Posts Tagged ‘The Dissemination of Thought’
When I told several Sydney-based friends I would be living in Newtown when I arrived in the New South Wales capital, they gave verbatim responses about how I would find it.
“Newtown’s pretty out there,” one told me as I packed up my life in south-west Queensland.
“It’s different but I think you’re gonna fit right in.”
I wasn’t sure how to take the comment at the time, but ever since my maiden stroll down King Street almost three weeks ago, it now makes sense: Newtown is a place you really can come as you are.
In 1992, I was an angst-ridden, overachieving 11-year-old. Like thousands of others, I honestly believed a subdued Kurt Cobain was singing about my life when he slurred the lyrics of “Come as You Are”. At the time, I thought it was my personalised theme song. I was wrong. The song is a musical tribute to the inner-west suburb in which I currently reside.
At a cursory glance, Newtown strikes you as a place where downtrodden creative types come to escape the judging stare of the real world. In the past week alone, I’ve spoken to two unemployed journalists, a musician preparing to busk her way to dinner and a dishevelled, 50-something writer who has been working on a manuscript since 2002. Everyone here has a story, from the well-dressed corporate type frantically hailing a bus, to the barefoot bohemian couple who seem to be celebrating a 46-year Summer of Love as they walk their Labrador.
It doesn’t matter what you look like, how you dress or how oddly you behave here – the grand Lady Newtown has seen it all before on her bustling main thoroughfares and narrow, terrace-lined backstreets. She won’t judge you and, because of her unique allure, neither will the people who call her ample, culture-filled bosom home. If you don’t believe me, just ask the bearded, tutu-wearing guy who was sobbing hysterically on King Street last Saturday.
Even the non-human aspect of Newtown is a multifarious mix of calm and chaos. As I write this from the relative silence of my courtyard, it’s hard to believe the lights, sounds and manic pace of Enmore Road are only 200 metres from here. Only the constant, near-deafening whine of descending planes overhead reminds me I’m sharing a city with almost five million people.
To me, it’s Newtown’s ability to offer both solitude and a strange sense of community and belonging that makes it so appealing. You can walk along the street wearing flippers and a tin-foil hat if you want to, safe in the knowledge you’ll retain relative anonymity.
Despite offering an eclectic range of cafes, restaurants and stores, as well as a vibrant lifestyle that is probably unmatched anywhere else in Sydney, the real lure of this historic suburb is that it provides a venue for people from every corner of the globe to listen to Cobain sing their personal theme song.
Within the invisible, council-determined boundaries of Newtown, you can be anyone you want to be, even if you aren’t sure who that is.
Just don’t try to be anyone you know you aren’t. If you do, the eccentric, welcoming old dame will eat you alive.
If the lovely people at Hallmark are to be believed, Christmas is a time for giving, indulging and sending out vibes of goodwill towards all men, women and house-trained animals.
The reality of the festive season could not be further from the clichés, corny poems and pictures of goofy-looking reindeer the marketing gurus expect us to embrace every December.
While the David Jones catalogues and Coles billboards depict well-dressed shoppers with Joker-esque grins peacefully perusing the aisles, apocalyptic scenes are playing out on the ground.
Is there a get-your-fucking-hands-off-that-last-trampoline-before-I-lose-my-cool card?
It’s all well and good to espouse the spirit of season but the fact is all textbook theory about appropriate Christmas behaviour takes a back seat to retail guerrilla warfare in the lead-up to December 25.
Those who doubt me should have been in the Townsville bottle shop I happened to be in at midday.
As I was filling my trolley with enough vodka and cider to anaesthetise a three-year-old gelding, I witnessed two women swap the Christmas spirit for a verbal stoush over spirits.
Basically, the second woman – let’s call her Little Miss Swear Jar – objected to the first woman – who we’ll call Mrs Three Bottles – taking what appeared to be the last three bottles of an unidentified dark rum off the shelf, even though the former obviously wanted to buy one of them.
Unfortunately, it was at this stage Little Miss Swear Jar forgot all about those warm Christmas card messages and launched into a tirade that would have made both elves and seasoned sailors blush.
Bearing in mind that I made a beeline for the opposite side of the store when the argument started, I’m pretty confident it went something like this:
Little Miss Swear Jar: You’ve gotta be fuckin’ kiddin’ me.
Mrs Three Bottles: What?
Little Miss Swear Jar: Why the fuck are you takin’ all of them?
Mrs Three Bottles: We’re having a party and I need three bottles.
Little Miss Swear Jar: Fuck off. Everyone’s having a party tomorrow. Give me one of those fuckin’ bottles.
Mrs Three Bottles: Get fucked.
Little Miss Swear Jar: Fuck you, moll. You’re ruining my Christmas* and you can go and get fucked right up.
* Author’s note: Apparently, spirits really do maketh the occasion.
What were those morons at Hallmark saying about goodwill and compassion towards our fellow man?
After witnessing what should have been a pay-per-view event, I left the bottle shop thinking the advertising boffins should forgo the soft, heartfelt approach to Christmas marketing and focus instead on promoting a range of retail rage cards and light battle armour.
In 2012, it seems the key to Christmas is just surviving the supermarket skirmish.
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope you have a fantastic festive season and stay safe while enjoying the company of friends and loved ones.
I’ve got a strong feeling my name will turn up in Santa Claus’ naughty book this year but the fact you guys and girls –this blog’s raison d’être – keep coming back day after day negates the lump of coal that will be stuffed into my stocking* hours from now.
* Author’s note: This is not a euphemism.
In theory, the individuals we elect to represent us at a political level should be the cream of the crop.
Lamentably, somebody forgot to inform the Newman government of this fact.
What we currently have governing Queensland is a collection of Christmas geese, turkeys and those wind-up toy monkeys that clap cymbals together.
As 2012 draws to a conclusion, voters in Queensland seem to be realising that the goose has been overcooked, the turkey is a touch on the dry side and that the toy monkey is just a cheap, annoying novelty.
Following its landslide victory in the March election, the Liberal National Party held 78 seats in Parliament and took a stranglehold on politics in the Sunshine State.
After only eight months with Campbell Newman at the helm, things have gone decidedly pear-shaped.
Former ministers David Gibson and Bruce Flegg fell on their swords in controversial circumstances, while the stench of nepotism surrounding the appointment of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts Minister Ros Bates’ 25-year-old son to a senior AO8 public service job is nothing short of rancid.
When you throw Health Minister Lawrence Springborg’s apparent reluctance to admit that he – not the health boards – is ultimately responsible for health delivery in Queensland into the mix, it’s hard not to feel short-changed as a voter.
Things don’t get any better as you move up the LNP food chain.
The Premier rules the roost with a seemingly dictatorial attitude to democracy and has demonstrated his predilection to move swiftly against those who question the state of affairs.
Any lingering doubt about the internal dissent towards party decisions should have dissipated after Member for Condamine Ray Hopper defected to Katter’s Australian Party, and Carl Judge and Alex Dawson were read the riot act before being given no option but to exit stage right.
Even mining magnate-cum-conspiracy theorist Clive Palmer – a man who has poured some serious money into the LNP coffers – has spoken out about the apparent turmoil, swapping his life membership for rumours of starting a political party of his own.
Titanic II jokes aside, the rats seem to be deserting the political disaster that is the Newman government.
If the current rate of attrition continues, the 78 seats the LNP held in March will be whittled away to about 64 by the 2015 election.
Queensland deserves a better level of governance than it is currently enduring.
You and I deserve better from the people we elect to represent us.
Is it conceivable that our state’s political saviour could materialise in the form of an eccentric billionaire with a penchant for dinosaurs and blueprints for a big ship?
The last time I went to a circus, I was in Brisbane and paid about $75 for my ticket.
My most recent visit to a zoo was while visiting Perth and, from memory, the privilege cost me somewhere in the vicinity of $20.
Why does it cost so much more to watch dancing bears, juggling clowns and those dopey-looking penguins when the show’s in Canberra?
When you consider what we pay our Federal politicians to carry on like petulant children, it’s easy to see why so many people become disillusioned and why our elected officials rate somewhere between journalists, used car salespeople and serial killers on the scale of professional trust.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard hasn’t been able to use any words other than sexist, misogynist and offended this week.
For that, Australians paid almost half a million dollars.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott achieved the seemingly impossible and sunk lower than broadcaster Alan Jones when he slipped the old “died of shame” nugget into a speech during question time.
That will be about $350,000, thank you very much.
You have to feel sorry for Peter Slipper, the disgraced former Speaker of the House of Representatives.
When Mr Slipper fell on his controversy-plagued sword on Tuesday night, he took a pay cut of more than $140,000.
Hopefully, he won’t struggle too much on his adjusted annual salary of a touch under $200,000.
Am I the only one who feels like we are currently getting short-changed on the Federal political front?
We need the best people representing us – being our voice – in Federal Parliament and I am all for paying top dollar to attract them, especially when you take into account the salaries individuals of that calibre would command in the private sector.
What we are presently seeing and reading about day after day in Canberra suggests that, in many instances, we have fallen well short in identifying the best candidates when we went to the polls in 2010.
There’s an old idiom that suggests if you pay peanuts, you will find yourself surrounded by monkeys.
Unfortunately, the peanuts the Australian public are feeding the current residents of Parliament Zoo cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per bag.
Worse still, once you have purchased a bag of the exorbitantly-priced legumes and realise it was too much to spend on the political animals performing behind the smudged glass, you can’t get a refund for three years.
If our Federal politicians continue to carry on like angry five-year-old chimpanzees, I for one will be advocating covering our nation’s capital in Nobby’s nuts.
Okay, I’m just going to say it.
I don’t want to hear the name Black Caviar uttered for at least three months.
When something without opposable thumbs has more than 19,000 followers on Twitter, enough is officially enough.
The fact that a horse has a Twitter account in the first place defies logic, but common sense and the Australian public have never been bedfellows when it comes to the champion mare.
Don’t get me wrong.
I am not questioning how good a thoroughbred Black Caviar is – the proof is in her 22-0 race record – but I’m beginning to tire with the incessant media coverage and public hysteria surrounding the five-year-old.
Like almost 20,000 others around the globe, I follow Black Caviar on Twitter, which probably makes me part of the problem.
I originally followed her account to keep up-to-date with news pertaining to her on-track performance but as her number of followers swelled, something very strange happened before she departed on her much anticipated
Royal Ascot campaign.
She started tweeting in the first person.
Given the Peter Moody-trained superstar has hooves, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest she may have a little help in the social media department.
That said, if it is in fact her tweeting, she’s transcended just being one of the world’s best sprinters to be the only horse in the world capable of operating a BlackBerry.
“Luke is feeling that what happened the last few strides will detract from my win, is breaking his heart. It shouldn’t, WE WON TOGETHER.” she tweeted on June 24 in defence of embattled jockey Luke Nolen.
What have we become as a sport-loving nation when we are falling over ourselves to read – and respond to – messages apparently from a non-toilet trained five-year-old?
Cleary, Sydney Morning Herald chief sports columnist Richard Hinds agrees with me.
In his column on June 24, Hinds pondered Caviar fever and wrote, “Not even the lack of opposable thumbs – or, actually, any thumbs – diminishes our wish to believe it is Black Caviar tapping away on her iPhone, not some clever proxy.”
I’m glad I’m not alone as I question if we have gone too far in our love of a racehorse.
With all the hype, rock star treatment and 24/7 coverage, it’s easy to forget she is just that: a horse.
Yet the Australian public has gone Caviar crazy, embracing – and purchasing – every conceivable novelty bearing the mare’s name or famous salmon and black colours.
Thousands of Australians packed into Royal Ascot at the weekend wearing Black Caviar ties, vests, shirts and, unfortunately, dresses.
I’m sorry, but there are few things on this earth more disturbing than a middle-aged woman wearing a shiny salmon dress covered in black polka dots while drinking champagne as the world watches.
Some have taken it further, demanding their local tattoo artists give them a permanent reminder of the country’s wonder horse.
Collingwood Magpies star Dale Thomas is the most high-profile person to sport a Black Caviar tattoo, but at least his is the result of losing a bet to one of the horse’s owners.
Many Australians are getting ink depicting the mare just because they can.
What’s next, getting the entire Australian Olympic and Paralympic teams tattooed on your back just because you are getting into the Olympic spirit?
While there’s no doubting Black Caviar is an incredible animal and one of the best Australian thoroughbreds of all time, I think it’s time to step back and smell the metaphorical roses and horse manure when you begin covering yourself in salmon and black tattoos or believing a horse – living in a stable – is utilising social media to communicate with her fans across the world.
The mania surrounding the mare won’t stop on its own.
The media organisations – who make a fortune every time a Black Caviar story airs or goes to print – and the five-year-old’s connections – who are also doing very well, thank you very much – will publicise her until they are flogging the proverbial dead horse.
I have no problem with supporting our best export since Phar Lap but I do have an issue with Black Caviar’s publicity people trying to convince us she’s capable of sending personal messages of insight and inspiration, 140 characters at a time while they get rich because of our apparent gullibility.
Irrespective of what Black Caviar – or someone cleaning her stable – tells you on Twitter, you don’t need a spare tyre cover with the five-year-old’s head emblazoned on it for your four-wheel-drive.
Just because the Channel 7 presenters tell you “everyone will be showing their support by wearing her colours” when she jumps from the barrier doesn’t mean you should spend $2000 on a tailored, three-piece suit in salmon and black.
The next time you feel like adorning yourself with a Black Caviar tattoo or donning a suit that mirrors Nolen’s silks, remember the mare is just a horse who defecates where she pleases, which may have included on the roses at Royal Ascot.
Today’s The Dissemination of Thought piece is the result of an unusual combination of writer’s block, laziness and a simple yet incredibly amusing blog post I read last week. More specifically, it was this piece from Miranda Ryan of The Naked Envelope fame.
The concept is simple. It’s a blow-by-blow account of how she spent a day in her life. Nothing overly exciting happened to her on during the 24-hour period but it was fascinating to see how someone can make the seemingly mundane entertaining by just looking closely and taking notice of what goes on around them.
I’ve decided to follow suit. I want to be able to sit back and reflect on how much time I actually waste in a normal day. Hopefully, you’ll find my minute-by-minute account of June 25, 2012 at least slightly engrossing.
6:21am – Open my eyes and try to figure out what day it is. When I determine it’s Monday, I contemplate staying in bed all day and wonder whether I’ll be missed in the newsroom.
6:22am – Ask myself why it’s so dark. Fumble aimlessly for my BlackBerry, check the time and realise it’s stupidly early. Throw aforementioned device back on the bedside table and curse my stupid body clock.
6:23am to 7:18am – I have no idea. I can only assume I drifted back to sleep or was abducted by aliens.
7:19am – Check BlackBerry again and die a little bit inside when it dawns on me that I’ve got less than 60 seconds before my alarm goes off.
7:34am to 7:45am – Mentally check off possible jobs I’d enjoy in lieu of being a journalist while having a shower. Hot shower tester is high on the list, as are professional bed warmer and drunken, disgruntled novelist. Notice I need to buy more body wash.
7:51am – Realise I had an 11-minute shower and consider the negative impact on the environment.
8:03am – Walk into the newsroom with my first latte of the day and loudly sing the first lines of ‘Peace Train’ after confirming I am alone.
8:06am – Stare at a blank page in my diary. Consider the benefits of being more organised. Reassure myself that organised people aren’t any happier than me and continue to drink my latte.
8:21am – Start writing a story about golf and stop to check Twitter.
8:28am – Close the internet browser and tell myself I have to avoid social media and get my work done. Pat myself on the back for being so assertive.
8:30am – Check Twitter on my BlackBerry. Quietly swear to myself about social networking and its addictive qualities.
8:31am – Notice my latte is gone. Think about writing a piece investigating the electronic heroin that is Twitter as I wait patiently for the espresso machine to provide me with another caffeine hit.
8:32am to 10:02am – This period of time is a little bit hazy because I forgot I was compiling a blow-by-blow account of my day. Judging by the number of empty cups in my bin, I had another latte. Judging by the random doodling in my diary, I wasn’t paying attention in the news meeting. Again.
10:31am to 11:06am – Interview a 12-year-old tennis player who is the number one seed in his club’s A grade competition. Watch him serve and feel ridiculously inadequate about my ability with a racquet.
11:19am to 12:48pm – Do boring journalist stuff. This includes checking emails, adding finishing touches to the doodle from the news meeting and contemplating what to have for lunch.
1:37pm – Send my final story for Tuesday’s paper to the sub-editor. Mentally fist pump the sky and refocus on what’s on the lunch menu.
1:39pm – Decide on something healthy for lunch.
1:44pm – Find myself placing my lunch order at Red Rooster.
2:03pm – Finish off the last of the chips and congratulate myself on a fantastic choice. Almost burst out laughing when reflecting on the fact I was contemplating a healthy option.
2:11pm to 2:28pm – Have a hot chocolate while sending witty text messages and wonder why there are so many boring people on Twitter.
2:31pm – Check my latest mobile phone bill.
2:34pm – Try to figure out how the hell it’s physically possible to send more than 5200 text messages during a one-month billing period. Send a text message to a friend asking them how many they send. Quietly thank the mobile phone gods that my plan includes unlimited SMS.
2:47pm to 5:03pm – Do a few interviews and complete the sports stories for Wednesday’s paper while scoffing Turkish delight and drinking another latte. Wish I bought more than one Turkish delight as I stare sadly at the empty wrapper on my desk.
5:04pm to 6:10pm – Forget once again that I am meant to be documenting every minute of my day.
6:16pm – Excitedly throw my leave application at the editor as I scurry from the building.
6:41pm to 7:03pm – Eat dinner and drink the best part of a bottle of red wine while contemplating the universe.
7:06pm – Decide opening another bottle of wine would be a poor option.
7:07pm – See no issue with having a beer in lieu of wine.
7:49pm – Put the three empty beer bottles on the coffee table beside me into the bin.
8:01pm to 8:39pm – Type up my hastily-scribbled notes and wonder who the hell will make it to 12:00pm without wanting to bang their head against a wall.
8:41pm to 8:43pm – Try to figure out why <i>The Dissemination of Thought</i> hasn’t had a new subscriber in more than a fortnight. Was about to blame WordPress for a technical glitch but then remember what I am actually blogging about.
8:44pm – Feel genuinely sorry for my subscribers.
8:49pm – Realise the intricate filing system on my laptop is nothing of the sort. Contemplate doing something about it but dismiss the notion as requiring too much effort.
9:16pm to 10:34pm – Listen to Blunderbuss for what feels like the sixth thousandth time. Wish I was Jack White.
10.37pm – Check my bank balance and wonder why they don’t advertise for ‘people who like being poor’ when seeking journalists. Make the executive decision not to go near eBay and bid on things I don’t need until I get paid.
10:45pm to 11:03pm – Have a shower while thinking about the awesome left-handed bass I want to buy on eBay.
11:05pm – Realise my excess water usage is probably destroying the planet.
11:09pm to 11:32pm – Bid on stuff I don’t need with money I don’t have on eBay. Judge an original Rubik’s Cube from the 80s – still in the original packaging – to be worth $40.
11:33pm – Decide $40 probably isn’t enough to win me the colourful little piece of nostalgia.
11:35pm – Grab another beer and ask myself why I’m bidding on a Rubik’s Cube. Secretly hope I get outbid in the closing stages of the auction.
11:41pm – Increase my maximum bid to $45.
11:44pm – Go to Google to try and figure out what a mint condition Rubik’s Cube from the 1980s is worth.
11:59pm – Post this piece and realise I’ve wasted a day. Look at the time and realise I’m tired beyond belief. Laugh manically when I remember I have Tuesday off, unlike many of my reader who will waste 10 minutes reading this post in its entirety.
So there you have it. A day – or what I can remember of it – in the life of me. If you haven’t abandoned reading mid-sentence or thrown your iPad against the wall in a fit of enraged boredom, follow me on Twitter or like the Facebook page. Hell, if you really liked the nonsensical gibberish that is The Dissemination of Thought, you can do both. Or send cash.