Having courted a media beat-up with her upcoming book on the beauty of young boys, Germaine Greer throws another rock in the pond today with publication of the latest edition of Quarterly Essay.
White Australians, she says, should accept they are Aboriginals and that Australian culture is Aboriginal. After all, if you emigrated to France from Australia three generations ago, you would not still be calling yourself Australian, you’d be calling yourself French. So most white Australians should call themselves Aboriginal.
Aboriginal culture, she says, is the best of Australia. Australia should embrace its heritage as the world’s foremost hunter-gatherer society, ditch the governor general and become a republic headed by a council of elders.
Greer doesn’t realistically expect her suggestion to be adopted: it’s about “imaging society” you see. In fact, she expects, as always, her views will offend just about everybody.
Quarterly Essay itself is an interesting endeavour, bringing intellectual controversy to the fore every few months and frequently winning significant column inches in the daily media. Over here debate occurs relatively frequently about the role of the "public intellectual". It is considered a part of normal cultural life, that the country’s elite thinkers should contribute to public debate. And with people like Greer, Clive James, Robert Hughes and many others willing to contribute, that debate can get pretty lively.
Anyway, I expect the noise of the inevitable backlash will be heard all the way over in New Zealand.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, I had to step out to get a needle for my gramophone. Yes, it’s that old comedy sketch: the old guy walk into the music shop and asks for a needle for his gramophone…
Anyway I knew better. I wandered into the new Virgin Megastore that arrived in George St a couple of weeks ago, with strangely little fanfare for a Virgin launch. It occupies one of the grand stone temples to finance down near Martin Place. After browsing around and picking up a couple of CDs for a birthday bash later, I ask at the counter if they sell styluses.
Indeed they do. The girl asks her friend if she knows anything about them. She doesn't. Then they call across the floor to a cool looking dude to help me out.
“I need a stylus for my turntable,” I ask, pretty confident the lingo is okay. I give him the remnants of my old one, which had been sitting in my pocket for weeks.
He looks at me oddly: “What sort of deck have you got, man?”
“Ahh,” less confidently, “it’s a Technics,” I say.
He seems to approve and takes me over to a cabinet where he outlines my options. Buy a new stylus or upgrade to a new cartridge. The new cartridge will make the stylus easier to get and cheaper, he says.
“I DJ at night and I recommend one of these,” he says holding up a $70 box.
Well, you can’t argue with a DJ. “Okay, are you sure this’ll fit in my ‘deck’?” I ask, hoping he doesn’t hear the quote-marks.
He asked what model it was. I didn’t know.
“I bought it in 1978.”
At this point he pretty much gave up on me being some kind of older fellow hipster DJ-guy.
"Just hang on to the receipt," he says.
Dealing with young people can be so fraught. Later, at the pub on Manly Wharf I handed over the CD I’d bought and wished my workmate Amanda a happy birthday. It was quite a family do with kids running around, older folks and a few others from work. The birthday girl was in the process of downing a shot. I had a beer and then offered her another.
“I’ll have a Cocksucking Cowboy,” she says, giggling.
So I wander over to the bar and ordered a VB - and a Cocksucking Cowboy.
The barmaid serves the beer, but says I’ll have to go inside for the shot. They don’t have cocktails on the wharf, you see. So in I go, up to the bar and order a Cocksucking Cowboy. Somehow it seemed okay when I ordered it with a beer but it was very odd going to the bar and ordering just a Cocksucking Cowboy. On its own. Nothing else.
Try it sometime. At 2 in the afternoon.
The barmaid pours it and looks at me: “Enjoy,” she says.
“It’s not for me,” I feel compelled to say. “It’s a girl’s drink.”
She looks at me oddly.
“A birthday girl, I mean.”
“Wish her a happy birthday from me,” says the barmaid.
Amanda skulls her Cocksucking Cowboy. Her grandmother, with a strong European accent, was sitting across the table.
“What’s that, Amanda?”
“Oh, it’s a shot, Gran. With Bailey’s and stuff.”
“Yes, but what’s it called?” I prompt.
Amanda looks at me unfazed.
“It’s a Cocksucking Cowboy, Granny,” she shouts.
“Ohhh!” says the old lady, before going quiet for a couple of minutes as the conversation continues.
Then she pipes up:
“About fifteen years ago,” she says, “I think it was fifteen years ago, I had an ... Orgasm!”
Back home I spend an hour working out how to install the new cartridge in my "deck". It does fit. How cool is that?