Sunday, May 08, 2005


What me Slack?

I've had correspondence to the effect that I've been slack. That the publication rate from The City is not satisfactory. That there's an awful lot out there needing commenting upon, and that my irate rate is not cutting the mustard.

You've got to understand that I have excuses, and I'll use them. For example the old Remington is close to seizing up after all these years, and the presses have seen better days. The shop steward, who's a mighty fine bloke by the way, only lets the presses run for a few hours each day and hardly ever on weekends, because he's concerned that they'll overheat. We're a union shop here also, and like you may have fire drills in your building, we have strike drills. The strike alarm goes off at least three times a day around here, and its one out all out. We're preparing ourselves for the big IR showdown with Mr. Howard once he gets control of the Senate.

But now that the Remington is warm I do find myself inclined to comment on the state of the telly. In particular, the dearth of material that speaks to, and celebrates our culture. Recently we’ve been flogging the great Aussie experience to the Yanks, and they’ve been lapping it up apparently. But what are they going to find when they fly on out here and ensconce themselves in the Sheraton? That the telly’s the same as back home, that’s what! Same news; OK sure different accent, but same scrolling ticker style news broadcasts with that same tiresome mid-blue backdrop that Channel Nine thinks gives its giggle hour, gravitas.

Same Pop-culture as well. As they’re sitting back in the bath, watching the telly through the glass wall separating the bathroom from the rest of the suite, they’ll be watching Survivor, or Big Brother or American Idol. “Hey Honey, they sure do have a lot of black people here in Orstralia”.

The problem is that we’re not concentrating enough on giving these visitors the taste of Australia that they’ve paid good greenbacks to come and see. It’s our marketeers. Those smarmy ad-agency types, with their Blackberrys and their iPods plugged into their brain, and their pre-fab casualness, and with those dicky little beard things just under their lip. They sit back with their demographic slide rules calculating just what will appeal to which sub-cultural sub-segment, and give us exactly what they say, we think, we want.

There is one ray of hope though. I’ve seen it a few times now on SBS on Saturday nights. Its called Rockwiz, and its produced by Raymond J. Bartholemuez who you may remember as the stumbling beatnik poet on Hey Hey it’s Saturday before we all realised that having a pink fluffy Ostrich on a show for adults was a touch embarrassing.

Recorded in the Esplanade Hotel, for added authenticity, Rockwiz features some fun banter, with a pretty hostess with amazingly cute dimples (Julia Zemiro), and nostalgia in the form of an endless parade of memorable guitar and keyboard riffs played with fluid grace by James Black (I think).

This show, which clearly slipped under the radar screens of those demographers and marketeers, speaks to me. It speaks to the 14 year old youth who knew that Ballroom Blitz was a great song even if The Sweet were a bit uncool, and it was unwise to mention it around a bunch of Kiss fans. It speaks to the 25 year old at the Deep Purple concert, happily air-guitaring to “My Woman From Tokyo”, and trying to reproduce an authentic Ian Gillan scream. It speaks volumes this show. It doesn’t say “dude” or “chill” or “sick” or “badass”. It says “shit hot”, “top”, “you beauty”, “F’n Oath”, and just occasionally “It’s a gas” ('cause Mick said it).

This is the type of thing that we need more of. Inventive, amateurish, and completely Australian. It’s time that our marketeers and demographers opened their eyes to the possibilities right here in their own back yard, and started also to think of our foreign guests, and offered them the telly that they’ve come out here to see.

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