Saturday, August 24, 2013

Nailing It

I'd hammer out danger,
I'd hammer out a warning,
I'd hammer out love between,
My brothers and my sisters,
All over this land. - "If I had a Hammer", Pete Seeger and Lee Hays 1949

There was a wild colonial boy, Jack Duggan was his name
He was born and raised in Ireland, in a place called Castlemaine
He was his father's only son, his mother's pride and joy
And dearly did his parents love the wild colonial boy - traditional Irish–Australian ballad 
Three New Yorkers - Upper East Side Manhattan
One of my earliest memories is of a man with beery breath telling my father that he - my dad that is - was an armchair socialist.

I remember finding it odd at the time - we didn't even  own any armchairs. In winter we all sat side by side on a huge gum tree log that was lying sideways across the lounge-room floor. One end would be stuck in the fire place where it smoldered - emitting a eucalyptus smell that mingled with the odor of burning scraps of leather that the armchair socialist had brought home from the shoe  factory where he worked.

When the fire burned down we all had to stand up and my dad would shove the log further into the fireplace so that its dying embers would fall off and along with a few scraps of leather, would ignite the end of  the now truncated log.  This family-time fiasco repeated itself, until the log was completely consumed, when a new one would take its place.

I don't know where we sat in summer. My childhood memories are a jumble, as my parents would split up and reunite changing towns, then cities, and at the end, even countries.

Later on, much later, I heard "armchair socialist" used again. At Melbourne University by old people. Well, older than me. The scrag end of the "beats", old guys about thirty would hang around university haunts, ogling young undergraduate girls and discussing politics over cheap reds with undergrad boys - for this was before Germaine freed us and we came to understand that we had been oppressed.

Armchair socialists - the pits. All talk and no action. I remembered my dad.

We grew up, left university. The armchair socialists, the beats and the hangers-on disappeared or died. Some became famous artists.  Others, prominent lawyers, replacing one kind of bar with a more salubrious one.

The armchair socialist label was replaced briefly by  "chardonnay socialist" -  there is even a Wikipedia entry: "Chardonnay socialist: a derogatory Australasian term for those on the political left with comfortable middle or upper-class incomes, tertiary education, and a penchant for the finer things in life, Chardonnay being a variety of white wine".Until the sales of the actual drink dropped off after its image was decimated by bogan Kim in the hugely popular TV comedy show, "Kath and Kim".

I had sort of forgotten about gum tree logs, armchairs and chardonnay socialists until a few weeks ago when I received an email from an old friend.

I had asked him about the Victorian (OZ) town of Castlemaine. And this is what he replied.

" [Castlemaine] is full of millennial hippies, but many middle class yuppies are infesting the place and has become "fashionable". Even reactionary, racist left wing federal court judges live there. Many bobos."

Bobos???? First I ever heard the word. I looked it up online. There were several very different meanings, but the one I though my friend meant was "bobo: a portmanteau of the words bourgeois and bohemian".

So that's where the chardonnay socialist were hiding out.

I will be in Castlemaine in a few weeks. I will be on the lookout for bobos. I'll try to take some photos of them in their apparently natural habitat.

Stay tuned.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Is This Narrative a Beat Up?

When you puzzle over why the elegant Huma Abedin is propping up the eel-like Anthony Weiner, you must remember one thing: Huma was raised in Saudi Arabia, where women are treated worse by men than anywhere else on the planet. - Maureen Dowd, Time to Hard-Delete Carlos Danger
Wiener - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
‎ Wiener dog, colloquial term for dachshund; wiener, a colloquial term for the human penis.'
"What is your narrative on your tarte flambée?" a judge will ask a contestant on the Food Channel. And if the contestant is to have a hope in hell of winning, she will give a 60 second sound bite about how her grandmother used to make her tarte flambée when she was ill in bed - the contestant that is - sitting in a rocking chair near the wood fire.

In such a case, the contestant could just have easily been asked, "What is your spin on your tarte flambée. But nowadays we don't say "spin" any more, we say "narrative".

"Narrative" appears to have become popular about the same time as "talking points". "Talking points" should not to be confused with "talking marks" which Americans used to describe quotation marks. "Talking points" are short statements designed to support one side taken on an issue. You can use talking points in a narrative.

Politicians are given "talking points" by their minders when they have to explain a narrative to the press.

What follows is my narrative on several narratives that have been much in the New York news of late. Each narrative has many talking points.

To put it plain English - I am about to tell you a story.

The man
I don't know how far the news of Mr Weiner's genitals has spread, but it is worth a mention, even if some of it is old news -  because I truly think it is one of the few stories that can aptly be labelled, "Only in New York".

Anthony Weiner,  a New York Congress member,  became political history in June 2011, after  he tweeted a photo his genitals on Twitter. What an idiot. Apparently he thought he was sending the genital photo to one of his online sexters.

He apologized and I cannot remember if he booked himself into a sex education or a computer  literacy class. Or both. He was all but forgotten.

The Comeback
Fast forward a few months and Anthony Weiner was back in the public eye. A reformed man. No more tweets. No more confusing the little envelope icon with the blue birdie. On April 10, 2013, Weiner said he would like to "ask people to give me a second chance.

It must have been the weather, for around the same time another pollie  (OZ for politician) returned to contest  another election.

Eliot Spitzer the former New York Governor who resigned five years ago  following a prostitution scandal, returned to New York politics when he announced his candidacy for the position of New York City comptroller.

I wonder what happened to the one who told fibs about being uncontactable because in the Appalachian mountains on a camping trip, when he was really somewhere in South America wooing a women on the banks of the Amazon.

He Just Couldn't Stop
But back to Weiner. New Yorkers are forgiving people and Weiner was doing well in the opinion polls. After all, what has sex to do with political prowess, and in any case he had supposedly overcome his predilection of showing women his genitals on the internet.

And then it came out - he hadn't stopped. Well he HAD stopped but not when he said he stopped. He had relapsed, but he was REALLY stopped now. New Yorkers took it on the chin. We were reminded of the salad days of the Clinton administration, when the worst thing a President could do was to not have sex with that woman. The past is the past. And nostalgia never out of fashion.

But He Hadn't
Weiner  was still at it, disguising himself with names like -  "Carlos Danger" -  sexting - tweeting, you name it.

The tabloid press was having a field day. "Weiner Exposed", "Weiner: I'll Stick It Out", "Hide The Weiner", "He's Got Some Balls", "Weiner's Long Hard Road Back", "Weiner Rises", "Weiner Exposed", "Weiner's Rise And Fall", Weiner Pulls Out", "Beat It!", "Erections have consequences". 

But I only did it with three women, Weiner explained. And the next day - well it was more than three - he couldn't remember how many.  With his wife supporting him, even going so far to blame herself for her husband's sexploits (she was too engrossed in her baby to pay him the sexual attentions he craved) Weiner stood firm.

End Of Story
Weiner's poll figures slumped. He slipped from front-runner to fourth. Or was it more than fourth. It was certainly more than third.

His loyal voters deserted him. His non-loyal ones went back to being non-loyal.

Mr Carlos Danger had done the unforgivable.

He had become BORING.