments.

“We’re not going to give up,” Doc says. “We’ve worked too hard to get to this point to not try again. It’s frustrating to get so close and then see it all fall apart because some record label fires all the staff that are behind you, and you have to start over again. New record label staff always have other bands they want to champion….”
 
I ask if it’s not enough to just be the biggest live rock band in Australia, year after year, and know every time you hit the road, there will be full houses of dedicated fans?

Doc gives me a look like he thinks I’m a bit mad.

“That’s very important,” Doc says, “but, no, it’s not enough. We need to break worldwide.”

Doc Neeson has been songwriting with Guns N Roses Izzy Stradlin but the sessions only turned out some half-completed songs and a list of ideas.

“I don’t know who will record them,” Doc says, mysteriously, as though he’s hiding something, “but it will probably be whoever gets around to finishing them.”

Doc wants to get back to the soundcheck rehearsal, that’s clear, and in the short time we’ve been talking, the crowd for tonight’s show has begun to mass outside the bar. For now, the bar doors are closed, while staff prepare and move tables and chairs to make way for the late afternoon, pre-gig rush. Some of the Angels fans outside have spotted Doc and knock excitedly on the glass. The young girl is showing other Angels fans her autograph, proudly. They look at her enviously, then in at Doc Neeson. More knocking on the windows.

Not much time left, one more question.

As hard as it might be for Angels fans to imagine the livewired maniacal Doc Neeson onstage becoming a quiet, laid-back, sitting at home with his wife and two kids father, reading a book in the evenings off tour, that is exactly how Doc likes to relax.

What’s he been reading lately? Biographies. He’s been particularly caught up in Albert Goldman’s controversial biography of John Lennon. But unlike many Lennon fans, Neeson is not quick to condemn the book. He admires it’s brutal honesty, it’s attempt to get at greater truths about Lennon and his art, even if it fails to do so, or is too gauche in the getting there.

“The book was good in the sense that it showed another side to John Lennon that we never got to see,” he says.

“Too many other books and media have built up Lennon into this God-like image, and he was totally against that sort of thing. I loved John Lennon, his music, his lyrics, even some of his poetry and prose. It’s important to find out more about this man. Even the bad stuff. It’s all part of the art he created.”

So would Doc like a warts-and-all book about him to be written one day?
 
He laughs, “maybe I’ll write it myself.”

Then he falls silent. His mind somewhere else.

What do you think about at this point in a show day, when you’ve got such a big gig ahead tonight?

He looks troubled, briefly, ”I think about how our fans will react to our new songs, how we can keep the energy up, unfamiliar songs always drag down energy levels a bit. We’re also dropping a few songs many will be expecting to hear. We can’t fit them all in, with the new songs.”
 
Are you afraid of disappointing fans?

“Of course.”

We talk briefly about acting, and his interest in films. He wants to get more into the subject, but there isn’t time.

Do you still want to act in a movie? “Of course, I’d love to. It would have to be right role. I thinking about doing some theatre.”

It’s time for him to go. A band member is on the mic at the soundcheck rehearsal next door, chanting “Where’s Doc? Anyone know where Doc is?”
 
Doc stands, we drain the remainders of our drinks. He asks if I want to come in and hear some of the songs they’re rehearsing. Shit, yes.

He gives instructions to get through the crowd outside.

If you see that girl, bring her with you, he says. She won’t get into the show tonight, but she can watch the rehearsal. He wants me to walk on his right side, he will walk next to the wall, be polite when the fans close in on him, keep moving fast, head for the front doors of Selinas like you are supposed to be inside, don’t ask the bouncers to move, just walk in. Won’t they all know who you are anyway? Doc shrugs, “not always.”

We go outside, we move quick, people close around us, Everyone calls Doc’s name, it’s only a short walk from bar to Selina’s but it quickly gets claustrophobic. The girl who asked for the autograph is amongst them, thanking Doc endlessly.

“Bring her,” Doc tells me, she falls in behind us and clutches at Doc’s shirt. The bouncers step aside, hold the doors, all three of us are inside Selina’s. Onstage, The Angels have just started one of their new tunes, the place is empty except for roadies moving road cases into position beneath the stage, to get them out of the way and to help hold back the crowd, others scramble across lighting trusses, bar staff empty cartons of beer cans into walls of fridges.

Doc Neeson jogs across the vast empty space of Selina’s towards the stage. The band nod as he hauls himself up quickly, easily. The song is building quickly to a climax, the power of The Angels in this empty room is stunning.

The autograph girl is dancing by herself, lost in the music, her eyes closed, loving this moment, she opens her eyes then and takes it all in, the empty dancefloor, the Angels onstage, playing it seems just for her.

“I can’t believe I’m here!” she cries out.

Neither can I. Neither can I.

Doc grabs the mic and screams out an improvised line, “It’s Killllliinnnnng Time!”

The song doesn’t make it onto the next album. It never appears in a live show again. It simply doesn’t make the cut. ‘Killing Time’ exists only in this brief moment at a soundcheck. Outside of the band, the roadies, bar staff, the autograph girl and I are the only witnesses to its existence. I still think about it two decades later.

The song finishes, about 12 hands applaud, a small sound in this huge empty space. Doc bows to his tiny audience. They kick into Blood On The Moon.

We stand there and enjoy this private show until The Angels call it quits, pack up and disappear until show time.

Five hours later, thousands fill Selinas, and the autograph girl is still there, somehow having avoided bouncers, she’s deep in the crowd, going off. Like everyone else. 

Raging with The Angels, like we always do, like it's the last night of our lives.


How The Angels Helped Inspire Grunge, Yes, Grunge



Monday, June 02, 2014

Turnbull: Bolt Is "Unhinged" And "Demented"

The Herald Sun is now trying to recast extremist Andrew Bolt as a happy-go-lucky kind of guy. Good luck

By Darryl Mason

Finally, Malcolm Turnbull has said out loud what I've been writing here on this blog for almost eight years.

Murdoch's Andrew Bolt is "unhinged" and "demented."

Tell us something we don't know.

Turnbull: 
“...it borders on the demented to string together a dinner with Clive Palmer and my attending as the Communications Minister the launch by a cross-party group of friends of the ABC and say that that amounts to some kind of threat or challenge to the Prime Minister.

“It is quite unhinged. Now, Mr Bolt is fond of attacking what he regards as the government’s enemies in the media, principal amongst whom of course he numbers the ABC. I don’t think you would see anything as crazy as that on the ABC.

“Mr Bolt, he proclaims loudly that he is a friend of the government. Well with friends like Bolt, we don’t need any enemies.’

A split within the Liberal Party has been rumbling for months, as PM Abbott continues to plummet in the polls, and he and Treasurer Joe Hockey's extremist Budget 2014-2015 is rejected by an ever growing number of Australians.

Abbott has taken the right wing extremism of Andrew Bolt, The Australian and turd basket lobby group The IPA to the Australian public, has acted on their demands, has echoed their rhetoric, and the Australian public has been repulsed. Not all Australians, but certainly enough to cause the non-right wing nutters of the Liberal Party and their Nationals coalition partners to get nervous indeed. Many Liberal Party backbenchers, for example, are now wondering if Toxic Tony is going to lose them their seats at the next federal election in 2016, or even sooner.

Turnbull well knows that he doesn't need Murdoch media, or Bolt's support, to become prime minister, or to become a popular prime minister. Murdoch's media blew their wad going all out to get Tony Abbott elected PM, and Bolt is seriously tainted by his declared friendship with Abbott. How can anyone trust anything he has to say about Abbott, or Abbott's agenda, when he is known as a serial defender of his pal?

Turnbull's outburst against Andrew Bolt was sparked by a Bolt column today linking Turnbull to Clive Palmer, after their 'secret meeting' dinner in Canberra, and Bolt painted the pair as united against Bolt's buddy Tony Abbott:



Bolt smells the stench of Abbott's impending political death in the air and is trying to head Turnbull off at the pass, questioning his loyalty and trying to rally Abbott supporters in the Coalition against Turnbull and Palmer.

MegaFail.

Turnbull responded to Bolt's conspiracy theory in the stunning doorstop, quoted at the top, with the media a few hours ago. And everything exploded.


Fairfax media, rivals to Murdoch's NewsCorp, home of Bolt, unleashed with obvious glee.

The Australian Financial Review:

Philip Coorey in AFR:
Malcolm Turnbull has labelled columnist Andrew Bolt demented and unhinged after the leading conservative cheerleader suggested the Communications Minister was undermining Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Mr Turnbull told journalists in Parliament on Monday that Mr Bolt’s theories were damaging the government.

Mr Turnbull was incensed on Sunday when Mr Bolt, while interviewing Mr Abbott on his weekly TV show, asked the Prime Minister: “Now, why is Malcolm Turnbull wooing Clive Palmer on his own? It looks like he’s got his eye on your job.”

This was a reference to a casual dinner in Canberra last week with Mr Turnbull, Mr Palmer, Treasurer Secretary Martin Parkinson and businessmen John Fast and Tom Harley.

The participants all claimed it was a spontaneous and harmless gathering but it spiked paranoia inside the Coalition because Mr Palmer has been refusing to even talk to anyone else in the Coalition until he is given what he considers ample resources.

In his newspaper column on Monday, Mr Bolt continued the attack on Mr Turnbull, saying the dinner sent “an unmistakeable message to Liberal MPs:

“Replace Abbott with Turnbull as prime minister and Maybe Palmer will play ball’’.

Mr Bolt further accused Mr Turnbull of giving comfort to the enemy by launching a new parliamentary group of friends of the ABC.
 The Sydney Morning Herald:

Matthew Knott:
News Corp commentator Andrew Bolt's leadership speculation "borders on the demented" and is ''quite unhinged", says Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Turnbull's dinner with Mr Palmer sparked fears among some in the Coalition that he was attempting to destabilise Mr Abbott's leadership, according to reports.

"It borders on the demented to string together a dinner with Clive Palmer and my attending, as the Communications Minister, the launch by a cross-party group of friends of the ABC and say that that amounts to some kind of threat or challenge to the Prime Minister," Mr Turnbull told reporters on Monday.

"It is quite unhinged. Now, Mr Bolt is fond of attacking what he regards as the government's enemies in the media, principal amongst whom of course he numbers the ABC. I don't think you would see anything as crazy as that on the ABC.

"I just have to say to Mr Bolt, he proclaims loudly that he is a friend of the government. Well with friends like Bolt, we don't need any enemies."

On Monday, Mr Bolt told Fairfax Media: ''It's a great shame and quite telling that Malcolm Turnbull attacks someone he calls the government's media friend with far more vitriol than I can recall him ever attacking one of the government's media enemies.

''This fits a pattern. No doubt he [Turnbull] will expand on this in his next Q & A appearance with Tony Jones.''

What a prissy, sooky reply from Bolt. But then, what else could you expect?

Bolt's readership is dropping away, his blog comment count is a shadow of his glory days and his TV show just can't seem to find any new viewers.

What Abbott is realising, and Bolt probably already knew, is that there is an extremely limited audience and pool of voters in Australia for IPA-style extremism. Bolt can't find more viewers and readers because he's fully tapped the market available.

What Turnbull understands is that there are far more 'soft conservatives' than extremist conservatives, like Bolt, like the IPA, like The Australian's editor Chris Mitchell.

Turnbull knows he can win back a huge slab of Liberal Party voters who feel done over by Abbott since the 2013 election and are now rejecting Budget 2014-2015.

And Turnbull is right.

The action over Abbott's tenuous leadership will grow only more heated from here on in.

UPDATE: The Abboot-Turnbull-Bolt fiasco makes it to Parliament:




From The Orstrahyun Archive...



 2009: The Last Time Andrew Bolt Went To War On Turnbull To Save Abbott

Andrew Bolt: I Don't Know How Twitter Works, But Its Freedom Scares Me

Seriously, What A Fuckwit - Bolt's Biggest Shriek For Attention Yet

Bolt's Reality Meltdown Over Fukushima






Sunday, June 01, 2014

Abbott On D-Day Anniversary: Now Can We Get Rid Of The Carbon And Mining Tax?

By Darryl Mason

Australia's PM Tony Abbott, or 'Toxic Tony' as he is becoming known, used the 70th anniversary of D-Day landings in Europe during World War 2 to talk up his agenda of cutting the carbon tax and mining tax. And he used images of Australian World War 2 veterans to do it.

This is a media release issued around midday on Sunday, June 1, 2014:


Here's the transcript of the above:

A Message From The Prime Minister - 70th Anniversary Of The D-Day Landings

June 1, 2014

"This week the world will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

The D-Day landings changed the course of human history.

As part of the commemoration, I will join join seven Australians who were there 70 years ago.

Over 5000 Australians were involved - including 2500 air force personnel who provided air support for the Allied landings.

Following the D-Day commemorations, I will be traveling to Canada and France and will be joined by Australian business leaders.

My message to overseas investors is that Australia is open for business.

The Government's Economic Action Strategy to lower tax, cut red tape and encourage trade will improve the competitiveness of business - so that we can build a stronger Australia.

We welcome investment and we are making investment more attractive by scrapping the carbon tax and the mining tax, cutting 50,000 pages of red tape, and ending the 'analysis paralysis' on major projects.

Our international partners can see that our Budget is again under control, we are tackling debt and deficits and we are serious about building a strong and prosperous economy.

This year Australia hosts the G20 summit to encourage growth around the world and I will be advancing that cause during this trip.

The United States, Canada and France are long standing friends. We stood together at D-Day, we trade every day and we have always shared a commitment to democracy, to enterprise and to people's right to be free."
See the way Abbott has used World War 2 bravery and sacrifice to set up the next part of the media release? This is called 'activating emotional triggers.' Mention World War 2, trigger emotions, then deliver your political agenda.

It's demented.

And this is the re-issued press release....


....note it has backdated to May 31, to give the impression that this was the intended media release, to fit in with Abbott government MPs now trying to claim the 'D-Day To Carbon Tax' release was "just a draft." The reissue has been stripped of his blatant anti-carbon tax and anti-mining tax agenda items and business-related rhetoric.

The original media release was not "just a draft", it was issued to 1000s of journalists and other media around the world, direct from the Prime Minister's Office.

The other proof it wasn't "just a draft" is the fact that PM Abbott actually recorded a YouTube video of his media release, and it included historic photos of World War 2 veterans, before switching over to his political agenda and right-wing propaganda.

That video, also titled 'A Message From The Prime Minister - The 70th Anniversary Of The D-Day Landings' was posted and made public, and links publicising it were sent out on Twitter and Facebook. It was only after Twitter lit up in shock and disgust, the video was retitled and then finally pulled.

The title was changed to 'A Visit To France...' but the original title remained the redo, as seen above, and in Google search, and archives. Here's a copy of that original video:



The original media release is a perfect example of tawdry, cheap and cynical exploitation of World War 2 and its veterans by the prime minister. Our Australian veterans. That the Prime Minister's Office is trying to spin Abbott's way out of this disgusting use of veterans to push his political agenda just makes the whole thing even worse.

I spent every Saturday for almost three years, with a wonderful, kind man who was at the D-Day landings, and all this makes me feel extremely ill. He's gone now, but I can only imagine his reaction at seeing Australia's prime minister exploit his sacrifice and the sacrifice of his friends and colleagues in this crude, tacky way.

If you still don't get it, Abbott was using words and imagery of brave men from World War 2 to trigger an emotional reaction in the reader, and viewer, of his written and video media release.

This is an ugly, utterly cynical PR technique to soften you up with emotional triggers, so that what follows - his agenda relating to the axing of the carbon and mining taxes, cutting of red tape and "open for business" propaganda - will lock into your emotions, will etch his messages into your thoughts and memory. This is why the 'D-Day To The Carbon Tax' media release begins and ends with lines about the D-Day landings and World War 2.

The veterans got 5 lines, his right wing, IPA think-tank propaganda got six paragraphs, in a release headlined '70th Anniversary Of The D-Day Landings.'

It was an attempt to purposely link events from World War 2 with his current agenda, and make you feel less opposed to his plans, and his Budget. And also to pressure his political opponents to dropping their opposition to his policies.

It wasn't a "blunder."

It was extremely purposeful.

They did exactly what they intended to do, Abbott read it all aloud in a video, and his office only changed it all around when people were literally repulsed and sickened.

Think about the political agenda, the PR techniques, the emotional triggering, behind all this the next time a politician tries to use past wars to ram through whatever the people are currently opposed to. It's a foul, odious and downright dirty trick. Exploiting war veterans to push unpopular political agendas has been used before, and no doubt it will be used again, as long as politicians aren't held to account and made to pay for this kind of emotional abuse.

It's hard to believe Tony Abbott hasn't announced his resignation.

Instead, he's going to tour World War 2 cemeteries and memorials in Europe, and pose with veterans for photos and hold media conferences to cash-in further, to further plunder the D-Day anniversary for his political ends.

'This is the way it's always been,' some might say, 'this is what politicians do.' That doesn't make it right.

They will stop doing it, when the public says, "Enough."

(Images and screengrabs via Twitter)


From The Orstrahyun Archive....

Tony Abbott's Gruesome Attack On A Dying Man

Tony Abbott: What A Scumbag Part One

Tony Abbott: What A Scumbag Part Two

Abbott Threatens "Very Dire Consequences" For Australians If They Don't Vote Howard

Abbott Attacks Australians For Demanding The Very Best From Their Politicians


Gruesome Racism Of Christian Mission Propaganda


It's still hard to believe PR films like the one linked below, from 2.30 minutes in, were made to pave over the heartbreak and lifelong misery dealt out to Aboriginals over the stealing of their land and their children. The narration of is practically gleeful, and these kind of films were shown in cinemas, in schools, in government offices to staff, across Australia and England from the 1930s to the 1960s. Such films were made to convince those concerned by the purposeful destruction of Aboriginal culture and heritage and families that it was done "for their own good."

'Happy HalfCaste Girls In The Orphanage'

The counterpoint of an Aboriginal man detailing their rich lives and cultural lifestyles before the stealing of land and children began is jarring.


Here's the transcript, via The Australian Screen Office :
This clip shows black-and-white archival footage of Indigenous Australians engaged in traditional ceremonial activities, building a shelter, fishing with spears and collecting food. This footage includes narration by Aboriginal activist Mick Miller, who details the treatment of Indigenous people since Australia was colonised by the British in 1788. The second half of the clip shows footage of Indigenous people on a Christian mission in the 1930s. The original narration, included with this footage, claims that the missions are giving Indigenous people 'the benefits of civilisation’ and includes the intertitle 'Happy halfcaste girls in the orphanage’.

Mick Miller, narrator When the British, to use their word, “discovered” Australia, we had already been here for at least 60,000 years. Our culture was rich and complex. Based on a deep spiritual affinity for the land. The land is our mother. It is the source of all life and meaning to us. We were on the continent in small clan groups. We had no need for houses of parliament, or cathedrals, paved roads or fences, but the white man took that as evidence of our backwardness. They called us savages, subhumans. We were shot, poisoned, kept in chains. Our women were raped. They drove us from our land, and they desecrated it. Later, they decided to civilise us, to make us like themselves.

Original narration from Christian mission footage The Australian blacks are a vanishing race no longer. Earnest efforts by those who know and understand them are today bettering the condition of the Aborigines. The blacks are encouraged to live the old free life, but they are given the benefits of civilisation as well. And one big benefit is regular meals. Rations are issued to all who apply, and there’s no reluctance to apply. Some are reluctant to go. Along with the bucks and the youngsters, the women get their food the new way, but they still carry their babies the old way. The piccaninnies take their exercise seriously, even if some of them take it a bit out of time. “Well, how do you like this fella (inaudible), Mary? Too much altogether walkabout (inaudible).” So the good work of the Sacred Heart missionaries turns a primitive people into a happy, healthy community.

Mick Miller In less than 150 years, our ancient civilisation had been destroyed. It was accepted that we were doomed to extinction. We had become marginal people in our own country. Our land was now their land. 

John Pilger's Utopia Hits Home

John Pilger's extraordinary, jaw-dropping, heart-breaking but totally eye-opening documentary Utopia screened across Australia on SBS tonight. Utopia is one of the most important films ever made in Australia, about Australia, about its secret past, and its secret present.


Although mostly ignored by mainstream media, and unable to even get a distribution deal, initially, Utopia was still seen by more than 100,000 people in parks, churches, school halls and community halls across Australia, in dozens of communities.

The reaction on Twitter to Utopia airing on SBS was intense.

For a few minutes, a documentary about Aboriginals topped the Twitter trending topics for Australia. Shortly after, it locked in between AFL and NRL trending topics. If you know the volume of celebrity and sports and boy pop band related tweets that usually result in a subject trending, you will understand just how massive the public reaction to Utopia on SBS was. And it was on SBS, not on a commercial channel.


Tens of thousands of tweets were posted, quoting from the documentary, airing feels of shock, dismay, anger but almost overall a sense of betrayal. Not just betrayal by Aboriginals on social media still waiting for justice, but from people all over the country who had never been told most of the information in Utopia, by teachers, by the media, by history books. How did we not know all this? How can so much be hidden?



Films can change societies, and for now at least, it feels like Utopia will help Aboriginals in their fight for justice, and full recognition. It certainly got people talking. And that's a start, isn't it? At least people know more than they did a few years ago.




Here are photos from the first screening of John Pilger's Utopia, at 'The Block' in Redfern. More than 4000 people turned out to watch the documentary, and Aboriginals traveled from across Australia to be there, and to speak, passionately, about the stories of Aboriginal heroes and their battles for justice featured in the film. I'm haunted to this day by the cries of pain and anguish from some of the Aboriginal men and women in the crowd, when they saw images of dead friends, or relatives, or stolen children from their ancestral lands. I doubt I will ever go to another film screening where emotions were so raw, and the joy at truth finally being told was so overwhelming.








You can buy a DVD of Utopia here. It's archival footage, alone, is worth keeping a permanent copy of, but the story in total is something you should share with people who don't know, including your children, or your grandchildren. It is the truth of Australia.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Orstrahyun: Double The Readership Of Murdoch's Telegraph

Based on figures from this Murdoch media puff piece on its 'success', The Orstrahyun recently had a bigger readership than one of the most popular Murdoch Sunday newspapers, The Sunday Telegraph:
 “Our Sunday metro papers (all Sunday papers combined) are read by 4.7 million people each Sunday,” Mr Tonagh said.
‘‘To put that in perspective, last month’s finale of My Kitchen Rules attracted 2.3 million metro viewers. The Block got 2.2 million.

‘‘Last season’s AFL grand final averaged 2.7 million.”

Oztam figures reveal this was well in excess of the average audience for television evening news bulletins on Sunday night in Sydney — with Nine News pulling the top audience of 386,030.
The Sunday Telegraph’s ­average weekly audience was 1.316 million in the 12 months to March.

1.3 million readers for The Sunday Telegraph? Big deal, The Orstrahyun clocked up a readership of more than 2 million people, and that was in less than one week:


And that was back in mid-April. By late April, The Orstrahyun readership for that AC/DC story had reached 2.5 million, it's now closing in on 3 million. And these figures aren't from a few hundred thousand readers returning multiple times to comment, or read comments, or reactions to their comments. These were nearly all unique hits, or views.

This means The Orstrahyun completely flogged Murdoch media's 'most popular Australian blogger' Andrew Bolt for readership:


And I won't even go into the stupidity of the Murdoch media big-noting itself by claiming it has more readers worldwide (and every Murdoch news site is available worlwide, and its stories are archived by Google, so they come up in Google subject and name searches) in one month than a state-based TV show has on a given night.

 Look at this NewsCorp graphic about the hilarious Telegraph's readership:



It all seems incredibly desperate. Which makes you wonder why they'd be so deceptive about their readership if it was as big as they claim.

What the Murdoch media fluffing stories (and there's been more than two dozen across its Australian websites in the past week, some even paywalled as 'premium content') don't tell you about their claimed readership is this - the total weekly audience they claim for websites like the Daily Telegraph, for example, is based on how many Telegraph online pages are viewed in a given period.

It's not how many people actually go to the website to read it specifically everyday, but how many clicks/views all the Telegraph online web pages get in a given period. This total includes all the links shared on Facebook and Twitter and other social media, all the clicks they get because some old celebrity story still on the website turns up in Google searches, and Google Image searches, and all the clicks they get from other Murdoch media websites linking to old stories housed at the Sunday Telegraph homepage because a celebrity previously covered, or 'More Here' links.

If from all that, Murdoch's NewsCorp can claim a readership of 1.3 million for one publication based on alleged weekly averages, why can't The Orstrahyun claim it has a readership of 2.5 million?

Can, and will.



The Orstrahyun - Readership: 2.5 million.


OK, The Orstrahyun clearly doesn't always get that level of readership action, but that's hardly the point when it comes to fudging readership numbers for big-noting purposes. And the Murdoch media are Yodas when it comes to doing that.

From out of the blue, an online story can attract attention and go completely viral, and that's what happened to this AC/DC story. It got picked up by international media, music sites, new sites, was linked to, and circulated heavily on Facebook, all over the world. It went completely ballistic.

Of course The Orstrahyun doesn't get a million or two online readers a day, but neither do any of Murdoch's news sites. They have huge spikes in traffic, like The Orstrahyun did, and then they use the total numbers (spikes and more mundane daily readership) to average out weekly traffic numbers that look far more impressive than they actually are. Online readership numbers for nearly all news sites, not just the Murdoch ones, are completely elastic.

In case you were wondering, an actual average day at The Orstrahyun draws a few thousand readers (without comment action) and a chunk of those hits is people finding archive stories through Google searches, just like the online Murdoch media gets a fat chunk of traffic from old stories. That's why Rupert Murdoch never lived up to his threat to stop Google from archiving and adding Murdoch media stories to search results. It would have been a huge, unhideable loss of daily web traffic.

Thanks to regular readers for sticking with The Orstrahyun over the past seven years. And hello to all the via Google tourists. We miss you already.



From The Orstrahyun's Archive...

Stop The Hysteria, Demands Hysterical Daily Telegraph

Daily Telegraph Exploits War Heroes To Demonise The Disabled

Daily Telegraph: Anyone Opposed To Abbott Is A Revolting Feral 

Peak Rudd - Daily Telegraph Couldn't Fit Anymore 'Get Rudd' Stories On Front Page 

Daily Telegraph 'Staff Writers' Demand Destruction Of Greens, Yet Again