Thursday, January 29, 2009

P.S.

P.S. The Cardinals were A-MA-ZING!

Ryan's voice is so incredible and clear and poignant and the Cardinals are a tight-sounding band and such talented musicians. Their renditions of Cold Roses and Mockingbird and Dear John and Let it Ride were especially memorable for me. I DO wish he'd have played 29 though...

Admittedly, Ryan continues to be hilarious. At one point he forgot his words and stopped and quickly assured the audience that,

"It's ok! It's no-one's fault! I'm not in a bad mood or anything, and it's not your fault."

Glad you cleared that up, Ryan.

He also appears to dislike standing on the soles of his feet, opting instead for the outsides or the arches. Really. I know it sounds weird, but you should see how it looks!! Bless him though - it is endearing.

Finally...

Dear Neil Casal,

Will you marry me?

Best wishes,

Rebecca

Awwww, cute!

So yesterday I was on one of my massive walks around my 'hood, when a car load of boys drove past, tooting their horn and screamed out,

"Yeeeeeaaaah!! Pussy time!

and waved. At me!

Someone remind me why I don't get out and socialise more in this city?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ryan and the Cardinals are visiting ME!

Only one more sleep til I get to see RYAN ADAMS AND THE CARDINALS LIVE!!



This one is certainly a sad old country ballad but the man can rock too, don't you worry about that!

And he can also throw some kind of tantrum. Going to see one of his shows can be a slightly anxious experience as you can never be quite certain that he's not going to have a hissy fit and walk off stage (he did last time I saw him, but he came back. Eventually.).

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnd, he doesn't deal well with criticism. This sound clip is amazing!



At the end of it all though, anybody who can work double denim is a winner in my book!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Driving Under the Influence

Getting stung for DUI seems to be a rather sobering experience.

The people I know who have been done tend to explain how ashamed they felt, to say that it was "an easy way to learn a difficult lesson", " a stupid thing to do" or "a wakeup call". Maybe it's not that way for everyone, but these are the kinds of things I hear when my friends talk about it.

Drink driving has come to be a socially unacceptable behaviour that is little encouraged and rarely condoned. The main line of reasoning that I hear made against those who do it, goes along the lines of;

"I don't care if you want to go out and kill yourself, that's your choice, but what if you hit me, or if you hit a kid? If you killed someone that way, you'd go to gaol. You'd be a criminal. Do you want to end up in Grafton?"

And I agree wholeheartedly.

I was talking to another friend about drink-driving over Xmas. I was telling her how unacceptable it is amongst my friends - like a social taboo. She's in her 50s and reckons it's harder for her and her generation to feel so bad about it, as they used to do it all the time before the laws changed; They would get plastered and drive home because they could, even though the risks of doing so were still very real.

Someone in my life has been drink-driving for years and years. I hate the complicity I feel in his behaviour but how do you stop them? He'll leave without saying anything to the rest of us sitting there because he knows what we'll say. He gets so drunk, but for some reason has felt that he is different, or that he's above the law.

Not anymore. He got pulled over and, in a rare twist of circumstance, he wasn't much over .05 so only lost his licence for a month. It's impacted on him a lot and he's been talking a lot about how it's making him feel and how he hadn't really thought about the implications of it all before.

I wish I could feel more smug about his getting caught, but I know how this is going to affect the other people in my life and his business.

It's amazing what a social shaming can do!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jono Ware takes photos.

Jono Ware took these pictures when we went surfing together a few years ago. I still like them a lot. It was a pretty day and we had fun. We were both working nights in a restaurant then, so we could surf as long as we wanted and then, to warm up, we would get a coffee and sit in the sun.


Gracious - it really was small though!!


I also like this photograph that he took, which I think is beautiful and still and quiet.


He's quite a clever man. And he is still taking beautiful photographs.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

For when you start to take life too seriously

Ok, ok, ok!!

I've been on a slightly verbose trip the past few days, so let me lighten the atmosphere by sharing this very particular aspiration of mine...

If all I achieve this year is to learn and replicate this routine* in it's entirety, I will be beyond satisfied with myself.

If you are not a particular fan of Mrs Jay-Z (and I count myself amongst this number) then you may be quick to navigate away from this page. Don't. Give the dance a chance my friend. Give it two perhaps. There is truly something for everyone in here.

I would like to point out that the moves displayed at 1:32 are particularly spectacular and impressive.

Sometimes, just sometimes, pop music is all that will really do.


*Clearly I could go on at some length about my conflicted feelings regarding the lyrics - commodified version of commitment and so on and so forth - but in this case, I'm just going to let it all go and DANCE. And if you think for a moment that I am not going to be bopping around this room as soon as this is posted, then you would be sadly mistaken.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Under the Sun, under the synopsis.

A couple of nights ago I went and saw Under the Sun (you might just be able to see it here if you're in time).

The film sells itself as an exploration of the interesting dichotomy of approaches to surfing that exist between the Gold Coast and Byron Bay, which, geographically, lie so close together.

Certainly, an interesting premise.

The film was a joy to watch - the production was beautiful, the images hypnotic and the editing created a strong and spirited story that was easy to travel with. Truly I enjoyed the film.

However...

As a passionate local of Byron Bay, I was disappointed with the liberties that Cyrus Sutton felt he was able to make in his representation of the town and the community, especially in contrast to the way he represented the Gold Coast.

Let's begin with his 'local'* surfers. Neither Dave Rastovich, Beau Young nor Nat Young could be called local to Byron. OK, Rastovich I'll give you at a stretch, but allocating them as spokespeople for the town seems like a bit of a long shot. Two of them may live there (Nat is not one of those two), but they are not exactly active members of the broader community and using them as examples and products of the Byron Bay surfing life is a bit far-fetched. My point here is that if you want to show how a community or location shaped a surfing style or aesthetic, then you can't just focus on individuals who happen to live in a place. You need to focus community of that place, as well as the context of that community in a certain timeframe, just as Sutton attempted in his representation of the Goldy. There cdrtainly were hippies and social drop-outs and deviants and druggies in Byron in the 70s and still now, but so what?

Next, Sutton uses several images of Nimbin (an alternative community that lies 45 mins inland, and outside Byron Shire) to represent the town of Byron Bay itself. Sutton also makes a point of focusing on the more alternative people that he finds and films at the weekend handicraft markets, which may or may not have been held in Byron (could have been Nimbin again, or Lennox Head or Bangalow or...). Anyone who lives in Byron is painfully aware of the not-so-alternate members of the community who are just as active and outspoken as the hippie contingent. Byron is more than a hippie town. I'm from Byron and I don't smoke pot, wear tie-dyed clothes, wear sandalwood oil, have dreadlocks, do yoga, play the bongos or read Buddhist texts. Just because I and my friends and family don't fit into this stereotype doesn't mean that we don't exist. The town has a varied socio-economic history that is based around logging, whaling, an abbottoir, a dairy and now a sell-it-all tourist industry that has again redefined who belongs and who has rights (start here and work your way through if you like). Peace, love and mungbeans came along with it all, but it never defined the way the town was run from within.

My final point is that although the bulk of the Gold Coast surfing was shot on the Gold Coast, other than a couple of sequences that I could recognise as being shot at the Pass, Wategos and Brunswick Heads, the bulk of the 'Byron' story showed surfing that was shot in Angourie, Indo and (my co-Byron-local viewing companion reckons) West Oz. Look, maybe I got that all wrong, but I'm telling you what I saw.

At the end of it all, Byron's surfing community is far from 'soul' but is instead fragmented into a variety of approaches and interest groups, just like any other coastal town. There is a strong and active Boardriders club that has yielded and supported a glut of now professional shortboarders who, like the Goldy crew, have experienced various levels of success (see for example films 'As Is' and 'On Credit'). The professional surfers who are from Byron are, just like the Gold Coast men that are shown, hungry for success and dollars and the chance to surf around the world and be admired for doing so - don't be fooled for a moment into thinking that they're beyond the desire for both lots of money and lots of chicks. Rastovich shows himself as an intelligent and thoughtful human being when he explains his free-surfing job entails his supporting the companies' stuff, which in turn means that the companies support his stuff. This is unlike Beau Young who explains to the audience (and this is close to being a direct quote) that being a sponsored free-surfer is basically being a commissioned artist. No Beau, I'm sorry, but it's not. It means you are, as Mr Rasta understands so perfectly, a commodity.

Anyway, whatever. It just riled me that Byron, once again, is sold as being an alternative and spiritual place, when it's just as commercialised and busy as the Goldy. Infact, go surf the Pass or Tallows on a good day and see how soulful you find it.

Underneath all of this, Sutton makes some good points and allows for some interesting conversations to emerge. He could have ended up editing the whole thing into some kind of statement that one surfing ideal or approach is better or more useful than the other, but that was not the feeling I got. He tried to show a disparity of experiences and that he did.

Go see it.

*Oh yes, I KNOW that this word presents a whole host of idealistic and conceptual issues but let's just go with it and think of it in terms of people who live in a place, and not only have a real investment in the community there but are also active within that community. Thanks. Please don't think that I give two hoots about the 'but you weren't born here' crap because I don't.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The lady is darkly opitmistic

Yesterday I (and some more than delightful company) went to see Optimism at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane. It's an exhibition of contemporary Australian artists and is generally viewed as being timely in these economic climes.

The exhibition certainly lives up to its mandate, with a majority of pieces that are big and bright. Indeed, the overwhelming feeling for me as I walked around was one of colour and size and the pieces are easily consumed and appreciated. They are challenging in their own ways, but on the whole they were easy to connect with and showed an outlook that was delightful to be a part of.

Despite this, I left feeling a little hollow and unsure of what this exhibition actually had to say. The use of colour seemed trite and repetitive and I thought that there were few pieces that explored the way we can be optimistic even when we are unhappy. Optimism should not be associated only with progression and development and positive outcomes. Optimism can in fact exist where it shouldn't necessarily and in colours, ideas and feelings that could rarely be called 'happy'. Perhaps optimism is a process or a tactic or something that is in fact difficult and requires strength. And perhaps it can be less positive than general association would have us believe, instead residing deep in the minds and hearts of political realists and the way that they understand and see the world in their specifically scary way.

Could I be any more rambling?

The point is that I think optimism doesn't have to be fragile or sneaky, or bright and loud with colour. Or big. It can exist in the tiniest corners where there is nothing but depression, sadness, and anger. For me, optimism is the complete and unshakable belief that I can take care of myself and that I am loved. But those two things are not about colour or sparkiness - often they're hard and dark.

Perhaps these feelings are better expressed by the film I then saw last night, Slumdog Millionaire (website and review). I don't want to harp on about it being the 'feelgood film of the decade', or whatever the propaganda would call it because neither I nor my companion would necessarily have agreed with that moniker. However, I do feel that it had a lot to say in relation to the themes I'm going on about above.

*I'm going to talk about the film here so if you don't want to know anything these please avert your eyes... NOW!*

The interesting thing was that the person who always ends up coming through for Jamal, is the same person who creates so many of his problems - Salim. It threw Salim's character into such chaos and perhaps made him more believable than if he had been 'good' or 'bad', the way that Jamal - as sweetly delightful as he is - comes across. But Jamal had optimism I believe, not in the power of good or evil, just simply in himself and his ability to make things turn out differently. I don't know that he aspired to fame and glory, and I don't know that his outlook stretched to thinking that things would ever turn around for him, but he certainly had an unwavering belief in his destiny (whatever that actually means). And that was founded on very little.

So, yes. Optimism is tricky and can be dark as well as being pixelated into primary colours and jumping on a trampoline. In the end I find that it has a lot less to do with happiness and progression than it does with a general sense of self-belief and a feeling of movement.

And that ain't so bad.

One person's interrogation is another person's torture

Can it be? And what does this mean?

From SBS World News site:

Susan Crawford, the Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo detainees to trial, told the Post that the suspect cannot be tried because he was tortured.

US military interrogators subjected Mohammed al-Qahtani, 30, to sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a "life-threatening condition," Crawford said.

...

"You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge" to call it torture, she said.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2008

I don't like to wish away my time... but, well, thank god that's over!