Sunday, 30 October 2011

American Psycho

Q. When is the correct time to re-examine your emotional irregularities?

A. When two separate Kanye West songs cause you to burst into tears in the one day.

Whenever I am confronted with evidence indicating that I may be coming unglued I like to look to Patrick Bateman.
"I make my way to the other side of the bar, realising that I need a martini to fortify myself before discussing this with Carnes (It has been a very unstable week for me - I found myself sobbing during an episode of Alf on Monday)."

To me Patrick Bateman is the part of ourselves that we do not wish to recognise. His mindless preoccupations are my mindless preoccupations, his malfunctioning mind is my malfunctioning mind, his severely impaired capacity to feel certain things and hysterically over-the-top responses to other things (associate's business cards, caroling Christmas elves)... all of this is familiar to varying degrees.

The thing that is most striking about American Psycho is the way that Bret Easton Ellis crafts Patrick Bateman. His is a sociopathic mind in full-tilt meltdown and yet if you set aside the murdering and raping ad torturing - which he never confirms actually happens anyway - you just have a chronically off-kilter, maniacally funny and entirely human narrator unraveling spectacularly against the backdrop of New York City in the 80s. It's totally implausible, but it works and it's amazing.

I also love the fact that there are chapters with titles like 'Taking an Uzi to the Gym'.

Patrick Bateman is the 80s, the 90s and the now and his world is one that we all recognise. He's pursuing money, material goods and status in a society in which everyone is lining up for the fake dream in the worst of ways, and the recurring scenes in which people continuously call him by another person's name, or when he mistakes one person for another are laser-like in their depiction of our interchageability.

Ellis deliberately blurs the lines between reality and fantasy and makes it so that nobody pays Patrick Bateman any mind, even when he explicitly declares that he's an insane killer. He leaves open the terrible possibility that everyone else is too absorbed in their own pursuit of money and status and restaurant reservations to notice his patently sociopathic behaviour and it is this possibility - the "increasing randomness, vast chasms of misunderstanding" - that is more chilling than the violence the book is notorious for.

Ellis also said that the extended chapters of Patrick Bateman's enthusiastic and excrutiating analysis of Phil Collins and Whitney Houston and Huey Lewis and the News were more exhausting and traumatic to write than the lively and graphic torture scenes. I think he was kidding but with a mind like his who could ever really know? Either way, I love him. Patrick Bateman too. Some seem not to understand this. Let's look to Kanye in Gold Digger:
"I don't care what none 'a y'all say I still love [him]"
The last word, though, needs to go to P.B.
"Life remained a blank canvas, a cliche, a soap opera. I felt lethal, on the verge of frenzy. My nightly bloodlust overflowed into my days and I had to leave the city. My mask of sanity was a victim of impending slippage. This was the bone season for me and I needed a vacation. I needed to go to the Hamptons."

Friday, 28 October 2011

Bogan to the Bone.

"I've only been with my guy for six months, but he has an annoying way of speaking. He says 'youse', and 'youse all' when he's referring to other people. I like him but I hate his bogan ways. Any advice?" Lindsay, via email.

The bogan this bitch Lindsay is seeing? He's a lightweight. At the moment I'm working by one of the best bogans ever. He's bogan to the bone. He's not a modern-day bogan either, he's an old-school bogan. The good kind. Old-school bogans tend to have a fairly honest way of dealing with the world. New bogans are generally uncharitable and fuck-witted; they're all about conspicuous consumption and trying to stand out by fitting in. Their households have more remote controls than they do books, and they have the bizarre tendency to refer to magazines as 'books'. All this is vastly different to the yobbo of yore.

Everything that this bogan at work says is pretty great, and he tends to speak in handy soundbites. Two samples:
"Fuck workin' this weekend I'm goin' to the fucken show mate - I'm puttin' three hundred bucks down in the beer tent and sittin' back and goin' 'yewwwwwwww!'"
"I'm outta fucken ciggas, I'm outta fucken drugs and I'm fucken leavin'! I'm out!" - Leaps into raucous hectic ute and roars away...

It lifts my heart to know that old-school bogans are still being bred. This one looks exactly like Jesse Pinkman. Same stature, same face, same hair, same beanie and same cold glitter in the eye. He doesn't pepper his sentences with 'yo' and 'bitch' - he favours 'mate', as per tradition - and I don't know about the whole meth lab thing either, that might be a bit beyond him, but these differences aside he is Jesse Pinkman. Jesse Pinkman, only rougher. He's just about rough enough to be called a rough-cunt. This is pretty rough. It denotes a long term and instinctual committment to full-throttle feral behaviour and the maintenance of a menacing demeanor, attitude and appearance. This bogan, let's call him Ben, since that's his name, has all these bases covered. Even ordinary acts, such as basic sandwich consumption, are touched with a trace of grim-faced menace. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, and plenty right with it. I mean, it seems to work for him; it it lends him a certain pungent charm, and it keeps me equal parts amused and edgy, even if some of his more lurid comments don't make me especially proud to be human.

I've detected a subtle shift in the way my boss sees and talks about Ben over the last fortnight or so. Back then, it was with a speculative, musing tone that he'd say to me
"I don't know if he gets on the drugs or not...."
and it was me who emitted an explosive
noise to express my certainty on the subject before barking rhetorically
"Have you seen him some mornings - he's operating at acompletely different velocity - he vibrates for fucks sake!"
to which he replied
"Yeah, he does seem a bit....rough, some mornings..." 

Now, in the last few days, circumstances - being that Ben became progressively wild-eyed and clenched and sweaty enough as to necessitate the draping of a towel around his neck with which to mop his streaming face - have dictated that the boss has arrived at his conclusion - being that Ben has confirmed his suspicions and most definately "gets on the drugs". Apropos of this development he has adjusted his tone and outlook accordingly. Now he says things like
"Geeeez, see his eyes yesterday - out on stalks they were - hanging halfway out of his head!"
"He must be on the drugs again today if he's forgotten where he parked his bloody car!"
in an authoritative and not-entirely disapproving tone. It seems that it was not so much the savage and flagrant amphetamine abuse that had him rattled so much as it was the not knowing for certain what was going on. Now that he has him pegged he seems almost entirely satisfied with the situation as it now stands, and appears content with letting it play out of it's own natural and highly entertaining volition. This looseness and detatchment is also pleasing; it triggers a rush of love for all the men in the world and makes this an altogether happy story. Which is nice.

Here's where you can find Bogan Shire in New South Wales. That photo of the sign? I nearly burnt my brakes stopping to take it. Which is apt.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Carney Rides Again

Because this Sharks signing has the weird roar of miracle about it I want to say just one thing: don't fuck this up, Todd. For the love of all that is good and pure and holy, for the love of your mother and late father and sweet baby Jesus in a manger DO NOT FUCK THIS UP.

Carney, being the Wild Colonial Boy and all, has had a rough trot for, oh, let's say the last five years, discounting 2010 where he sobered up, stuck to the script and won the Dally M medal. He's lost a few things along the way. Dignity, respect, credibility, money - obviously, plenty of money, the legal right to visit his home town for twelve months, available and unadulterated skin-space on his person, and two clubs. The stakes are kind of high with this new signing, but, godlove him, he remains full of kick and daring. Madness, gladness, whatever. He doesn't seem to let the world get too much on him. I admire this quality in people. Taking the juice and leaving the rinds. It's a talent.

Anyway, assuming that Toddy makes it onto the field for them next year, I'm looking forward to having the Sharks as my new Number Two Team. Just as it's over between him and the Roosters, it's alos over between myself and the Roosters. This is how it has to be when who your second team is hinges on who one renegade player is signed with. Such is life. Luckily, the Sharks are a lovely and altogether likeable team. They're poverty-stricken, for one, and exist with a constant threat of liquidation and eradication hanging over their collective heads. Because of this, they also routinely suffer well-meaning fools suggesting that their club - and I don't really understand this - partially relocate to Western Australia or Adelaide or wherever, how insulting is that? They're battlers, basically, and battlers are GO. In addition to all this, they have a fabulous team song. The fact that you hardly ever get to hear it makes it seem even more rousing and evocative, if that's even possible.

I'm also very much looking forward to Carney playing in the same team as Paul Gallan. I'm trying to imagine it but my mind can't manage it. The combination of these two players presents a staggering tableau that is too exciting and brutal for my imagination to bear. Last year I kind of lost sight of what a savagely brilliant player Carney is. The reason this occured is mostly because he didn't actually play very well, for reasons too varied and exhausting to catalogue all over again. Now, though, a new day dawns. All those white folks in the Shire must be very, very excited right now. The odds must be firming up for the Sharks to win that elusive first premiership, remember, in the same way they did in a burst of explosive, exuberant and deluded optimism when G.I. signed with the Bunnies last summer? I imagine Cronulla's pubs and clubs are assuming the brace position, too. Those sons of bitches at The Tele ran a bitchy article in which they helpfully pointed out - on a fucking map, no less - some of the Shire's establishments that may be of interest to Carney, given his proclivity for nocturnal pursuits.

The fabulous Paul Gallan, who once enjoyed a very rich and illustrious reputation as one of the grubbiest players in the game, has been instrumental in getting Toddy to the Sharks and is already all over this new mentoring gig of his. Gal. What a guy. I just scrolled through my desktop folder of photos titled 'King Gal' and was struck by the thought that he is tremendously elegant despite his sturdy frame. Elegant in a bourbon and Coke kind of way, yes, but elegant nonetheless. And gentle as the milk of God, too, outside of the eighty.

Gal and Carney share a manager, David Rioli. Rioli said "Gal's been hammering me. I kept talking to him about his contract and all he wanted to do was talk about Todd." This is a feeling that I am very, very familiar with.

Here's Gal on mentoring Carney:
"I think it's a two way street with Todd. He has to understand who he is and he will be targeted. He should go home and have some Weet-bix instead of going to Maccas. When he does go out, he has to be a bit smarter and probably needs someone with him to make sure he gets home alright."
Asked whether that would be him, Gallen said
"I'll take him home."
This is all kinds of awesome. It also fills me with a great surge of confidence. He is in good hands, he is in safe hands, HE IS IN GAL'S HANDS. There's also more in the way of arrestingly positive news. Sharks chairman Damian Irving said his club would refuse to place extensive alcohol restrictions on Carney. This is a canny and pragmatic move, since he would most likely break them. Asked would he prefer Carney didn't drink, Irvine said
"I like a drink, we all like a drink. drinking is a huge part of society. I was out at Randwick last week and there were next [generation of] lawyers, politicians and accountants all stumbling drunk at three o'clock in the afternoon...Todd hasn't done a lot wrong this year. We all need to manage our drink."
So yeah, I think Toddy's gonna go just fine in the Shire.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Todd Carney: Sands Through the Hourglass

This Todd Carney saga, my god. It's dragging like Nate Myles' knuckles. Settle in with a bag of salted nuts and a dash of weary fatalism as it enters another week, with eleventh hour interest from the Dragons putting the kaibosh on what was to be a certain signing with the Sharks. Allegedly. All of this is alleged, meaning no one knows what the fuck they are talking about but continue to publish wildly speculative articles in which everyone and anyone even remotely connected to the story refuses to comment.

On the other hand, I have no idea what's happening but am gagging to comment. This is the very essence of the internet and especially of blogging, no? I am singularly unequipped to grasp the appalling complexity of the cat's cradle of vested interests at stake in the high stakes game of SIGNING TODD CARNEY. I am also singularly unimpressed with the glimpse into the machinations of the masters of the League that this saga has provided. But then, my perspective may be ever so slightly distorted. Since I'm still hung up on the belief that the Raiders committed the crime and cock-up of the decade by sacking him in 2008. So yeah. There's a certain sense of ideological betrayal still lingering. Whatever. It keeps me sharp.

Obviously the thought of Toddy playing for the Dragons turns my stomach. This is an entirely unpalatable prospect, and is in no way a part of my coherent world view. There are many reasons for this; including but not limited to the fact that I don't much care for the Dragons, but the biggest is that basically I don't want my loved ones mixing with Jamie Soward. No sir, no way. That boy is bad news. Jamie Soward is a detestable player, and one that is sunk so deeply into his own needs and wants that rudeness has become inevitable and ingrained. And if you lie down with dogs you wake up with fleas. And probably crabs, in this case. Anyways, this is no time to start in on Jamie Soward. I just had a shower and I want to retain my clean feeling. 

This is all very tiring. I can only imagine how exhausting Toddy must be finding the whole ordeal. Oh no, wait, he's been tearing it up in Thailand. With sweet and sad-faced Raider AND FELLOW GOULBURN SON Jarrod Croker. Sweet merciful Christ on a cracker. Still, this is what dedicated, dyed-in-the-wool hooligans do when the spectre of oblivion looms, it's what separates the contenders from the pretenders, don't you know?

Even my mother has got in on the drama of it all. During phone calls she has taken to assuming a tone of genuine, maternal, sympathetic concern and asking "and how is Toddy?" whenever I mention anything about league and occasionally even when I don't. You know, like Carney and I share some kind of an actual relationship instead of me just writing a blog loosely based on his life and times? Yeh. Delusion runs in the family.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Lara Bingle

There seems to be three types of people in this world: those who dislike Lara Bingle, those who are Lara Bingle, and those who bang Lara Bingle - which includes every professional athlete and elite sportsman who lives in, visits, or will ever visit Sydney, as well as random international r&b singers, and, probably, your boyfriend.

I fall into the first category. Lara Bingle shits me. Well, so what. Who doesn't? If all the people who agitate or irritate me were to get their own blog post I would have to become one of those people who are sooooo fucking busy that they feel it necessary - -essential even - to eat and walk at the same time, and thus saunter about the streets choking down hand held food in a grotesque and unseemly manner. No, Lara Bingle gets a post not because she shits me but because she rattles me. More specifically, the flat, crystal emptiness of her eyes rattle me.

I have a strong stomach and steely eye but I cannot - I CANNOT - look into those terrible eyes. They're vacant and clear and they creep me the fuck out. The rest of her face troubles me too, but it's those eyes - devoid of anything one might think of as human - that do strange things to me.

I have a vague theory that Lara Bingle may be Laura Palmer. If Laura Palmer lived in Sydney, in this century, and was a real person and not a father-fucking, coke-whore, prom queen creation from David Lynch's surreal and sick imagination, I mean. Details, details.

Lara Bingle could do well in taking a leaf out of Laura Palmer's book and cultivating an air of seedy intrigue and flesh-creeping mystery. It would make things much more interesting for us: her public. And for her too, I imagine. She could well be carousing in log cabins under the eyes of watchful owls and in One Eyed Jacks type establishments already, of course. This is not beyond the realm of possibility. I imagine Lara Bingle might crackle with sex and its associated psycho-drama; that it might even hang in the air around her to the same degree that Subway stinks up entire streets. And doesn't Brendan Fevola have something of the Leo Johnson about him, only a little less menacing, truck-driving redneck and a little more mouth-breathing jock goon? It's just that Lara Bingle hasn't been murdered so no safety deposit boxes have been posthumously opened and Dr Jacobi-style shrink-tapes have been played so nothing much of a debauched and fabulous nature has been brought to light. This is a shame.

Laura Palmer was Twin Peaks’ sweetheart, she did all that thoughtful stuff for all those weird people – she visited that creepy shut-in Harold and she read to Audrey’s Horn’s wigged-out little brother and as it turned out after she showed up dead “wrapped in plastic!” she also GANGBANGED REDNECKS IN SHACKS FOR KICKS. This is the true definition of ‘it’s complicated’; Lara Bingle, if you’re reading*, none of this trivial ‘how many points do I have left on my license?’ bullshit.
What I'm saying is that Laura Palmer was all complex and tragic and beautiful and doomed, whereas Lara Bingle is about as spoiled and vacant as a Persian cat, with unsettlingly empty eyes and a face that makes me think of nothing so much as Ellsworth Toohey from The Fountainhead barking "Shut your face, kewpie-doll." at some poor bitch. What I'm also saying is that I warned you from the outset that my theory was 'vague', okay?

It doesn't have to be this way, Lara Bingle. Look at Sophie Monk. She's another half-wit blonde hell-bent on some half-baked notion of making it without an end point in sight but instead of arousing animosity or derision she manages to be endlessly endearing. What a difference a personality makes! Sophie Monk is a walking, talking, massive-lipped exploration of frustration and ambition, or frustrated ambition, if you will. The key here is that, in addition to the personality, Sophie Monk seems to posess a degree or two of self-awareness. She also has a charmingly bawdy, Mae West-style sense of humour. I mean, she probably weeps extravagantly while driving in her car some days - don't we all - but she seems to have things in perspective. Not only does Lara Bingle's persepective look to be shot to shit, she also has no discernable sense of humour. This is a fundamental failing from which there really is no recovery. Or none of which I am personally aware, at least. Also, she can't drive for shit. Seriously. She loses her license continuously.

Sophie Monk stands for something; she is a public embodiment of the existential angst we feel as we (I say 'we', I mean 'I') near the end of our twenties and realise all the things we will never be and - this part can be just as if not more troubling - all the things we are.

Here, Sophie Monk emantes a soothing air of 'what-can-you-do' resignation. Her youth gone, style beyond her grasp, she spends her time, which she seems to have plenty of, playing the lead in her own private and frequently, reasurringly public melodrama, yet she still remains someone I would like to know, and even though I don't, feel a great fondness for anyway.

Also, Sophie Monk says some really wack stuff. Like that time earlier this year when she was doorstopped by Hollywood reporters in LA? REMEMBER?? How she told them that Australian Aborigines just “lie around outside and start fires and go to the bathroom wherever they want, but they wear Adidas, which is cool”??? Which led to pap website popinig that "it sounded like the coolest life ever"?? Yeh. Well, compared to life on the D-list, maybe. Still, somebody should really hook her up with the Australian tourism board because Sophie Monk is down with the SHIT.  

One of the keys to happiness, I find, is keeping your expectations low. Another is taking some care to align your ambitions with you talents. This, I feel, is one of the areas where Lara Bingle seems to have strayed from the path of reason and reality. Modest talents – in any field or sense - call for modest ambitions. Balance. Everyone bangs on about balance. The balancing of talents and ambition is a big one. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, y'know? Nor can you polish a turd. Beauty is a talent, yes, and definitely a currency, but undiminished self-absorption and a relentless drive to stay relevant is not a sustainable ambition. Also, even though many of us seem to have an enormous appetite for celebrity, we tend to tire of vacuous bullshit fairly quickly, so unless Lara Bingle is willing to run her train completely off its tracks in the wildly entertaining style of Britney circa 2008 then we really have a limited amount of time and energy and empathy for her. Listen for the bell, Lara Bingle, because it tolls for thee.  

I think what happened with Lara Bingle is that her looks distorted her perspective. That face enabled her to envisage a perfect, blessed future for herself, but ultimately left her unequipped for this drift towards a confused and irrelevant adulthood that is now well underway. I’m all for personal idiosyncrasies but can’t help but feel that this bitch’s problems have become more substantial as ahe seeks to invest herself with some sort of earthly significance. You can see it in her face – just faintly, because it’s a face as impassive and still as the surface of a pond in a pleasure garden – but it’s there; confusion and a dull, dim-witted unease. Terminal overexposure has seen the slow sink into obscurity begin. 
You could say that the culture of celebrity and the fairytale fame narrative have a lot to answer for due to the unrealistic expectations they engender. Alternatively, you could just say that Lara Bingle is the latest but not the last in a long line of girls who fail to realise that while good looks can take them a long way, an over-reliance on those same looks may leave them stranded, without a map and with no direction home.

*Lara was unfortunately unavailable for comment for this story.