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5 Jun

The guilty undertaker sighs
The lonesome organ grinder cries

The silver saxophones say I should refuse you


The cracked bells and washed-out horns
Blow into my face with scorn
But it’s not that way

I wasn’t born to lose you



1 Jun

Iran Rave

From: The Guardian, UK.

I sit here in a postmodern annex of a neoclassical building listening to a compilated playlist of the musical underground of a country that is, technically, the enemy of mine. The newspapers in my city tell me these people are all backward savages but they are heirs of once-great multiple market-place a culture of long standing. And they are young raised in the shadows of a theocratic revolution that brought back the rule of old men with beards.

They are so sick of it.

So behind closed doors they are modern people who listen to modern music, write it and play it. The styles are a dialectic blend of commercial pop music (European mostly) and the multifarious musical tradition of the Levant from a viewpoint centred on what we have long-called Persia. It’s quite… commercial.

What a piece of work is a human monkey, how noble in faculty and not quite infinite in reason. How quickly the spoilt, fat, lazy rat it becomes. How base and venal and sometimes gracefully sublime in the face of hardship. What folly in these craven beasts who remember and yet fail time and again to learn.

Today I am in love with my fellow species, what rare fun we are. The sky is blue and I feel like smiling.

But let’s be serious for five minutes. Last week the US President, a man that ‘liberals’ admire, ordered an elite group of his soldiers into the territory of another country. A nation that is technically an ally. Sorta. And without its permissision taken human life and retrieved information thereby. Yet it is the smaller nation that has been publically shamed in the discourse of geopolitical theatre. Well the human life taken was that of a man who has precipitated the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. He challenged the world’s hyper-power.

According to the law of the-way-things-are, he had it coming. Interesting finale, stranded in an Islamabad fortress, jaded and regretful. Yet another man who’s realized too late that he’ll never know his children. An isolated false Messiah, catching up on a lifetime’s worth of masturbation.

Never stop making you laugh these monkeys. Rare fun amidst the grim smoking corpses.

As usual, only the radical Left can call it like is: an explicit act that extends and consolidates the American Empire. And it was carried out by a man who stood against this expedition way back when it was most unpopular to do so. He had no choice. The true Machiavels amidst the dreaming neocon crew saw that. They understood that future ‘American interests’ (which Americans?) lay in securing certain territories and resources. They got the States into a war it could not extricate itself from. And somewhere today they are smiling to themselves. At the ranch maybe, sipping a tumbler o’ the Macallan perhaps, awaiting a phone conversation that will change lives. Smug in a truth that is never spoken aloud.

There’s a Punisher graphic novel by Garth Ennis. I won’t summarize but one of characters is a much-feared Russian general who commanded in the Afghanistan theatre. At one point we see him ordering his men to behead a ponytailed journalist on the tarmac of Khabul airport. The dude had written a book that wasn’t appreciated. Anyway, this guy has a bit where he philsophizes about the American Cold war victory. His take on their strategy was that they’d bomb places flat and build McDonalds amongst the rubble. Some over-simplification, but apt. Mostly America rains fire down on people by remote control. Domestic casualties have, since Vietnam, become increasingly unacceptable. Bombing Usama bin Laden’s house was an option available to Obama. He chose a helicopter drop instead. He sent in human individuals, an act that required personal courage (on the part of the soldiers) in a way that remote explosion does not.

This is the first time I’ve approved of Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

I knew he would not withdraw the troops. That to do so would be so detrimental to American interests – increased terrorism, oil price spikes and shortages – it would be electoral suicide. Considering the economic situation the States was in when he took office, considering the solutions he’s chosen, his second term is already far from assured. To withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan would create a Jihadist power base. Possibly Pakistan would fall and then we would be dealing with a nuclear-powered enemy that prefers the herafter to this life. Dig it, you boho free spirits o’ the world. When that happens the party is over. These are the facts. I don’t like ’em, but, like, so what?

I knew Obama was basically a highly skilled technocrat. I just hoped he wasn’t as much of a creep as Tony Blair. And no he ain’t. (Hard call that.) But when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize whatever skreck of ‘hope’ I may have harboured was dispensed with. Obama got the prize essentially for not being a Texas good ol’ crony-capitalist cracker. For actually knowing how to be internationally polite. He had done nothing to earn a peace prize (even the Nobel which, after Kissinger, is a joke). But if he hadn’t accepted, if he’d said thanks but no thanks, I don’t deserve it just now. Well then I would’ve been impressed. But he calculated: another paragraph on his WikiBio? Why not? He’s just another player just like the rest of them, go figure.

But, if he had to raid a Pakistani house without permission (and yes he did) then it was noble to send in American individuals to face their public enemy #1, to demonstrate personal, physical courage. He showed that he understood the military message of 9/11. A message that has been receieved with obtuse denial in Western public discourse. Point out that it takes physical courage to go wilfully go your death in furtherance of a cause, that furthermore such courage is in short supply domestically… do that and you get demonized by people who don’t understand why the Romans really fell.

If you’re going to do Empire you might as well get it right.

Ah! enough let us stop making sense. The song’s in Farsi but it’s a classic rock song. Funny when you realize that the rock song’s structure derives from the tradition music of the region. He really likes the Rolling Stones this guy.

Next an indigenous style, I wouldn’t know what it’s called. It’s like hip-hop, chants and beats, but it ain’t hip-hop. It’s derived from antiquity. And sure, there’s hip-hop on the disc, electronica too. And punk rock! The playlist veers East and West. It lurches into the past and back to the future. Some of it is MOR schlock that’d make fills you with the urge to find Celine Dion and vomit on her dress. But some it makes you move man. It’s funky, get you right down in your belly and balls. The lyrics are sometimes Farsi, sometimes English. Cultural imperialism o’ course. But the English songs decry the Military-Industrial complex bullshit in a form that’s straight outta Detroit! All you flag wavers out there, do you get that? All you post-structuralist pseudo-radical demonizers of the Evil socio-economic demographic, do you understand?

Arrghh! Again, forget about it! Be stupid, be a child. Persian metal is really beautiful, a style that really suits the Farsi tongue.

Now it’s Euro-Soul like Sade or Grace Jones. I’m warm again. There’s an empire, there’s a lot of them. And who knows what evil lies in the human heart. But, today, forget about it. The sun is shining and we should be making hay. I wanna party with these guys. Now!

What time is it in Tehran?


20 Mar


Somehow video clips don’t suit her; beautiful eyes she has, ‘ey?


2 Dec


“I’m such a coward”. This was Neil talking. Good old reliable Neil. Reliable everywhere except in the workplace. His mind wanders, that’s what he’s like. What can you do? I’ve been his friend now almost ten years. That makes him a lifer from my point of view.

So anyway, Neil says he’s a coward. And I ask him why.

“There’s a chick, I want to tell her how I feel,” Neil shrugs, “but I don’t. Cowardly yeah?”

“I dunno, maybe.” says me. Always the fence-sitter.

“I’ve been faithful to her a whole year now and she doesn’t even know I exist.”

“She doesn’t know you?” I ask. Neil’s a romantic suck so it’s possible, but a year?

“Aww she knows me,” Neil shrugs a lot. “We’ve spoken, but just when I think we’ve connected just a bit she cold-shoulders me. ”

“Sounds like a bitch” I say, ready to jump down off the fence on the side of ‘forget it’. Josie walks past and I ask her real nice to deliver the next round even tho’ the place is bar service. She’s a good sport Josie. Neil grabs my fags and lights one. He never asks, doesn’t have to. We’re filling up the ashtray.

“Aww no she’s not,” Neil’s inevitible defense on que. “I’m not expressing myself correctly. She’s got things on her mind and she’s never given me reason to expect anything. I just can’t get her off the brain, yeah?”

“Yeah” says I, “I know that feeling.”

“Yeah.” It’s time for me to shut-up now.. “Yeah I got that feeling and I can’t shake it. I’ve tried you know. Truly. But she always there like a cello inside. Except when I see her then it’s all horns and string sections and wailing fucking guitars for a month. Then it cools down. It’s… not diluted. No, it never dilutes. It’s just that it’s like the volume goes down. But every fucking day I get up and she’s there and then I feel like shit ’cause she’s not actually there and I don’t know where she is or when I’ll see her again.”

Josie arrived with the Cooper’s Green looking stuff from some East Gippsland cottage brewery. The stuff’s cloudier with chunks of something that for some strange reason says ‘healthy and wholesome’ to us toxic waste dumps in Brunswick.

“So you got the double blues.”, I prompt.

“Double blues? Yeah.”, he laughs, “I’ve always got the first kind.”

The one thing that renders Neil inarticulate is his own feelings. You’ve got to be patient. So I upend the bottle a bit and check out the heads in the garden in these early days of the short hot summer. Neil starts up after a few minutes looking at the bottom of his glass for the cure that doesn’t exist.

“Double blues. Fuck! I dunno. I wake up, I think about her. When I go to sleep, same thing. Sometimes I’m high as a kite in a hurricane and twice as flakey. Off in La-di-da’s ville. Other times I’m a sorry dog kicking about lost in the bush and hungry. Most times I’m like that. So I stay out of her way and the volume goes down. I want it just to fade away and I don’t want it to fade away just as bad.”

“Yep that’s love,” I say. “The real deal.”

“You think?”

“Oh sure, love is when it hurts man. That’s how you tell.” I drink, a bit adding, “run a mile.”

“Such a hard-boiled dude,” Neil shakes his head at my cynicism. As always.

“Ever listen to Blood On The Tracks?” I ask, getting ready to be Socratic.

“Not sure.”

“Dylan’s ’70s comeback record. He split up with his wife. The album’s tough ramblin’ man music but underneath all that he’s shattered. He really thought she was the one, wakes up one day and she can’t follow him anymore. I mean the guy’s pretty hard to follow right? Everything he says or sings makes sense and doesn’t at the same time. Imagine living with it? Anyway so he’s broken up about his kaput marriage and still, all the fucking time, he’s full of this guff ’bout how it really is true love and that it will never die. He’s driving her out of the place. At the same time he doesn’t want her to go. Crazy man. That’s love. Run a mile.”

“What’s that got to do with the fact that you’re a heartless bastard?”

“I’m not a heartless bastard”, I jump right in. “I’m actually the opposite. Listen to Blood On The Tracks and you hear someone a lot more heartless than I ever could be. He goes thru all that what happens? He records his comeback, Dylan’s great again. The poet laureate of pothead bullshit. He goes right on with it. If I actually let true love in and it did that to me I’d be wrecked for the rest of my life. I’d spend it dribbling on my shirt.”

“And what’s that got to do with me?”

“Maybe nothing,” I’m the one shrugging now. “You’ve got feelings. They’re real and you can’t tell this chick how it is. Why not?”

“It doesn’t feel right. I get close and then she does something, she doesn’t even know she’s doing it. But it makes me feel like I’m hassling her.”

“She’s been fucked over?”

“Dunno. Maybe, I think so sometimes,” another pause while he looks for the cure over at a table full of girls. “I don’t ask to many personal questions. She doesn’t like it. It’s hard work getting to know her and I still don’t. I could still find out something that totally turns me off but every time it comes to that she says something that just too perfect and I sink deeper.”

“Faithful for a year?”

“Yeah! No shit. I’ve had these opportunities and I can’t do anything about them. I even get all determined to be unfaithful because, y’know, this chick and I aren’t even really friends. She has no hold on me. But when I get started to do that, something just says forget it. I can’t do it. I’m not interested in anyone else. I just have that..” He trails off and we finish the bottles off thru another long pause. “It goes around and around like a god damn rollercoaster up and down and down. And I swear off seeing her. And then I see her and I’m going up again.”

“No willpower.”

“It’s not that man. I do stay out of her way and then she runs right into me! Bang. It’s fucked to because it always happens in a way that’s accidental. She never actually specifically comes over to say hi or anything. I don’t even know if she likes me.”

“She must if she keeps talking to you.”

“Yeah I get that feeling and then the cold wind blows down from Mt Ambivalence and I feel like the title character in Creep: The Movie.”

“Maybe you should write her a letter.”

“I tried. Can’t find the words. The exact right words. I’m afraid of being misunderstood. I’ll probably write some kind of story putting my feelings into the mouth a phony character who’s me and not me.”

There’s a long pause and I smile as Josie comes past and wonder what my chances are tonight. I’m not faithful to anybody. Neil just smiles and smokes and after a while he sighs of course.

“I’m such a coward.”

Concludes next week


24 Nov

I’m listening to Steven Kotzen- something rationalizing the private sector interest rate hikes a couple weeks back. I’m hearing that New Zealanders come here and end up begging, we fly them home. It’s the cheapest solution.

There’s a protest! Against nuclear waste from France; it’s not safe, it is. Is! Is not! Cried out by people who have no idea. You need to ask a physicist, an engineer and a geologist. They’ll tell it’s complicated; you need to be a physicist, an engineer and a geologist. The ABC News with its reassuring old style theme and clipped plum voices. A tradition gifted by a now dead empire. Impatient me, waiting for music. So I can write.

I’m listening to an announcement of government policy that s’posedly addresses a habit of the indigenous people in remote parts of my country (remote as in ‘a long way from a city’). This habit consists of putting petrol in an empty milk carton, in a plastic bag, a fruit juice bottle. Inhale fumes until thought and feeling disappear.

China and India are emerging world powers, they tell me. Kevin Rudd and Stephen Smith; Hilary Clinton and Robert Gates sat down to discuss the future. How to get India onside. How to head off China. Very important talks. Very important for the ego of Kevin Rudd I’m sure. He belongs to that tradition of Australian politics – the man frustrated by the tinpot country he’s been given. Makes it harder to be globally important, y’see.

I reckon the Americans are telling ’em how if the Oz government doesn’t bite the bullet and get stuck into Afghanistan, Obama’s never going to visit. By the time he does I reckon no-one’ll care anymore.


Ah…the music:

Damn! A coronation anthem up first. Handel. No thanks. I switch to youtube and download some alternative pop music. Pay no mind to the Lady Gaga bollocks. The kids are a’right. Some of ’em. They still retain their souls intact, a little tarnished maybe by the man-made weather. And that ain’t easy.

Raise a glass.


21 Nov


The first time it’s happened that way.


19 Nov

Hava nagila v’nismeha – it’s Hebrew. Let us rejoice and be happy. It’s the kind of staple that makes those raised on it raise their eyes to Heaven when in youth: Oh brother not this again. The Jews do it at weddings, bar mitzvahs. Dance in the circle of the love of your kin.

Considering the history between Poles and Jews I’d say that it’s entirely appropriate that somewhere Polish Metalheads play this song savage. The tune hails from Ukraine. Another nasty narrative there. Is that peculiarly Jewish? That those things dear to their culture originate in their long history’s most desperate episodes. What rejoicing for Jews in Ukraine?


The behaviour of Ukrainians in slaughtering Jewish people shocked even the Nazis instigating it. There was deep hatred here. Hatred of what and why? The resentment and mistrust of Jewish people has a long cycle of slumbering punctuated by frightful awakening. It’s been at times both abated and sanctioned by authority but always lies dormant behind the curled lips and cranky eyes of those cheated at birth. In the third decade of the 20th century this… force? Is that what you call it? This… whatever awoke fierce and relished the tasks set it by those that gave the world an updated image of evil and the Hell it produces.

Let us rejoice and be happy. Hava nigila – they play it everywhere. In Texas they blend it with Country and wave flags that mean friendship and war; the fulfillment of dire prophecy. In a country where the nefarious fraudulent lies of the  Protocols of the Elders of Zion are being dispensed as truth they play it with tender respect. The melody is Ukrainian, the words Hebrew.  Starts slow in  claps and stomps. The beat rises faster and you begin to twirl, to dance in the circle. There’s a rub in a circle. Join hands and dance, it’s the oldest face of Kitsch. But there is an implicit threat in circles of love for what lies outside the circle is not loved and what is not loved can be despised with impunity even unto bloodlust.

In the first millennium of what we now clinically refer to as the Common Era two prophets set forth to bring the words of the Hebrew lawgivers to all the nations. They succeeded wildly casting the Word over a good half of the globe. I wonder, considering the now-lost details of the casual brutality with which the Hebrew people must have been treated by Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, Rome, whether, on balance, so many Goy converts to the laws of Moses was better or worse finally. It wasn’t gravy, that much is sure.

Hava Nagila? I can’t remember the first time I heard it, got caught up in one of the world’s most infectuous dance tracks. You can’t help it, you will move. Slowly at first, swaying maybe, discreetly tapping something. And when the melody changes – Uru ahim b’lev sameah, Uru ahim b’lev sameah, Uru ahim b’lev sameah – you will move more. Acha’yot, ahim! Hava neranenah v’nismeha. Sisters, brothers, let’s sing and be happy.

Without it, life isn’t worth it.