Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Anzac Day Unease

Every year things tilt further off balance and it’s causing a grinding, an unease, a wearing away of the parts. I feel like it’s just me and only half of me hopes it isn’t. The other half hopes that it is. Self-generated psychic pain I can deal with. The external gnawings, they take endurance of a special kind, and extract a special price.
Well, we’ll see. Meanwhile the smell of something rotten hangs lower and heavier in the air. It’s like our national neurosis has taken the form of a kind of shit-mist - a dumb ether of confusion and insecurity. Today it hangs at its lowest and heaviest. Next year it will be heavier still – 2014 will start a four-year-long centenary commemoration to cover the years of Australian involvement in WW1. Jesus Mother.  

Australia is still being historicised. We are a fledgling nation, so young that the newly nationalistic clamour surrounding Anzac Day would just be mildly embarrassing and endearing were it not so insidious. The whole thing is unnerving. The pageantry of it is unnerving. The cheap Australian flags, the 4th of July American style ceremonials, the entire tourist industry built around Gallipoli. But beneath all that shit it’s really the constructs and clichés underpinning the pageantry that are rotting out my nerves and making me want to draw down and bolt shut the shades.
Because  basically it’s all myth. National identity, mateship, the egalitarian, fair go for all idea – all myth. This would be okay were it not for the way that our memorial culture takes collective memory as historical certainty and national truth.
Memory is just a prism through which we negotiate the past, and collective memory by its fucking nature contains constant renegotiations and appropriations over time in accordance with external circumstances, generational shifts and *coughJohnHowardYouCuntcough* political ideologies and agendas.
Yes. Well. It may be Anzac Day for the general pop but for me it is the one day of the year when I mourn for my incomplete national-identity-and-mateship themed thesis. I think about war every other day of the goddamn year alright, on all the days when hams on morning television aren’t providing the fucking narrative.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Boyd's Bitchslap, Hayne's Backchat, Campese's Comeback

Can’t keep up? Allow me to bring you up to speed, time-poor peasant.
So. Six rounds down. Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying in six weeks. You really wouldn’t want to spend much longer than six weeks with Pa Bundren though would you, even if he was your own creation.
·         In league, the 6 week mark is really when you are forced for the first time since season’s start; when you were all flush with that dumb optimism that exists irrespective of reality, to reevaluate your top 8 aspirations. Cowboy fans and the deluded loons who annually espouse their penthouse potential I’m talking to you.

·         Unless you are a Storm, Manly or, god help you, a Rabbit supporter, chances are that your club has already demonstrated a dazzlingly varied array of inadequacies designed to challenge your patience and sanity nearly beyond endurance. Well, endure you must. This is football, and football, like life itself, mostly consists of endurance and suffering.

·         Dave Taylor has been dropped, for reasons that nobody has bothered to make clear. Seemingly, nobody has had to bother because no one cares enough to ask. Those who would normally ask are too busy making off-colour and cruelly unsympathetic cracks about Josh Dugan. I suppose the word is that he has an attitude problem, but saying Dave Taylor has an attitude problem is as obvious and unhelpful as saying the Freemasons have an image problem.

·         Jarryd Hayne is a player operating under conditions of severe personal stress. He offsets this by engaging weekly in vigorous and one sided dialogues with referees. Sometimes he takes a few minutes time out in between bouts and plays a bit of football. The Eels are locked several years deep into their slow and untidy spiral of decline now, and the strain is showing.

·         Ricky Stuart is operating under some stress too. All coaches do, of course, but not all coaches front post-game press conferences with the brimstone of a southern Baptist preacher and not all coaches care enough to make a $10 000 investment in the future of the game which is going straight to hell as they see it.

·         Darius Boyd gave another arresting press conference. In it, he gave nothing away to the assembled media other than the one thing they already knew from years prior, which was that they were dealing with a halfwit who was still not even remotely acquainted with proper press conference etiquette. Far be it from me to dish out unauthorised psychiatric diagnoses but he does seem to have advanced several shades up the spectrum since becoming a Knight.  

·         Misery continues to seep through Ben Barba’s barely maintained façade. There’s an ocean breaking inside the poor boy’s brain. You can see the tide washing in and out of his eyes. Barba was last year’s excitement machine. Josh Dugan was once an excitement machine. The game is littered with broke-down excitement machines. It’s a veritable Somme, and very sad.

·         Terry Campese finally made his comeback. This just leaves us waiting on Jesus now. Of course, the thing about comebacks (and this is where Terry went wrong last year) is that you are expected to come back and stay back. It’s not compulsory, but it is the preferred method.  Seven minutes of flabby play does not a comeback make, although as exits go it was spectacular, in a tragic Shakespearean way. Raider fans, who are well accustomed to pain and tragedy, absorbed the psychic pain with trademark weary stoicism facilitated by extra lashings of class A narcotics.

·         Recently, the Raiders have overcome trying circumstances to win 2 games. In a row. I believe this is what hubris-bloated commentators officially refer to as “a roll”. The other week against the Roosters, when the Raiders finally, after 45 profoundly painful minutes of play, completed a full set of six, Brandy Alexander called that “a roll” too. Raiders. Severely lowering standards since the mid-90s.

·         Sonny Bill is back too. I find it hard to summon interest in someone who seems to be so solely committed to self-interest, but he has rendered the Roosters vaguely watchable, which is not a sentence I thought I would write in Braith Anasta’s absence. 

·         Paul Gal was supposed to hang his junk out for charity. He arranged his underpants into some sort of crudely fashioned G-string instead. The whole this was a touch underwhelming. As in, I wasn’t all like:

·         Finally, there’s Todd Carney to consider. Because I haven’t, for fucking ever. I realised this a couple of weeks ago. I made a note of it.

Look at that unmarked neck and chest flesh. This is so sad. Lest we forget.   

Friday, 19 April 2013

In Dugan's Defense

Poor Dugan. Poor Boy-Bambi.
He has become a human punch line.
So he’s run his ship up onto some rocks. Who hasn’t? I’ll tell you who hasn’t – the flat-pack fuckwits who don’t have the guts or sense to get down in it. Fuck them. Fuck their lame tweets; 140 characters or less of dull, putrid, limping nothingness.

There should be no shame in a bit of flailing around amid the deeply fallible seas of human social congress. Larry David made a career out of it.
It’s tough for the modern footballer. Their wits are inevitably already dulled from having their heads driven down into their necks and their necks driven down into their shoulders since they were young and soft of skull. Their brains probably slop around inside those misshapen skulls like crème caramels released from their ramekins too soon. It is unreasonable to expect their behaviour to be better than that of the average firm brained citizen. It is remarkable that they can even keep abreast of the tackle count or recognise their teammates if you ask me, which obviously no one does, frustratingly.  
Then, there’s the relentless tracking of personal lives, and invasive technology allowing everything to be conveyed within seconds to the wider world which, frankly, is an ugly and undignified place full of ugly and undignified people who fight like half-starved dogs over every scrap of information as it comes and clamber to post their small utterings of inanity which we now call comment.
They are poised now, haunches flexed and empty gazes narrowed, ready to fight and froth dog-like over the corpse of Josh Dugan’s career.

 N.B. - All the existentialism in the world will not make you question the universe so much as an idle scroll through a standard comment section or exchange in the online NRL community. The only thing that sets this little exchange apart from the ceaseless shit-stream is Dugan’s correct use of ‘too’, which no one seemed to notice or find cute, so caught up were they in the tedious indignation that passes for controversy. Whatever. I found it cute.   

Saturday, 13 April 2013

My Brother is a Self-Hating Raider Fan

The Raiders.
They madden no one more than my brother.
It pains him to follow them, yet he does so forensically.
They drive him to aggressive distraction, yet he cannot stop with them.
It’s a deeply complicated business. To cope, he does what we do when those we love but wish to Christ we didn’t love disappoint and pain us – he treats them with obsessive cruelty and holds them in serious contempt.

And while he claims to wish he could quit them, somewhere, in the dark recesses of his brain and bone marrow, there is great love and tenderness for the Raiders.  The conflict this creates  - great and abiding loyalty overlaid with everyday weariness and woe – is essentially what makes him a self-hating Raider fan.

My phone reception was down all night so we didn’t get to exchange the usual stream of profound and brutal texts. He doesn’t have Foxtel so he goes out in public to watch them and this probably magnifies his pain when they lose but he seems to like sitting among down-and-outs and listening to their unique commentary and some of the things he hears we immediately incorporate into our own commentary, like a few years ago, when Daniel Vidot made a break, and an old man stiffened, sat up ramrod straight and screamed “RUN YOU PIECE OF SHIT!” We use that one a lot.
In the early hours of the morning my sleep was ruptured by my phone barring up and receiving texts, including the mysterious question from my best friend: “Are you the feminist environmental league????” but mostly coming from my brother.
They are looking alright but no better than the Warriors. What happened to Shillo? Is Earl down too?
William called. No voicemail message was left.
God Croker is a ball hog – pass it to your winger you fool IT’S A TEAM SPORT.
William called. No voicemail was left.
This is turning into rot.
William called. No voicemail was left.
Total rot.
William called. No voicemail was left.
This is the worst set I have ever seen.
William called. No voicemail was left.
This is killing me.
Apparently it didn’t kill him because after he’d left (“the place went OFF after that last Lee try!”) and returned home he had the wherewithal to call my old broke-down phone, which I had had the wherewithal to switch on, and after raving excitedly about the mystifying nature of the Raiders, which is what we do following 90% of their wins and most of their losses too when I think about it, he said “Alright I have to go – my Kiev’s will be overdone – I slipped home at halftime to put them in the oven – but I tell you, if they’d lost I would have come home and thrown them against the wall!”
He would have, too, and the thing is it requires almost no imagination to envision the circumstances in which this could have occurred. Maddening.