The 9pm Edict #5

The 9pm Edict

Australia’s smartest meth dealer found in Leichhardt. ABC chairman Maurice Newman branches out into staff supervision. And Sydney property developers whine because, well, they just didn’t automatically get everything their own way.

Here, ladies and gentlemen, no more than 20 minutes late, is episode 5 of The 9pm Edict. Finally.

You can listen to this episode below. But if you want them all, subscribe to the podcast feed, or even subscribe automatically in iTunes.

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For more information on what I discussed today, try the NSW police media releases about Sunday’s explosion and Monday’s arrest, the Urban Taskforce media release and the ABC’s story on same, this Sydney Morning Herald story on various NSW Labor connections, Kristina Keneally’s Wikipedia entry, my post on Maurice Newman’s speech and the PM report on same, and Marcus Westbury’s column for The Age.

If you’d like to comment on this episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

[Credits: The 9pm Edict theme by mansardian, Edict fanfare by neonaeon, all from The Freesound Project. Photograph of Stilgherrian taken 29 March 2009 by misswired, used by permission.]

The 9pm Edict #4

The 9pm Edict

Kristina Keneally confuses mindless populism with leadership. The nimby-burghers of Glebe confuse concerns about the urban environment with selfishness. And the Vivid Festival… another white middle class baby boomer nostalgia wankfest.

Here, ladies and gentlemen, is episode 4 of The 9pm Edict. Finally.

You can listen to this episode below. But if you want them all, subscribe to the podcast feed, or even subscribe automatically in iTunes.

Play

If you’d like to comment on this episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

[Update 6 March 2010: I really should link to the material I discuss. That’s the Harold Park redevelopment plan and the local residents’ objections, the Vivid Festival, Laurie Anderson’s Language is a Virus, Dom Knight’s The Premier, the portrait and the paedophile and NSW Premier Kristina Keneally’s video A New Direction.]

[Credits: The 9pm Edict theme by mansardian, Edict fanfare by neonaeon, all from The Freesound Project. Photograph of Stilgherrian taken 29 March 2009 by misswired, used by permission.]

Letter from Newcastle

Photograph of newly-built apartment and signage reading Harbour Lifestyle

“That ‘This is Not Art’ thing this weekend, it’s like a fucking freak show walking past,” says the old guy in the yellow-tiled front bar of The Clarendon Hotel.

It’s just gone noon on Saturday. Apart from ’Pong and I having a burger and beer, he’s the only customer. His worldview of what Newcastle‘s Hunter Street should be like is challenged by the stream of paste-white black-clad comic fans, straggly-bearded eco-hippies, random hipsters and nose-ringed alternagothpunkteendykes strolling past the boarded-up shopfronts.

Noticing a skinny guy wearing yellow overalls and a torn red-striped t-shirt, our frowning drinker puts down his VB. “Hey, is there a circus in town? Because I can see a clown”, he calls out to the barman.

The barman smiles politely, but says nothing.

“Hey, is there a circus in town?”, he mutters, and takes another sip. He looks out at the soulless office buildings that replaced the landscape of his memory, in silence.

Yet these weird out-of-towners, with their experimental robotics, knitting and YouTube mashups, have brought more life to this industrial city’s ailing heart than any grandiose “development” plan.

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Review: “Without Warning” by John Birmingham

Cover of Without Warning by John Birmingham

John Birmingham has followed up his highly-successful Axis of Time trilogy of military thrillers with another “ripper yarn” novel, Without Warning: America is Gone. It’s a good read, but not as good as it could be.

Like Axis of Time, which posited a 21st-century naval task force suddenly finding itself at the Battle of Midway and the final volume of which I reviewed earlier, Without Warning is alternative history. One the eve of the 2003 Iraq War, an unexplained energy field obliterates all human life across most of the United States. As the world realises the last remaining superpower is gone, the novel tracks the political and military conflicts which emerge through the eyes of characters ranging from a US general at Guantanamo Bay to a female assassin working undercover in France.

My perceptions of Without Warning are coloured by Katie Harris’ comment that my recent Gonzo Twitter effort was like Hemingway. I still haven’t read any Hemingway, but I’ve been thinking about writing styles. In a previous review I described William Gibson’s noir prose as “a richly textured cabernet merlot” in comparison with the “slab of VB” simplicity of Adrian d’HagĂ©’s action thriller. Birmingham’s writing is another slab of VB. It’s a fast, easy read without too many difficult words or complex metaphors to slow you down.

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Just being nude doesn’t make it porn, you sickos!

A portion of a Bill Henson nude photograph of young womanMaybe I’m jumping the gun here, because the actual recommendations aren’t online yet. But news today that the Bill Henson “scandal” has prompted an overhaul of NSW art laws really gets up my nose.

Australian photographer Bill Henson is no stranger to controversy. His images, like the one here, are of nude or semi-nude adolescents, and “protecting the innocent children from the evil pedophiles” is a powerful rallying-call. Newspaper columnists and talkback radio hosts alike revel in its ability to stir the emotions — attention-seeking pricks that they are.

In an incident earlier this year, some of Henson’s photographs were seized by the police — but returned once the Office of Film and Literature Classification found that none of them were “child pornography”. Indeed, it called their nudity “mild and justified” and gave them a PG rating.

Got that? PG. Suitable for viewing by children under the age of 16, with parental guidance.

But apparently the considered judgement of the official body charged with this kind of analysis — the people who deal with and (sometimes) ban material which is pornographic — isn’t good enough.

Continue reading “Just being nude doesn’t make it porn, you sickos!”