Thursday, August 30, 2007
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Last Saturday, one’s beloved Guardian published an interview with the Australian novelist Kate Grenville in which this strange statement and quote appeared,
What about Lionel Rose, born two years before Grenville who became world bantam weight boxing champion in 1968, the same year he was named Australian of the Year? He beat Fighting Harada? That one rings no bells either?
Albert Namatjira? The world-renowned painter and subject of the Archibald Prize winner in 1956? Never seen any of his frequently reproduced paintings, even on postage stamps like the one above? Queen Elizabeth II was a fan. She awarded him a Coronation Medal in 1953. He was the first Aboriginal to be granted full Australian citizenship in 1957. Vile as the concept of
Oodgeroo Noonuccal MBE (formerly Kath Walker) the prize winning poet and leading civil rights campaigner? A poem from her 1964 collection We Are Going was on my school's syllabus - and I went to an ordinary girls’ school in surburban
Oodgeroo's son Bejam Kunmunara Jarlow Nunukel Kabool (formerly Dennis Walker) - founder of the Australian Black Panther movement and leading campaigner at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in 1970s? Not heard of him either?
What about Charles Perkins, the first Aboriginal permanent head of a government department – appointed in 1981? He got his Order of Australia in 1987.
And Neville Bonner? First Aboriginal to be elected to the Australian Parliament where he served as a senator from 1971 -1983. He was named Australian of the Year in 1979 and received his Order of Australia in 1984.
David Gulpilil? The actor who shot to world fame in Nicholas Roeg's Walkabout 1971. He may have led a troubled life but has been perfectly visible ever since his first film appearance. He was also the subject of an Archibald Prize winner (2004).
And then there is my personal hero Artie Beetson, rugby league legend of the 1960s and 70s. Artie was the first Aboriginal to captain the country in any sport, and he played for my local team, The Balmain Tigers.
So what’s going on here? All of these people were household names during my youth. Of course we could have a whole big conversation about how they faced incredible odds to reach the level of success in life that they attained and were often caught between a cultural rock and hard place, dealing with continuing prejudice from white society and resentment within their own communities but that’s not the issue. Grenville said that Aboriginal people had been invisible to her until 1988. I’m saying that can’t have been possible unless she was living in some Amish settlement without TV, radio or newspapers.
Is it possible that the considerable individual achievements of the people above-mentioned have been suppressed by the national consciousness? If so, to what purpose? Will someone please put this ex-pat out of her misery and let her know what gives here...
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Elegantly Dressed Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas
Woody Allen has been eulogising Bergman, Scorsese crooning for Antonioni so now I’m nailing my colours to the mast for a filmmaker who brought joy to many a lousy rainy afternoon when I was a child. Between 1939 and 1942 (not that I was even thought of then, obviously), Ernst Lubitsch made three classic comedies that were virtually on continuous television rotation along with the Ma & Pa Kettle films and My Little Chickadee during school holidays when I was wee. Now that’s what I call a classical education!
My all time favourite Lubitsch film is the pinnacle of the classic trio, To Be or Not to Be (1942). You’re going to think – she would say that wouldn’t she, but honestly it’s so funny not even Mel Brooks could improve on it. His 1983 remake wasn’t a patch on the original. But he did redeem himself with The Producers – which owes a huge amount to the central conceit of this film which is that the Nazis are comic figures. More seriously, it’s difficult to reconcile the claims I’ve heard all my life about the world being totally unaware of the atrocities occurring in Nazi Germany with my very early understanding of what this mainstream entertainment was telling us. ‘So they call me Concentration Camp Ehrhardt?’ is the secondary running joke in this film, which is basically about the necessity to hide either Jews or Jewishness, on threat of death.
Monday, August 20, 2007
With all that's been going on here at House of Pants, I completely forgot our first blog birthday, which occurred on Friday. Oh Silly Mio! I've been in a total panic, not knowing what to do to mark the occasion. And then I remembered I have friends in moist places. I had but to ask and
With the classic thespian aplomb for which they are famed, the acclaimed
Theatre of Australian Native Animals
Offered to give a special performance of their celebrated
For one blog only!
But only if I would agree to eat Beirut and leave with them - I think that's what they said anyway. It actually wasn't a problem, especially as my friend Kangaroo offered to put her pouch on reverse cycle in order to keep my bottle of Sauvignon Blanc ice cold.
So, without further mange tout!
I give you
The Company in
HAMLET - PRINCE OF MARSUPIALS
NEXT - if we can all muster the will to live!
A Streetcar Named Desire
Saturday, August 18, 2007
I simply can’t type the ‘H’ word at the moment. It’s too painful. Incredibly, House of Pants has been passed over once again – the outer shell I mean. The man I formally described as nice and sensible for agreeing to purchase House of Pants is now a stupid arsehole and a fuckwit for changing his mind. Why can’t people just stay the same? As much as it’s against my principles… oh what the fuck – does anyone know a buy-to-let landlord? They’re not actually people so there’s no risk of them changing, and if they did, it could only be for the better. E-me yeah?
Still hopes thy mother’s pangs deride,
Still does fhe seem to hear thy breath!
Ah ! no ! Tho’ med’cine’s aid was tried,
Art vainly combated with Death !
Still from her forrow-ftreaming eye
The glift’ning tear bedews thy cheeks:
Still fans thy face the balmy figh,
Still Nature’s filent language fpeaks !
Lovely and illuminating as this book of verse is, the major draw is GGG’s personal account of The Battle of Trafalgar. He served as a Naval Chaplain and Secretary to Rear Admiral Northesk onboard the Britannia for about four years. His epic poem The Battle of Trafalgar is 870 lines long. I typed each one out by hand today. Here’s how it begins,
And bids his blood-stain’d hordes, thro’ realms afar
“Cry Havoc, and let slip the Dogs of War;”
The last line’s Shakespeare – from Julius Caesar if I’m not mistaken. He’s a naval chaplain and this is something of an official account, so most of it’s very patriotic. I imagine they felt that way in the heat of battle. The description of Nelson’s death is not only timely in the long narrative but genuinely moving. There’s a very interesting introduction to the published poem (it came out as part of a larger collection of poems ‘written at sea’ in 1806 – a year after the battle), in which he commends Rear Admiral Eliab Harvery Esq MP, to whom the poem is dedicated,
Was this a portent of things to come? GGG became a supporter of the Emancipist movement in
Picture : The Battle of Trafalgar by J.M. Turner
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Elegantly Dressed Poly Styrene. www.cbgb.com
I was recently contacted by a bumptious idiot boy of whom I’ve never heard asking all sorts of reductive and revisionist questions in relation to a musical ensemble of which I used to be a member. He was, he explained, planning a major retrospective. Not of me, and the band I was in, obviously. Said ensemble was part of a larger group of very interesting young people doing even more interesting young things. You’ve heard of the sum of the parts thing right? This was in the late 1970s and early 1980s; a time that now appears to me a Utopian blip that snuck in under the udder of glorious mudder feminism and created a power paradigm in the arts where alpha male egos, for one brief shattering moment, didn’t rule the agenda as if it were their own personal Masai Mara. Believe me, we all had big fun when that happened.
Monday, August 13, 2007
One of the fun things about preparing to depart for the far side of the world - not that there are many believe me, is finding long forgotten doodles in the loft. I'm sure I've mentioned that amongst my many follies is fabricating extremely bad art. I do know good art when I see it and I occasionally showcase at House of Pants the work of brilliant artists of my acquaintance, so you can be assured I have no aspirations in that direction. I know my place.
However, I once had what I thought was an outstanding idea for a community project which aspired to high (in the purest sense) art. Naturally my enthusiasm wasn't shared by anyone else. In the early 1990s, I created The Theatre of Australian Native Animals, a classical theatre troupe in homage to Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh's immortal Old Vic (Sydney) company of 1948. Our Company would bring to the stage drama from all spheres and, for the very first time, provide opportunities for marsupials to participate in mainstream theatre. Previously they'd been shamelessly ghettoised in puppetry and, at best, could aspire to hop on parts in Skippy The Bush Kangaroo.
I storyboarded four in all - The Illiad, Hamlet, The Cherry Orchard and the great Australian classic Summer of the Seventeen Doll. Sadly, I can only find two full drafts, although I'm sure I saw a watercolour of 'Up there Cazaly' from Doll kicking around fairly recently. I would like to present the Company's first production for your entertainment in case you haven't made it to Edinburgh. From Behind the Fringe (as you know, Australian Native Animals are by nature quite shy), I give you a little later than planned and with apologies for the faded and jaded appearance of the stars,
© Noosa Lee 1992
Next time on
The Theatre of Australian Native Animals Presents
HAMLET - PRINCE OF MARSUPIALS
Friday, August 10, 2007
Silk Screen Print by Peter Loveday
Today I finished Draft 4 of my new novel The Full English, a racy tale of ex-pat shenanigans on the
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Sean Slater's innocent, idyllic childhood
When they start rolling their eyes like that and stop talking altogether, it can only mean one thing – a time bomb has started ticking somewhere in Albert Squareland and it has the name of Sean Slater smeared on it in bulk bought ketchup from the café.
Picture of child with hand grenades by DIANE ARBUS
Monday, August 06, 2007
I love summer and Shostakovich, not necessarily in that order.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Noosa Heads on an Elegantly Dressed Wednesday
A heartfelt SOS has reached me from my spiritual homeland
Instead of using its acquired acumen to calmly dissect the paltry case put forward by the State Government and draw up a credible proposal for alternative arrangements for joint service delivery that don't involve getting all the garbage trucks repainted, Noosa hit the panic button and managed to come across as a bunch of hysterical Nimbys about to be invaded by the hoi polloi. ‘We’re a niche market’, Noosa Council informed the Commission. ‘Do you need any help constructing the electric fence?’ the Commission helpfully replied – NOT.
The council has headed its campaign Keep Noosa Special. Why not just say No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs? As if that isn’t bad enough, they’ve subtitled it 'It’s Ours!!' Two explanation marks – wow, someone means business. Even worse, they’ve got a picture of pariah for hire ‘Sir’ Richard Branson in a prominent position on the publicity material. Yes, the patron saint of self-interest himself is the visible figurehead of this campaign. Was Rupert Murdoch not available? Do I need to point out that Branson owns one of the airlines that use the local airport? Did no one think that a billionaire foreign businessman fronting a campaign on behalf of a community of ordinary, caring Australians might seem a tad incongruous? I could weep.
But that’s not all. The top line is not the only aspect of all this that makes me cringe. Get into the body of the ‘argument’ and you find howlers so crude, they’d even laugh about them in Hackney. Noosa makes the case for itself as an ‘iconic brand’. Whatever happened to ‘village community’? In a rare moment of clarity, the Commission tore this one to shreds.
‘The notion that Noosa is a tourism icon is not disputed by the Commission. However, the Noosa Shire Council is not iconic and it is unlikely that any visitors to the shire would have any interest in or contact with, the council in the normal course of their holiday visit.’
Ouch! Who’s image managing this, Britney Spears?
Worse still, someone hasn’t fully understood the Government’s proposal as one of the objections put forward by Noosa is,
‘Noosa’s autonomy would be lost in a combined
Did no one read the guidance before putting finger to keyboard? What is this ring-fenced ‘we’? Are we to believe that all the residents of neighbouring Maroochy and Caloundra are pro high-rise? The proposal is for 12 councillors and one mayor on an undivided basis. Your ability to influence decisions is most certainly under threat dears, but not for that reason, for this reason. Currently the three areas have a combined population of 290,000 with a total of 34 elected representatives between them. In twenty years time the projected population of 474,000 will be represented by just 13. That’s what you need to be worrying about.
Noosa Council is very proud of the mass support it’s been able to generate with nearly 32,000 form letters and postcards being despatched from a population of just over 48,000. That equals the number of people who are registered to vote but it’s not to say the protests all came from individuals or Noosa residents. The report makes it very clear that the Commission was unimpressed, dismissing the deluge as orchestrated – which it very obviously is.
True democracy is based on individual participation and not mass mailing. Whilst we’re on the subject of a moral high ground,
So – what have I been asked to do? Plead with you to deliver more of the same to an already pissed-off government in the next few days. If the cause appeals to you, please do so. I’m going to, not because it makes sense, but because I know what the people of Noosa are trying to achieve, no matter how clumsily it’s being executed.
I will say this to Noosa – you have ballsed up rather royally so I suggest you stop panicking and start making friends with your fellow citizens along the coast if you want to galvanise people power against the developers camped on your doorstep waiting for the axe to fall. And for effsake, learn how to mount an argument without sounding like you’re running a