Wednesday, 30 May 2012


My estranged father moved from Bermagui to Canberra. Or: from coastal hamlet to capitalist wasteland.  He used to spend his weekends hallucinating inside sweat lodges. By unhappy association my brother and I did too.
Our family was fractured, fraught.  There were strictly enforced drop-off and pick-up systems in place, there were insecure new step-parents trying to establish dominance, there was terrible tension, tightly clenched jaws and always an awful sense of things unsaid, of hostilities unspoken, of rupture.  
My chest always felt tight; clenched, like it had a huge hand around it, like it was being squeezed inside the fist of a huge, idle ogre.  
Amid all this upheaval I think my father may have made some subtle appeals to our childlike desires to please to get us into those sweat-lodges.
They would spend days building them – hacking down wattle saplings and digging holes and heating rocks and draping tarps and smearing themselves with ochre, and the only sensation I can recall during this lead-up is one of deep, fatalistic foreboding.
Inside they were crowded and dark and terrifying. We were urged to withstand the searing heat and distinct sensation of suffocation for as long as possible.
The child who could stay in longest was often given something afterwards as reward, perhaps a packet of Rizlas, or a fossilised piece of dog-shit, or a shriveled length of umbilical cord of uncertain origins.
To this day I have quite a bit of trouble with confined and close spaces. If there’s heat involved I become additionally distressed. Wild of eye and wanting to tear strips of flesh from my face and neck, that kind of thing.
Along with the heat and the steam and the suffocating terror that we were forced to suppress the sweat-lodges were filled with naked and hallucinating hippies. This included my father. I have residual issues here too, with naked and hallucinating hippies in general, and with my father more specifically*.  
Moral of story: none.

*Not really in regards to the sweat-lodges per se. It was the Far South Coast in the late eighties, they were Sanyasins, Osho** was big back then, whatever.

**Osho was the holy man, the Bhagwan, the head of the Orange People. Naturally he had a very long beard. Osho is probably most famous for the large collection of Rolls Royce cars he amassed, reported to be 93 at final count. This didn’t sit well with some. Some Sanyasins saw the cars as unrivalled tools for obtaining publicity, others as a good business investment or as a kind of spiritual test, others as an expression of Osho’s scorn for middle-class aspirations and yet others as an indication of the love of his disciples. Someone called James S. Gordon opines that what Osho loved most about the Rolls Royces, apart from their comfort, was “the anger and envy that his possession of so many – so absurdly, unnecessarily, outrageously many – of them aroused.” Well, yeh. I can see that.  

It was a worldwide movement. I had no concept of it back then. When I was nineteen and living in a caravan park in North Queensland I read an entire book written by Osho without knowing who he was, without knowing that he was the fucking Bhagwan, the man whose death in 1990 had all those hippy Orange People wailing and flailing and chanting back when I was small and confused and clenched.   
Osho discouraged marrying and having children. since he saw families as inherently prone to dysfunction and destructiveness. He encouraged sterilisation and abortion.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Kearney is a Country Song, Furner is a Fuckwit.

My brother texted me. You know how you can see the first line of text before you open it? Well the first line was ‘Furner has stood down’ four words that exude an undeniable romance, no? The rest of the text, not so much - ‘Dugan and Ferguson from Friday for being drunk. Another great decision’ – By ‘great decision’ I think he means to say that it was an act of startling originality and initiative that has left everyone gaping in admiration; acts which are typical of Furner.  

Fucking Furner. The man is a deadest moron. His contract should be terminated, effective immediately. Not only does he lack the moral fiber and intellectual rigour to be a first grade coach, he doesn’t even have the courtesy to conduct himself in the manner expected of struggling coaches. Stephen Kearney does this very, very well. He doesn’t just wear that look of burnt-out weariness, of sad exasperation, he fucking owns it. He looks like a man who is saddled with a losing team and all the woes of a country music song – behind in his rent, no health insurance, a car that won’t run, walks with a limp from a workplace injury, can’t afford to pay his therapist… He also always looks as if he wants a cigarette. This is all very effective. Acknowledging the looming voids elicits respect and sympathy. Matt Elliot pretended to hang himself via his tie in a Panthers press conference and we not only ate it up, we understood. Furner just becomes flintier of eye and sharper of tone as the pressure and criticism mounts. It’s all wrong.  Additionally, awfully, he looks like a cop. A tightly wound, head-kicking cop.  

Of course, Kearney doesn’t have the reassuring presence of his similarly blockheaded brother in the boardroom safeguarding his job. This means that he comes across as genuinely distressed and apologetic and frustrated. Furner just looks stupid, stubborn, smug and despotic.   
Has he confused the gurglings of his unconscious with the voice of God? It’s a common mistake.  The same thing happened to Saint Paul on the road to Damascus, to Silvio Berlusconi (BUNGA BUNGA!) and may have occurred inside the mind of Greg Inglis for a while there when he was referring to himself in the third person and flip-flopping on the Broncos and being fat and such. It happens. To wit: that pop-up weather guy from Prime, Daniel Gibson. He says the most random and bizarre things, in such an erratic fashion, and only ever fleetingly refers to either the weather or to what most of us would consider reality. He seems unhinged, but who cares? He’s a two-bit regional weatherman. Furner is a fucking coach. His idiocy and incompetence upsets a great deal of people. It’s not right.  
Daniel Gibson. Don't be fooled, he's fucking nuts.

The obvious validity of my grievances will be available for everyone to see tonight, when the rest of the Raiders (minus Dugan and Ferguson) play the Rabbitohs – who I look upon with a loathing that is slightly below bottomless. On free-to-air. In prime time. The Horror.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

NO TRY! - The Inglis Incident, Origin 1

Ridiculous referee decisions usually aren’t reason enough for me to turn crimson and need a defibrillator. Origin is different, though. It’s fast and tight and brutal and it causes people tremendous amounts of excitement. They roam at large and wear wigs and bellow inane catchphrases (“QUEENSLANDER”, for example) and foam at the mouth and appear crazed and rabid. Emotions run high. Referees are required to adhere as closely as possible to what most of us would consider reality. In short, it is not the game in which they should play fast and loose with logic. The consequences are too great, right? Wrong. During the fifth or sixth replay of Greg Inglis knocking that ball forward a general sense of doom swelled inside of me. By the seventh? I could feel the artery on one side of my temple pulsing furiously, moments away from bursting into an aneurysm.
-Pause for protracted ‘mental health’ break and an unclenching of teeth hands toes and buttocks-
It is a hollow loss. This makes it a hollow victory. It was looking like it was going to be a loss anyway, but a legitimate one – brought about by that bizarre choice to kick for 2 and Todd Carney suffering from the yips on his debut and whatever else – but awarding that Inglis incident as a TRY???? That’s when the bottom fell out.       
Imagine if the situation were reversed. Jesus Christ; there would be mass hysteria. Burning effigies! Parliamentary enquiries! Widespread disintegration and missions of vengeance! Bob Katter! Things, according to W.B. Yeats’ take on dodgy 19th

Century refereeing decisions (or those deranged enough to await the Second Coming of Christ - same same, really), would fall apart, the centre would not hold, mere anarchy would be loosed upon the world.
But that sound you hear? That’s the Queenslanders, collectively scoffing CRY ME A RIVER or other, less astute words to that effect, and, yeah, cunts, if your attitude towards logic and justice is a laissez faire one, by all means deride the inevitable NSW-based outcry as we engage in a few weeks of light existential angst, finger-pointing and recrimination. We down here know ya’ll are too deep into your sun-baked delirium, too lacking in moral fibre, too misshapen of head and too wasted on Bundy to care.

Monday, 21 May 2012


Blues! Finding it difficult to conjure up the requisite levels of State of Origin based excitement? Feeling like the whole thing will almost inevitably end up resembling a nightmare suffered after eating too much cheese? Already anticipating sitting in steely silence and staring into the middle distance while Queenslanders with demeanors that announce “I am on my way to rob a convenience store” and lesions that announce “I am also a crabs carrier” crow about passion and pride while meantime Michael Jennings is advised to seek work on a road gang? Me too.

These are unpromising circumstances for NSW. They are about as unpromising a circumstance as one could find oneself in.
Despite this, come Wednesday night I will no doubt be all up in game one’s business, and you know why? AS A DOG RETURNETH TO HIS VOMIT, SO A FOOL RETURNETH TO HIS FOLLY – proverbs 26, 11. It’s true. When it comes to Origin the Bible knows what is UP.
Ricky Stuart GOD LOVE HIM has been making his usual fairly spectacular and increasingly apocalyptic comments regarding New South Wales having no option other than to win this series OR ELSE. Yes, well spotted, Ricky, we are now at the “or else” part of the scenario.

Buffalo Bill - also familiar with the "or else" part of fraught scenarios.

Sam Thaiday made some crack to TV cameras about the buffet being their biggest problem during camp, the subtext being that the Maroons are such a finely tuned and highly functional team that lavish quantities of food being digested and pushed through coils of bowel is their primary occupation and concern throughout Origin camp. Maddeningly, the Blues are not in a strong position to argue against this belief.
Still, there is the very real possibility that Thaiday was just overwhelmed at being confronted, while dining, with menus that aren’t laminated and don’t have photographs of the food on it.  

Hopefully - and I say this with a sizeable serving of skepticism - the Blues are cultivating other, more impressive ways of spending their time. Like, say, figuring out how to shut down the unnatural might of Queensland’s right side-loving combination of Smith, Slater and Cronk. That’d be nice.  
As it is, I can barely bring myself to think about those three. JT either. Well, maybe JT a little, but only because he is a man of sleek allure with powerful loins and an idiot’s laugh, and if you look closely you will see that he sometimes bears fabulous, fleeting resemblance to Nick Nolte’s mug shot.

I just kind of feel like Origin is going to be some sort of Discovery Channel nature-based nightmare. Hyenas tearing open a gazelle carcass and the like. I saw something on life under the sea recently. I thought: “this is a lifestyle worth thinking about”. Take cleaning stations, for example. Apparently, these are a common feature of undersea life, places where large fish pull in to be nibbled at by smaller fish for the purposes of health and hygiene for the big fish and dinner for the little fish. Maybe Origin will be something like that, only with a bit more ultra-violence?
Oh, my God. My mind is choosing to think about obscure aquatic social customs rather than, say, the broiling majesty of Cameron Smith with his deep, concentrated, Sphinx-like intensity and hairy bunyip-like body. It’s self-preservation. The alternative is being besieged by a debilitating bout of neurosis and inhaling raw cookie dough.

Praise the Daily Telegraph then and their slew of redemptive, Todd Carney rebooted stories. “CARN THE BLUES!”, “The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall and Rise Again of Todd Carney”, etc. Right now these stories, along with my orphan lambs BooBoo and BabyCakes demanding milk, are essentially my reason for getting out of bed in the morning.

Is it just me or does he seem like the loveliest and most sweetly-natured person who is purported to have an ‘image problem’ ever? I ask you! When I take over the world (note the ‘when’ there, not ‘if’) I will redress the criteria for all this ‘image problem’ shit, and those afflicted with an affiliation to liquor of the malt variety and a propensity for setting fire to the nutsacks of close friends will rise to the top. Like cream. Just you wait. In the meantime, I understand (just barely) that some people are not fans of menfolk like Todd Carney or Tommy Lee – men who don’t subscribe to the notion that laws are supposed to apply to all people equally. Whatever. Plenty of Robbie Farah/Buster Bluth from Arrested Development types to go round for the likes of them.  

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Mysterious Ways - Raiders 2012

I had a bad feeling about things yesterday. The Raiders, because they are maddening and mysterious, cannot be relied upon to win the games they are even vaguely expected to. Ever. So going into the Eels game, it felt like it could easily become one of those seventies exploitation movies where marauding inbred hillbillies set upon foolish interlopers who are looking for gas. And, y’know, rape them and stuff.
Luckily, Jarryd Hayne didn’t appear to be in the mood for such frivolities. Football, either. 

Still, this foreboding, this muted dread continued for the first fifteen or twenty minutes while the Raiders got themselves organised out there. More conventional teams tend to undertake this element of their preparation before the game actually starts – it’s sometimes referred to as a ‘warm up’ -  but no matter, no matter.
So. Basically, the Raiders won and the Eels continued the particle by particle disintegration of any hope that they will ever win a game, ever again.
It was also an afternoon of very strange football from which even a more stable person might have drawn disturbing conclusions. Happily, since I have been away, enveloped in hostile Himalayan mountains and isolated from any entertainment whatsoever aside from my mother’s very particular style of humour (she’s a nurse, so bodily emulsions and excretions feature prominently), I found the game to be pretty fucking great. Certainly it was highly stimulating. I mean, perhaps it wasn’t so great for those who are fans of defense (left side, anybody? Bueller..??) and finesse and consistency and Jarrod Croker making tackles, but these subtle shortcomings were all part of the fun. It was truly top notch entertainment. The fact that the Raiders won was a pleasing but entirely incidental benefit.
Another (far less pleasing) incidental was me spending spent 24 days with a keen Sharks fan while away. By the end of it, NAY – from the start of it – I would have rather wallowed in a pool of fragrant vomit - which I actually did do, horrifyingly – than spend any more time in his presence. Not because of the Sharks thing, though. More due to the fact that he was just such a dick. ThankGOD for the Sharks thing, really, because it gave us weighty topics to talk about – Paul Gallen, for one. And Blake Ferguson.
I also spent time with a cop – A COP , for chrissakes - from Wodonga, who confessed his deep-seated desire for Taser use to become widespread in Victoria and his longing to Taser Todd Carney. Or, as he put it, to “MAKE HIM DO THE CHICKEN.” Because that’s what they call it, don’t you know. He even gave a physical demonstration, which really did resemble what I imagine the movements of a hysterical, epileptic chicken with many millions of volts administered by a dimwitted fascist running though it would look like. Toddy, for the love of God stay the fuck away from Wodonga. Albury, too, to be safe. Unless you’re passing through on your way to mine, of course, in which case stick to the Hume and drive like stink.

Anyway. How is the talk surrounding the Eels? The apocalypse cometh!! Jesus. Hey, the other day? When my mother was rubbing crème into my feet (you heard me) and she made the observation that I had the beginnings of a corn on my little toe? Well I too am on a slip-stream to the apocalypse. I mean, aren’t we all?
Still, the Eels were groping around like eyeless worms for much of the game, they do look pretty poxy. Whatever. Forget them. Here are my three favourite match moments:
1.      Jack Wighton, who Laurie Daly had previously referred to as one of the game’s ‘merchants of speed’, scoring the winning try in the final minutes. Blake Ferguson grabbing and kissing his head and making my heart kick against my ribs. Football. Bringing us spurious, savage tokens of manhood from around the time that Christ was a hunk of flesh hanging off a cross.

2.      Blake Ferguson looming up into the camera while talking to that goose Mark Gasnier post-match and blurting “Aye can I just say g’day to my pop – my nan and pop in [insert random flyblown town name here] – how youse goin’!! –“. It was adorability itself. Gasnier looked slightly bewildered, mildly sheepish, and entirely idiotic. As usual.

3.      Man of the match Josh Dugan saying “Body’s 100% and I’m feeling fresh” YES IT IS, BITCH, YES IT IS.”  

Speaking of looks, how about Nathan Hindmarsh’s impersonation of a sweating, shambolic itinerant derro yesterday? His fucking jersey was midriff! It was riding halfway up his goddamn torso, shit was unseemly! Also, seeing him give lumbering chase as Blake Ferguson scored that spectacular long-range try (Sample text: “Go Frogboy GO”) vividly underscored the fact that the march of time is an absolute fucker, whichever way you look at it. The hooves of destiny beat for Hindmarsh and doesn’t he damn well know it. He looked like he should be slumped on a stool inside a coastal RSL club belching beer fumes into some two-bit barmaid’s face. He looked like he wished he was.

When it was all over, Josh Dugan tweeted a picture of himself sitting in his kitchen eating ham. Just kidding. He was without a shirt looking like he’d been kicked in the ribs by Gestapo boots. Like he isn’t fierce enough already, fuck! After his Raiders beating the Eels and Todd Carney’s Sharks beating the Storm and Billy Slater being binned this was more than my fevered brain could metabolise. I practically started seeing parades of pink elephants hurling past my retinas. Years of hermetic seclusion have run down my tolerance levels.

The other, obvious highlight of the round was Johnathan Thurston having to pull down his shorts and have his junk closely attended to. Midgame. As an entire stadium of Newcastle fans howled their approval. This excited me. A lean, dark and hungry looking man of doubtful repute dropping his shorts? YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT.