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Copyright© 2001-2010, Renato Obeid
"Top blog/Renato Obeid's World/Today's pick: This rambling weblog is worth reading not so much for its satirical posts but more for its insight into the minutiae of life in Lebanon, including the etiquette of road accidents and how to hire a taxi.”
-Jane Perrone, The Guardian
Tuesday, May 29, 2001
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all women are created evil.
“HORSE RIDING KILLS TWENTY EACH YEAR
…The number of horse related accidents has prompted a year-long pilot study in New South Wales and Victoria into what exactly makes the sport dangerous”
- Daily Telegraph (Sydney)
I volunteer that falling off horses makes the sport dangerous perhaps.
The article also reveals that riding a horse is more dangerous than riding a motorcycle.
Which brings to my mind another little known fact – more people are killed every year by donkeys and mules than are killed in plane crashes.
The current shenanigans in Indonesia, where Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri is trying to depose the country’s first ever democratically elected President Abdulrahman Wahid, is living proof that women should not be allowed any sort of power.
Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile!
Indonesia is practically Australia’s only foreign affairs interest.The international coverage in most Australian media might as well be titled “Indonesia” – “coming up after the break, the Indonesian news”.
Another day another Australian corporate collapse – mobile telephone company One.tel is on the rocks (some of the papers are calling them “None.tel”).
Their advertising jingle used to feature the chorus “tell all your friends about One.tel”.
Indeed, “tell all your friends (about One.tel) but don’t tell the police”, as the old dodgy spruiking line used to go.
And what if you did “tell all your friends about One.tel”? (I know I did – I’m a sucker for advertisements that order me to “onadvertise” the advertised product).
How guilty would you feel, how much face would you of lost and how much shame and dishonour would you of brought upon your family and your venerated ancestors?
Japanese people would commit suicide over that sort of thing.
Sunday, May 27, 2001
Got home an hour ago from a night out.
Went to a ballet performance in Newtown with Bronwyn and then we went to a party in Edgecliff with an Indian bloke we met there – an economist at the recently opened World Bank office in Australia.
Although his card reads “ECONOMIST POVERTY REDUCTION AND ECONOMIC MANGEMENT EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC REGION”, he claimed that there was no cause for concern - the office was here to deal with the region more than Australia.
I don’t know - I think it’s rather ominous that the World Bank now has an office in Australia (maybe it’s our declining dollar).
The usual raucous Nightride to Campbelltown and then taxi home from Campbelltown station.
The taxi driver certainly wasn’t too happy with the economic (apparently everything above the ground in Australia is foreign owned) and otherwise situation in Australia.
He emigrated here from Italy in 1970 on an adventure of sorts, ended up marrying and getting “stuck” here as he put it.
He opined that in this country you and your wife had to work just to make ends meet and that it wasn’t the “Lucky Country” at all – in Italy his mother and his sister never worked a day in their life he said.
He told me that he’d rather be in Italy eating onions than in Australia and, obviously not knowing that my parents were back in Lebanon already, said “your parents would walk back to Lebanon if they could”.
He also said that Australia was the most racist country on Earth and that you’ll never belong here and that this will never be your country.
The flip side of the Australian dream that we don’t hear that often.
Friday, May 25, 2001
A wedding hall collapsed in Israel today, killing scores of people.
Structural defects were blamed, so Hamas took the day off.
There’s got to be a Jewish mother-in-law joke in there!
(In a Jackie Mason New York Jewish type accent) “My mother-in-law’s so fat – I told my wife, ‘don’t bring your mother!’”
Also in the Middle East, another news story begging for a joke.
A Lebanese Armenian stole a light plane from Beirut International Airport yesterday and flew it into Israel.
After several warnings and fired warning shots, the Israeli army shot down the plane – killing its occupant.
There’s got to be an Armenian joke in there somewhere, don’t know what it is but there’s got to be one, possibly a la the jokes based on the difficulty Armenians have with the feminine and masculine in Arabic (e.g. an Armenian wanted to go to Our Lady of Lebanon and ended up at Christ the King – am I sounding like Ali G’s Borat character with these Central Asian jokes?).
“So the Armenian misunderstands, goes to the airport, steals a plane and flies it to Israel and gets shot down”.
There’s the punch line- I just need the joke.
Thursday, May 24, 2001
Just got back from Sydney on the last train out of Sydney after catching up with Anthony.
We had dinner and drinks and then we walked over to Sydney Harbour – taking in the majesty of the Harbour, the Bridge, the Opera House etc.
I expounded to Anthony on my theory that the Sydney Harbour precinct should come under international (or at least national jurisdiction), like the plans being proposed for the Holy Land, particularly parts of Jerusalem.
Just like Jerusalem is pivotal to all monotheistic faiths, Sydney Harbour is pivotal to all Australian “faiths” and should be “desydneyed” as it is about Australia and not just Sydney.
When Captain Cook and then the First Fleet sailed into nearby Botany Bay, they weren’t sailing into Sydney or New South Wales but were sailing into Australia, thus that area is unique, pivotal and important to all Australians and should be depoliticised.
It merely happens to be in the city of Sydney and the state of New South Wales – Sydneysiders are merely the custodians of Sydney Harbour.
Just as King Fahed of Saudi Arabia styles himself as the “Custodian of the Two Holy Sanctuaries of Mecca and Medina” but they don’t belong to him or the Meccans or Medinans but to all Muslims, Sydney Harbour should belong to all Australians.
Or maybe even like the Vatican – it’s in Rome and Italy but it is a separate entity and the home of all Christians.
It’s just a matter of time before we see UN peacekeeping forces at Sydney Harbour to implement this.
Afterwards, I popped over to the “Capital” to see Matt.
When one is in Sydney it is a matter of protocol and courtesy to visit the “Capital”.
Walking back from Darlinghurst to Museum train station, I saw the familiar female busker who was, as she was last time I saw her, singing “Zombie” by the Cranberries.
It seems to be a recurring theme for her - maybe she’s Irish.
With their tanks and their bombs, they are fighting…
“She has an Evita Peron complex – she truly believes she is a political phenomenon when in fact she is the fortunate beneficiary of a political phenomenon”
- Editorial on Pauline Hanson in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.
Wednesday, May 23, 2001
I’m waiting for Aunty Mary to get home to give me a lift to Campbelltown train station to catch a train (duh) into the city and catch up with Anthony.
Whilst waiting, I’m listening to my favourite Australian radio station – 2RPH.
I used to read for 3RPH (the Melbourne station of the RPH network) in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
Basically, it’s just non-stop reading of newspapers, magazines etc (except from 11.00PM until 6.00AM where they relay my favourite international radio station – the BBC).
As the name Radio for the Print Handicapped suggests, it’s ostensibly for blind people but it’s it appeals to a far greater demographic than that e.g. illiterate people, people learning English, people who are too busy to read the papers etc.
I find it a great service – I can listen to the newspapers!
Right now I’m listening to “Suburban Smorgasbord” (I love the daggy names) – a roundup of suburban newspapers, broadcast every weekday from 3.00PM to 4.30PM, punctuated by clips of gay (in the old sense of the word) music.
Where else on the radio would you hear “The Pushbike Song”?
Riding along on a pushbike honey, you look so pretty…
Tuesday, May 22, 2001
The Federal budget was tabled in Parliament today.
Very much an election budget with plenty of sweeteners and tax breaks etc but that’s not addressing the core problem - it’s the GST stupid and there’s no relief on that front.
Experts say that smoking may cause impotence.
Good – it leaves you more time to smoke
Sunday, May 20, 2001
Went to the football this afternoon with Sam and Kerry and Michel and Debbie and the kids to see the Bulldogs take on the Dragons at the Sydney Showgrounds at the Olympic complex.
I’m now well and truly a convert to rugby league.
Although I was born into Australian Rules football and grew up as an Aussie Rules fan for the past dozen years or so I’ve been a lapsed non-practicing one.
Incidentally, the doggies lost today.
Who let the dogs out?
No one let the dogs out today, it’s as if they weren’t even there.
I saw little sign of “hooliganism” at the game but outside the stadium I saw police clearing away a group of Lebanese Muslim Canterbury supporters who were carrying a banner that read “leave us alone” (as if these indulgent morons where Chinese pro-democracy protestors or something).
A lot of people have said that these reprobates give Lebanese a bad name; I think that they give hooligans a bad name.
Calling them “football hooligans” is definitely a misnomer.
I think the best way of dealing with these so-called “football hooligans” is to copy a technique used in the animal world and import natural predators – real football hooligans from the UK who would sort them out and eat them alive.
So our current immigration requirement shouldn’t be skilled trades people (who we apparently have a dearth of and are in need of) but proper soccer hooligans.
An article in the Daily Telegraph (London) shows a picture of the man who blew himself up outside a shopping mall in Israel killing five Israelis and provoking an Israeli military response in the Occupied Territories under the headline “This man reignited the Middle East war”.
It’s just another typical example of the pro-Israeli anti-Arab bias of most Western news media.
The suicide bomber did not reignite any war – the war has been going on non-stop for years.
As a matter of fact, the bombing was in declared retaliation for the killing of five Palestinian policemen by the Israeli army on Monday (an operation which the Israeli government has described as “a mistake” though without offering an apology).
“I looked for people to back up my views and then attributed them”
- “The World From Italy: Football, Food and Politics”, George Negus.
That pretty much sums up what all journalism and writing is about, despite all the myths about objectivity etc.
The average weekly wage for an Australian male is $883.80 (450 US).
“Wealth beyond what is natural is no more use than water to a container that is full”
- Epicurean philosophers (ancient Greece).
Thursday, May 17, 2001
CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR
-I’ve seen two different contestants on two different Australian game shows mistakenly answer “Martin Luther King” rather than Martin Luther” to questions about who lead the Protestant Reformation.
-I once enquired about booking a ticket to Lebanon at a travel agency in Melbourne and was told that I needed to show evidence of a visa, as "all countries in Europe require an entry visa". Needless to say, I took my custom elsewhere - they didn’t even know where it was!
IT’S GOOD TO BE KING
What do you call a Protestant male monarch?
Martin Luther King.
Wednesday, May 16, 2001
Australia’s second largest insurer, HIH, has collapsed leaving the government to bailout thousands of stranded policyholders.
An editorial in one of the papers picked up on this, pointing out that “companies want to privatise profits and nationalize losses”.
And on the sidelines of this latest economic debacle, a linguistic debacle is taking place with certain electronic media journalists, commentators and members of the public mispronouncing aitch as “haitch” (and HIH is practically all aitches - not since Hubert Horatio Humphrey, aka HHH, have Australians had it so tough).
But at least, they’re using the aitch, which isn’t always the case in Australian English – asked by a member of the public what he intended to do about “‘ousing”, Robert Menzies, famously replied “put an aitch in a front of it”.
How Marie Antoinette-esque – “Prime Minister, the people have no ‘ousing”, “let them say ‘aitch’”.
Typical of Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, an Australian Prime Minister (1939-1941, 1949-1966) who claimed to be “British down to my boot heels”.
Monday, May 14, 2001
Just got back from the Campbelltown Mall where I got my weekly stash of chips, chocolate etc, thus avoiding getting robbed by the “Great Train Robbers” (overpriced vending machines at train stations, which I’m often forced to resort to) and “convenience” stores that are far from convenient to one’s economy and have only about ten product lines.
Sunday, May 13, 2001
Quite day in today after having gone out last night – went to the Establishment nightclub
(aka the Victorian Embassy) with Rob and company.
One of the highlights of the night was my 2.40 am Nightride bus ride home from Town Hall Station to Campbelltown, one of the better Nightrides I’ve been on actually - these after midnight train replacements are usually interminably long two and a half hour plus crawls.
The requisite yobbos that make such trips interesting were of the better variety – the more articulate, even charming and amusing, harmless variety.
They made those two and a half plus hours just fly, as the bus meandered through half of night-time Sydney pretending it was a train.
Off course, no Nightride is complete without a performance by the Yobbo Philharmonic Orchestra – the highlight of their performance was their accompaniment to “You’re So Vain” that was playing on the radio.
You haven’t lived until you’ve heard yobbos’ singing/shouting “YOU’RE SO VAIN!”
The bill also included a spirited yobbo rendition of Cold Chisel’s “Khe San”.
Halfway through the anthemic Aussie classic, one of the yobbos, obviously an intellectual as he was wearing glasses, mercifully stepped in and ordered them to stop, which they did.To the chagrin on one of the young ladies present who reproached him – “are you an Australian?” (to which one of his mates interjected “yeah but he’s a poofter”) “well you ought to be ashamed of yourself!”
The Nightride is a real Yobbfest, like the Footy Show but uncensored.
Fortunately, some of the media are standing up for sanity and tradition in the “Pell Mêlée” as the Sydney Morning Herald called it – The Sun Herald’s editorial on Sunday 13th May (“A Priest in a Turbulent City”) balanced things up a bit and provided rare counterweight.
“We firmly believe the man is entitled to a fair hearing, we reject the condescending writings and pronouncements of those who appoint themselves the voices of liberal enlightenment yet display their own intolerance towards people who lead us in faith’.
I think that that intolerance is also extended to people who have opinions and values that differ and conflict with their own.
Also in the papers, excerpts from Humphrey McQueen’s newly released “The Essence of Capitalism”,
“Globalisation is merely the latest label for imperialism and monopoly”
I couldn’t agree more, but I divide this into two sub categories.
Internally, within their own countries and other like Western countries, these multinational corporations use their clout as a means of increasing their market share and also exploiting people who work for them with all sorts of new technologies.
Previously people would work from, say, nine to five and then go home, maybe taking a bit of work home with them, but with new technology, people are chained and harnessed to this new technology and their jobs – they’re effectively on call and twenty four hours a day.
Externally, these companies are doing the same sort of thing but are also pitting the might of their corporations, countries and economies against the total opposite in most countries in which they operate.
A company like British Airways outsourcing its back office to India is not creating opportunities for Indian workers and growth for the Indian economy but is merely exploiting them as cheap labour.
Pure and simple.
If these jobs truly are as good as these fiscal fascists keep banging on about then why don’t they give them to people in London?
That flimsy threadbare altruistic cloak they attempt to cover it up with is fooling nobody, but as with all forms of imperialism today, is covering it with the fig leaf of altruism.
Plunder, murder, exploitation, invasion etc are just as prevalent nowadays as they ever were but previously they were that pure and simple and not covered, cloaked, hyped or spun as they are now.
The United States invades Iraq to obtain, via blackmail, billions of dollars from its Arab cronies in protection money (just one of their adventure’s many sordid aims) and calls it the “liberation of Kuwait”.
Most of today’s political and economic empires were built on the blood, sweat, defilement, pillaging and exploitation of what we call the Third World.
That’s why I won’t lose any sleep over piracy – piracy is merely reverse imperialism, a tiny way of avenging past imperialism.
When somebody in some Third World hellhole reverse engineers some patented Western product they are merely reverse engineering imperialism
It’s a way of getting something back, albeit a trickle, from the one-way street of imperialism (globalisation as it calls itself today).
Microsoft is the modern version of the East India Company – using a modern form of gunboat diplomacy.
Microsoft made the Lebanese parliament change statutes and outlaw piracy so that poor sods couldn’t buy programs for a couple of thousand lira’s and had to pay as much as two thousand dollars in some cases for “legal” programs or else!
They then opened up an embassy in Beirut.
McQueen also quotes Adam Smith who told his students, in the 1770’s, that governments were “a combination of the rich to oppress the poor”.
My sentiments exactly, but I think that nowadays, in modern Western democracies, governments are a buffer zone between the rich and the poor, not necessarily oppressing the poor but pacifying and placating them and keeping them in line, organized and under control so that the rich can oppress them, essentially facilitating this oppression.
The West is not a greater breeding ground for intellectual fruits; it just has the freedom to nurture them in those who are inclined that way but all that can’t create this.
In fact Western superficiality, materialism and banality smoothers this and intellectuals who emerge from this are often as superficial, materialistic and banal as the society they sprang from.
So, ironically and paradoxically, this freedom often only benefits those who don’t originally come from these societies but émigrés, exiles etc who reap the rewards of this freedom.
Unfortunately, a lot of these émigrés and exiles use their newfound freedom to attack the very societies that have freed them.
A couple of years ago, some naturalised British Muslims conspired with some Yemeni fundamentalists to attack the British Embassy in Sana!
Having done that, they hotfooted it back to Britain to claim political asylum.
Even whilst they were briefly detained in Yemen they demanded to speak to the “British Council” (sic) – they meant the British Consul (you know, the bloke they’d just tried to kill!) and not the British Council, which it can be argued they were more in need of (to learn bloody English and the difference between the British Consul and the British Council!).
Friday, May 11, 2001
The new Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Doctor George Pell, was sworn in at Saint Mary’s Cathedral yesterday.
Arriving at the cathedral, he was greeted by protestors chanting “shame Pell, shame” and waving placards with “go to hell Pell” and “get your rosaries of our ovaries” (a reference to his opposition to lesbian women mothering children through the in vitro fertilization program).
Although Archbishop Pell has raised the ire of Sydney’s considerable gay and lesbian population, it is worth noting that he is not necessarily anti-homosexual (although he’s not necessarily pro-homosexual), but the die was cast when he refused to serve Communion to confrontational homosexuals wearing sashes advertising their homosexuality (their rainbow fag “flag”).
Regarding trouble at Canterbury Bankstown football games, police last night visited about twenty Bulldogs supporters suspected of hooliganism, ahead of today’s match between the Bulldogs and the Sharks, and issued them with warning letters warning them that they could be banned from all National Rugby League games.
These mostly Muslim Lebanese fans belong to a very distinct subculture, so I’m wondering whether the police spoke with to them, or had translators speaking to them in their own sub language - “Don’t make trouble owright or I’ll get my cousin onto you – my cousin Victorian Kickboxing Champion three executive years in a row!”
Linguistic explanation, it’s ironic and paradoxical that most of these types like using big words (although they never get them right), e.g. the “executive” for “consecutive” in the above sentence.
They’re also master tautologists, “three executive/consecutive years in a row!”
And most of them do indeed claim to have a cousin who was “Victorian Kickboxing Champion three executive years in a row!”
Once in Lebanon, Will and I were making fun of this and the Australian/Lebanese person we were with, unintentionally verified this by saying that, no surprises for guessing, his cousin was indeed “Victorian Kickboxing Champion!” although I can’t recall whether it was for “three executive years in a row”.
An Afghan cricket team has played Afghanistan’s first international cricket game, playing a Pakistani team in Rawalpindi.
Maybe they should of provided assurances that they wouldn’t blow up the stumps – anti-Islamic idolatrous false idols (a la Bamyan).
Cricket came to Afghanistan via returning Afghan refugees who had picked it up whilst in camps in Pakistan and has since become quite popular.
Wednesday, May 09, 2001
I've just got back from a night out with Maha and Matt.
When I got to Central Station this afternoon, I tried to call Matt from a public telephone but it was occupied by a man who was spelling, rather than speaking, – "boy (sic) for Barry…" (No NATO phonetic alphabet for this man – it's all names of blokes down the pub).
Realizing that a spelled out conversation was going to take a lot longer than an ordinary conversation, I ventured off looking for another phone booth, hopefully unoccupied or at least occupied by someone capable of stringing letters together, and got stuck in Sydney's torrential rain.
It doesn’t rain that often here, as opposed to Melbourne, but when it does rain, it really makes up for it – it buckets down, torrential rain, the Flood-type rain.
Matt has just got back from his trip to Qweld (QLD - Queensland) and he told us all about his travels north – including a visit to the Madrigrass Festival in Nimbin, the hippy, marijuana etc "capital" of Australia.
As the name suggests, there was lot of "grass" on offer – at stalls along the main road, just two hundred meters down from the police station.
The same police station that houses dogs which are used for drug raids.
My suggestion is that, rather than stiffer dogs, they get some Seeing Eye dogs to help them detect the marijuana stalls, which they're apparently blind to, just down the road from them.
On the subject of drugs, isn’t it ironic that heroin users get free needles from the government but diabetics have to pay for their needles (except in NSW where they’ve been receiving free needles for the past six months – but even that is tenuous, with rumors that it's going to be scrapped)?
Obviously diabetics should give up their insulin indulgence and take up something considered essential and necessary enough by the government to warrant issuing of free needles - like heroin.
Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, has apologized for what he claims is the "accidental killing" of a four month old baby during Israeli shelling of a Palestinian refugee camp in Gaza (isn’t the whole of Gaza essentially a Palestinian refugee camp?).
Ariel Sharon has really come a long way – previously he'd kill Palestinian children at Palestinian refugee camps and now he kills Palestinian children at refugee camps, but now he apologizes for it ("sorry, there'll be no more accidental killing of children - only deliberate killings of children!).
What a statesman – being elected Prime Minister has obviously done him and the world a world of good!
A kinder, gentler Ariel Sharon.
Matt is very intelligent and informed, but the only news that he’s interested in right now is that that pertains to his work, the dance music scene, so he asks me for regular briefings on current affairs.
In that capacity, I was telling him about the Pope’s recent trip to Greece and the controversy it generated – due to the Great Schism (Catholic/Orthodox*) of 1054 (to put it simplistically) and explaining the history of said schism to him.
During this, in a Beavis and Butthead-esque moment, he asked me “did we learn this at school?”
“Of course we did” I lied jokingly, “this was the only thing we learnt at school, we learnt this every day, how can you not know this!?!”
But, in truth, of course we didn’t learn about the Rome/Constantinople divide, we learnt about the Sydney/Melbourne divide – that great Australian tale of two cities.
This rivalry is pretty much one-way – Sydneysiders have a superiority complex and look down on Melbournians, who are too cool to care.
But it’s more often than not good natured and in jest.
About twenty years or so ago I was with Sam at his university in Sydney.
Sam was telling a classmate that we had to get back to Campbelltown because I had to catch the bus to Melbourne.
The classmate asked whether I lived in Melbourne or was going there for a visit.
Sam replied ‘’he lives there – who’d want to visit Melbourne?’’
They jokingly call their southern neighbours Mexicans.
Even the state apparatus join in on the fun.
Once Noel me mate and I got pulled over by the police for a routine traffic check in Sydney and the policewoman, on learning that we were from Melbourne, joked that we were Mexicans.
So what is the difference between Sydney and Melbourne?
In my opinion the difference came be summed up in this metaphor - Melbourne is the queen of the Southern Hemisphere whereas Sydney is the beauty queen of the Southern Hemisphere.
Beggars it seems, can be choosers – a heroin user, interviewed on TV about, the new legal safe heroin injecting room (sic) was complaining that, being on a busy street, it wasn’t private enough.
They obviously need something more exclusive, with valet parking and room service heroin – Sheraton on Heroin.
We’ve already established that the Melbourne uniform is Country Road, but the Sydney uniform is two-toned t-shirts and tops (where the body is one colour and the sleeves are another colour) - all the rage here in Sydney, very cool and trendy in a Sydney sporty casual way.
I’m quite a fan of them myself – I’ve bought two of them (when in New Rome does as the New Romans do).
Although my Sydney uniform is of the cheaper variety – having paid $11.95 and $19.95 respectively for my two two-toned t-shirts (a Sydney tongue twister) at Harris Scarfe (a middle-of-the road Sydney department store).
I never pay full price! I want top-quality, top brands and top value at the lowest price!
I also bought some Cotton/Nylon/Elastane “Sock it to me” (get it?) brand “Aussie Socks”, emblazoned with the Australian flag, for $2.20 from Everythings a Bargain" at Liverpool Westfield Shoppingtown – ironically made in China, as are most Australian flags, souvenirs and even the Olympic Sydney 2000 merchandise!
A tragic footnote to all this, Harris-Scarf have since gone into receivership.
I fell guilty, responsible; it’s all my fault!
I knew that they couldn’t keep this up!
It’s one thing me never paying full price etc but what about those who have to bear the brunt of that?!?
*Aka Muslims with crosses.
Lebanese Maronites joke that Orthodox are closer to being Muslims.
This is exemplified in a joke doing the rounds in the early 1990’s about a Maronite who went to his parish priest and told him that he wanted to convert to Shiite Islam.
‘’We lost the war, such and such a (Maronite) leader is dead, such and such a leader is in exile, such and such a leader is in jail etc’’
The priest says ‘’you’ve got a point son but why don’t you stay within Christianity – why don’t you convert to Orthodoxy?’’
The man replies ‘’no- it’s not that bad!’’
Tuesday, May 08, 2001
I'm about to go into town to meet Maha and Matt in Darlinghurst.
What larks we'll have!
Darlinghurst is well and truly an autonomous and unique area.
You see all sorts of vice and gaiety (so to speak) that you wouldn’t see anywhere else in the ordinary Sydney.
Also, it's a lot more festive, gayer (in both senses in the word) a lot more cosmopolitan and less formal, orthodox and conformist and even less Anglo for that matter.Not just in the obvious way, lifestyle, but I think that some of that also filters down intellectually, politically and culturally – a sort of Greenwich Village or a Haight Ashbury
Sunday, May 06, 2001
Just two hours to go until the screening of the Sunday edition of Big Brother (or Big Bother – which it well and truly is) and the first eviction!
I won't sleep comfortably tonight knowing that one of those philistines is back in society.
The producers of that program have done society one service though – by rounding up twelve of the most annoying irritating wankers that ever lived and segregating them from the community in a ghetto of sorts.
Writing in the Sun-Herald newspaper, the Prime Minister, John Howard, concludes his piece on the one hundredth anniversary of Australian nationhood
"We recommit ourselves to the same goals of peace honor and prosperity that our founders set for us a hundred years ago, convinced that they are within the reach of a united and kindhearted people."
Just as in Lebanon a certain ally and a certain enemy have to be mentioned on all occasions, in Australia, sport has to be mentioned on all such occasions
"As proud Australians we also celebrate the achievements of our sportsmen and women who rank among the most successful of any in the world – our national teams have been worthy flag bearers of Australian pride and continue to be a source of tremendous unity to our people"
THE TRUTH ABOUT SPONGES
- renatoobeidsworld exclusive expose on the lies and myths of the "so-called sponge" industry
"Most of the so-called sponges sold in stores today are not true sponges – they are synthetic materials made to look and clean like true animal sponges.
Skeletons used as true commercial sponges consist of soft elastic sponge and fibers.
They are free from impurities and can absorb large amounts of water.
These qualities make sponges excellent cleaning tools.
True commercial sponges come from Tarpon Springs, off Florida's West Coast, and from waters off Key West, the Bahamas and Cuba.
Sponges are also taken from the Mediterranean Sea, off the coasts of Egypt, Greece, Tunisia and Turkey"
- World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 18, 1976
Are your sponges from Tarpon Springs, off Florida's West Coast, from waters off Key West, the Bahamas and Cuba, off the coasts of Egypt, Greece, Tunisia and Turkey?
Didn’t think so – you my gullible friend have been sold a lie!
Soak that up!
How's that for investigative journalism!
Sponges - they're all a big lie!
Those lying sponges' merchants!
You can't hide your lying sponges anymore now that I've expunged (or should I say ex-sponged) your lies and deceit!
Smoker's cough is the "good cough"
It's like a burp after a good meal.
Smoker's cough is the cough that says "I've had some good smokin'".
Smokers cough – it's the cough worth havin'.
As a matter of fact, I think I got it now.
THROW TRANSPORT DOWN THE WELL
Sydney’s public transport system is very ordinary to say the least.
Put it this way, it’s better than Lebanon’s public transport system (aka “walking”) and worse than Melbourne’s – my personal yin and yang parameters of efficiency, practicality etc.
Although they’re always working on it, there’s no visible manifestation of the results of this “work” to be seen - except for closing down virtually the whole bloody rail network every second weekend (at least the Campbelltown line anyway) ostensibly for “track maintenance” (I didn’t know that there was any bloody track to maintain), although the real reason and aim appears to be to stultify, subdue and pacify the masses, especially those in the restive provinces.
How many times have I headed off for Sydney on a Saturday night, hell-bent on revolution and upheaval, only to find that the trains weren’t running and had to catch a replacement bus that thinks it’s a train, drives me around in circles in a not so merry-go-round for two and a half hours* and drops me off dizzy, exhausted and spent in the state capital?
If the Zapatista rebels, who seized four county capitals in the southeast Mexican state of Chiapas on New Years Day 1994, had of been driven around in circles for two and a half hours in a bus en route to those said county capitals from their jungle hideaways the exact same thing would of happened to them and the uprising would never of occurred.
State Rail (or should that be Statist Rail?) has inadvertently created a perfect way of quelling restive provincials.
* The reason why what usually takes around forty minutes on the train takes two and a half hours on the bus is that it has to follow the train’s regular route and stop at every station – which is much easier for a train to do than for a bus which has to weave in and out of cities and then back onto the highway etc.
Tuesday, May 01, 2001
MOY DAY, MOY DAY!
May Day anti-globalization demonstrations held around the world.
On the television news this evening, I saw images of the Australian protests ? Australian kids quibbling with police over demarcation lines "your permit says you can protest here but not there ? listen to moy, look at moy!"
And then I saw some of the protests in Europe ? Molotov cocktail throwing rioters battling against armed police, tanks and teargas.
Now that's a protest/riot!
Unlike our version where you get a permit beforehand ? "excuse me Mr. "The Man", may I protest on such and such a day between such and such a time?"
Whoever heard of permit applying revolutionaries?
Can you imagine a Mr.V.I. Lenin sending in an application to Czar Nicholas II for a revolution permit - "dear Mr.II, may I please have a revolution permit to overthrow your regime?"
Just as "the revolution will not be televised"*, it also won't be permitted! (actually, it will be strictly forbidden!)
If Australia wants to compete on the world stage, as it always says it does, it's going to have to do a lot better than that!
How can we ever look a Northern Irishman or South Korean** in the face again?
But nearly all of the protesters have one thing in common ? they're part-time revolutionaries and fulltime hypocrites.
They'll protest against globalization and then they'll go off to McDonalds and have a Big Mac for lunch and go home and watch Foxtel and worry about their taxes.
A friend of mine took the day off from his $150,000 a year job at a multinational bank to protest against er?um?$150,000 a year paying multinational banks in the 2000 Melbourne S11 protests!
(in his defense, he's since quit that job)
*How will we know about it then? ? If a tree falls in the forest and nobody televises it, did it still fall?
**Asians are pretty adept at rioting too, particularly the South Koreans and Taiwanese.
Although the Taiwanese are not as good at street riots as the South Koreans are, preferring instead to specialize in parliament riots.
Sometimes I think that Taiwanese parliamentarians and Channel Nine are in collusion so that the Channel Nine Evening News can close their bulletin with footage of rioting Taiwanese parliamentarians ? the classic news-ending footage (when images of cars crashing and bursting into flames at Grand Prix races or cute newborn animals frolicking at the zoo aren?t available).
I was talking to a friend of mine today and she was saying how my aunty here spoils me, home cooked Lebanese meals etc, as does my mother back in Lebanon and that I can go anywhere in the world and get that sort of treatment.
"Hey, that?s globalization, the New World Order" was my response.
I telephoned Guy today to wish him a happy May Day.
It's not as inappropriate as it sounds ? Guy isn?t the workers enemy, as this anecdote, straight out of a happy version of "Bonfire of the Vanities", will verify.
When I was in Melbourne, Guy and I went on one of our drives back to the '"hood".
It was about 10.30 PM on a Thursday night, driving through Williamstown and past the dockyards, we saw a group of striking workers from the dockyards, camping out around a campfire, on a picket at the gates.
So Guy, the confident well-dressed businessman in his multi-thousand dollar Mercedes, pulls over and asks them what the story is.
He then asked them whether they wanted any beers and, surprisingly enough just as the Pope is Catholic and children piss in the swimming pool, they said yes.
So we drove off on an emergency dash to the nearby bottle shop and got them two slabs* of VB ? the workers beer, go back to the dockyards and distribute the beer to the picketers who mill around shaking our hands, asking us questions (who we are, what we do?) and explaining their version of the affair.
Suffice to say, we made some friends that night ? they'll probably be telling their grandchildren this story which will become the stuff of union legend.
There's probably a law against that somewhere ? inebriating strikers or something or other (laws concerning alcohol and motorists are the only laws Australian parliaments seem to make).
*A "slab" is Australian for a carton containing twenty-four bottles or cans.
Anthony and I were sitting around at 4.00am one morning watching TV when Anthony turned to me and said "do you realize that we've got another fifty years to kill?"
That is the most accurate summation of both of our lives and our attitudes and Weltanschauungs that I've ever heard or thought of and probably that he's ever heard or thought of too.
It's no secret that comedians like Anthony and wannabe satirists like me are a pretty miserable depressive bunch – life is often so stupid, miserable, boring, banal and pointless that the best way to cope with it is to make fun of it, the only thing we can do is make fun of it.
I think that such people often have the truest and most accurate insight into life – life is so often just a bad joke, so let's just show it for what it is!
‘’The best way to defeat the devil is to mock him’’ as C.S. Lewis observed.
Comedy is a very unfunny business!
I learnt that on my last visit here, the "comedy tour" in 1998, when I spent a lot of time on tour with Anthony and the "crew".
This visit has been the "dance tour" - I've been spending a lot of time with Matt and his inthemix (dance music website) colleagues and their retinue of DJ's etc.
Whilst I enjoy that and other ventures into town, I also like being on the last train out of Sydney – heading back to my Campbelltown redoubt (just as in Lebanon I like to go back to my mountain redoubt in Harisa).
The last train out of Sydney's almost gone.
My verdict on dance music – it's nothing to sing and dance about.
And if you must sing and dance, then just play the record and shut up! – playing records is essentially what these DJ's are doing when you take away all the carrying-on and hype.
Jeff Mills (who I met during my adventures in danceland!) whacks a soundtrack onto a 1920's black and white movie, "Metropolis" (I attended the Sydney premiere! – "Dude, Where's My Car?" wins hands down) and then goes on a world tour to tell everyone about it!
I'm not a huge fan of "Seinfeld" – if I want to watch whining Jews I can just watch CNN.
Just one of several examples of CNN's pro-Israeli bias – they recently reported on some sort of Islamic conference held in Tehran which heard "controversial remarks" about the true extent of the Holocaust from Ayatollah Khamenei.
Now news must be looked at within its context - within the context of an Islamic meeting in Tehran, those comments surely weren't controversial.
In fact, in that context, not making remarks like that would be controversial.
Australians will never want for furniture.
There is so much furniture in this country and so many furniture purveyors.
And the proprietors of such establishments are always going crazy!
Tell your friends, tell your neighbors, tell your relatives but don't tell the police!
They've gone completely mad! Bananas! They're giving it way! How long can they keep this up for!?!
Something must be done, this can't be good for the economy, no society ever got anywhere by giving furniture away* (look at what happened to the Ottoman Empire), and it's bound to damage us internationally – surely it must be against the World Trade Organization convention to give away furniture.
Fuzzy furniture – it must be the furniture equivalent of fuzzy economics.
*With a personal fortune of $53 billion, Ikea Furniture founder Ingvar Kamprad is the richest man in the world (Forbes 500 2004 – when I actually got around to transcribing this).
To the best of my knowledge, he didn’t get there by giving away! furniture.
Whenever I miss Melbourne and it's pretentious vain superficial formal and stuffy nightlife, I go to the Establishment bar here in Sydney.
I thought that that type of place was banned here in Sydney – as is any place where you can't wear a t-shirt, shorts and thongs and pretend you live in Miami or any place that doesn’t play Cold Chisel's "Khe San" and Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl" (practically the state anthems here).
The Establishment is the closest thing we have to a Victorian Embassy here in New South Wales.
Another candidate for a possible Victorian Embassy is Country Road – purveyors of the Melbourne uniform (as Anthony used to call their wares – "lets go to Country Road and get a Melbourne uniform" he used to say as we trudged through the Bourke Street Mall).
Various possible methods of curtailing the rioting, vandalism and other raucous behavior of mainly Australian/Lebanese Muslim Canterbury Bankstown supporters are being entertained – including having local Muslim sheiks attend the games in the hope that they may set an example and shame their wayward flock into submission.
That could also go horribly wrong – what if the sheiks themselves get caught up in the game and issue a fatwa or declare a holy war against the infidel opponents?
There's no fear of the Islamic green flag or any other flag flying at rugby league games though – in a move apparently aimed at Australian/Lebanese fans who used to wave their Lebanese flags , "national flags not permitted" signs were on display at the recent Canterbury vs. Parramatta game I recently attended at Parramatta Stadium.
That can't be legal – whatever happened to freedom of expression or freedom of irrelevancy?
Don't people have the right to take an irrelevant (in this context) national flag to a domestic rugby game?
I used to have an Australian flag out on my balcony in Lebanon and no Lebanese ever asked me to take it down or banned it.
Should that be banned?
Should Australians be banned from waving Australian flags in support of Australian teams or nationals at overseas sporting events?
Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think that there have ever been any ‘’national flags not permitted’’ signs at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, home of the Wimbledon tennis tournament for example.