Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve Fireworks, Sydney Harbour

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And So This Was Christmas....

For those who started reading this short piece of fiction on Christmas Day, and wondered what the hell happened to the rest of it, I've given it a much needed polish and added what feels like a much better ending.

Hope you enjoy it.

Note To Self : When binge-writing and 'binge-drinking' on Christmas Eve, remember to press the 'Publish' button and not 'Save Draft' button if you want people to actually be able to read the story, you idiot!
"Daddy, Her Tits Are Scaring Me!"

Banning such sights from Sydney beaches would be downright UnOrstrahyun

By Darryl Mason

They come to our beaches, they sit amongst us, they pretend to enjoy our way of life, but something in our beach culture shocks them, scares them, makes them feel uncomfortable. Do they go back where they came from? No. They Don't. Instead they want to try and ban, and fine, Australians for taking part in a great Australian tradition.

These invaders of our beaches are the Anti-Breastists.

In fact, they are Extremist Anti-Breastists.

They must not be allowed to destroy our Culture and our Way Of Life :
Topless bathing would be banned on mainstream beaches in NSW under a conservative push to reclaim the sand.

Reclaim the sand from...breasts?

Of course, the conservatives ban on topless bathing would only apply to women.

With women increasingly going au natural, conservative powerbrokers from all sides of State Parliament yesterday supported a ban on topless bathing.

Liberal powerbroker David Clarke and Labor MP Paul Gibson yesterday vowed to support a Bill by Reverend Fred Nile that would ban nudity at popular beaches like Bondi, Manly and Coogee. Support from both sides of Parliament increases the Bill's chance if it goes to a conscience vote.

Yes, you did actually read that - a conscience vote on bare breasts on beaches.

"The law should be clear. It must say: 'Exposure of women's breasts on beaches will be prohibited'," Rev Nile said yesterday.

But what about men's breasts, Rev?

Labor MP Paul Gibson said topless women made people feel uncomfortable.

"If you're on the beach do you want somebody with big knockers next to you when you're there with the kids," he said.

How do you feel about kids being confronted by a big fat, flabby pair of hairy man boobs as they emerge from the Bondi surf, Paul?

What about morbidly obese American and British men in budgie smugglers parading our beaches, not caring a twiddle if a bit of exposed chicken skin catches the sun?

Women have been happily sunning their breasts on the beaches of this land for more than 50,000 years and few men, or boys for that matter, have ever seen any reason to complain about it.

Australian Conservatives : They just can't stop thinking of ways to make themselves even more unpopular.

Darryl Mason is the author of the free, online novel ED Day : Dead Sydney. You can read it here


Monday, December 29, 2008

What's That Burning Smell?

There's a lot of really nasty ways for a man to die. But this has to be one of the worst :

Police have alleged Mr Narayan's wife doused his genitals with methylated spirit and then set him on fire about 5.30am on December 7.

Imagine waking up to that.

Mr Narayan lived for 20 days, with "serious burns" to 85 per cent of his body.

"They Love It"

This is still the downright funniest and most entertaining Australian news interview of the year. Some kid nobody's ever heard of, who had a huge party that spiraled out of control, and is seized upon by a media that has lost its comprehension of real news, should have been absolutely shitting himself during this interview on A Current Affair. He was expected to be contrite, and apologetic. But he wasn't. He was totally in control, he timed his funniest lines perfectly and refused to give ACA what they wanted. He knew exactly what he was doing.

Corey Worthington is one of the more famous recent examples of a new generation who are totally at ease in front of cameras - their own, their friends' - and do not feel intimidated by the commercial media in the slightest. They are their own media, they make it, edit it, soundtrack it and share it and celebrate it. This is a generation that also knows that when they've done something that's made them famous, even if only for a few days, or weeks, there is money to be made, and they're not afraid to demand payment.

Corey Worthington's name may have already faded from headlines and the top of Most Read Story lists, but unlike many who have their private lives seized on and super-hyped by the media, Worthington walked away from the experience a couple of hundred grand richer. Good on him for getting his share from the profits of the media's absurd, embarrassing, feeding frenzy.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Christmas Story

Short Fiction by Darryl Mason

"Is he okay?"

He waited for her to answer.

He couldn't tell her what happened while she was away...

"He's not getting better, if that's what you mean."

How could he tell her, right now? She had more than enough on her mind already.

"I know your dad's not getting better. I meant...does he understand what you say to him? Can you talk to him?"

Down the hall, he could hear his son's sobbing quickly winding down as something in his bedroom grabbed his attention. When his mother had told their son she had to stay in Brisbane tonight, Christmas eve, he'd let out a little shriek, then a plume of tears. He didn't blame his son for crying, he knew he'd have burst into tears as well if he'd been told, at four years of age, that his mother wasn't going to be there when he woke up on Christmas Day.

"I talk to him," she said of her father, "but...he's off somewhere else. Most of the time, his face is just blank. Nobody home."

He struggled to catch all of what his wife was saying. Her old non-i mobile phone sounded like it was being shoved out of clear, crisp reception by 3-G, or 4G-3D, phones, or whatever the hell they were up to now. It was like he was trying to talk to her across a room, when there was a titanic hailstorm attacking the tin roof above. The static made it seem like wife was even further away than she was, where she sat next to her father, drifting out his last days in a nursing home that hummed steady silence and drifted with the tangy smells of death and shit. He knew she hated that place, and that she wanted to be home with him and her son on Christmas eve, wrapping presents.

But there were no presents to wrap.

"Are you still there?" she said, her voice grating with frustration. "Hello?"

"I'm here, the...line is shithouse, or the reception or whatever," he went to swallow, and couldn't it. His tongue, his mouth, throat, were dry, he needed water. Or bourbon. A decade ago, when he was 24, he would have dealt with the misery of the ruined day he had endured, and what would follow tonight, with three double Wild Turkeys and Coke, and then the rest of it straight from the bottle. But he didn't Do That Anymore. Even if he wanted to obliterate himself with bourbon tonight, he'd have to get in the car to go and get some. But the car went two weeks ago. The walk to the booze shop would take him fifteen minutes each way, through the sea of houses. If it was even open.

"I know where I'd rather be tonight..." she said, and he could feel her smile.

"I wish you were here, too."

"We've never been apart at Christmas, have we?"

"I don't think so...."

He could delay the inevitable confrontation with his wife until tomorrow afternoon, maybe even early evening, it would take her most of the day to drive back down the coast.

Or he could tell her now. Be honest, and tell her that he left everything to the last moment and that he had well and truly fucked up, that he'd been so absolutely sure there was another couple of hundred left on their final active credit card, but he'd been wrong.

He could tell her how it felt to stand there at the cashier's with a video game for his son in his hand and have his credit card rejected, twice, and to have someone there in the line behind him whisper, with disgust, "fucking loser," and to know that it was ultimately nobody's fault but his own.

He could tell her all that, but it would make her night even more miserable, worrying then not only about her father, and whether he would live to the New Year, but also about her son, who was now going to wake up in less than seven or eight hours to discover that Santa had left him no presents.

The ramataming splatter of static faded from their phones.

"No, we've never spent Christmas apart," she said, and he could see the memory movies he knew she was thinking about. "We even saw each other on a few Christmas days before we started going out. When you were still seeing...Sonja."

"You know I only went to all those parties with Sonja because I knew you were going to be there, looking wicked," he said. These were old lines, they both knew the routine and enjoyed it, when, once a year or so, they tossed these lines back at each other.

But it worked. His wife laughed, a real laugh, deep and loud. "How do you come up with such bullshit?"

"That's why you love me," he said. She'd needed to laugh, to get that release, and he'd done it. He'd made her feel better.

"It's not the only reason I love you, but it's in the top three."

How could he tell his wife that when their son woke up he was going to believe that Santa was a liar? And that he'd probably be waving the letter she'd written a month before, on Santa's Workshop letterhead, from the desk of Santa Claus himself, that promised the boy, if he behaved himself, the one present he most absolutely desired, as he'd told his father, "in this whole wide, world wide world."

It was a video game, for PC (a new Xbox was one third of a monthly mortgage payment they could never afford to miss), that put the player in command of the stars and moons of our galaxy. Before work finished for the year eight weeks ago, he'd watched a couple of previews of the game his son wanted from Santa on YouTube. The game had caught his imagination as well. One of the main gigs of the game was to move moons into the orbits of watery worlds to pull life out of the oceans, or to position a star into a rumble of asteroids and dead planets to make a new solar system, where life would eventually flourish if you could protect the planets from massive asteroid and comet strikes He wanted to play the game, too. And earlier today, when he'd been walking to the cashier's at the W, he'd imagined an afternoon of real joy and connection with his son as they played the game together on Christmas Day.


"Are you still there?"

"Yeah. Are you staying at the nursing home tonight?"

"I have to. The storm's gone crazy and the trains are out. I'm going to drag in a more comfortable chair from the day room when everyone's gone to bed. I think it's only me and nurses in this place who know it's actually Christmas Eve..."

"That's really sad. They don't even know it's Christmas.."

"I know. Anyway, I'm going to go."

"Okay. Do you want to talk him again? He's still awake, I can hear him ripping up paper in his room."

"Why's he still doing that? No, I'll call him in the morning. Make sure he's up by seven."

"He'll be up by five, waking me up."

"That's true...."

A long pause. He knew that she knew, in the way she always knew.

"So," she said, with a sigh. "Did you get everything?"

He had to end this conversation now. It was time to bail.

"It's all taken care of," he said, quickly. "Everything's cool. I love you. Kiss your dad for me. Merry Christmas. I'll talk to you in the morning."

He hung up, snapping the phone shut. He tossed it on the bed like it had scorched his hand.

He stood there for a moment, waiting to see if it would ring again, then headed for the bathroom and drank water from the tap. Being a deceptive bastard was thirsty work.

"Jamie? What are you doing?" he shouted through the house, from the bathroom.

"Nothing dad!" his son shouted back, from his bedroom. "What are you doing?"

"I'm going downstairs to see what's on TV! You hungry?"


"Okay! I'll be back up to tuck you in!"

"Yeah, okay."

He had to get this done, before his son went to sleep. He had to go and tell him the bad news about Santa. And he'd do it, he told himself, in a few minutes, knowing food and TV were just ways to delay the inevitable.

He walked down the stairs, the rest of the house sat below, dark, quiet, still. The only noise in the whole house was the steady sound of his son slowly tearing long strips of paper.

It wasn't completely dark in the lounge room. Pink, yellow, blue and green lights glowed across the street, spilling through the curtains, dashing them with colours. It was the neon-drenched Christmas display that covered most of his neighbour's house. A remarkably detailed Christmas display that had drawn a steady stream of family-packed cars every night for two weeks. Most had stopped to admire his handiwork for a few minutes, but there were many who'd parked their cars and walked into his yard to explore his Christmas creation, to wander amongst those lights, to see what all the little mechanized figures of snowmen and elves and reindeer were going to do.

He knew his neighbour wouldn't be able to pay the astonishing electricity bill for this year's festival of Christmas lights, when it thudded into his mailbox in February, because he knew his neighbour wouldn't be there to get it. His neighbour had already packed up the larger pieces of furniture and valuables and moved them elsewhere, so when the bailiffs turned up and let themselves in some time next week to tally up the assets, they'd find nothing of any real value, all of it long gone.

There'd be no Christmas miracles for his neighbour, and his family, he knew that. There was no government bailout for them. They only owed hundreds of thousands, instead of billions.

And so, he thought, another family will leave the street, another set of familiar faces, some friends, who'd lived and shopped and taken their kids to the park and daycare centre in this neighbourhood for six or seven years, would be gone. Another abandoned house would join the twenty or more he'd already found within a few minutes walk. Some were occupied by squatting students who couldn't afford to live in the city in the more, others by the suddenly homeless who had fled other suburbs, in other states.

His son didn't seem much bothered by the disappearance of his friends from down or up the street.

He didn't understand this at all. When he was five, his best friend's family had packed up and left the street where he'd spent his childhood, and the experience had traumatized him for months.

His son just shrugged when he asked him if he missed the kids he used to play with. At only four years old, his son had said goodbye to nine of the kids who were born to families in the street the same year he and his wife had been blessed with him. They were all gone, moved on, leaving behind abandoned mortgages and abandoned homes that nobody wanted to buy.

For the past three years, the street had seemed like the perfect place to raise a child, surrounded by other young families, people like him and his wife, working families, other kids like his son. Everything here had felt familiar, everything had felt right. It had been a safe place, safe enough for the kids to get together in the park after school to kick around a ball, without a fleet of parents watching over them.

But the kids hadn't gone to the park much at all, at least, not as much as he and his friends would have, and did, when they were the same age.

His son, and his friends, were more interested in video games, and teaching their grandparents how to use a computer and get socially networked, than slamming each other into pebble-studded fields of mud in mad pursuit of a ball.

He stood at the bay window, and noticed for the first time, of the many nights he'd stood there, beyond midnight, staring at the lights, just how much the softly-blinding illumination lit up the surrounding houses, his own house, his front lawn. It was something of rare beauty, and he wished he'd spent more time enjoying it, rather than resenting it, because his own home Christmas decoration attempts seemed so futile in comparison.

The thousands of dollars of lights and waving, smiling dioramas and glowing reindeer had cleaned out his neighbour's credit cards over three afternoons of madness in late October. Making something beautiful, if only for a few weeks, had become an obsession for him, as his family came to grips with their financial ruin, as they poised on the brink of fleeing the neighbourhood.

It was only now, tonight, that he realized his neighbour hadn't gone mad. He'd lost everything anyway, but in a final tribute to the neighbourhood, he had given the people of this devastated street something beautiful, a flood of light, a place to stand and be awed in the night by dazzling colours, it was a gift to the friends and neighbours that remained, and something free and wonderful for families to come and see, experience, share.

When other fathers who visited asked how much it cost, his neighbour had always grinned and declared, "Nothing!"

His neighbour had nothing left, so he had nothing left to lose.

He wondered, briefly, how long it would be before his family joined the exodus from the neighbourhood. Another month or two, maybe less.

From upstairs, the sound of ripping paper ceased. His son would soon be asleep.

From down the street, from one of the abandoned houses now occupied by homeless youth, who had in turn exodused the city, drifted familiar singing. "And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?" A John Lennon song, he remembered some of the words, a choir singing 'War is over, if you want it." The stereo the kids were blasting it from was up loud enough for him to sing along, but he got stuck on the words, "and what have you done?" The words repeated, a broken, taunting record in his mind.

What have you done?

He wasn't hungry anymore. He didn't care what was on TV. He had to get this over with. He walked to the stairs, and started climbing. He had to tell his son the truth.

"Are you awake?'

"Yes. I can't sleep."

"I know. When I was your age, I couldn't sleep either. I kept thinking I could hear Santa coming."

You idiot, why did you say that?

His son nodded slowly, then looked at his father.

"I don't think Santa's coming...."

"How did you know?" The words jumped out of his mouth before he could stop them. His son sat bolt upright in bed, and even in the low illumination thrown off by a Snoopy nightlight, the same Snoopy nightlight that had kept the monsters of the dark at bay when he was a child, he could see his son was already close to exploding into tears again.

"Santa's not coming? Why isn't Santa coming?"

His son had almost shrieked those last words. It was too much for him, he could see that. His mother away for Christmas Day, and now, no Santa.

"Santa's not coming because...." he paused. His son was already dealing with the fact that there would be no Santa, he wasn't coming, he already understood that. Now he had to explain to his son why.

Was it too early to beat his son's friends at school to the belief-rattling truth that Santa doesn't really exist? That the Santa his son already knew so much about, and dearly loved, was mostly dreamed up by Coca-Cola and cigarette advertising executives back in the first few decades of the last century?

It would blow his child's mind. He had to do this delicately.

I need to keep lying, he told himself, just for tonight, I can destroy the reality of Santa Claus for the boy in the New Year.

"Santa's not coming because...." he took a long, deep breath. There was nothing, his mind was blank. But then it wasn't. He had the story.

"Well, all over the world, in really poor places, poor families, you see, they can't afford any presents at all this year, none, and so Santa has to do a lot of extra...running around...flying around, in his sleigh, he has to fly a lot more trips to make sure the really poor kids get at least something this Christmas....outside of what he was going to give them anyway...before he found out their parents had...couldn't afford to get other well."

That was a terrible explanation. He knew it. This was going to be a long night. The kid wasn't going to go to sleep again, for hours. He could almost hear that sharp little brain churning through The Explanation for why Santa would not be visiting this year, dissecting it, comparing it to reality as he'd briefly come to know it.

He sat down on his son's bed, and waited for the boy to speak. His expression already showed that heavy doubt was tearing apart The Explanation. Some more foundation work for the lie was needed, but he had nothing else.

"That's why...Santa can't come here this year, you see? He's extra busy with the really poor kids."

His son nodded slowly.

"Are we really poor, dad?"

"No...I mean....we're not, really poor."

"Are we just poor?"

"No...well, maybe a little."

"If Santa doesn't give me presents, will poor kids in other places get my presents?"

"I don't know how it all works," he said. "Ease up on the questions for a minute."

So his son did, but he had nothing to say. They sat in silence, the night sky above the back yard glowing and filling the window, alive with stars and flashing satellites and the faint dust of the Milky Way galaxy.

He had an idea. He knew from his own childhood that on a clear night, you can see a couple or more shooting stars every half hour, if you stood outside with you head craned back, and paid attention. When he'd had a minor obsession with basic astronomy, before high school and girls and rock music pulled his eyes away from the heavens, he'd spent plenty of clear summer nights out in the yard with his telescope sweeping across the sky, and he'd seen plenty of shooting stars.

Had he told his boy much at all about the night sky yet? Not really. Not outside of basic explanations for what The Moon was, and why some stars seemed to twinkle, and others pulsed red, or blue.

His son, like himself at four, was showing a keen interest in science fiction TV shows, and, in particular, science fiction video games, but while he loved to blast through deep space on his father's laptop annihilating enemy transports and their escorts to micro-dust, the boy had never spent an evening in the back yard examining the endless light show in the sky.

The idea, the new lie, that popped into his head to further delay the day when his son learned that Santa Claus was only myth, a triumph of marketing, surprised him in its cunning, and potential for drama.

"Listen," he said to the boy, "there won't be any presents, but Santa has promised that every kid who misses out this year will get something extra special, instead of toys"

That perked up his son's ears, widened his eyes.

"Something special? What is it?"

"We have to go downstairs, and out into the yard," he said and stood up. "So grab your shoes and put them on."

"Why do we have to go outside?"

He pointed out the window, to the sprawl of stars, fighting to shine their light against the orange glow of the city in the distance, bleeding neon up from the horizon, diluting their brilliance.

"You won't be able to see it properly from inside," he said, and held out his hand. His son was out of and then off the bed, rustling underneath it for a pair of shoes. He found them, quickly slipped them on.

"Is the something special from Santa something that flies?"

"No more questions," he said.

"But I want to know now," the boy tried to cry, but he had forgotten he was supposed to be upset and couldn't find the immediate tears.

He picked up his son and carried him from the bedroom.

"Don't cry, okay? Okay, what Santa did was...Santa made a promise to every kid that misses out on presents that he will send them their own special shooting star. That's why we have to get downstairs now. The shooting star Santa sent for you should be flying overhead any minute."

The boy liked this news. His legs started moving like he was running. "Hurry up! We have to go and see it!"

He felt a little guilty at how easy the basic lie, and the story he conjured up around it, was to create and explain. Now his son wasn't expecting a video game he couldn't afford. He was waiting for a shooting star, which he didn't know would be a meteorite or maybe even a chunk of old satellite, hitting the atmosphere, breaking up, burning up, flaring out.

I promised my son a shooting star, he thought as he carried the happily struggling boy down the stairs. What happens if we don't see one?

What then?

This seems so familiar....

It was a beautiful night. He'd kept his son busy counting stars for a minute or so, but he was already getting bored. The counting was punctuated by sighs that grew louder, as the promised shooting star from Santa failed to appear.

"Thirty two, thirty three, thirty four....when's it coming?"

"Soon. Very soon."


"Thirty five."

"Thirty five, thirty six, thirty seven..."

He'd learned in his late teens how to delay the moment when the emotional impact of something terrible actually hit him, and consumed him. Delay The Inevitable had been his life matra for most of his 20s. When his father had died, he hadn't shed a single tear for four months, then everything had come at once, a wave of sadness, grief and regret that all but crippled him. Booze had helped, but then the booze had become the problem, instead of the fact that his father had died and he hadn't said goodbye, or even seen him in those last painful months of his life. He hadn't let himself learn to deal with it.

"Thirty seven, thirty eight, forty..."

"Thirty nine," he croaked, convinced that he was about to burst into a wracking attack of sobbing louder than anything his son had unleashed during what had been an altogether utterly shitty Christmas Eve.

"Thirty nine, forty, forty one..."

He remembered then, a Christmas long past, from his own childhood, the memories came rushing back, a wave of images soaked with emotion. He had to fight to stop himself from crying. He remembered now why this moment in the backyard with his son seemed so familiar. His father had done the same thing with him, on a Christmas eve when he was five years old, taken him into the backyard, promising shooting stars instead of presents, there were no presents, his father had drunk the money his mother was going to use to buy them. It had been his father's Christmas ritual.

His father had kept drinking as they stood in the back yard that night, the crumbling, neglected old house a tilting heap behind them. He'd waited and waited for his shooting stars, and as he waited, he'd felt himself pulled into the deep, black curtain of the night sky. He could leave this place behind by going up there, one day. His father had eventually sat down on the grass, then plopped back into a snoring pile. But he'd stayed right there, rooted to the ground, eyes sweeping across the great, immortal dome of stars.

He didn't see a shooting star that night, and the disappointment had been devastating. But he went back out there the night night, and the next night, and every night for weeks, staring into the sky, watching hundreds of shooting stars blaze across the sky, or simply flare out in a second or two. An elderly neighbour finally asked him what the hell he was doing in the back yard every night, and when he explained, the old man had given him a small telescope, on a tripod, from the ruin of junk and detritus in his garage. His love of astronomy, of knowing everything he could about the stars, the planets, the universe, then began, and consumed him. Until girls distracted him, and then rock music, and drinking.

"Dad? I'm bored. Can we go inside?"

He faked a sneeze so he could wipe the tears from his eyes, without his son seeing how upset he was.

"Two more minutes," he said. "Santa promised you a shooting star and he will deliver. Two more minutes, just count the seconds..."

A loud, long sigh preceded his son's new count. "One, two, three, four, five, six..."

He hated himself and hated his life. What a fuckup he'd become. Christmas Eve and not enough money in his pocket to buy his kid even the cheapest piece of shit toy. He corrected himself, in his mind. He hadn't become a fuckup, he'd always been a fuckup. In four weeks, no longer than eight weeks, his family would lose their home. He still didn't know if his boss was even going to reopen the doors of his offices in the New Year, let alone ask him to come back to work. Not that it mattered, he wouldn't earn enough to get his family out of their debt problems.

What's going to happen to us now?

"Twenty eight, twenty nine, thirty," his son sighed again. He knew he was only out here now to make him happy. He was doing this for his dad, no other reason. "Thirty one, thirty two, thirty four...."

"Thirty three," he whispered, as the suddenly familiar raw despair of old soaked through him, a despair that he'd once diminished with alcohol, but now had to work its way through his system, feeling like it was killing a little bit more of his soul every time it came to visit.

"Thirty three, thirty four, thirty's not coming."

"It's coming," he said through gritted teeth, a darkness of anger clouding his words.

I need bourbon...

"Thirty six, thirty seven, thirty eight...."

Come on God, you bastard, just give me this one thing. Please. Please? I'm not asking for a miracle, I'm not praying for you to make us win the lottery. I'm not praying for you to save this house, or protect my family, I'll do both, I'll find a way to get through this, but you have to give me this one thing, tonight. Just one little shooting fucking star. Just one, right now, so my son can see it. Is that too much to ask for?

"Fifty one, fifty two, fifty three....can we go inside, please?"


"Fifty four, fifty five, fifty six...."

I did everything I was supposed to do to be a good man, a good father, didn't I? I stopped drinking, I worked every day in a job I hated because the money was good and it was close enough to work so I could pick my son up from day care, every day. I cleaned up my life, I got the job, I made a family, I brought a house, I paid my bills on time, I didn't sleep around on my wife, and I never hit her, or my son. What else do you want from me? What the fuck else do I have to do to get just this one single fucking break here?

"Dad? Is Santa really real?"

Great. Now this.


"Santa's not really real is he? He's made up, like cartoons..."

Please God, please, just one tiny shooting star. Let the kid believe in this, this little bit of fantasy, for a little bit longer.

"Santa can't make shooting stars, dad. He just makes toys and stuff."

He searched the skies, but the stars were all still. There wasn't even a blinking satellite to distract his son with.

So that's it, then. I prayed to you for help when I was a kid, and you did nothing. I prayed to you for help during all those years of violence at home and at school, and you did nothing. I've never asked you for riches, I've never asked you to kill somebody I hated, I've never asked you to do anything but make bad things into good. Make this bad night into a good one. Please.

"He just gives toys...he can't make shooting stars...."

His son turned and walked back to the house.

"Wait a second..." he said, searching the skies as frantically as he had that night so man years ago with his own father. "Wait..."

"I want to talk to mummy," his son said, almost at the back door. His voice quavered, quivered, the tears were not far away.


If you won't do this for me, if you won't give me this one thing, one little shooting star, then I'll do it, I'll make it happen.


His son stopped at the door, the big sigh came again.

"It's coming...."

"Dad. I want to talk to mummy!"

"It's coming!"

One tiny dot of light blinked, and then grew brighter, and began to streak across the sky.

"Look! Look!" His voice shrieked, and his son stopped pushing open the back door and looked into the sky, following his dad's pointing, trembling finger.

"Wow!" His son ran the few steps to get back to his side. He grabbed his hand, and squeezed with his little fingers. "Wow!"

The shooting star burned brightly, as it churned through the black, becoming the brightest object in the near moonless sky.

"Count it!" he shouted to his son. "Count it!"

"One! Two! Three! Four!"

The shooting star shuddered in its path, and burst into brighter light, almost blinding in its intensity. Chunks of it peeled away, dozens more tiny shooting stars. It left a fading trail of dancing, glowing dust in its path.

"Five! Six! Seven!"

His son's voice grew louder, more excited, with every number he shouted. He squeezed his father's hand tight. "Eight! Nine!"

The shooting star had arced across half the sky in its frenzied flight. In all his childhood years of staring into the sky through the telescope, he'd never seen a shooting star burn so bright for so long. He had no idea what it was. But his son was screaming with excitement.

As instantly as it had appeared, the shooting star finally burned away. For another couple of seconds, they watched as the light trail left behind faded, a glittering path through the heavens, already lost amongst those millions of stars, and the blinking red and blue lights of local planets.

"Wow!" his son said, trembling with excitement, "Wow! Wow!"

"Yeah," he said, "Wow."

It was an incredible coincidence, he knew that, it was nothing but coincidence. A massive and incredibly rare extra big chunk of old planet or asteroid had hit the atmosphere and burned up and they'd been fortunate enough to witness it. Shooting stars that big appeared once or twice a year, maybe less, and it was impossible to make plans to witness them. It's just a coincidence, he told himself, again, nothing more. Nothing more than that.

Well, he thought, maybe something more.

"Wow!" his son was still yelling. "Wow!"

For the first time since their talk in the boy's bedroom, they now looked at each other, and began to calm down.

"Was that shooting star for me, dad?"

"Yes. It was."

"Can I tell everyone that was my shooting star, dad?"

"Yes, of course you can."

"THAT WAS MY SHOOTING STAR!" his son suddenly yelled to the neighbourhood.

He thought his son meant he wanted to tell 'everyone', meaning the last few kids who lived in the street, his teacher, and his mother, when she returned home, but no, his son meant everyone. Everyone still left in the town, within hearing distance of his magnificent yell

"That Was My Shooting Star! Santa Sent That For Me!"

"Yes," he lied, agreeing with his son. "He did. That one was for you."



"Best Christmas ever."

"It's not Christmas yet."

"I know," he said, and stared into the stars. To his father, the boy's smile was as wide as the horizon, and he knew instantly that like him, his son too would become hooked on star-gazing.

"But dad?"


"It's still the best Christmas ever."

"Yeah," he said. "You're right, it is."

And it was.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

You Can Be Seditious As Hell, But You Can't Call For Violence

Is there such a thing as a Psychological Terror Attack? Not yet, but maybe next year :
The new counter-terrorism laws - to be drafted in the first half of next year - will cover attacks that cause psychological as well as physical harm and will remove the term "sedition" to focus on crimes that urge violence.
Does this mean we have to be on the lookout now for non-BOOM! related terror events? Terror attacks where only emotions are terrorised and damaged, with no harm at all to the physical body? Will 2009 be the year politicians and media start talking of "emotional terrorism" and 'psychological terrorists"? And if so, what the hell would that exactly mean?

I can think of half a dozen anti-smoking and anti-boozing ads that leave me feeling psychologically terrorised.

For now, the Rudd government are talking big about sweeping away still more of the Howard era's more disturbing, supposed, anti-terror laws, but right now we don't know what the current government means when they say they are going to "protect free speech" :

The Howard government's sedition laws - which the commission said failed to distinguish between dissent and genuine incitement to violence - had come under heavy attack for restricting free speech and academic freedoms.

The Government also agreed to broaden the powers of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security to allow inquiries that extend across all national security agencies. A separate official, to be known as the National Security Legislation Monitor, will regularly review the nation's counter-terrorism laws.

The stream of lies, distortions and calls for violence from the vast majority of Australian media, that is, nearly all of the Rupert Murdoch media, in the build-up to the War On Iraq would certainly have to qualify as a mass psychological terror event.

BTW, Merry Christmas to all the readers here. I'll do some highlights of 2008 over the next week, and if I can think of an ending that doesn't make me shiver and cringe, I'll have a new piece of fiction, A Christmas Story, up here in a few hours. It's a few thousand words long, so feel free to cut and paste it into a blank Word Doc for easier printing if you still hate reading off the screen.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Media Gets The Horn : New "Killer" Drug Scare Has Potential

Expect to see more headlines like that in 2009, centred around the drug DMT. It's the world's first "killer" hallucinogen, or so we will be told.

The whipped up hysteria begins here :
Police have made what is believed to be the first seizure in Western Australia of a potentially fatal hallucinogenic drug known as DMT.
Yes, it is potentially fatal. Someone will consume DMT and get behind the wheel of a car and the results will probably be tragic. If they can manage to make their legs work in order to get them to the vehicle, that is. DMT is not the kind of drug you want to take if you're planning on walking, anywhere.
Police yesterday seized two grams of the drug, known as dimethyltryptamine, and arrested three men after raiding two properties in Denmark and Walpole, in the south of the state.

Police were called into investigate after a patient was admitted to Denmark Hospital with a suspected drug overdose of the drug.

"We believe this may be the first seizure of DMT by police in WA . . . And we also believe it is the first arrest as a result of this drug," Sergeant Dave Dench told PerthNow.

"This is new (to WA). It's not new to the world. . . it's been used for 300 or 400 years overseas, but it's new to WA. We have never come across this in WA before.

"Even though we've only seized 2 grams, the fact that we've locked up three men, we believe we've put quite a dint in the potential for this drug to hit Denmark in large quantities."
The best way to ensure that there is a growing interest and demand for DMT is to have the tabloid media run 'Killer New Drug' sensations, that only make it sound more intriguing and particularly dangerous, and get out the details of how to take it :
DMT is usually smoked, sometimes by lacing cannabis with the drug, police say.
Well that's only going to go and give people ideas now, isn't it?

Like the police said, it's been around for 300 or 400 years overseas. Actually, it's more like a couple of thousand years. It's yet another naturally occurring hallucinogen that helped convince ancient man that there must be a God, or gods.

DMT is a uniquely strange hallucinogen that supposedly can produce, in pure concentrations, a 'breaking through' state where the user has hallucinations of being in an alien landscape, populated by shadowy creatures, but this hallucinated realm is very similar indeed to that experienced by most other users of the drug, even trippers back in the BC era. A set of standard hallucinations appear to imprinted in the 'memory' of the drug, or at least, we have some sort of genetic memory of this drug's effects, and how it interacts with the human mind. The research on what this all means is a bit thin right now, and the drug that will show up when the media hype really gets going will probably not be pure enough for most users to 'break through' into that other realm. But DMT is also produced naturally in the human body, and appears to influence our actual interpretation of the reality around us, and in part, how we make sense of the world.

Yeah, it's that weird.

So why have so few Australians heard of DMT that an arrest in WA of people holding 2 grams of it is "new to WA" and worthy of such a dramatic headline?

Because the thousands who are mostly likely to try it, still don't what it is. Because we haven't had DMT elevated to "Killer New Drug" status by most of the media that makes so many young people go, "Wow, so what's that drug do?"

2009 is the year all that changes.

It's not simply a case of the drug not being here because the market is not big enough to make smuggling profitable. DMT is not a foreign drug, it can be processed from plants and trees that crowd our national parks. If the mainstream media doesn't go and hysterically mine the drug and its users for stories and hype and senselessly generated controversies, and start branding it "The New Party Drug", most Australians will never hear of DMT.

The fact is if they don't know what the fuck DMT is, if they haven't had the "Danger" "Killer" drug hype stuffed into their minds, they are unlikely to even desire to try it.

But meth is so 2007. As a story, it's been well mined, worn out. A new Thing to freak out over, and to tell parents to hassle their kids about, is needed. DMT has great potential to become that new Thing.

The process of introducing and hyping the "Latest Danger Drug" is familiar and runs something like this : The new "killer drug" is named and branded after the first few arrests, a few stories show up about it being used in dance clubs, the latest "party drug" mythology is born, videos of teenagers on YouTube DMT-ing cause a little controversy, but still hardly anyone's using it yet people start hearing about DMT absolutely everywhere, have you had it? what's it like? can you get some? then a 19 year old P-plater on DMT may plough into a schoolbus, people may fall to their death trying to fly down entire staircases in one giant step, kids freaking out on the drug, excitedly trying to explain that the aliens they saw "over there" are actually the aliens who created the human race and we're still united across the galaxy, may start to show up amongst the alcoholically-binged and bloody in Friday night Casuality at city hospitals, and then utterly-enticing-to-already-troubled-youth anti-DMT 'shock' ads will begin to temptingly punctuate every TV show of minor interest to 16 year olds on every commercial and cable channel, just in time for DMT to become the New Drug Ruining Lives & Destroying Families, but by then most who tried it will have already lost interest and moved on, and the media will deliver the next "Drug Of Death", right on cue.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Minister For Rock

By Darryl Mason

Peter Garrett did not have a good year. He spent far too much time looking weak and fear-grinning his way through interviews and rare press conferences, snapping haughtily at journalists when they reminded him that what he was doing is the just about the complete opposite of the belief system he lived and breathed and seethed when he was frontman for Midnight Oil. You know, when he was popular.

In 2008, Garrett seemed to only appear long enough to back down on yet another issue that once won him such a rabid and sometimes messiah-like rock political following amongst usually disinterested suburban youth, or to loom up in Question Time and shamelessly change his mind on something he said only a few months, weeks, or days, before.

Few in the media had much good to say about him, or whatever departments he is supposed to be in charge of. Does anybody really know Peter Garrett's full portfolio, or what the fuck he is supposed to be doing, without going a goog?

Garrett got frequently hammered in the media, on climate change and solar panels, and they were mere entrees. In short, the reviews were fucking abysmal. Maybe one star out of five.

But Garrett sees himself as a seasoned public performer, used to copping attack and flack. He's had full bottles of beer thrown at him onstage by people who loved him, back when Midnight Oil were regularly shredded by the music press, in their early days. He can take it. The media doesn't like something he's done? Right, whatever. Seriously, who really gives a shit what the media has to say? To Fight Club philosophise, Peter Garrett lets what does not truly matter, slide.

But a source tells The Orstrahyun that one chunk of anti-Garrett news really hit him, and hurt him.

This news, from October :

Rock band AC/DC has been named the most trusted Australian music brand, while former Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett is "a sell-out".

As AC/DC released its first album in eight years yesterday, a report by brand expert Simon Hammond found that the hard rockers still had the trust of the nation.

But the report found Mr Garrett, who for years sang about Aboriginal rights, land ownership and the environment before joining the Labor Party and entering Federal Parliament, was damaged goods.

"Peter Garrett himself is damaging the memory of Midnight Oil," Mr Hammond said.

"A lot of people think he has sold out. When you go from where he was, as an independent voice in a political environment outside of the inner sanctum, to all of a sudden join it, you have to sell out. He's had to shut up and do things the right way.

"I am sure he has got his reasons but, from a point of view of popular culture, people see him as a sell-out."

"People grew up with Midnight Oil and believed in their beliefs," he said.

"Those beliefs were very clearly articulated. Now he talks like a politician, so he is definitely a damaged brand now."

The source claims that this report troubled Garrett deeply. It's bad enough the public clearly despises him in ever greater numbers, but AC/DC more trusted than Midnight Oil? How the fuck did that happen?

Garrett knows he will never become prime minister, if that was ever his intention, but he is concerned about his life after politics. Who'll buy his book(s)? How might he one day be obituarised?

Garrett will not let himself be remembered as a "damaged brand", a "sell out" who is polluting "the memory of Midnight Oil".

For fuck's sake, AC/DC are 'more trusted' than his old band?

AC/DC made album after (usually excellent) album compromised almost entirely of songs about fucking. Midnight Oil changed the nation, and maybe a little bit of the world, too, through song. So that's gotta hurt. Real bad.

But it's far worse than just that. What Peter Garrett is doing, or not doing, is making millions of Australians question the legacy, the integrity, of Midnight Oil.

Look around you, there are still Midnight Oil t-shirts to be seen, but how many are there with Garrett's huge, great stretched dome leering out at you? None.

Peter Garrett is successfully garroting his musical legacy, let alone his political legacy. And he knows it.

There was once the option for Garrett to think, 'Well, if the political thing doesn't work out, I will always be remembered as the lead singer for Midnight Oil'. What will that be worth once he's finished 'poisoning its memory'?

The question is how he will go about shaking off such a "damaged" public image?

Think : Music.

One possibility may be music education available to all, or most, children which will be focused on rock, including rap and R & B, but mostly rock. Peter Garrett is apparently very aware of how popular video games that are now teaching hundreds of thousands of Australian kids how to play toy guitars and drums along to music actually are. And he can capitalise on it, and recast himself, as the politician who was responsible for getting the actual instruments of rock into the hands of all the kids that want them.

What if Garrett becomes the Australian politician who spearheads a public schools drive to teach a generation of kids how to rock for real? How to play a real guitar instead just a video game one? How to hammer away on an actual eight piece drumkit, real rims and skins and pedals, real noise, instead of noodling away on bleepy plastic pads? You want to get the aggression out of kids in school? Give them access to a drum kit.

The film industry is developing a ripe old stink, after the debacle of 'Australia'. Are you happy that ex-Australian Rupert Murdoch got back tens of millions of dollars of his investment in that movie before it even hit the cinemas, and died a non-blockbuster death?

Anyway, the real entrepreneurs have always known there is money to be made in Australian rock. It's far more fun, and the track record is superb. We've turned out many of the greatest bands in world rock history. More people will see live music in Australia this summer than will watch Australian movies, in the cinema or at home on DVD. There is, for Garrett, hope and redemption in the music, now, as there has been before.

In 2009, Peter Garrett will become the Minister for Rock...

...or he will continue to fart around and make hundreds of thousands of middle-aged people wonder why in all fuck they ever believed what he had to say, what they truly came to believe in too, back in the days when he was blasting pure energy and righteousness from the stage of a thundering Midnight Oil gig.
"We'll Use Your Teenage Moments Of Racist Stupidity Against You, Later"

The intention to stop racism may be solid, but it's still downright creepy that someone is saving some 14 year old's idiotic party photos where he's giving Hitler salutes, on social networking sites, and is intending to make sure a usually brief moment of teenage stupidity will haunt them,
forever :

Mat Henderson-Hau (of anti-racism group Fight dem back!) has decided to use the proliferation of racist groups on Facebook and MySpace to his advantage, mining the sites for valuable information on the far-right such as photographs and the connections between individuals and groups across national borders.

He said Fight dem back! stored this data until it became useful.

"For example, Johnny X may have pics on his Facebook or MySpace of him doing a Heil Hitler salute in his boots and braces," Henderson-Hau said.

"Johnny X might one day wind up pitching for a government contract for his plumbing business. That is when those pictures would be sent to the relevant authorities."

Every comment you make to a blog discussion, every photo you post on Facebook, every video clip you upload to YouTube, every e-mail, every text message, every purchase you make online, every search entry, every website you visit, is being recorded, logged, stored somewhere, by government, private and individual surveillance agencies and data miners. And you have no idea how someone may use it against you, years or even decades from now.

You can't turn 28 and find an old box of teenage photos that embarrass the shit out of you, of a you long gone in the past, where confused youthful rage and hate usually dies, and then burn them, make them disappear.

If you post them online, they will never cease to exist.
Lessons For Kev : Comedy Is Tragedy, Plus Time...Try A Few Years Worth

Dr Death hits the Afghanistan war zone and serves up the blackest of humour for Australian
troops :
“I’m going to go home and spend Christmas with my wife and three kids and you’re not,” he said.

This soldier certainly isn't going home to spend Christmas with his family.

The Professional Idiot seems a little bit surprised that soldiers serving in Afghanistan - where roads and lanes and open fields can explode under your vehicle and tear away your legs, your face, your sanity - are looking "glum." Imagine being in an horrendous warzone, completely outnumbered, and not looking anything but glum? Not like the days when John Howard visited and everyone partied, laughing and frolicking and dancing jigs of joy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A huge, free piece of public art unfolds on a drab corner in Drummoyne, at the foot of the Bridge.

Renowned Australian graffiti artist Sytak leads the four man crew chewing through dozens of cans of spray paint to complete the mural. The artists themselves pay for the artwork, it is free to view.

Earlier in the day, a police car pulled to a stop and they were asked what the hell they thought they were doing. The owner of the garage, who owns the wall facing Victoria Road where the mural is unfolding, had given his permission for them to do their public art. When the police seemed doubtful, the owner jumped over the fence to tell the cops it was all cool.

Tomorrow afternoon and into the early evening, thousands of drivers will queue up at the lights there on Victoria Road. And now there will be something to look at while they wait those endless minutes for the lights to change. Some will hate it, and the artists copped a few serves from passers-by while they worked, but more stopped to see what they were up to, to ask what the words meant and what the mural overall is supposed to mean and also to thank them for brightening the area up a bit.

More detailing will be done next weekend.

We'll take another look when it's finished.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Eye On The Pole Catches All

If you can't drive fast through city traffic, then what the hell is the point of being a cop?

Nearly four police officers a day were booked for breaking traffic laws including speeding while at work last year without any evidence they were responding to an emergency.

That's 1433 speeding fines issued to cops, by cops. Well, not real cops. The camera ones. Nobody escapes :

Of the fines issued to police most - 1325 - were issued by fixed speed cameras, including school zone cameras.

Most of those cops are probably feeling just as annoyed as the more half a million drivers in NSW, alone, who payed a few hundred extra dollars, each, for driving faster than constantly changing speed limits were supposed to inform them to drive :

The cameras doubled their fines revenue last financial year as they picked up a total of 677,839 drivers across NSW in the same period.

The lash of this story is you should be outraged at cops who speed, not that more than half a million people were fined because cameras that replace police determined they were speeding.

Speed camera lenses do not like Post-It notes.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Now This, This Is Pain

For my American readers, imagine running full speed straight at your friend, who is also running full speed at you, both of you are holding pillows up in front of yourselves. You will smash into each other with extraordinary force, you will knocked half senseless, you will probably be left so winded you'll feel like puking and shitting your pants at the same time.

Now do it again, without the pillows.

This is how you play football in Australia.

You Better Get Used To It

The Professional Idiot sinks deeper by the day into wild-eyed, foamy hysteria as the true reality darkly dawns that the once formidable strength of the Australian conservative movement of the Howard era is now slipping and sliding away into a spectacular, humiliating festival of confusion, anarchy and Labor/Green lickspittling. With plenty of help from The Professional Idiot, of course. One of his readers, Wilt, nails the truth of what has happened, and is happening, brilliantly :
...nothing so galling for the True Believers of the Howard Descendancy, when their supposed support base actually wakes up to reality.

Poor, poor Australian Conservatism, has your pet industry-parrot started to squawk a different tune? What a shambles you are, emasculated, hung, drawn and quartered by Howard’s shameful selfishness, and increasingly left behind by a rapidly-changing society; vainly hoping for Australia to ‘wake up to itself’ when you are the ones sound asleep; waiting patiently for Peter Costello to work out whether he can be bothered to save the country, if only someone would come and beg him to do so because he won’t lower himself to do the dirty work in Opposition.

You hopeless, howling shower of wet whiners; you pointless complainers, voiceless declaimers, and spineless denigraters: your time is over. Your country has changed, and not to your liking. You must get used to it.
One of the key problems for the Liberals was, and is, that so many of its senior politicians, advisors and 'youth wing' treated everything that The Professional Idiot had to say about climate change, David Hicks, The Iraq War, the War On Terror, terrorism in general, asylum seekers, WorkChoices, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, the Cronulla Riots, emissions trading, the Stolen Generations, Aboriginal reconciliation, and a host of other vitally important issues that concerned a vast scope of Australians (not just those Evil Pagan Lefties) as nothing less than Holy Gospel. This was clearly evidenced in The Howard Years documentary series recently screened on the ABC. Every issue the Liberals got wrong in the lead up to the 2007 election, every key issue they misjudged and misread the general Australian public on and over, were echoes of The Professional Idiot's beliefs and whiny, paranoid, fear-soaked opinions.

Now The Professional Idiot's trying to finish off The Liberals for good with the kind of eviscerations that he used to unleash on Mark Latham and The Greens, all the while pumping his mate Peter Costello as the only man who can save the party and lead them to victory in the next election. Funny, funny stuff. Correction : Absolutely fucking hilarious stuff.

In the past few years since The Liberals have, quietly, championed The Professional Idiot as their Yoda, the conservative movement in Australia has crashed and burned, spectacularly.


The more conspiracy-minded amongst you may wonder what The Professional Idiot's real agenda is, and some in The Liberal Party most definitely already are.

After all, The Professional Idiot once worked for Labor.

If The Liberals continue to crash to burn and burn so, it won't be Costello and the Liberals on the opposition benches come 2012. It will be Bob Brown and The Greens.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

'Funniest Home Videos' Distributes Child Abuse Imagery

According to this story it does :

Police say it is a crime for anyone to even watch a viral video of a man swinging a baby around the room.

Will they pursue and arrest Coca-Cola or American Express executives for putting an ad on such a clip on YouTube or another video sharing website? Fuck no.

(Police) comment comes after uproar over 60-year-old Chris Illingworth, a father of four from Maroochydore, was charged with posting the video on Liveleak after he stumbled across it on YouTube.

The video, which shows a man swinging a baby over his head by his arms, was broadcast on US television and has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people on the internet.

But, despite that, Mr Illingworth's home was raided after he posted the clip on Liveleak and he was charged with using the internet to access and publish child-abuse material.

In a statement, Queensland police said the term "child abuse material" even extended to clips where the child "appears" to be a victim of cruelty.

Queensland Police from the anti-pedophile squad, Task Force Argos, raided Illingworth's home on Sunday November 30 and subjected him to a thorough forensic examination of his home and office computers and a gruelling interview over several hours, complete with finger printing and mug shots.

Asked to respond to claims by Illingworth that he was targeted unnecessarily and unfairly labelled a child abuser, QLD Police said it was a crime "to participate in the exploitation and abuse of children by seeking to view, possess, make or distribute child abuse or child exploitation material".

It provided a definition of "child abuse material", which was any material that shows a person under the age of 18 who "is, or appears to be, a victim of torture, cruelty or physical abuse".

Any week you can tune into Funniest Home Videos, one of the most popular shows on Australian TV, adored by most children, and see videos where parents have purposely fed their children, say, chilli, to get a funny, screwed up face reaction, or let their two year ride his scooter down a steep drive knowing he will crash at the bottom. By the definition of Queensland Police, letting kids fall from swings or flip off lounge chairs, even if they enjoy it, and capturing the laughs on video, is child abuse. And perhaps it is. But it's all a very gray area, and police are now going after old people like Illingworth who didn't even film the incident of alleged child abuse, he merely passed on what he no doubt thought was a funny clip to another website.

Insanity. Have they run out of real pedophiles or perverts to go after?

Illingworth said it was unfair that he was being labelled a child abuser over a video he didn't make, when Steve Irwin was let off for dangling his baby near the open jaws of a crocodile.

Very good point.

"This thing started because they were looking for a pedophile, it didn't work, so [police decided] 'lets just take him for something else, make it look like we're doing our job'," Illingworth said.

Is it illegal now for a parent to 'aeroplane' their kid in a public park? I loved being swung around like that when I was a little kid. Awesome fun. Is it illegal to do that to your own child? Or is it just illegal to video it? What if a mum videos dad tossing their laughing, gurgling daughter higher and higher into the air as a Christmas video gift for grandma? Is grandma a criminal if she posts that clip to a website so her friends in another state or another country can share in the joy of her grand-daughter laughing her little head off?

Crazy, crazy shit.

The death of all fun.
Too High, Too Happy For Violence

An interesting paradigm for our times. Do journalists not see the link here, or are they not allowed to draw such obvious conclusions?

Cocaine and ecstasy use are on the rise across the state but domestic violence rates in Sydney have dropped for the first time in seven years, crime figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research reveal.

Crime rates have fallen in almost all major areas, including a 26 per cent drop in robberies with a firearm and a 19.2 per cent drop in robberies with other weapons. Common assaults have remained stable.

But arrests for recreational drug use have surged, with a 55.4 per cent increase in ecstasy use and a 37.5 per cent jump in cocaine use in the two years to September, the report shows.

There are a lot more middle aged couples in Sydney who drop Es now on Saturday night, or Sunday afternoon, or smoke joints, instead of getting stuck into the piss. For a big night out in the clubs, or at a party, dropping an E can be a lot cheaper than drinking heavily. Most people don't drink hard if they're on Es and having a good time, and they are far less prone to beating the shit out of each other.

Instead of booze-fueled seething, jealousy and arguments, middle-aged couples on Es mostly dance and laugh and fuck instead. Well, those that aren't getting arrested.
Porn, Rape, Sex, Incest, UFOs, Sorry

Can you tell much, if anything, about Australians by the news stories they read online?

The Top 100 Most Popular Stories For 2008 from, and its network of city daily online newspaper sites, features an abundance of stories about porn and rape and tech and sex and freak animals and incest and UFOs.

The ultimate online newspaper headline, then, would go something like this :
Incest Aliens Video BigFoot UFO Rape On iPhone
Rudd's 'Sorry' to the Stolen Generations made it in at Number 27, while the death of Heath Ledger hit number one.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Violent Pleasures

What exactly is the Daily Telegraph's Piers Akerman trying to say here?
How can the social cost of alcohol-fuelled violence or the dismal effects of wasteful wagering be measured against the temporary pleasures of engaging in such pastimes?
So now you know, engaging in alcohol-fuelled violence, as a pastime, provides only fleeting enjoyment.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Saving Lives Or Wasting Your Money?

Police and drug dogs were out in force at the HomeBake Festival. They made plenty of arrests, mostly drug-related. Eight people were done up for supplying drugs (that is, possessing a quantity of drugs deemed beyond personal use), and 76 were charged for possession.

The entire police operation on the day cost beyond $100,000 and yielded this not so impressive haul :

...police detected 78 grams of cannabis (less than three ounces), 256 ecstasy tablets and 18 grams of white powder (consisting of cocaine and speed) at the event.

I'll be generous in calculating the total street sale value of that one day haul - $30,000 max.

Obviously there were a hell of a lot more people on 'prohibited' drugs at HomeBake than those arrested. Those caught carrying drugs into HomeBake were dealers, or idiots.

As regular drug-using festival goers already know, you do your shit before you walk through the gates and come face to face with drug dogs. And, as regular drug-using festival goers already know, there are any number of ways to consume cannabis and Es and speed well before you reach the cop-crowded gates of a music festival, and still be high as all fuck for most of the day, and well into the evening. You can cook your cannabis into cookies, you can make toffee and dip your Es in the cooling toffee a couple of times (coating the E in shells of sugar delays the final dissolving of the pill), and you can sprinkle your speed into a cigarette rolling paper, 'bombing' as it used to be called, and then wrap the small wad in a few more layers of cigarette papers (the papers take a while to dissolve in your stomach, but this is a good way to give yourself ulcers if you do it too often).

Most cops will tell you the main reason there is so much LESS VIOLENCE at music festivals these days is because more people do Es and pot than get stuck into the booze. Music festivals in Australia in the 1970s and 1980s were regular bloodbaths, mostly because the alcohol flowed so freely.

However, policing music festivals is a great day out for most cops, surrounded by happy kids and great music, soaking up the sun. It's a fuck of a lot better than responding to domestic violence calls in St Clair or Rose Bay. But many cops hate the fact they have to bust kids for carrying cannabis, and that some of these kids they bust will wind up with criminal records.

However, the Top Cops are warning there will be no easing up of heavy policing of music festivals :

Police said the results served as a warning to those planning to take or supply drugs at forthcoming events this summer.

"Police will be present at all similar upcoming events, and those people found supplying and possessing prohibited drugs, along with any anti-social behaviour, will be arrested and charged," they said in a statement.

Naturally, this level of hardcore drug-policing at music festivals will also apply to Opera In The Park as well...right?
"Why Does It Have To Be Morning?"

Doc Neeson, in videos like the one below for Face The Day (the paranoid speed freak's lament), used to scare the absolute shit of me when I was a kid. But he turned out to be such a nice guy, so very well read, and polite, unless you screwed up his onstage lighting.

Fantastic song, excellent video. By looking at it, you'd barely be able to guess it's almost thirty years old.

The Angels, at their prime, are still the best live band this country has ever produced. Evidence :

I've found a couple of interesting articles and interviews on The Angels I wrote back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, which I'll post up on Junkhead in the next week or so, but they'll also be linked here.