Edited version originally published in frankie #42 (July/Aug 2011)
Some time later this year, I’ll turn 29, which is a funny, nowhere-ish kind of age. In fact, all of the late 20s are this entirely non-remarkable, in-between phase of life: old enough to horrify teenagers, but still young enough to be envied by the elderly, who demonstrate this by groaning in an almost sexual way while touching your face. Continue reading
In the ballroom of the Royal on the Park—a 42-year-old Brisbane hotel that reeks of long-gone glamour—young women are parading down a catwalk for inspection, like so many thoroughbreds. It’s only a rehearsal, but the clock’s ticking down to the real thing and everyone’s feeling the pressure. In pairs and trios, they strut onto stage while a glamorous blonde woman in a blue kaftan gives orders. “You’re the first girl out!” she snaps. “Don’t look so scared, please!” Smile. Stand tall. Don’t look at the floor. Never have your legs apart; never. “Don’t look down when you’re at the end of the catwalk!” she cries, exasperated. “You look like a hunchback.” As I watch, I lean over to a primary school-aged girl beside me who has done this before. “This seems scary,” I say. “It is,” she whispers back.
Last year, Triple J presenter and comedian Tom Ballard raised something on Twitter I’d been thrashing around in my head for a while too.
“Is the concept of having male/female awards in the arts outdated?” he asked. In sport, separating sexes has always seemed logical (although athletes like Caster Semenya complicate that idea nicely), but how do sex-specific awards in the arts make any sense? If gender has no influence on artistic merit, then why award men and women separately?
Think about it for a while and your brain might just melt. Besides the excellent fashion photography opportunities, why do categories like Best Female Artist and Best Actress exist? Is there really a need for the Orange Prize, the annual UK-based literary award given to a female novelist? My favourite response to Ballard’s question came from former Triple J newsreader Emma Swift. “It’s complicated,” she tweeted back, pointing out industries like music and film are still male-dominated. “Drop categories [and the] awards will become cockforests.” Continue reading
My fellow Australians,
Let us all rejoice, for we are young and free—not to mention well-travelled and worldly. Compared to the rest of the world, our passports aren’t so much “well stamped” as “heavily vandalised”, and this is a great thing. Between us, we’ve travelled to Bali and London, Berlin and Lagos, Baltimore and La Paz. And while some of us have yet to leave the country, we’re still a nation who wants to travel, at least. We’ve got world maps stuck to our walls and dream about visiting far-off places at night. Part of it, I think, has to do with living on a big island with a relatively small population. Most of us are huddled on the coastlines, so we look out across the ocean with dewey eyes and wonder: “What, exactly, is fuckin’ out there, eh?” Continue reading
When I look back over my 28 years, it turns out I’ve managed to do some pretty hideous things. Even now, some memories catch me off guard and make me want to curl with shame. I could be doing anything—driving my car, buying groceries—and out of nowhere, bam: suddenly I’m 10-years-old and urinating myself in front of the church congregation. Or I’m 18 and losing consciousness in the middle of a one-night stand, reeking of beer. Or I’m 19 and projectile spewing a bottle of bargain-bin shiraz on my mother’s carpets as she looks on helplessly in teary horror.
It’s always been like this: a cycle of rank stupidity followed by crippling mortification. As a kid, I told my entire Year 3 class that my mum had had an “abortion” before conceiving me. Then I had years of panic attacks after realising I’d gotten my terminology wrong and actually meant “miscarriage”.* Sometimes though, I’ll have good days where I feel okay about myself, when my boyfriend suddenly brings up the time I awkwardly picked up friend’s cat and accidentally fingered its anus in front of everyone. We all try to bury our shames deep down, but if you’re anything like me, it only ever turns out to be a shallow grave. Continue reading
If you have a tendency to roll your eyes to the back of your skull on hearing the term “un-Australian“, brace yourself. Starting from Monday next week, you’re going to hear it a lot more. Across newspapers, radio, television and the internet, a $2 million advertising campaign funded by Clubs Australia is going to hammer in the idea that independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie’s proposed pokie machine reforms — supported by the Federal Government and a reported two-thirds of polled Australians — is un-Australian.
Still, for a campaign that hinges upon ideas of national identity, it’s almost heartening to see that Clubs Australia’s idea of Australian-ess is a broad, multicultural one. Their website might predominantly be in English, but they also provide their anti-pokies-reform message via PDFs in other languages from the homepage. Jeremy Bath, spokesperson for Clubs Australia, says they want to ensure the message is heard among all communities. “This is a campaign for all Australians,” he tells New Matilda. “We want to make sure that every Australian — whether they’re of non-English speaking background, or even, indeed, if they don’t speak English — understands the ramifications of what’s being proposed by Andrew Wilkie’s poker machine reforms.” Continue reading
People of New South Wales,
Well, that was close.
First of all, I think we should start with an apology. On behalf of mypeople — the tanned, tropical and slightly sun-stroked natives of Queensland — I would like to offer a genuine ‘Sorry.’ You know, for the whole Pauline Hanson thing. We breathed political life into her before passing her your way, and today, we nearly saw things get out of control. Continue reading
For one of the most visible men in Australian politics right now, Campbell Newman is nowhere to be seen. At least not in Queensland parliament.
Journalists might sit in the state parliament’s press gallery just to get a glimpse of the man, but it’s a redundant exercise. Newman is not allowed downstairs, but he’s there in spirit — appropriate enough given that here in Queensland, things have been taking on a Biblical dimension lately. We started the year with floods and high winds (we’re just waiting for the locusts and to be rained down with blood now), and lo and behold: booming Old Testament vernacular has started to seep into state parliament too.
It started two weeks ago when Jeff Seeney — the Liberal-National Party’s folksy, re-elected pit-bull of an Opposition Leader — starting bellowing across the chamber in evangelical tones about the impending arrival of a mythic figure. “Campbell is coming!” he told Labor triumphantly. “Campbell is coming, and it frightens the life out of them!” Premier Anna Bligh dismissed that assessment, dryly describing Seeney as simply “the vessel through which the will of Campbell Newman will pass”.
Like I said: very biblical. Continue reading
When I first started developing lactose intolerance—a fateful day that involved a large iced coffee; then running down a hill, almost in tears, screaming for a toilet—I started sampling many soy milks. I quickly discovered not all soy milks are made alike. Organic varieties are often as thick as clag, while home-brand numbers often have the watery consistency of liquid paper diluted in a bathtub. So when I discovered Bonsoy, I rejoiced. Made in Japan based on recipes developed by soy masters (these people exist) over centuries, Bonsoy remains the richest, creamiest and tastiest soy milk on the market. If Nigella Lawson was breastfeeding me, I’d expect the stuff spurting forth from her breasts to taste something like this. Some soy aficionados have turned their back on Bonsoy—understandably—after a recent scare found it to have excessively high levels of iodine, which caused thyroid problems. However, it’s back on the shelf now, presumably safe and, for what it’s worth, delicious as ever. Continue reading
In September last year, a Melbourne primary school was responsible for a reprehensible anti-gay hate crime. And while I never thought I’d write the following sentence, the innocent victim was not a child, nor a teacher or parent. It was a kookaburra.
We all know how the song goes: Laugh, kookaburra, laugh / how gay your life must be. It’s a cute song about a native bird who is either very jolly or a raging homosexual. Both options should be completely fine with all of us. But when a Melbourne school principal recently discovered his students had cracked up laughing during the “gay” part of the song, he was mortified.