December 30, 2005
The Weekly Gee (5)
|INTRODUCING 2006: YEAR TEN OF AUSTRALIA'S DARK AGE|
Posted by Willikers at 3:15 PM
December 23, 2005
The Weekly Gee (4)
|Christmas greetings from the Weasel of Oz and his Wicked Snitch|
Posted by Willikers at 3:34 PM
December 21, 2005
Harold in Italy
Here's the latest from Harold Hark. TGW.
Apologies for being out of touch for so long, but I've been recovering in yet another hospital. This time in Livorno, Italy with a broken arm and leg. I'm lucky to be alive.
Unused to left-hand driving, I nevertheless accepted the invitation of one, Vittorio Petrolio, to drive his late-Fifties Lancia Aurelia Sport Supercompressa along the winding coast south of Livorno.
We shared a state of exhilaration from lack of sleep, too much booze and not much food, and the intense experiences of the twenty-four hours we had just spent together.
Both of us were singing "Guarda come dondolo" at the top of our lungs, a hit song from the Sixties that Vittorio had played over and over in the extraordinary 45 rpm record player his car was equipped with. Vittorio kept encouraging me to pass cars and, zooming around a sharp bend, I became confused as to which side of the road I should be on. I zigged when I should have zagged and we hurtled over the cliff, coming to a mangled stop midway between the road and the ocean. Our lives were spared, but Vittorio's sports car was a total wreck.
Were he not now in traction a few beds away, his jaws wired shut and looking forward to a year's rehabilitation, I am sure he would give me somewhat more than a hearty serve in the Roman dialect he speaks like a Gatling gun. Then again, maybe he would just laugh.
How did we come to be in this predicament? Well ...
I got off the train in Rome the morning before, a Sunday, with the intention of visiting the place where Marcello Mastroianni had so memorably gawped at the gormless but well-stacked Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita, none other than the Trevi Fountain. Typically, I got on the wrong bus and wound up in a distant suburb whose name I never discovered.
Everything was closed. The high white apartment blocks appeared to be deserted. Yes, it was Sunday in Europe, but every quarter usually sports a non-Christian grocer open for business. Not here.
Maybe some alien invasion had zapped the world in the instant my bus, having deposited me, turned a corner and disappeared from sight. For reasons unavailable to we simple organisms of the human species, I alone had been saved. Stranger things have happened. John Howard was re-elected Prime Minister of Australia four times, for one excruciating example.
I sat down on a bench wondering if the woman of my dreams had survived with me and was just about to look out the window in one of the apartments opposite. Travelling has two immediate effects on me: I remain insatiably ravenous and feverishly horny.
I was just beginning to imagine my new companion into existence, her face in perfect thirds and her bronze, satiny Mediterranean skin with pores so minute they could only be discovered with a tongue as scientific as mine, when a convertible sports car came whizzing by, stopped and backed up.
Who was this to interfere with my fantasies? I searched my memory for an expletive. Unfortunately, the extent of my Italian comes from the movies David Stratton used to present on SBS television before the Howard Era's pursuit of that which lies below the lowest common denominator conquered Australia. In those halcyon years, I paid special attention to the foul words so zestfully articulated by the actors. One of them, vaffanculo, which more or less means "get fucked," was about to escape my lips when I realised the driver might be my saviour.
Vittorio Petrolio introduced himself and then carried on for a minute or so. I threw my hands up and said a phrase I thought I knew, "Non capiscum." He laughed like I had said the funniest thing since Garibaldi turned on his aide-de-camp with a rousing "What're you hollering!" after the poor fool had suggested capitulating to the overwhelming forces of the Austrians. I would soon discover that Vittorio Petrolio laughed at everything.
Unlike the French, who will only condescend to speak English if you know something they don't, Italians are happy to give any language a go. In a broken English that was to fracture my capacity for comprehension in the next twelve hours (but which improved dramatically thereafter owing to alcohol), he asked if I had seen a bar or hotel or any open business where he could buy cigarettes. I threw my hands up again. "Non so niente," I said, using a phrase I did know, thanks to Manuel from Fawlty Towers. It was Italian for "I know nawseeng." Vittorio shrugged with a toothy grin, pointed at my bag, little more than a swag with a zipper, and pointed his thumb toward the back seat.
"Andiamo," he shouted with great flourish, and off we sped.
My new companion and saviour from alien malfeasance was not young, he looked about forty, but he seemed as carefree as if he had just turned twenty-one, free from all schooling with a lifetime of boundless opportunity and pleasure ahead of him. He was handsome and extroverted in a Neal Cassady sort of way, gesticulating and rubbernecking the surrounds as if he had never seen them before. He was constantly on the lookout for pretty women, whooping with delight and sounding his horn (a truly infernal klaxon) every time we saw one.
He jabbered as fast as his careening car negotiated the endless piazzas and one-way streets he always entered the wrong way. We finally encountered some people strolling across a side street. Vittorio whooped again and hung a right on two wheels, sounding his horn as they scurried out of his way, shouting back at him in what sounded like a chorus of vaffanculos. I held on to the hat I didn't have and was about to ask him to drive me to the central train station, when we suddenly found ourselves on the road out of Rome heading for Civitavecchia and the coast.
The roads and beaches were crammed with cars and people. Of course. There was your scientific explanation for the deserted suburb. No one stays in town on Sunday. Vittorio started singing "Cuando Caliente el sol" in an operatic voice while hitting that klaxon of his over and over. Evidently, this particular car horn was invented solely to irritate the bejesus out of people. In our time together, I must have heard it two hundred times. [Willikers note: You can hear it here.]
We stopped at a roadside café. Vittorio was out of the car before it had properly turned off. I'm not sure how he did it, but he had put on the hand brake, removed the keys, opened the door and was half way to the café entrance before the car realised it wasn't moving anymore.
Inside, he spied a cigarette machine. "Finalmente!" he roared theatrically. "It harms the brain to be free of cigarettes for too long." But the machine was broken. His curses thumbed through every page of the Italian Book of Adult Slang, after which he pounded the machine a few times before bumming a cigarette off the unruffled bartender. He ordered two glasses of Cynar, the extremely weird Italian aperitif made from, of all things, artichokes. With a mischievous saluté, he clinked my glass and we drank. I made a mental note that if I were ever to regain a normal life, the kind where you have friends over, I would have a bottle of this bitterly sweet concoction on hand, along with a camera at the ready. It was guaranteed to provoke outrage in Anglo-Saxon swillers.
On the road again, destination unknown, Vittorio delivered a lesson on the correct steering wheel hand placement. "Wheels magazine wants you to put your hands at twenty to three, but I prefer 12:15." I was about to say nothing when he slowed down to allow two girls driving a car with German license plates to pass. Vittorio waved both noon and quarter-after hands, leaving the steering wheel to its own devices, as he exclaimed: "Aroldo, I am a truffle dog when it comes to women. Did you see? The one on the passenger side was looking at you. Fine, I'll take the driver."
There followed a wild race through small towns and winding coast with the klaxons of both cars blaring. The women turned down a side road, Vittorio following, his enormous mouthful of dazzling white teeth reflecting the sun's rays as if they were a power source unto themselves.
Bad move. The girls stopped at the entrance to a cemetery. By the time we found them they were standing in front of a grave -- could it have been a grandfather buried there, felled during World War II? This spooked Vittorio. He headed back to the Aurelia. I lingered long enough to hear the girl who had looked at me say, oddly enough in English, "Typical Italians. They charge, then retreat." I told Vittorio what she had said when I caught up to him. He slapped his forehead. "We could have had them," he moaned, "even if they were the granddaughters of Nazi swine. No matter, the road ahead of us stretches forever and there are more beautiful women between here and there than in all the world put together." At least, I think that's what he said. Indeed, my translations of his garbled English throughout this tale are pure speculation.
In the next town, seemingly as deserted as the Roman suburb, we stopped again for cigarettes. Vittorio parked next to a car with a parking violation on the windscreen. "Don't park here," I said, in case he hadn't noticed, "you'll get a ticket." "Eh," he said, shrugging his shoulders. He snatched the ticket and slipped it under his windscreen wipers. "We motorists must help each other." When we returned from a fruitless search for anything open, sure enough, the other car had received its second violation. Vittorio returned the original and we sped off.
As evening fell and the traffic and beachside hubbub lessened, we came up behind an old Fiat 600 poking along much too slowly for Vittorio. On to the klaxon went his hand. An old man was driving, a burly, younger man in the passenger seat. Their arms shot out of each window, giving us every insulting example in the Italian Book of Hand Gestures. Vittorio kept one hand on the steering wheel and one hand on the klaxon, not letting up for at least ten minutes. As we finally flew past, Vittorio matched their curses and shaking fists, except that he was also laughing. I hoped we would not see them again.
Not nearly long enough after this altercation, the highway entered a pinewood forest. We came to a crossroads, the main highway going on to Pisa and a side road pointing to the seaside town of Castiglioncello. I had been silently hoping to be rid of Vittorio in Pisa. No one could take Neal Cassidy for very long unless they were as high on uppers as Neal always was. Vittorio, who even looked like Cassady, was high all the time on the wondrous possibilities the next moment might afford, preferably the possibility of encountering willing ragazze, or failing that a dustup with outraged cologni. The latter word, meaning "dickheads," was his favourite word of abuse.
He pointed to the signs and offered me a choice: "Shall we go on to Pisa or to the little town of Castiglioncello, where I know a good, but expensive restaurant." I was hungry but answered without hesitation, "Pisa." Equally unhesitant, he said, "Aroldino, you are in need of a good meal, and so am I. To Castiglioncello, then."
We pulled up at Il Cormorano, a posh restaurant and night club near the seashore. We could hear waves crashing close behind the majestic, old-fashioned building set among pines.
On the marbled pathway leading to the entrance, Vittorio bumped into a business associate and his friends. There followed a tense conversation before the party went on ahead, leaving us to follow slowly behind. Somewhat embarrassed, Vittorio told me he had taken money from this man several months ago but had as yet failed to deliver the agreed-upon goods. He didn't elaborate. I thought I had heard the man mumble something like "You Romans can't be trusted."
Before we even sat down, let alone looked at a menu, Vittorio was up and dancing with the business associate's wife. I looked around with great anxiety for her husband, but he was busy regaling his friends with drinks and, from the expressions on their faces, what looked like a good yarn.
The music, like all music I had heard since becoming part of Vittorio Petrolio's life, was from the Sixties, a song called "Quando, Quando, Quando". It was a lilting, romantic tune. Vittorio and the wife were glued together, barely moving. I looked back at the husband. He would surely go for Vittorio's jugular if he stopped talking long enough to look for his wife.
And then, wouldn't you know it, in the door came the two outraged drivers of the Fiat 600. They must have seen the Aurelia parked outside. They went straight over to Vittorio, shouted a few choice words and started punching him. I went reluctantly to the rescue but had only managed to grab the old man's shirt when two bouncers arrived and threw the intruders out. I had expected us to be thrown out too, but we were left unmolested.
The businessman, however, had been drawn by the ruction to Vittorio and his wife grinding away. It was now his turn to grab my poor friend by the shirt. What followed was the greatest example of plea-bargaining I have ever seen. In tones wheedling and whining, injured and put upon, Vittorio talked the potential cuckold out of beating him to a pulp.
Disgusted and embarrassed, the man collared his blubbering wife and stormed out, followed by his nonplussed entourage.
Again, I thought we would be thrown out; after all we (Vittorio, actually) were the cause of all the trouble. But no, it was as if we were invisible. The waiters paid us no attention. When the music started again, I looked around aghast. Now the dancers were doing … the twist!
"Ma guarda," Vittorio said intently, turning me away from the remnants of another time and pointing to the businessman's table. Their food had arrived but hardly been touched. With his trademark cheeky grin he gestured for us to sit down. A waiter came over; the jig's up, I thought.
Before the waiter could speak, Vittorio fired off a two minute round of Italian that seemed to free the waiter of all thought. He produced a cigarette from his vest pocket, gave it to Vittorio, bowed, and left us. Vittorio recounted: "I said to him the others would return soon, why would they leave all this food? They were just going out to cool off and have a smoke and, by the way, did the waiter have one for me, I was dying from nicotine prevention."
It seemed to work. The place was so busy, the waiter had no time to check the story with the Maitre d' who was also a dervish in action. No one seemed to notice that for the next hour there were only the two of us at a table for eight.
Along with the remains of two platters of antipasto, we ate from plates (Vittorio happily naming as we went along) of Strozzapreti alla Fiorentina, spinach and ricotta gnocchi; Risotto al sol d'Agosto, basil and sage risotto; Pappardelle all'anatra, duck sauce in ribbon pasta; Stracotto, braised beef; and Agnello o vitello in fricassea, Lamb fricassee. We finished off the Chianti and then drank nearly an entire bottle of Scotch.
Euphoric from our gratis bibulations, we joined a conga line of dancers as far as the loo, into which we slipped for interminable urinations, followed by an impromptu tribute to Laurel and Hardy as we made our escape out the toilet window and sped away for, as Vittorio proclaimed at the top of his lungs, "una bella sorpresa."
We were not far out of Castiglioncello when he turned off the road and drove down a gravel lane to a modest country house. What in hell is he up to now? I wondered. True to his word about a surprise, he simply walked in the unlocked front door. I followed him into a large, open lounge room. Stairs led to visible upper rooms. Vittorio made himself comfortable on the couch and there on the table in front of him, to his immense delight, was an old fashioned studded leather cup filled with non-filtered cigarettes. "Smokes, at last," he exclaimed. Within moments a tall blonde woman about his age and wearing a dressing gown came down the stairs. "What happened to you?" she asked. "On second thought, don't tell me." Grinning, Vittorio turned to me. "My wife, Gianna" he said, introducing us.
"The Amazing Vittorio," I blurted, wondering what rabbit he would pull out of what hat next. It didn't take long, for soon a car pulled up, depositing his daughter -- perhaps the most beautiful girl I have ever seen -- and her lover, a man older than Vittorio. She looks just like Catherine Spaak, I thought. But Catherine Spaak can't still be this young. The next thought -- that maybe, from the moment I got off the bus in Rome I had fallen into a time warp -- I sent packing.
Meeting for the first time, Vittorio and Bibi, as his daughter Lilli's lover was called, exchanged insults, the Italian kind, not meant to be verbal precursors to a fight Yankee style, but gentler, more of the I-can-be-brutally-wittier-than-you variety.
Bibi: "Rome is sad and humid and makes all Romans lazy. It overtakes the senses. A normal person, when he visits Genova or Firenze remains himself, but three days in Rome and he becomes a sad, lazy Roman."
Vittorio: "Al contrario, my dear grandfather, we Romans alone are capable of producing beautiful girls like this child here, the one you wish to steal from her innocent cradle."
After Bibi left, Lilli sprawled on a chair, lit a cigarette and announced she was going to marry him. "What, now she smokes?" Vittorio thundered to his wife, getting his twin outrages out of order. "I mean, I forbid you to marry that old fool." Lilli snapped back, "Why not? Unlike you, he's rich." His look of thespian hurt nearly made me laugh. I was beginning to sense that Vittorio loved everyone a little and no one a lot.
Lilli's beauty had sobered me up. Her hair fell in bangs over a face in … yes, in perfect thirds!
There was a slight part in her bangs, revealing the upper third of that eternal face, a forehead whose contours could only have been fashioned using universally renowned formulas requiring an extensive knowledge of golden ratios, golden sections, golden rectangles, golden strings, golden means, and golden rules, by a God who does exist, and whose gender could only be male. For only a connoisseur God with thundering loins could produce such beauty as that which He had bestowed upon Catherine, er, I mean, Lilli.
The middle perfect third began with the most penetrating eyes ever to behold an imperfect world. When she looked at me I felt as if I had gained an extra dimension, as if I had been suddenly brought to life, my existence before and after her brief gaze little more than a vague and inauthentic shadow. I couldn't actually see their colour (or the colour of her hair, come to think of it) because the dim lighting in the room rendered everything into a sort of grayscale, just like a black and white movie.... From her eyes one simply gasped as one's own eyes slid down her nose, a genuine pista di dea, not Roman at all, but Goddessy Grecian, so finely chiselled yet sturdy that it begged to be ardently nuzzled.
And then just below her nose and continuing the descent to her corpo divina came her piccola pista, the little indentation above her lips which seemed to be faintly glistening with minute beads of perspiration that required urgent removal by gentle licking. Now the ecstatic skier encountered Cupid's Bow, her upper lip shaped like a child's drawing of a pretty bird. Her teeth were only just visible; indeed it was only the lower part of her two delightfully prominent incisors, punctuating just a hint of a precocious smile, that rested on her lower lip, whose cherry-ripe fullness demanded to be softly bitten. A smooth, rounded chin, moulded with the same attention to detail as the Potter God had done with her forehead, completed this final, perfect third.
Alas, Lilli announced she was going to take a bath and go to bed. Her mother went off to bed too.
To celebrate our growing sobriety, Vittorio poured us some of his wife's Scotch. He sighed stentoriously -- it was not Vittorio's style to do anything subtly -- and talked about the marriage. Yes, it was an old story. He had gotten Gianna pregnant. Stony-faced parents forced the shotgun marriage, but they were incompatible; perhaps no one could stand Vittorio for long. "What finished us was a car," he said, "my old Cisitalia. She said I loved it more than her." He looked sheepish. "She was partly right. It's still in the garage, in bad need of repair. Maybe one day …"
They were still married because neither could bring themselves to finalise the anullment. Over the years he dropped in once in awhile to see how things were going, and, perhaps for Lilli, Gianna put up with these periodic visits from her impossible husband, who arrived usually at night, and always a little drunk.
I was starting to nod off when Vittorio finally ran out of things to say. He disappeared upstairs and I went to blessed sleep on the couch. It didn't last long. He shook me awake still putting on his pants. Seems he'd tried to talk his way into his wife's bed after all these years and she'd told him, you guessed it, to vaffanculo.
We drove to the beach -- it was nearly dawn -- and collapsed in a couple of beach chairs. The next thing I knew, a beach ball hit me in the face. I awoke to squealing children and a beach full of bikini-clad maidens of the moon, sun and stars, each face in a halo of exquisite beauty.
And there was Vittorio, rising from his chair bed, stretching and gustily singing "Cuando caliente el sol" yet again.
Not long after, Gianna, Lilli and Bibi joined us and we all scrambled aboard Bibi's yacht. While I was mooning over Lilli, Bibi and Vittorio took turns water skiing behind the yacht's motorboat, to the cheers and admiration of all. Vittorio was indefatigable.
When we returned, a downcast Vittorio told me he had tried to borrow 50,000 lire from Bibi, claiming some incredible business scheme that would return Bibi's investment a hundredfold. "Lire?" I asked him. "Isn't everything in euros these days?" He looked at me blankly. "I have arranged a table tennis match," he said. "The stakes: If I win, Bibi gives me the money. If Bibi wins, I give him Lilli." He looked at me looking at him. "You think I'm a cad? The fool doesn't know that she'll do what she wants anyway."
Lilli was the scorekeeper and as the game progressed to a tight finish it was easy to see that she wanted her father to win. To Vittorio's great surprise, he did win. He was as ecstatic as Bibi was stunned. Like all rich men, Bibi parted company with his money reluctantly. Vittorio shoved the wad of lire in my bag for safekeeping and promptly jumped into the water for a raucous swim. (Yes, it was lire; had Bibi cheated him? Didn't he know about euros? What was going on?) The next thing, I saw him doing handstands for a gaggle of cheering children.
By then I was frazzled to a core I never imagined was there. I begged Vittorio to take me to Pisa so I could get a hotel room and rest for between one and two hundred days. He laughed, looking more than a little frazzled himself, and agreed. And while he was at it, he could stop in Viareggio to see a girlfriend, Valeria. We parted company with his wife, the heart-stopping Lilli and future son-in-law and hit the road in the trusty Aurelia Sport Supercompressa.
With me driving.
I never did make it to Pisa. I'm due to be released tomorrow from the hospital here in Livorno. After farewelling the mute Vittorio and returning his wad of old Italian lire, I'll catch the first train to Paris. I hope he offers me some -- I understand it can still be changed in certain banks -- because I'm nearly broke. It seems I paid for just about everything we did.
What hurts more than the pain I've endured the last several weeks is that it will be at least a year before Vittorio Petrolio is once again able to speed along the Costa Etrusca, perhaps in his repaired Cisitalia. I can still hear him shouting over the roar of the motor and the squealing tires, "What is the best age? The age you are day by day, until you drop dead." No matter how much traffic it bears, the road will be empty until he returns to laugh that huge good-natured laugh as he gleefully blasts everyone in sight with il suo clacson perpetuamente irritando.
Willikers Note: A nice story Hark, with a suitably teary ending. Keep them coming, by all means. But Vittorio Petrolio? Vittorio Gassman is more like it. It appears that Hark has once again tried to pull a fast one. What we have here is an edited rehash of the 1962 Italian film Il Sorpasso. Hence his feeling of being caught in a "time warp".
What has gotten into Harold Hark? First, he assumes the role of Irish song legend Johnny McEldoo, then tells us he was shot in the arse during a truffle war in Provence. Now he would have us believe he went over a cliff driving an old Italian sports car.
A note included with this manuscript says he is heading for Paris. Who will he be next? Baudelaire? Rimbaud? Verlaine? Stay tuned.
Further entries in this series:
December 19, 2005
An Australia for the rest of us
John Howard has pretty well crippled the soul of this nation, but he doesn't speak for all of us. Last Friday's edition of Sandy McCutcheon's Australia Talks Back on Radio National -- The Year in Review -- was a real shot in the arm for those of us in despair. Emails were read and calls came in from all over the country to name the stories and events in 2005 that impacted on their lives. The evidence of climate change was perhaps the biggest topic, but many people spoke of the "accumulation of small disgraceful happenings" under John Howard's stewardship that is turning Australia into a well-off wasteland of anger and intolerance. The general tone was one of thoughtfulness and hope mixed with despair for the future of our children. If the nation were in the hands of people who listened to Radio National it would truly be a wonderful place.
But it's not. It's nasty little place run by commercial radio shock jocks and political sociopaths.
There are no transcripts, but you can listen to the show:
December 18, 2005
The Weekly Gee (3)
Copyright © 2005, Maurie Gee
Posted by Willikers at 3:09 PM
December 13, 2005
John Howard's Australia: Sydney Race Riots
Photo: Simon Odwyer
Courtesy, Bill Leak
December 11, 2005
The Weekly Gee (2)
|Get your arses out of bed and get to work you bludging single mothers, or suffer the consequences when ...|
December 10, 2005
Michelle Bachelet: Estamos contigo
Tomorrow the people of Chile go to the polls to elect a new president. The frontrunner is a woman, Michelle Bachelet, whose slogan is Estoy Contigo (I am with you). And so are we.
What separates Ms Bachelet from the rest of politicians the world over is not only that she is a woman, and a single mother to boot, but that she survived arrest and torture under Augusto Pinochet, the CIA's stooge put in place after they murdered Socialist Party president, Salvador Allende.
Ms Bachelet has been a lifelong member of the centre-left Socialist Party, which regained power not long after the end of Pinochet's reign. Under their three successive governments Chile has changed from being a pariah among nations to a nation whose prosperity has it on the brink of becoming a developed nation.
In his article for The Age, Victim of torture, mother of a nation, Jonathan Franklin wrote:
… the confidence shown by Ms Bachelet was honed under one of the continent's most brutal governments, the 1973-90 military regime led by Pinochet, which killed up to 3000 Chilean civilians.
In many cases, their bodies were dropped from helicopters into the Pacific Ocean. One of the "disappeared" was Ms Bachelet's then boyfriend, Jamie Lopez, who was tortured for weeks until he revealed the names of guerillas fighting in the resistance.
Ms Bachelet, however, did not crack under torture. She kept her secrets and emerged fortified from the experience. From the moment she was exiled to Australia in 1975, she fought for democracy
So we have more than an affinity for her political position. She was exiled in Australia, where she recuperated from the horrors of the fascist dictatorship of Pinochet, a man with unlimited power to arrest, detain, torture and disappear anyone suspected of sedition.
Ms Bachelet is well ahead in the polls, but her conservative opponents, including one of Chile's wealthiest businessmen, will be looking to the recent election thefts of George W. Bush for inspiration. Expect any outcome therefore, and be surprised if she actually does win.
Buena Suerte, Michelle Bachelet. Australia's struggle is just beginning, but our day too, will come.
Posted by Willikers at 12:08 PM
December 9, 2005
Are we seditious yet?
Brief introduction by Theodore G. Willikers
This modest and far from comprehensive guideline was written by Harold Hark shortly after the 2004 election, but never published. I have updated it where applicable.
It is not a guideline for terrorists, but for the dissenting citizens of the formerly democratic nation of Australia who now find themselves living in a police state.
As did many of us, Hark anticipated the havoc John Howard would wreak with control of both houses or Parliament. It remains to be seen how far Australia's own Supreme Chancellor Palpatine will go in using this "supreme" power, but his vengeful mean-spiritedness will in all likelihood see him moving zealously to bring Australia in line with--and perhaps even surpass--his chief benefactor, the greatest terrorist state of them all, the United States of America.
No one knows how they would act under torture, least of all me. But I would hope not to dishonour myself and the unfortunate species to which I belong. So, if the unthinkable becomes reality, then break a leg -- oops, heh-heh, sorry, they'll do that for you. I mean good luck. TGW
BEFORE THEY COME
First of all and from this day forward, greet everyone you meet with a raised right arm and the words, "Heil Howard".
If you are serious about standing up to Howard's Stalinist state, warn your family of the danger of your possible arrest and disappearance.
Under the Howard Government's terror legislation, family members in turn may be arrested and sentenced to lengthy jail terms for discussing your disappearance with each other at the breakfast table.
If you are disappeared, Howard expects your family members to cower in fear and say nothing -- just as he and his family would. But, while he can read the cowardly silent majority well, he has no idea what makes real people tick. Therefore, each member of your family should be prepared to immediately tell everyone they know, as well as informing every newspaper in their area. (The media may not be allowed to report such disappearances, but someone will keep a record.)
The flagrant breaching of these invidious laws will put considerable stress on ASIO's resources if they have to round up hundreds of people who are so obviously guilty of nothing. It will also be harder for John Howard to face his collaborators, the silent majority, when this law hits home and their younger relatives start to go missing.
In short, once the first person is suspected of having been disappeared, people should step forth in droves to cause themselves to be arrested.
Make sure you have an email ready to send to everyone on a specially prepared mailing list. If you are certain of imminent arrest, leave your computer on all night with the email at the ready. When you are wakened from your slumber by the all-too-familiar sound of jackboots and door pounding that signals the arrival of the updated Gestapo so dear to Ruddock's and Howard's hearts, you will have precious little time to get out of bed, get to your computer, hit a wakeup key and press send.
Have in mind a lawyer or solicitor to call if you are allowed the right of representation. (More below.)
It is vitally important that you learn the basics of meditation. Zoning out in a positive way may save your sanity later on. (More below)
If you are a smoker, be prepared to quit cold turkey. Be prepared to forsake any other addictions immediately.
WHEN THEY COME
When you open the door (or it is opened for you) to the end of life as you have known it, do not use reasonable argument or attempt to appease your invaders by being civil. Instead, scream bloody murder and curse them with the most foul words you know. If you live in the suburbs, your neighbours are probably collaborators, so give them a few choice words too. If they're on your side, they'll understand.
After Little Johnny's psychopaths have had a jolly good time beating the shit out of you in the police car or paddy wagon for your verbal abuse, refuse to say another word to your captors, barring shouted insults, until the day you walk free.
DURING AND AFTER YOUR ARREST
Give no cooperation during the booking procedure. Don't even give them your name. They already know everything about you anyway. Remain limp-wristed for fingerprinting. Keep falling to the ground as if you had no bones. Make them hold you up for mug shots.
During interrogations, regard your nemesis with contempt. The interrogator may appear to be sympathetic, but be assured he or she is not.
Memorise the colour of your interrogator's eyes and the contours and marks on his or her face for the purposes of identification should you survive and there are criminal proceedings when freedom is restored. When two interrogators are working you over, try to remember their names when they joke with each other about your pain.
Do not forget that this man or woman is nothing more than a hired thug. Many of these vermin were former targets of the government's law and order policies; now they are protected because of their recruitment as torturers under the government's anti-terror legislation.
Open your mouth only to insult them or spit blood in their faces or scream at the pain they are inflicting on you. Your refusal to talk will eventually drive them mad … at your painful expense. Always remember: you are the future of the human race, not them.
You may be allowed to see someone in the legal profession. Do not accept a state-approved quisling. Unless you can see a barrister of your own choosing, tell the appointed stooge to get fucked.
Having given up smoking the minute you heard their knock at your door, do not accept any offer of tobacco or other substance, except for food and water. They will be only too happy to use your habits and addictions to weaken your resolve.
If your incarceration lasts longer than one week, consider refusing all food. Bear in mind, however, that you will probably be force fed in the manner of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. That is, a tube shoved up your nose and into your throat without sedative or anaesthetic.
Solitary confinement will most likely be your accommodation, but if you are put with other prisoners being held on similar charges, do nothing to compromise their safety. Acknowledge them briefly with a nod but not your voice. Be civil and courteous, but do not attempt to befriend them or in any way get to know them. Any friendship will be used against you or the friend. Other prisoners may or may not be agents, but if you remain aloof, it won't matter. Remember, you are now alone in the world and your only defence is your refusal to cooperate.
If you are put in a cell with John Howard supporters -- most probably Ruddock-approved rapists and murderers just itching to do a bleeding heart -- you are pretty well stuffed. You can fight back and become a corpse by morning, or you can submit. This is an extreme example of what Little Johnny means when he talks about choices.
Still your mind, especially thoughts of loved ones. Thinking of your wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, and especially your children is what they are counting on to undermine your will. Concern for the safety of loved ones has forever broken the courage of people who could have otherwise brought down tyrannies almost overnight. You have no hope if you cannot empty your mind of emotional content.
Once you have become adept at stilling your mind, protect this equanimity by visualising an image of something commonplace -- a brick, a slab of cement, or whatever you can count on to neutralise your emotions. Bring it to mind whenever you feel you are losing your grip and keep your mind riveted on it. If it in turn gives way to ecstatic visions, go with them, as long as they remain ethereal. You'll need all the "holidays" you can get.
Learn some form of meditation before it ever comes to this. Breathing in through your nostrils and exhaling through your mouth is as simple as it gets and works wonders. To keep your mind from being distracted, count each exhalation from one to ten and then begin again. Always breathe naturally.
The power of your interrogators is absolute; you have none. Therefore by giving them nothing but the screams you cannot prevent, there is no reason you cannot win, even if they kill you. Contrary to the path taken by conservatives and their silent majority, life was not meant to be lived as a coward.
They will probably not kill you; that is not part of their brief … yet. But you will possibly be maimed for life or suffer internal injuries that could cause serious problems in the future.
If you are not prepared to suffer injury or death, stop your present activities of dissent immediately. Or do not start them.
Never forget that you have been arrested for having done nothing but speak out against the Howard Government's fascist treason against Australia. If you survive, you will be a hero in the truest sense of the word. If you don't, you will become a legend as well.
Posted by Willikers at 3:10 PM
December 8, 2005
Eerie silence as media ponders Howard's rendition of democracy
Are we in the eye of the storm? Apart from cursory announcements of the terror legislation's passing on television and radio, reminiscent of similar news reports in the Soviet Bloc decades ago, there has been silence. Apart from a few letters, not a word in the newspapers, no commentary, no editorials, nothing. Nothing on the 7:30 Report. John Faine talks to Bob Brown on Melbourne ABC radio the morning after and, as far as I heard, they did not speak of it. Did the ABC instruct Faine to stay clear of the subject? Has self-censorship set in so completely so soon?
Friends are telling me not to be silly, nothing is going to happen. They may well be right; I certainly hope so. Then why has the media clammed up?
John Howard often says he stands on his record. But his record is one of sustained dismantling of democracy in Australia, a record of unbroken corruption and disdain for the fair go. Ten years of John Howard's record is enough for me to be 99.99 per cent worried about what is to come.
It beggars belief that he and Philip Ruddock and their slavering agents in ASIO and the AFP, both organizations virtually without restraint regarding the harassment of citizens, are going to do the right thing with these new laws. They have no honour and we no longer have rights.
History shows that we have absolutely no reason to believe that the Howard Government will not follow its predecessors in state terrorism. Howard and Ruddock want revenge on all who have crossed them. (I am not just speaking of ravers and ranters like myself, but everyone they hold a grudge against.) Now they have the power, the same power Pinochet had and used (minus, at this point, the military) shortly after America engineered the coup that brought him to power. Today, 32 years after he began his reign of terror, he is still a free man. If Pinochet could get away with it, 66-year-old John Howard must reckon, so can he. Especially when the same America, long since out of the closet as a world-threatening tyranny under the neo-cons and their Dubya, is right behind him.
The Age has bitten the bullet and published a few letters; I suppose they are reckoning that the Howard Terror won't swoop if they print the views of others. (John Howard: "in their dreams.") Here is a letter from Joseph Toscano of the Anarchist Media Institute, so often one of the sanest contributors to the letters page. Copy it and paste it on your fridge, right next to that magnet.
Humans are born with inalienable human rights that no government can legislate away. Governments can pass all the legislation they like; enforcing that legislation is another matter. The state's monopoly on the use of violence gives it the power to temporarily silence dissent, but it doesn't give it the moral authority to do so. Governments that declare war on their citizens by removing the protections that citizens enjoy against the arbitrary exercise of state power do so at their own peril.
As free individuals and as a free community, we have both the right and the duty to challenge these new laws. By refusing to censor ourselves and by continuing to speak our minds, we will force the Howard Government to either repeal these laws or fill the jails with the prisoners of conscience who are willing to directly challenge this Government's attempts to criminalise dissent.
Tomorrow: Harold Hark's Handy Hints For Political Prisoners.
Posted by Willikers at 11:19 AM
December 7, 2005
Labor sells the remainder of its soul to Howard's police state
The Anti-Terrorism Bill will allow police to detain terror suspects for up to 14 days without charge, place suspects on control orders for up to 12 months and impose a seven-year jail term for sedition.
"We are in a new period of McCarthyism and we need to know that, and understand it, and worry that this time it won't be turned around, that citizens, using a law like this, will be brought before courts for political reasons, not security reasons." -- Bob Brown, Australian Greens leader.
Labor couldn't have prevented the bill passing without a Coalition floor-crosser, but they didn't have to humiliate themselves.
Despite no amendments being either debated or passed, the Labor Party of Australia helped the Coalition vote into law John Howard's anti-dissent pro-terror legislation late last night.
The Greens and Democrats voted against the laws, the bill passing 53 to seven.
That's only seven senators who stood up for the human rights of Australians. The Labor senators, under Kim Beazley's instruction, opted for followship instead of leadership. They bowed to the polls which show that a vast majority of Australians have been systematically conned into believing the scary phantoms presented in John Howard's Machiavellian shadow play of terror. To protect their jobs and present their cowardice, they joined the wilfully uninformed in preferring a police state to democracy.
Labor caved in just like the opposition parties did when faced with Hitler's rise in the early 1930s. It's almost a carbon copy.
Fasten your seat belts freedom lovers, we are now in uncharted territory. Australia has just entered a full blown dark age.
Posted by Willikers at 10:25 AM
December 6, 2005
Family Friendly Films for John Howard Supporters (2)
Just like James and Catherine in Crash, Y and J just can't get enough of each other. It all starts when schoolgirl Y, an 18-year-old virgin, calls J, a 38-year-old sculptor, to set up a date with her friend Woori, also 18 and a virgin, who is too shy to ask J to pop her cherry. Well! J's voice is so sexy on the phone that Y gets wetter and wetter. So she decides to meet him herself and to hell with Woori!
I couldn't help thinking of conservative film icons Ronald Reagan and June Allyson in the roles of these light-hearted lovebirds. Except that Ron and June were born without genitals and J and Y fornicate their brains out for some 90 minutes (not including occasional meals, meetings in various transit stations, discussions with reluctant hotel owners and the opening and closing credits).
Of most interest to conservatives loaded on repression-loosening, taxpayer-funded booze is Y and J's kinkiness. And I don't mean all the fellatio and cunnilingus that takes up a good deal of film stock.
My word, but just like those Australian Liberal Party meetings where they thrash out policies to kick folks when they're down, Y and J take to a suitcase full of sticks, rods, hoses and wires to raise welts on each other's arses the size of a Coalition member's Johnson when it knows a whole lotta sufferin's goin' on.
Best of all is the scene where J tells Y not to swallow his come but to hold on a sec while he scoops a tidbit of Y's feces from her pert little arse and pops the pungent yet strangely tasteless morsel in his mouth so they can engage in a round of French kissing and general smearing of excreta all over their lusty faces.
Just like John Howard supporters would love to do if only someone would spike their Evian bottles with LSD or Ecstasy.
But then, you can't have everything, even if you were born with a silver spoon poised over life's bowl of cherries. Rubbing every poor Aussie's face in his or her own shit is a pretty darn good second best.
A final note. If you see the film, note the opening music and the jaunty little song sung by a demented person while J is sawing away at one of his sculptures. Perfect for John Howard's funeral.
Posted by Willikers at 2:46 PM
December 5, 2005
Howard's Australiapoor: Coming to a workhouse near you
Singapore's courts … are stacked with political cronies and kept under tight executive rein. They are compromised by the Government's habitual use of defamation laws to bankrupt and silence emerging opposition leaders in a what remains a rigid one-party state. - Mark Baker, The Death of Reason
Forty-seven per cent of Australians supported the hanging of Van Nguyen. No surprise there. They've been supporting John Howard and his inexorable drive to make Australia over in Singapore's image for ten years.
Like Singapore, we are already a state run by and for the exclusive interests of business. Ex-Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett, the man who kick-started the Australia we are now sinking in, was fond of saying that the only noble goal in life was to start a small business.
Our universities are being turned into two-tiered nursery schools for masters and servants. The masters will learn how to run businesses and the servants will learn how to work for them. The mind, with its diversity so frightening to conservatives, will be harnessed to the time clock. Flatland at last.
Health will sooner or later be affordable only to the masters. The rest of us, expendable ciphers, will be left to chat (or vomit blood) in third world hospital corridors or on waiting lists where our names will still be years away when we die considerably younger than the old age we had anticipated.
And the anti-dissent pro-terror bill will insure that no one talks back.
The Baker quote above touches on some of the current and future similarities in Australia. Our High Court is slowly but surely being "stacked with political cronies," while Ruddock's anti-dissent pro-terror bill will turn us into obedient Singaporeans, heads bent to the state-supporting tasks allotted us. The Labor opposition is already null and void "in what remains a rigid one-party state" whose members squeak in the name of democracy but cannot summon the courage to cross the floor. Fear of Bill Heffernan's award-winning impersonation of Liberty Valance has turned Barnaby Joyce into a clean cut version of Marshall Link Appleyard; every one of his constituent concerns have been met by Liberty Bill's standover threats, causing poor Barnaby Link to roll over and over to show everyone his soft, pink belly.
The Workplace Deregulation of Australian Society will become law and disorder early next year. Ray Manley's letter to The Age gives a pretty astute summation of what may or may not be in store for us, depending on whether we have the courage to fight back:
The Federal Government's IR legislation will not only raise poverty levels in Australia to American levels, it will also dramatically increase robbery, theft, vandalism and even organised crime. The Government may save money in its welfare reforms, but state governments will need to increase police numbers while businesses and households will have to deal with damages caused by breaking and entering. The combined effects of these pieces of legislation will endanger public safety. Increased levels of poverty may even increase the likelihood of home-grown terrorism. If this Government were serious about crime, it would also be serious about treating Australians like human beings.
The key to John Howard's deforms, as noted in Manley's letter, is his traitorous reduction of Australia's high standard of living to "American levels." Anyone who has lived and worked in America, and above all, has observed the working and living conditions of millions of its underclass, must be shocked and horrified at Howard's determination to duplicate that underclass here.
His base urge to make miserable the lives of his own countrymen places him high on the historical list of national traitors. Even so, I would not wish him to share the fate of Van Nguyen, whose punishment in no way fitted his crime. John Howard's crimes are infinitely worse than his, but our side of the human race does not kill. Howard's punishment awaits the return of justice to Australia. It will be severe, but it will also be humane.
December 4, 2005
The Weekly Gee (1)
What's a Sunday without a little fun at the expense of our future jailers? Bilegrip hopes to place a Maurie Gee cartoon here each and every Lord's Day to celebrate His Nibs' well earned rest after six days of manufacturing planets and stars and stuff in the interests of generating productivity and wealth, and our day of well-earned rest cleaning the house and mowing the lawn and washing the car and weeding the garden or just plain being sick as dog from Saturday night's bender in celebration of our six days of toiling for the glory of John Howard's Workhouse Reforms.
Copyright © 2005, Maurie Gee
Posted by Willikers at 3:05 PM
December 2, 2005
Van Nguyen: Crucified by hanging
I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice. - Abraham Lincoln
A minute's silence, a minute's sadness
Then it's back to the madness:
Official murder, official violence;
A minute's lonely, wretched silence.
Michael Leunig, on the date of Van Nguyen's execution
And then there was General William Westmoreland's infamous quote, in part: "Life is cheap in the Orient". But he was only half right. Life is cheap everywhere. The so-called sanctity of life is in the eye of the beholder. Priests celebrate God's gift of life while buggering the life out of young boys. Righteous anti-abortionists kill the living to protect a foetus that has yet to have human qualities. The then governor and religious fanatic George W. Bush killed Texan prisoners on death row because he could. Singapore's government has killed Van Nguyen to save face.
Stupid. Barbaric. Unnecessary. The result of a civilisation conned by power-hungry madness. Van Nguyen had shown every sign of fully understanding his crime. He had repented. He had shown compassion for others. He was courageous. He was serene. In his last days, he has become a model for everything the late, great Christ stood for.
As we all know, if we're not stupid, these qualities are spoken of highly by those in power, but in practice, they are not tolerated.
And the crime itself? Unlike the corrupt practices employed by business and governments, Van Nguyen committed his crime out of filial love. Yes, it was naïve and foolish to an extreme. But we see crimes committed every day by those in power for reasons that are too despicable to mention in the same breath as Van Nguyen's. And these criminals, the mates of those in power, get away with it. They are revered in the business community
Much has been made of Van Nguyen's crime of transporting heroin: 396 grams, enough for 26,000 hits. But what is the proportion of those addicted to heroin to those addicted to alcohol? How many die from heroin overdoes compared to those whose lives have been snuffed out through drunk driving and alcohol rage? How many alcoholics, who have made life hell for their families, are among the vigilantes righteously insisting on death sentences for drug couriers?
Alcohol is a drug. Among all the drugs available on this planet, it is the most lethal and the least beneficial to a perceptive mind. In fact, alcohol operates on the brain to narrow perceptions. It reduces awareness and as such is the drug preferred by the employers of the planet's slave populations.
But would we prefer it if we had a choice? We all drink alcohol because it is legal just about everywhere, while almost all other drugs are forbidden. The reason? Consciousness expanding drugs are bad for business. Alcohol is not. You can still show up for work after a night of drinking. Other drugs clearly show you the insidious folly of wasting every day of your life for the pittance that buys you a cocoon to stave off the inevitable death you spend your whole life in fear of. Alcohol is promoted because you can drown your sorrows with it at night. It helps you get over yet another meaningless day.
History is nothing if not a chronicle of repression of the human spirit. We, the human race, have been engineered to behave like insects, each with an allotted task to perform for the enhancement of patriarchal power.
In my opinion all drugs should be legalised. Every last one. With textbooks written by sane people on the benefits and dangers of each. With the ease of availability, their "cool" factor would be replaced by a rational approach. Drug dealers would become an extinct species. How often do you hear of alcohol dealers?
But this will never happen. It would signal an enormously radical shift in human evolution. The human mind could flourish unimpeded by conservative fear of change, of innovation, of, let's face it, everything that moves. We could truly begin to evolve instead of marching in place as we have since the beginning.
In the meantime it's business as usual: the wasted lifetimes of billions of expendable souls.
Finally, if you want to know what people like Van Nguyen are feeling in the hours before their execution, see Lars von Trier's Dancer in the Dark. The singer Bjork, in her only ever acting performance, won best actress at Cannes for her spine-chilling, heart-breaking, monumental performance as a representative of the human race and the routine injustice we constantly face from ignorance in power.
December 1, 2005
Corruption, thy name is John Howard
Members shall observe the highest possible standards of ethical conduct. They will avoid any action, or inaction, which could in any way impair the Bank's capacity to carry out its duties, or compromise its standing in the community and its reputation for integrity, fairness, honesty and independence. - Reserve Bank of Australia Website.
All sides of politics lose sight of ethical judgement from time to time, but John Howard's Coalition has been blind to it from the beginning. Their incestuous relationship with big business would have to be the reason. No one has ever accused big business of being either ethical or moral. The Coalition is their representative in government.
The Costello-Gerard Reserve Bank miscarriage is yet another of possibly hundreds of examples of this government's arrogant, flaunting corruption, which by now is second nature.
There is never a remote sense of shame in their declarations of innocence because for them right and wrong are meaningless in the face of profit and the amount of repression required to promote its increase.
"Robert Gerard has broken no law. I do not believe that it is wrong for a person to contest a tax audit. There would be thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, of Australians who do that." - Peter Costello, Federal Treasurer of Australiastan.
Didn't Little Johnny promise to govern for all of us? Peter Costello sure thinks so. And that's good for us hoi polloi. No longer do we have to live in fear of a tax audit. If we're caught following convention by fudging our books to save a few hundred pesos, we can simply settle out of court as Gerard did. Appointed to the Reserve Bank board in March, 2003, Gerard paid $150 million (he was facing a maximum payout of $250 million) later in the same year to bring the 14-year investigation into his Caribbean tax haven scam to an overnight conclusion. Presto Cheque-o!
Now, according to Potentate John and Vizier Pete, we should all be able to do the same. Since "for all of us" means we're all in it together, we might even call Tax Commissioner Michael Carmody by his first name in our letter of settlement. Say we're caught cheating the government out of $58.73. We can settle for twenty bucks or so. "Mick, so sorry, how's this?" The precedent has been set.
As well, each one of us will be eligible for the next vacancy on the Reserve Bank board.
Wait, I forgot. We would have to donate at least $1 million to the Liberal Party, just like Robert Gerard. Then, we'll be eligible.
Of course Peter Costello knew all about the 14-year investigation and settlement. He just didn't give a damn. Of course Robert Gerard broke no law. For the Liberal Party and their country bumpkin cousins in the National Party, the only laws not made to be broken are those in place to silence dissent. As for breaching laws requiring ethical behaviour, the Libs just overlook them. When challenged by the opposition or an interviewer, the glib Lib simply changes the subject.
Finally, here's another of course. The rumour is that Gerard's appointment was the idea, not of Peter Costello, but of -- who else -- John Howard.
(Based on Jason Koutsoukis' House on the Hill, 1 December 2005, The Age)
Posted by Willikers at 1:41 PM