Weâre all familiar with the role of the Daily Telegraph (and its interstate tabloid equivalents) as power-brokers creating regime change in Australia.
And so, on the day after Senator Cory Berndardi makes headlines for âdefecting fromâ (leaving) the Liberal Party to found his own, all-new ultra-conservative party, you wouldnât be the only one to find the timing and nature of the following news story suspicious:
Yowies are being re-introduced to the market in Australia. This is real news. Hard news. For, surely, most of us didnât even realise Yowies had ever been off the market. Where was Tim the Yowie Man when yowies needed their profile raised?!
One of the quirky news stories that came up in the Twitter feeds throughout the day was Coryâs insistence on handing out Easter eggs to the press corps last year.
You know what this means, donât you: nationalism, bread and circuses â this is the first phase of bread and circuses from Bernardiâs yet-to-be-formed new party. Heck, at this stage, I wouldnât even be surprised if it were the âWowie Wow Zowie Yowie Partyâ.
Did you know that NSW has an official âgraffiti removal dayâ?
Well it does. And itâs today.
Thatâs the message the Premier, the Hon Michael Bruce Baird, MP posted to accompany a photographic portrait of himself standing next to a satirical painted portrait of him as âCasino Mikeâ.
It came to my attention via Christopher Moriarty, whoâs Facebook page is one of the handful you need to stay atop whatâs going on in the world at any time.
Did you know that NSW has an official "Premier removal day"?
Well, it does. And it's the next election.
I couldnât help but point out that, come next state election, Iâd be voting for Christopher Moriarty. Just saying.
I also feel I should add, for the edification of the Premiere and for anyone else: the painting is definitely [street] art rather than graffiti. The difference is the care taken with the artwork, the fact that it's making a statement, offering social commentary that speaks of the milieu (temporal, political, social) in which it was created, rather than merely the ego of the artist. But, you know, removing it, âdisappearingâ the artist etc also speaks volumes.
By now, lots of people are passing judgement (thanks Katie and Simeon for pointing this out) and of course Ã¼berblog Junkee has written it up, the site going on to note some of the cleverer comments such as âwill you replace it with a mural of apartments?â
The most important points to be made at this point are these: the brilliant artist is Scott Marsh; and if the Premier could have just handled the political commentary, spectacular and larger than life though it is, he would have likewise been âembiggenedâ by it.
Unfortunately, this supposedly âhumorousâ, light-hearted approach to creative political commentary has backfired â as the contributions under the picture on the Premierâs Facebook page attest.
One of my several buddies whoâs a comic, bemoans the collective reaction to the Premierâs post.
âMike Baird takes playful, ironic dig at himself on social media. Irony zooms miles overhead of the usual suspects and Facebook goes into meltdown,â he says. âBloody hell Sydney, you deserve everything you get.â
Look, Iâd like to agree, or feel guilty that Iâve over-reacted, or go easy on that good bloke the Premier (after all, Iâve seen him dressed as a civilian, chowing down on the best restaurant-bought pizza youâll ever have, at Mimmoâs Pizzeria in Brookvale). And maybe I could. The day after NSW Graffiti Removal Day, if it turns out the muralâs still up then we clearly over-reacted at playful ironic self reflective Premier with a sense of humour. If, however, it's gone the way of live music venues, century-old houses and trees, affordable public transport etc, then I stand by my disdain and that of every detractor.
Only, it seems the mural was painted over; âmonths ago,â according to one Facebook commentator, âreportedlyâ¦ one hour after Mr Baird finished the Facebook post,â according to an ABC report.
So as far as interacting humorously with the media, the Premier, that supreme wag, isnât quite as much of a cool dude as, say, former PM Sir John Gorton, who in 1975 told journos trying to doorstop him that he couldnât stop to talk, he had to âget home to watch Countdown!â
Not very Gorton at all, our Casino Mike. In fact, if he were to be compared to a former PM, some may go as far as to consider his manner less swimmingly, and his behaviour, more âbottom-of-the-harbourâ, than Harold Holt.
Of course he's a religious crackpot, seeking to establish a government based on the Ten Commandments. But to help do so, he's abducted some 60,000-odd children over the last 30 years that he has turned into sex slaves and murderers. (Yeah, for Commandment 6, 'Thou Shall Not Kill', read, 'Thou Shall Not Kill When I've Got These Boy Kids To Do It'; and for Commandment 7, 'Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery', there's the addendum 'But Childery's Fine, That's Why I Also Abducted These Girl Kids'.) Kony's been at it for years. Kony 2012 is the campaign to rid the world of him once and for all. This is the year.
There's a short film about it doing the rounds:
As one of my favourite political comics, Scott Abbot, suggested: "Bob Carr, this is your first mission as Foreign Ministerâ¦". Heck, it's the one that'll get him UN Secretary General, if not PM. If he handles it the right way and gets to the bottom of it.
If you feel you should do more, you can donate and buy stuff but don't do so blindly: be informed.
Even efore you attach this clip to all your social media stuff, be informed: a lot of the groundswell that has sprung up literally overnight targets Uganda as the centre of Kony's operations; he hasn't been there for some 6 years, and there is a peace process underway there. Furthermore, the LRA much smaller than it once was.
So this campaign, seeking to send US 'Military Advisers' into Africa, has the right inentions. But I can think of past conflicts in other parts of the world to which the United States provided soldiers 'Military Advisers'. Heaps of them. It didn't end so good, for those parts of the world, the locals, or a heap of the soldiers 'Military Advisers' (Psst: it was in Vietnam.) It's worth having a bit more information when contributing to viral memes, is all I'm saying. Cos there's always another side to the story, as the 'Visible Children' Tumblr points out.
I'll get back to the entertainment stories and interviews shortly.
** Beware - this one is explicit.** **Do not proceed if you are easily offended.** **Or Victorian.**
In honour of Victoria's new legislation to combat swearing, may I dedicate Alexei Sayleâs âUllo John! Gotta New Motor? â Part IV. (Originally available as a remix on a 12-inch single, I believe.)
(Once again: contains strong language; proceed with caution; do not play in Victoria.)
If youâre going to go to all the trouble of making a poster to take with you to a rally, try at least to display it in a manner that will convey the message you actually wish to get across, rather than its opposite.
Not like this guy at the recent Julian Assange protests in Australia.
I didnât realise this image would be so prescient when I first blogged about it, but there you go: with Kristina Keneally tipped to be in with a good chance to be our next premier in New South Wales, as well as our first female and first American one, all I can say is, âperfect!â Itâs pretty much always been the case that there should be only a couple of degrees of separation â if that â between our state leader and allegations of corruption. At least we know she gives excellent interview.
Addendum: Less than an hour after writing this blog, early results on Twitter suggest Keneallyâs ahead by two votes.
And, half an hour later, expected to be installed as fourth premier in as many years, at a meeting this evening.
It took me a while to work out just who Kristina Keneally reminded me of. It wasnât until the âMinisterâs Unlawful ActâSydney Morning Herald headline on Monday Oct 19, with the photo that accompanied it.
I know thereâs a big difference between acting unlawfully and being corrupt â isnât there? â and Iâm not suggesting anyone in the party is corrupt. But I do remember a certain premier whose mention in the media, in nebulous or dubious contexts, always seemed to coincide with âAboriginal unrestâ in Redfern so that the ârace riotsâ would always be the leading item on that nightâs evening news. (How did the citizens of that Sydney ghetto know when to âriotâ? Did increased police presence result in arrests for activities to which said police normally turn a blind eye, or which that self-same presence incited?) Then, as now, as any time since the Rum Rebellion, itâs best to fall back on that classic escape clause: âitâs the whole system thatâs corrupt; has been from the beginning â ever since the Rum Rebellion!â
But Iâm in no position to suggest there could be a better way to govern the state of New South Wales, with â say â better transport and healthcare. The reason Iâm blogging about this is because Keneally can sound chirpy and enthusiastic in radio interviews. And she looks anything but, in the photo that accompanies the article, declaring that her âunlawful actâ happened to âscupperâ some â7200â homes that were to be built in the Hunter Valley. Is she sad because she couldnât build the homes? Shouldnât she be sad that she couldnât also provide the infrastructure to those homes? Lack of infrastructure is a major problem in New South Wales.
I know people my age who grew up in the Western Suburbs of Sydney who have lost significant numbers of friends in their teens and 20s, mostly to drink driving. Not me. Iâm from the Northern Beaches, the insular peninsular. Most of the people in my graduating year of high school survived â because when we did young people things, we had public transport to bring us home in the early hours. We were also closer to better equipped hospitals. While the degradation of the healthcare system has levelled the playing field, mediocrity should never be the equaliser to strive for. Nor should 7200 new homes full of motorists â particularly in a time when wars are fought for oil. Wasnât it interesting that Australia finally went in to bat for East Timor when the other option was allowing a Muslim country to control that nationâs oil. Admittedly, we donât seem to care that weâre spilling into the ocean and causing untold damage to vital resources. (Our oceans are over fished, often illegally; in some poorer countries, precious fresh water sources are artificially salinated in order to farm prawns for western consumption.)
What I find interesting about the photo of Kristina Keneally is that she looks as glum for the houses she couldnât build, as Morris Iemma often did for any number of reasons â mostly because he was given the reins of a party that was expected to lose the next electiion, so nobody really needed to follow this particular leader. Iemma resigned from office when his party wouldnât allow him to sell off the stateâs electricity in order to fund transport infrastructure to all those houses that were never scuppered â lawfulness of the action of having development passed, notwithstanding.
Will Kristina still sound chipper on air? Eyes glazed like a 9-to-5 drone who has to spend two hours either end of the work day commuting, smile banished like unwanted children who canât bear to admit to unloving parents that they donât want to be babysat by creepy Uncle Touchyâ¦
If she doesnât quite look dead inside yet, sheâs certainly well on the way there â as though sheâs realised her idealism and optimism have not only already begun their inevitable deterioration, but that significant and irreparable erosion has already taken place. Like it has in the souls of the people who have to live in the homes that werenât scuppered. Like it has in the stateâs transport and healthcare that continue to fail not only the underserviced inhabitants of unscuppered house, but most of the citizens of New South Wales.
Iâm not proud, and I wouldnât normally admit to it, but I recently
partook of a meal of KFC â or what used to be called âKentucky Fried
Chickenâ until it was re-branded either to avoid the negative
connotations of fried food amongst health conscious fast food consumers
(you sickos know who you are), or because the chicken is no longer
fried, thus constituting a breach under the Trade Descriptions Act (a
section of the Fair Trading Act, apparently).
Either way, said chicken was consumed, no different to any other time the family has chosen to indulge in this sort of meal. But the previous time, for me, was quite a while ago. Years, Iâm thinking. So long ago that I was unfamiliar with the current incarnation of the Colonel Sanders caricature that adorns the packaging and related paraphernalia.
âHe looks like Kevin Rudd with a goatee and moustache,â my sister pointed out. Pretty funny. But get a load of what moustachioed-and-goateeâd Kevin Rudd was appearing on â it had been so long since Iâd dined on KFC that I was unfamiliar with this particular item:
Oh, I assume itâs the refreshing, lemon-scented moist toweletteâ¢. But the last time I encountered one of these, it came in a rectangular white package rather than this square red one. And it had directions on the back. No longer offering directions (as if they were ever needed!) it looks like the Colonel has branched out into prophylactics â as if KFC is the meal youâd treat a date to, en route to the boudoir. And theyâre doing it deliberately, since the package bears the legend âGETâ¦ freshâ â itself a âfreshâ (as in âimproperly bold or forwardâ) play on the other f-word you could be getting, had you that other, similar-looking packet. Although, what other options did they have for a catch phrase, motto or statement? âItâs finger-licking goodâ and âI like it like that!â would be just too cheeky.
The irony is, past experience has proven that the refreshing, lemon-scented moist toweletteâ¢ wipes up diddly squat. Open it up, and you have two more bits of rubbish to discard instead of one. Better off heading straight to the bathroom and washing your hands properly. But since we chucked our little packets without opening them, Iâll never really know if indeed it was one of those towelettes, and not some other device with which to âGETâ¦ freshâ. Who knows? Maybe KFC stands for the ââKevâs Frangerâ Condomâ.