Heat by Rob O’Neill

That's all folks

In this life you get out what you put in, son.

That’s what I tell today’s insolent youth when I bail them up on the bus with their butt-crack showing above belt-less balloon pants.

Son, pull yourself together, I say. Straighten up and put something in.

Don’t give me that look, I say. You get out what you put in. So pull up those pants and, go on, put something in.

I think they are listening, when I do this. I think some of them at least are thinking, “Hey, that old guy talks a lot of sense.”

Anyway, it’s much like blogging, dear reader. You get out what you put in, and frankly I haven’t put anything in for a while.

I’ve been a busy boy and I’ve been expecting to get less busy, but it just ain’t happening. And while no one likes a quitter, there is a time when all good things must come to an end. For my blog this is that time.

Publicaddress came along for me at just the right time. I wasn’t really doing any writing and I was working at a job I didn’t much care for. It’s been great fun. Originally it wasn’t supposed to be about much at all. It was to be “the blog about nothing”, a la Seinfeld, but really just about me and the Girlie, everyday life and the odd strange or stimulating idea.

Unfortunately politics intruded. I’ve always been wary about politics and feel a bit soiled for even caring about it. I’d much rather read a good book. But the last couple of years have been highly political and I’ve often been led astray, into the fray. For that I apologise and hope that at least some of my thoughts on those subjects weren’t totally banal.

But things on the work front have changed for the better and I really want to free up as much time as possible to give a new role a good shake.

To put something in, son. To put something in.

So while I may be pulling out over here, I’m putting in over there. You see. That’s life and we have to move on.

Anyway, Publicaddress has been enormously successful and won a lot of eyeballs. That’s because it’s been a damn good read, often a better, more stimulating and more thoughtful read than you get from much of the mainstream media. Maybe we’ve even given you a laugh or two.

Its success has been because a bunch of people have been putting in. Putting in big time if you count all those words. But the real credit goes to Russell on whom we have all to some degree piggybacked and me perhaps more than most. Also to the team in the backroom at Cactuslab, as Russ would say, “Big ups”.

And now an indulgence. Along the way over the last eighteen months or so I have produced few particular favourites, so if you have a bit of spare, if you’re not busy putting in, as it were, and want to do a bit of pulling out, wrap your eyeballs around this lot!

The Girlie
The Girlie thinks I'm gay
The Girlie downshifts

Australia
Epiphany on Circular Quay
Granny has an orgasm
Another day, another holiday
Das capital

Iraq
Who said Quagmire?
Five minutes ago

A few simple things

The way I figure it, the average man in the street wants just a few simple things from this tough old life. They want to remain young, slim, have an MBA without studying, sport a bigger, rock-hard Johnson and perhaps, at least according to my inbox this morning, to be called “Minister”:

Become a legally ordained minister within 48 hours. As a minister, you will be authorised to perform the rites and ceremonies of the church!

Perform Weddings, Funerals, Perform Baptisms, Forgiveness of Sins. Visit Correctional Facilities. Want to start your own church?

Press here to find out how

Now while I share most of these aspirations with my fellow chaps, this last one I find curiously tempting, especially the bit about visiting correctional facilities. Others might go for the forgiveness gig, but give me a correctional facility any time.

Now right below the message above was an even better one obviously designed, I think, to help this compelling offer bypass corporate spam filters:

Ah, OUI! Eet is ze two dollar, M'sieur.

All right; I can stay about a day before I go bankrupt .
Give me a room.

CERTAINEMENT, M'sieur In studies comparing different lactams the spectrum of coverage was similar in both arms However, synergism can be examined only indirectly.

You get that with synergism, I find. It’s very frustrating.

What women want remains a mystery. I think it’s fair to say, there is a dearth of spam directed at the fairer sex. If any of you out there have any suggestions, drop me a subject line…

Now, with the powers that be persisting in trying to scare the living shit out of everyone on terrorism, I think it’s time to look at the lighter side.

Yes, terrorism can be funny.

First stop, visit the Taleban Reunited website:

Our database includes over 5,000 Terrorist Camps and Flight Training Schools, Al-Qaeda bases and Mud Huts. Over 500,000 Terrorist have signed up to our service and its growing at over 5,000 everyday.

Next visit the George Bush Conspiracy Theory Generator. Don’t bother with the random theory option, go down below and create your own customised conspiracy.

Or get the latest war on terrorism (WOT) headlines:

Bush Admits Iraq Invasion Caused by Typo

Terrorists Now Demand Philippines Make Them a Drink and Bring Them the Paper

Bush Daughters Move Out Into Real World Where Parents Still Pay for Everything

Osama Bin Laden to Speak, Get Captured at Republican National Convention

Pro-War Activists Threaten to Behead Filipinos

NEW MARKET, VA (DPI) – A group of pro-war activists took hostage several Filipino tourists and threatened beheading them if the Philippines did not send combat troops back into Iraq. In a videotaped message sent to a TV station in Richmond, the hooded activist leader said, "We don't care what they bomb and we don't care who they bomb, but the Philippines should be bombing the crap out of something or someone in Iraq!"

Rock on.

The new, like, whatever

At last, Friday is the new Friday. Again. I seem to remember sometime in the 70s or early 80s when Friday was definitely Friday, but ever since it’s been either Thursday or Saturday with the occasional doomed challenge from Wednesday.

But that was in New Zealand, in Auckland to be more specific, where Friday was late night and there was no Saturday morning shopping and very few shopping malls. Back then Friday ruled, majestic and so did Queen Street. The Golden Mile it was, a heaving, steaming, jumping place. I worked on the corner of His Majesty’s Arcade. Every few minutes the Hare Krishnas would chant past loudly and the Topp Twins would often take up residence outside the bank next door. Smelly Feet, later half of the Kiwi Animal, would sing his own brand of songs across the road on the corner of Vulcan Lane: My Festered Toe, Peanuts, A Vegetable Market…

In Sydney, however, Friday is challenged by the fact late night shopping is on Thursday. Nevertheless, it still goes off. The net result is everything is back the way God intended when He created pissing up.

The after work booze-up is my personal favourite and always has been. Apart from a phase in my early thirties, at the Box and Cause Celebre mainly, I’ve never been a go-out-late-and-get-home-in-the-morning kind of guy. The after work booze-up requires little planning, needs no excuse, requires no dressing up. It’s hassle free and it’s a big tradition here, as it once was back home before they pulled all the pubs down or turned them into faux Belgian atrocities.

Try and buy a Lion Red in town these days. Go on. Give it a go.

Anyway, over here I’ve taken to asking for a schooner of “bitter”. The confused bar staff look at you very oddly, “I’m sorry, what was that?”

“A bitter thanks,” I say. Then pause briefly before making a snappy, smarmy finger pointing action: “…Victoria Bitter”.

Oh I crack myself up, I really do!

Anyway, having been remiss in posting here’s a quick catch-up of unfinished business.

First I went to see the new NZ film In My Father’s Den on the opening night at the Sydney Film Festival, Girlie in tow. A great script but a relatively dour film with the angst laid on thick at times. I enjoyed it overall as did most of the audience, but can’t help feeling it had been over-hyped. A workmate, an editor from eastern Europe, enjoyed it greatly though. I think she thought it was a comedy.

On another front, I've realised that as the years go by and one's natural charms fade, a more scientific approach to the mating dance seems sensible. Thanks to my access to census data, I’ve now been able to accurately pinpoint concentrations of single women around the city.

The Kirribili and Cremorne areas just across the bridge rate tops but generally I don’t get over there too much, until last Saturday to meet a friend for brunch. There’s a market under the bridge and some good cafes and there certainly are a lot of the gentler sex about strutting their stuff – or at least that’s how I interpret it.

They’re probably just out to buy a paper and a bottle of milk.

We wandered down around the PM’s place later and there is still a remarkable lack of visible security around. I saw one guy with a pistol on his belt and that was it. From the ferries you can look into the back garden of Kirribili House and once again there is usually no sign of activity.

Apparently back in the 80s there used to be a permanent brown patch of grass on the lawn where Bob Hawke practiced his golf swing, firing balls into the harbour.

This weekend, I think, will be Biennale time. Lots of free art stuff at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Museum of Contemporary Art and elsewhere. It’s getting mixed reviews, but what the hell?

Sitting on the dock of the bay

Wolloomoloo Wharf is the place to be in Sydney. It’s “A-list” paradise, just close enough to the city to be accessible but far enough away and right on the water for a bit of discretion.

Yesterday you would have found talkback jock John Laws at his usual spot in Otto’s, which he partly owns. You would have seen New South Wales Liberal leader John Brogden passing by, with the satisfied look of a man who knows he has the government on the ropes, and if you were a local and knew who the right people were, you’d have probably seen many more.

I’m still not a local, but on a crystalline Sydney winter’s day, with temperatures heading up into the twenties, the sun streaming down and the water lapping along the edge of the wharf as some great Te Mata Sauvignon was consumed, I could almost see myself becoming one. Almost.

The buses were out on strike this morning. The teachers were out a couple of weeks ago. The trains can’t run on time and keep breaking down. The hospitals keep giving people the wrong medication and chopping off the wrong bits. If there was an election today, Carr would be history.

At the Federal level, Latham’s honeymoon is over and it’s going to be a really tight election. Too close to call, but I think there is time for him to rally and he hasn’t revealed a lot of policy so far, so he has ammunition. And there is some weird demographic stuff to consider: a bunch of corporate dropouts going to live along the coast. Nobody knows how these people will vote and in one electorate alone there are 13,000 of the buggers since the last election.

We were at Manta Ray, just along from Otto’s and seemingly not quite as fashionable. The food was, however, exceptional and the service attentive. As to the price? Who cares? I wasn’t paying.

Another bottle of Te Mata? “That will do nicely, thank you,” I reply. “Better make it two.”

It really is hard to believe it’s winter.

Iraq is sovereign, well, as sovereign as any country with 130,000 foreign troops in residence. Democracy is a while off yet. They have a shot at it and that’s something, for sure. I find myself in disagreement with Latham over his plan to withdraw troops. Sorry dude, Australia was part of the invasion and that brings with it a responsibility that can’t be ditched easily.

Dr Allawi, the new Iraqi leader, however, is a terrorist. Or is that a former terrorist? Or is that a freedom fighter? Or is that a CIA stooge? I thought this was supposed to be black and white… Some people believe that once you are a terrorist you are always a terrorist, but for some reason they seem to suspend that view when they talk about Allawi.

Rightist celebration of a drastic reduction in terrorist activity since Bush’s hard-line were premature – the figures have had to be amended and still don’t include any attacks in Iraq. The people give their verdict here with Bush sinking in the polls.

The great news is the US Supreme Court has disagreed with the cranks and upheld the right to a day in court for both American and foreign detainees on US soil and in US jurisdiction at Guantanamo. At last, some much needed push-back, a direct gift from the genius of America’s founders. These decisions weren’t even close from a right-leaning bench.

Here’s a list of stories Chalabi’s crew claims to have planted in the western media. There are a few Australian references in there and clearly they were playing hard on the refugee issue, implying they were terrorist threat. The New York Times recently apologised for running similar stuff.

But to finish on a funny, check out the progress of Gordon King’s petition to bring Fox News to Sky. He has the support of “Hugh G Rection” and “I Love the Fox Blondes”, anyway…

Loser, baby

The Girlie is deep in the middle of her HSC preparation exams, you know, the practice exams that are always twice as hard as the real thing. So I guess she’s been a bit stressed. That’s my explanation, at least, for why she keeps calling me a “loser”.

She would say it’s because I keep coming home late and there’s no food in the house, but when the Girlie talks about food she means stuff you can pick out of the fridge and eat. Anything involving two or more ingredients that have to be mixed or cooked in any way is just too much.

I suppose I can be thankful she doesn’t do that teenie finger and thumb “L” sign on her forehead like her sister does.

I’ve been feeling like a capital “L” loser recently. Having just watched the first episode of de Botton’s Status Anxiety programme I find myself wondering why I don’t care about any of the stuff he talks about. Why don’t I care that I have an old car? No property? I don’t care about clothes. I don’t care about money – as long as I have enough. And I’m never jealous of other people’s success.

Some of my friends started saving for their retirement as soon as they left high school. I haven’t started yet and it doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, somewhere in the middle of all the savings messaging I can’t help feeling there’s some rip-off social engineering going on.

I must be a loser.

I asked myself what I wanted out of life the other day and it was really pretty simple: a small flat, a room full of books, a PC and internet connection.

Time. Much more time.

Simplicity.

Fun.

Anybody would think these things are gold they’re so hard to get your hands on. When someone I know lands a great job these days all I think, unfairly I hope, is “you poor bastard”.

Now let’s assume I’m not alone – and I know I’m not because whether you look at my fellow Public Addressers or across the ideological divide at NZ Pundit, you see people with unorthodox attitudes to work. I hate the term but the media here is always talking about “downshifters” or corporate dropouts. Add to that the fact that by 2008 the working population (at least here in Aussie) will start to decline as the peak of the boomers passes and you get signs of a profound change on the way.

What does it mean? Buggered if I know.

I’ve always had the attitude you should never close doors on yourself. As you grow you tend to do this. With every decision you make you close one other option at least and eventually things close in on you and you end up with just a few options left. James Joyce wrote in Ulysses: “We are bound and fettered and lodged in the room of the infinite possibilities we have ousted”, which more or less expresses the theory.

So I’ve always been a generalist, with no desire to specialize in anything too much. But now I find that while I’m not really restricted in what I do by education or experience, I am restricted by attitude.

I just can’t be fucked.

Go figure.