People of the Book: Update 2.

September 15, 2014

Before continuing this scribble, there are two new additions to the blog roll, and both should be enjoyed with a coffee when powering up your pc in the morning.

Been following this photography site http://giddysap.wordpress.com/ for ages Quirk’n it. While the photographer Jennifer is focusing on her daughter of late, the photos are both diverse and interesting. I would steal her dog if the opportunity presented itself.

A recent discovery Border Crossings, a site somewhere near tubbyland and highly recommended for its African music.

What the heck. Its time for some deadly electro-funk from Lagos in the 70s by William Onyeabor.
Lots of volume and the right attire please. Nigeria in my cloud category provides more info.

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People of the Book: an inter-faith dialogue. UPDATE:1

August 28, 2014

Its time, Dear Reader, to take a cursory look at The People of the Book, the followers of the three monotheistic religions which govern the behaviour of a large percentage of individuals and societies on this planet. The Tanakh. The Bible. The Quran. Very serious texts that have their genesis in the Abrahamic tradition that worships one God, and no bloody Golden Calves. (Really, this so-called entity should be in lower case, but there are conventions.) None of this a polytheistic God for every occasion, but one single voice who doesn’t share his Wisdom and Law with a whole bundle of mongrel competitors as instanced by Hinduism.

Abraham offing his son: the Hollywood version

Abraham offing his son: the Hollywood version

And the question should be, just how do the textual institutions (that includes their religious spokes-types) contribute to the fountain of human happiness in our Global Village, since all provide the final word on the behavioural norms which govern the thoughts and actions of individuals, families and political institutions/the State. And, to be sure, they variously operate in both secular and theocratic States.

Now, when you think about the expected normative behaviour outlined in these Sacred Texts, any reasonable person would assume that these three belief systems would seek to create the greatest good for human kind generally. After all, we don’t expect degrading and/or vicious doctrines to have a long life span, and since all these three religious systems have been around for millennia, we would expect them to be inherently good, and hence beneficial for both the individual and the larger society which they influence, shape and organise.

As wicki notes, “most citizens in the State of Israel are Jewish, and most Israeli Jews practice Judaism in some form”. There is a ton of nit-picking regarding the variants of Judaism of little interest to individuals not belonging to The Chosen People. Furthermore Israel purports to be a secular democracy saturated with Judaic beliefs, so lets cut to the chase and look at the manner which its government treats the Palestinians.

According a number of diaspora Jews:

“As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia”.

And here is their list of Israeli op eds calling for a Final Solution to the Palestinian ‘problem’.

Genocide as a spectator sport

Genocide as a spectator sport

And HERE is a detailed link for the above.

Nazi symbols

Lumpen prole Jews wearing Nazi symbols

And HERE is the link.

I could really ladle on the evidence that Israel is behaving in a manner similar to Nazi Germany – crop destruction, wholesale land clearance via terror tactics, a complex and degrading system of passport controls, ghettoization, etc – it is out there and in plain sight if you dare look.

Postscript.
The Chosen People. Uber exclusivist, informed by an over-overarching monotheistic belief system and plain vicious with a leadership who should be prime candidates for the International Criminal Court. Mining a history of victimisation for all its worth, and getting away with it in an epoch where universal concepts of genocide, human rights etc supposedly have real legal teeth.

And if you are interested in the Palestinian perspective on Israel, the Jewish lobby and recent events in that part of the world, I recommend The Electronic Intifida and the columnist Ali Abunimah in particular.

As Peter Beinart points out his article The American Jewish Cocoon The New York Review of Books Sept-Oct 2013 American Israeli spin merchants only talk to each other and they never explore the Palestinian perspective.

Two additional points:
The former head of Shin Bet Yuval Diskin has stated that “over the past 10-15 years has become more and more racist…….” p20.

Secondly, Beinart makes the point that Abunimah is no slouch when it comes to understanding how the American Israeli lobby thinks, so he is a Palestinian commentator to be taken very seriously.

To be continued.

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UPDATE.

In the last day or so, I ended up in a slanging match with one Ji Xiang – Capital in the North BlogSpot.com – when commenting on another subject on FOARP’S site – Fear of the Red Planet. Now, Foarp has been around for eons and is an individual with balanced views on most matters.

Not so, this one Ji Xiang – a Jewish person probably holding a US passport – who quite obviously spent seven seconds reading the above (ignoring the Israeli media links provided) and then called me out as a Holocaust denier. A serious charge to put it mildly, so its time to ladle on the evidence that Israeli is a State actor every bit as murderous as any in the Middle East. And we certainly have an abundance of murderous scumbag States to choose from in that part of the world.

And just so readers know who I’m talking about, below is my interlocutor Ji Xiang armed for bear in the wilds of Guangxi province in 2009.
DSCN0200

It’s not that Israeli public opinion is monolithic: there are dissenting voice and organisations who believe Palestinians are human beings, not stereotypes and ciphers of the Evil Other and fanatical, crazed Muslims to
boot. In contrast to flesh and blood with aspirations and the usual issues of paying the rent, putting food on the table and getting the brats off to school. We are talking about a very binary perspective and there’s no commonly shared humanity.

Wicki has compiled a list HERE and its well worth a bit of link time, as it connects to a wide range of human rights organisations, and not all focus on Palestinian issues. One such group is B’Tselem, a brilliantly layed-out and authoritive reporting organisation on human rights abuses in Gaza and the West Bank.

The International Legal Assistance Consortium, the Swedish Bar Association and the International Bar Association announced on 11 Sept. 2014 that the 2014 Stockholm Human Rights Award will be presented to B´Tselem. The Stockholm Human Rights Award was established in 2009, and is awarded annually to an individual or an institution for outstanding contributions to the rule of law and the promotion and protection of human rights.

So we have a very credible organisation similar to Human Rights Watch.

Sorry. The dashboard is getting a bit unmanageable, so continue on the next post.
Apol.

The Clive Daily Show.

August 21, 2014

With apologies to The China Daily Show.

This post is prompted by a promise I made on Justrecently’s site regarding Clive Palmer’s recent spray against Mainland China. Since it now involves so many links, decided to post it here AND also refer you to JR’s Weblog above, which is always good value, particularly if you’re Old School.

Now, Australia has its fair share of mining magnates who are either barking mad or come from extremely dysfunctional families. The heirs of the really dead West Australian mining magnate Lang Hancock are a prime example. I won’t bother you with the families genealogical tree, suffice to say it has involves Rose Porteous, who could best be described as a mix of Imelda Marcos and Wendy Deng, Murdoch’s third ex.

God, what is it with rich old white males and Asian gold diggers with long painted nails.

Rose Porteous. See what I mean

Rose Porteous. See what I mean

Then there is her step daughter Gina Rinehart, who is obese, ugly as sin, extremely avaricious and hoping to become even wealthier than the richest woman in the world, which she is presently, by importing Chinese coolie labour (via the 457 visa arrangement) to work in her many mining ventures.

That her four children hate her guts with a living vengeance is a by-the-by, with a long protracted legal struggle over a family trust involving court cases, high court appeals, counter appeals, attempt to suppress the media etc. This high priced legal struggle made the head spin and caused a major run on pharmaceuticals using the valium formula.

Told you so.. meet the new Bunyip aristocracy .

Told you so.. meet the new Bunyip aristocracy .


The sack of potatoes earning capacity

The sack of potatoes earning capacity

Now we come to Clive Palmer and his Palmer United Party, a recent political creation which is forcing the Abbott Federal Government to assume the star fish position.

palmer circus

Context: Cuddly rotund Uncle Clive comes across a bit like Big Daddy minus the cigar in Faulkner’s The Long Hot Summer. Unlike Faulkner’s creation with his plantations, Palmer derives his wealth from a number of dodgy mining ventures.

Now, normally when you have a deranged uncle likely to cause public/political embarrassment, you keep him locked up in the chook pen or family outhouse ie the dunny. Not so in The Great Southern Land: you’ve got a real future in politics. And does he ever.

Even if Palmer implodes in the next three month, a highly likely prospect, the next Federal election will see more fringe independents emerging like an Ebola plague to truly gut the two major parties that presently dominate the landscape in tubbyland. The natives are getting restless and listening to the tom toms of populist simplicities.

And lets admit it, they do have their appeal, not due to their content, but how they have the capacity to strip away the rhetorical drivel which has colonised mainstream political discourse.

Now, I know JR will be giving this scribble a really close reading, so I better provide the link which provides Palmers outburst with background, and of course it is provided by John Garnaut of the SMH.

The first cracks appeared in Clive Palmer’s China story about four years ago, when he collided with the glamorous daughter of the former premier, Li Peng (aka the Butcher of Beijing).

Until then he was happy to sing the Communist Party’s praises while party executives signed opaque iron ore deals, sometimes with the aide of mystery middle men.

The Sino Iron investment in the Pilbara became famous in China as the single most disastrous outbound investment deal in Chinese history and turned Palmer into one of Australia’s richest men.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/mr-china-no-more-clive-palmer-out-of-luck-again-20140819-105yhb.html#ixzz3B4aLuQeK

Garnaut’s account is hilarious and not without some fun irony for readers who follow Chinese media.

More to the point, Palmer’s outburst will have absolutely no negative impact whatosever on Mainland China-Australia trade relations. For the gist of China’s huffing and puffing response, quickly scan the google news screen save below. The usually predictable hurt-feelings swill emanating from Beijing/CCTV and its so-called public intellectuals/toads and parrots.

https://news.google.com/news?ncl=dgQlPkNZNhgOeVMMUqtzKhMmYKtyM&q=china&lr=English&hl=en&sa=X&ei=dYX2U4DgOIOdugSvjYKACA&ved=0CDAQqgIwAg

But the one I liked most of all came from The Global Times, which referred to Palmer’s rampart rascality when denouncing him as a scumbag.

The fact, written in stone, is that the Chinese Government and its SOE’s will do a deal with any govt/regime whatsoever, when it comes to acquiring mineral and energy resources ie North Korea, Russian Federation, Sudan, warlords in the DPR, Kenya etc. They have no shame whatsoever and would even enter into trade arrangements with odious Catholic Poland if the occasion required.

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While The Great Southern Land has an abundance of slander, libel and hate speech legislation, the Australian Federal parliament nonetheless provides a great forum for insult, invective and other uncomplimentary language. All the same there are rules governing exchanges between the government and opposition, and you can read them HEREOffensive and disorderly words/References to and reflections on members. Cobbled together by the finest constitutional minds in the land and therefore beyond normal comprehension.

Few negotiated this legal minefield better than Paul Keating, PM 1991-1996. Keating really knew how to traverse Parliaments speech constraints and pour it on with vernacular that resonated with the average tubbylander. Try G’Day Scumbags HERE.

Or youtube below:

There is no denying that Keating played the peanut gallery for all it was worth. Forget responsible government and think crowd support in a Premier League game. Lift your side and jeer/insult the opposition. Come to think, if Keating followed PL he would be rabid Crystal Palace supporter.

Now, Uncle Clive is no parliamentary performer by whatever measure. No wit, language facility, in addition to a seriously meandering and contradictory political history which you catch on wicki.

Now, for some forensic analysis of the context where Uncle Clive went feral.

The Q @ A Program is one of the flagships of the Australian Broadcasting Commission – a tax payer funded national broadcaster with a long and venerable history. You can catch its digital presence HERE.

It purports to offer adventures in democracy. Compered by pinhead Tony Jones, who looks like a skinny version of Julian Assange but with a perpetual smirk, it cobbles together a half dozen politicians of diverse stripe, pundits (self-appointed Thought Leaders) and an audience (victims, ngo identity spokes-types and others with something really bloody important to say.

The whole Q @ A format is managed and manipulated to within an inch of its life – very safe fare for the mums and days at home sipping their hot chocolate and labouring under the belief that they will retreat into the land of nod horribly well informed on this or that topic of the day.

In fact, they would be better advised to drink some cheap alcohol, watch a rerun of Baywatch and indulge in a quick grope. And of course, the panellists are expected to push their own agendas while showering all and sundry in the studio with their wit and wisdom.

In brief, Brothers and Sister it is fucking pathetic. More like a Faux Roman Circus of Really Deep Ideas, and if I catch any of the servants watching it they get a sound flogging.
Now
The Palmer United Party leader is embroiled in a legal battle with Chinese state-owned company CITIC Pacific, which has accused the mining magnate of siphoning off $12 million in funds.

Mr Palmer has strenuously denied accusations his company Mineralogy misused CITIC Pacific’s cash to finance PUP’s federal election campaign.

He said the matter was before the Supreme Court this week and he’d keep up the fight against the “Chinese mongrels”.

“I’m saying that because they’re communist, because they shoot their own people, they haven’t got a justice system and they want to take over this country,” he said.

“We’re not going to let them do it.” Courtesy of the SMP.

Lets look at Palmer’s situation via an analogy.

If you were accused of stealing and wearing your sisters underwear on national TV, how would you respond? Answer in the affirmative! Like hell. If you had half a brain, you would probably accuse the Vatican of being a global paedophile cult of extremely evil proportions, which it most certainly is, what with major investigations taking place in Australia, Ireland, Mexico, Brazil, the US, etc. Your peccadillo would be airbrushed off the airwaves, and you would get to enjoy your thrill another day.

Clive was not going to fall on his knees and seek forgiveness before the mums and dads of Australia, and then hope against hope that the High Court would rule in his $12m favour.

While he is a populist clown who enjoys a greater public approval rating than most pundits will admit – such is intense dislike of the Abbott Government – he is no fool when it comes to the public conversation.

Language is a slippery and highly evocative commodity.

When you say that this or that individual has ‘a bit of mongrel in him’, a charge often levelled at Keating, you are talking about a positive, admirable attribute.

‘A mongrel act’ is a despicable action undertaken by an individual, and when you refer to a class of individuals as ‘mongrels’ you are drawing attention to the despicable or unconscionable way they deal with others.

And let’s admit it. The Chinese are not noted for upright behaviour in the business department. At present, twenty plus Australian citizens are being detained and/or prevented from exiting Mainland China, so their joint venture partners can loot and/or take over their businesses.

The ‘communist’ charge. The Big Other which really resonates, although the mums and dads still have problems explaining how a very small percentile of the Chinese population enjoys unimaginable wealth.

‘They shoot their own people’. Forget all the TM history. They have shoot a lot of folk in Xinjiang lately, and life for Tibetans is not exactly a bed of roses.

The Chinese justice system. Not worth comment. Refer to hostile bids above.

“They want to take over this country”. ie taking over the nations ports to steal the nations natural resources. Palmer has a lot of skin in this other claim, and the complexities – involving rail shipping to ports in Queensland – are beyond this scribbler.

But the above doesn’t matter, given the commonplace knowledge that Mainland capital outflows are saturating the real estate markets in the capital cities. Try these graphs provided by The Business Spectator.

While Mainland investment mostly concentrates on the higher end of the market, the public perception is that its forcing up the price of the average family home, and that hurts.

The rain has just finished and so have I.

Leopard Men: Part One – Geography

June 6, 2014

This two/three part post promises to be pretty disorganised, but I have to get it out of my system since it has been hanging around my neck like the Rock of Sisyphus for ages.

Stephen Ellis The Mask of Anarchy: The Destruction of Liberia and the Religious Dimension of An African Civil War.
1999 Reprinted 2007 New York University Press
Liberia: History, Civil War 1989 – . Religion: Poro Society, Sande Society.
A quick synopsis of Ellis’ highly recommended study is outlined in this youtube clip.

You can find other equally critical reviews of Ellis’ study (see first link) of the character and role of religious institutions and religious ideology as a means of explaining the content and character of the Liberian Civil War (1997 – 2003) – when Charles Taylor grasped the Presidency – on the net, but I’ve lost the links.

stylised

Now, the above depiction of African Leopard Men found in the American Natural History Museum NY owes more to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan than to anthropology, ethnology and history. While there is a definite balletic quality to this composition, it would have been improved if Home Counties babe Jane – Tarzan’s significant other – was caught in a state of semi-undress, but hey, we don’t live in a perfect world.

More to the point, there is absolutely no record of Leopard Men ever attacking white men (whether in the guise of missionaries or colonial administrators) and extracting their vital organs for a spot of cannibalism or consuming them in toto after weilding that rather neat metal claw. To be sure, Leopard Men certainly practised cannibalism but it was within a highly religious context, and the actual victims chosen for human sacrifice will be the surprise which will be discussed in subsequent posts.
claw
The obverse side of this comic strip colonialism is all that Heart of Darkness Conrad stuff, Black Barbarism, Darkest Africa etc, which has been alive since Europeans such as Livingstone and Speke first set foot in Africa’s heartland. While we view the consumption of human flesh as being totally repugnant – the stuff that has given many serial killers their notoriety – a totally different regime of cultural beliefs continues to exist throughout many parts of Africa.

If you wish to get a quick fix of Leopard Men fact and fantasy totally devoid of context, you should visit this SITE. However, since we are making a meal of this topic, lets begin with some geography.

West Africa

West Africa

The colonial carve-up of western Africa ignores the fact that cultural commonalities co-exist across the borders of Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta), Guinea and Cote d Ivoire. A case of colonial boundaries being imposed on non-state social and cultural identities.

Liberian Provinces

Liberian Provinces

Malian Empire - 12th to 16th centuries

Malian Empire – 12th to 16th centuries

When we also factor in those numerous Lebanese and Mandingo traders (the latter being descendants of the powerful Malian empire of the sixteenth century) who continue to play an important role in organising cross-border and cross-tribal commerce, the problems of definition become even more complex.

Tribal map

Tribal map

Tribal boundaries don’t necessarily coincide with commonly shared languages, even though colonial or indigenous elites shared the belief that tribal identities, via deals struck with their paramount chiefs, were the key to extending their sway/government power into rural hinterlands. That extension itself was a measure forced on isolated centres of government and commerce (Bissau, Conakry, Freetown, Monrovia, Harper @ Abidjan) as colonial borders became fixed on maps and in the eyes of global institutions such as the League of Nations and its successor, the UN.

Generally speaking, Islam predominates in north Liberia and Christianity has its foothold in the south, while traditional belief systems hold sway right across this part of West Africa. Furthermore, there is no contradiction in being a Muslin and also attending a Christian church, while also being a member of a secret society that practices cannibalistic rituals. All three institutions have/and do provide individuals with sources of power and cultural identity. And power is the key term in this discussion.

However, the concept of power – an extremely imprecise notion – remains devoid of meaning until we ask the question, what type of power are we talking about, and that will be addressed in subsequent posts.

The Western mind has a long way to travel if it is going to make sense of rituals involving the consumption of human flesh in this part of the world. Theories of colonialism only explain how surplus value and raw materials were extracted, and they can be readily grasped by a smart teenager. Marxism with its concept of totality comprising of economic base and superstructure is equally hopeless: it being the conceptual consequence of our Western experience – feudalism, industrial capitalism, etc.

Attempts to incorporate anthropological concepts and perspectives into Marxism by the likes of Maurice Godelier and Emmanuel Terray are clunky at best, whiles structuralisms as instanced by Levi-Strauss also fail due to their ahistoricity and over-reliance on linguistics as the privilieged explanatory structure.

I warned you that this post will be mess, but what the heck, my blog, my mess.

Housekeeping

June 3, 2014

Back into the scribbling business early this month/June and with Africa in mind.

Meanwhile, a couple of music clips which I enjoy:
Tin Soldier by The Small Faces - a most under-rated group. Stevie Marriot had the voice to die for. In the charts the very month I saw them along with The Who.

A killer track by James Brown – live in Italy. Bass and drums, On the One big time.

Wanda Jackson and Jack White Shaking All Over plus that toothy old Letterman.
All the elements. Lots of glitz delivering one of my favourite tracks of all times. Razor sharp brass. Old doll Wanda reinventing her rockabilly career and good on her. Pixie from Iceland cleverly disguised as a rhythm guitarist. Brilliant steel guitar sounding very much like a theremin, and dare I say it, Jack White’s very noticeable bald spot.

Finally, performing the usual unappreciated public service.

Two new entrants in the ASP Women’s Tour to get you all hot and really bothered.

Miho Ihara

Miho Ihara – Ranked 38

miho-ihara-2

Reiki Noro

Reika Noro – Ranked 41


148997_172050709491208_100000588404161_474564_3307107_n_jpg
Reika Noro

Reika Noro


Reika noro 6
Eat your heart out, aliens.

Columbian Sounds

February 23, 2014

After the recent infatuation with Lagos electro-funk circa 70s.

The fun event of this year presented by the Columbian Embassy, State Library of Queensland, Griffith Uni and Pura Vida Roadshow.

Booking information here State Library Queensland – 7th March, plus group synopsis.

Frente Cumbiero with some super-slick visual production values.

Frente Cumbbiero

Frente Cumbiero

La Chiva Gantiva

La Chiva Gantiva

La Chiva Gantiva

Brothers and sisters. That’s too much for the system.

Back in 2014

December 25, 2013

It’s the fire season at the moment, so am pretty busy.

Will be back with a vengeance next year.

And don’t forget to indulge in all Seven Deadly Sins on New Years Eve because things are definitely not improving.

My thoughts go out to the people of Mali, the CAE and the rest of the folk living in the Sahel.

And it was just fabulous that the BBC did a feature on Nigerian 70s electro funkster Willian Onyeabor on Xmas eve. Better than all that Christian claptrap that pollutes the airwaves this time of the year.

See previous post: Fun: Some African Musical and Other Resources – Sept 28 2013.

(Marvin Gaye would have cut his heart out.)

Lets bury 2013 with the exuberant sound of Armadou and Marian – Mon Cherie, Ma Cherie.

This site will be almost be focussing exclusively on music and affairs in Africa almost from now on, but with the occasional gorgeous Japanese surfer girl post for Readers who like to get hot and bothered.

Postscript. If you are a desperate still getting over that fizzer of a game between Arsenal and Chelsea, its time to follow a new sport, namely the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Its not exactly a good old fashioned blood sport, but in the past there have been capsizings, drownings, broken bones, concussion, groin injuries plus dramatic helicopter rescues. Qingdao/PRC resident Vicky Song is participating this year, and good luck to her after her truly fabulous interview on SBS recently.

song

Background to above photo here and with thnx.

Australian Civil Society

December 7, 2013

In the last post we focussed on the woof and weave of Australian civil society and the essentially corrupt and/or criminal nature of its police, judiciary, politicians and other members of the professional classes. To recap, I discounted the popular convict heritage effect to explain the current national character ie the fact that most of tubbyland’s citizens descended for convict stock, being shipped south from the UK in hulks for murder and assorted forms of thievery. The key concept here being that of deracination.

Rather, I opted for a climatic theory which argued that Australian civil society was shaped and organised by its climate. It’s corrupt because it’s bloody hot. Simple. Just think of all those movies where people are dying of the heat and consequentially decide that the old rules don’t apply anymore. The characters begin to focus on the essentials of life – monetary gain, murder and sexual lust – and before you know it things go all pear shaped. The Postman Always Rings Twice. Body Heat. The Treasure of Sierra Madre.

Now, a couple of unkind European commenters identified some weaknesses found in both theories, and one even went so far as to offer an alternative explanation which highlighted the importance of hereditary syphilis in the formation of Australian civil society. As this is an unfounded and cruel caricature I’m ignoring their nonsense, and instead resorting to the nineteenth science of phrenology. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrenology”>Classical phrenology:

focused on measurements of the human skull, based on the concept that the brain is the organ of the mind, and that certain brain areas have localized, specific functions or modules.

If you need a quick recap on this arcane but valuable discipline, try David De Guistino’s Conquest of Mind: Phrenology and Victorian Social Though simply because I met him during my first year in the Big School.
Sydney mug shot
Okay. There was a bit of theory slippage here since the above is a mug shot informed by the Cesare Lombroso’s typology of criminal types. And many more photos of criminality Oz-style 1900 – 1920 can be found at this brilliant site and with thanks. A tremendous social resource and the collection also comes in traditional book form.

More True Confessions.

November 25, 2013

That Boston was a rats nest of civic corruption and Dark Side law enforcement was recently noted by the BBC. In fact, it was a total bloody sewer if you hit up google on the Winter Hill gang, do some back reading in The Boston Times or read Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Lehr and O’Neill or a host of other books on the subject. Really great moments in crime management and okay airport reads if you don’t like Paul Theroux.

Now, I know that when I mention tubbyland most readers conjure up images of drivelling politicians, thongs (the ones you wear on your feet, okay), beach babes, beer and bushfires. This however is a totally misguided perception, and one which fails to do tubbylanders full justice. Since the git go, we have had our own statistically significant share of venal cops and corrupt and/or completely criminal police commissioners, doctors, lawyers, solicitors, model citizens, accountants, federal police, airport officials, ethnics, magistrates, islanders, painters and dockers, pugilists, promoters, chancers, shoplifting teams, racing identities, attorney generals (commonwealth), plus politicians of all stripes. Since I want to bring this post to some sort of conclusion before next year, I won’t illustrate the above by naming manes.

Royal commissions, integrity commissions, independent oversight quangos and extended court cases on matters of deep and pervasive corruption appear as regularly as new strains of Asian influenza. And, as expected, they focus on the usual earners which tempt the constabulary – who operate within organisational charts as the Consorters, the Breakers, Licencing, the Dogs, etc – old (pot, smack, coke) and new school (precursor) drug importation, franchising crime and protection, giving informants hotshots, selling information to the underworld, nobbling or retailing evidence, etc. Repetitious, predicable, and, as expected the only beneficiaries are the silks and lesser members of the legal profession.

Now there are two theories as to why tubbyland is a latrine of mongrel copper corruption. One is the convict DNA which forcibly settled this great brown land some 200 years ago. Now, this is plain hogswash, since we are an exemplary model of a politically correct, liberal democratic system of government in action. Checks and balances and all that good stuff enunciated by David Hume. Sort of like a Scandinavian welfare state in the southern hemisphere plus outdoor barb-q-ques. Beats all that snow and pine forests.

Rather, I want to focus on the climatic explanation a bit like Lawrence Kasdan did in his script for Body Heat: When the temperature rises, folk start to think that the rules no longer apply to them. body heatTed Danson’s character made this point, I recall, some fifteen minutes into this modern noir fable of the Tarantula Woman. Anyway, it’s about the fucking climate and climatic effects, and yes, tubbyland is bloody hot for at least six months every year. That’s why we invented surfing and sandy beaches with big waves. Okay, I also have my doubts about this explanation, but its something to dwell on.

Anyway, on a stinking hot day the 16 January 1949 a massive storm descended from Mt Coot-ha, and it really hit the inner Brisbane suburbs of Bardon, Rosalie and Paddington. Power lines down, gardens flattened and roofing iron strewn everywhere. This weather event taken from Matthew Condon’s Three Crooked Kings (uni of qld press, 2013) also coincided with one Terence (Terry) Murray Lewis passing his police exams and being sent off to patrol George Street.

To be continued.

TRUE CONFESSIONS.

November 24, 2013

I would like to define pure reading pleasure for the Dear Reader. No, it’s not the high brows like William Gaddis, Don De Lillo (with the exception of Libra 1988) or for that matter Michel Tournier or even Louis de Bernieres whom I bloody detest.

Nor is it the pretty good page turners scribed by John Grisham who I quite enjoy. More along the lines of Elmore Leonard (his first four in particular), Jim Thompson, James Ellroy and Charles Williams. I should also throw in Marc Behm for his brilliant three novellas found in the now rare Zhomba Black Box set and the perennially brilliant PI Cliff Hardy series written by tubbyland’s very own Peter Corris.

And just to show what a smart arse I could be, let’s include another three US writers James Crumley (whom I traded books with), Newton Thornburg and Barry Gifford (who I traded favourite songs with – recall the mechanics Sparky and Buddy discussing their twelve favourite songs of all times, while working on Sailor’s junker in Wild at Heart). The cover below comes from the short story which introduced Sailor and Lula before he hit the big time with David Lynch’s film. Try one of Gifford’s lesser known novels with the delightful title Port Tropique.
corrisbehmgifford first story
(Behm: The Eye of the Beholder, The Ice Maiden @ The Queen of the Night.)
The list is endless, very hardboiled and noirish and very few of these titles have been turned into decent movies with the exception of The Getaway (Thompson), The Grifters (Thompson), The Killer Inside Me (Thompson again – both the Betrand Tavernier version Coup de Torchon with Phillipe Noiret set in Mali, and the recent Michael Winterbottom remake with Casey Affleck which is also pretty good). Finally, we come to The Friends of Eddy Coyle which was adapted from the first novel by George V Higgins which starred Robert Mitchum and the very bald Peter Boyle.

Anecdote break: After being released from prison for marijuana possession, a reporter asked Mitchum what it was like in the Big House. The laconic reply: “Just like Palm Springs, but without the riff-raff”.

(And your mid-term homework here which requires you to hit a number of links as they have been chosen with care.)

George V Higgins - Bostons favourite literary.

George V Higgins – Bostons favourite literary son.


No, for that tropical island sojourn with one’s favourite reads, I would choose around ten George V Higgins novels, simply because I revel in dialogue. And Higgin’s had a pitch-perfect grasp of the argot of the Boston Massachussetts Irish/ Wasp/Italian milieu. Scumbags, working class Joes, loan sharks, political fixers, showboating pols, honest and less-than-honest criminals, Catholic priests, mob types and their bosses, slumlords, counsellors, prosecutors and the judiciary. The majority have some redeeming qualities and all are fun to follow as they gab their way thru their fictional vale of tears. Plotting their futures (crime and bringing perps to justice), yakking about problems with their wives/gfs, health issues, what to order on the menu, etc.

In his professional life, Higgins worked his way up thru the ranks of the Organised Crime and Criminal Division in Boston, wrote for newspapers, lectured in creative writing and had his own legal practice where he defended both G. Gordon Liddy of Watergate fame as well as Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver. He unfortunately died in 1999 and now the majority of his titles are being rereleased.
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(Unfortunately, the above covers are from recent reprints but one, so something is lost.)

According to Higgins:

Dialogue is character and character is plot.

Nowhere is this more evident than in his third novel Cogan’s Trade (1974). Markie Trattman runs a high stakes card game for the Mob. Previously, Markie arranged to get his own game knocked over, and despite a bit of post-robbery bragging, got away with it. Johnny Squirrel Amato, fresh out of the slam for a bank robbery, thinks it might be a good idea to knock over Trattman’s game a second time, based on the reasoning that he will be home and hosed, while Markie will end up in the trunk at the airport. Then Amato recruits Russell and Frankie a couple of grubby ex Vietnam tunnel rats to do the heavy lifting.

While things don’t go as planned, it makes for beyond-hilarious reading, especially Frankie’s account of his recent dog napping business. First you steal all your dogs, going for mutts with high resale, to be sold out of state. Then you feed all your dogs hot tomato soup laced with a few litres of mineral oil. The dogs then screw up their noses and destroy a perfectly good lawn, and then you give them each some phenobarb and lay them out like cord wood in the back of the car and head off inter-state into a major rain storm. Quite naturally, the dogs wake up and respond according, with piss and excrement sluicing around the cabin, turning their profit making venture into a journey into hell. And that’s just the beginning of their criminal farce.

Dialogue within dialogue which introduces you to other characters, anecdotes which provide rounded characterisations, plus a lot of conversational digressions which add to plot and context. Higgins is positively dazzling and with a great dash of humour. His Boston landscape of politics, cops and criminals, with its wide cast of characters, cover about a dozen novels. (I’m less than entranced with the other ten or so he wrote, but have read them and still found a number of guilty pleasures.)

In addition to the above titles, I also recommend The Patriot Game, Outlaws, and especially The Diggers Game where he began building the foundations of his Boston fictionscape.

Forget all those glossy rubbish novels by Scandinavian writers which presently pollute bookshops, libraries and TV mini-series. Garbage of the first order, but that’s a post for another day.


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