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25 Feb 17:00

Other People's Babies

by Laura June

One afternoon late last summer, when Zelda was seven months old, we were on a long walk in our Brooklyn neighborhood. It was about the time when we usually ventured home to play in her room for a while before having dinner in the kitchen. But there was a breeze coming off the river and I didn’t feel like going home just yet. The sun was not too hot, and there was a beautiful light shimmering over Greenpoint. Our courage was up. The restaurant at the end of our street had tables out on the sidewalk, and just one was occupied. “Let’s have dinner here, Zelda,” I said, locking the foot brake on her stroller. We sat down and lazily gazed at the menu while we waited for the high chair. I looked over at the only other patron: a woman, about my age, sitting alone, reading The New Yorker. Her hair looked freshly cut and styled. “Oh fuck, she’s reading The New Yorker,” I thought to myself, laughing. Just a woman alone at a sidewalk cafe reading a magazine. How luxurious. How common.

As I wrestled Zelda into her high chair, she started yelling. Not an angry yell, but one that was designed to get another’s attention. With her strapped in, I sat back down and looked at her. She was smiling and calling to the woman reading alone. The woman was wearing sunglasses and so was I, but still, I thought I detected a hint of annoyance. Everything in that moment was laden with meaning for me: I felt judged because my baby was being annoying and loud. I looked at Zelda’s little sundress and noticed that it had pink stains—from strawberries—down the front of it. I looked down at myself and saw that my jeans had a mysterious faint crust on the thighs from some forgotten moment of exasperation earlier when I’d simply “woosh,” rubbed my hands down my legs as a form of cleaning or drying or Jesus, I don’t know. Zelda yelled again. A happy yell. She waved frantically, waiting for a nod or a hint of recognition. She wasn’t used to being ignored. We’d sat several tables away from the lone reader on purpose just to avoid this exact scenario. “Zelda,” I said, “the lady is reading. Talk to me instead,” I said to her, trying to strike a tonal balance of level-headedness and also scoffing “babies are so dumb”-ness. The lone reader sipped her glass of wine. Zelda’s imploring got louder.

“This is a shitshow,” I thought to myself, my confidence deflating in one moment. “This woman alone, she hates me and she hates my baby for ruining her quiet Tuesday afternoon. And I hate us too. We’re annoying and gross and terrible.” I didn’t believe any of this but I felt it, completely.

I felt it as I heard a wailing baby from far off, a baby that wasn’t mine, as I ordered my own glass of wine. “Wow, loud baby,” I thought to myself as my own darling nightmare leaned over in her high chair to lick the table. I felt it still, moments later, as I saw a man in his thirties pushing an expensive, gigantic stroller down Kent Street, the wailing baby identified. “Poor guy,” I thought, “his baby is worse off than mine.” Zelda was still trying to lick the table. And I felt the feeling, still, though it began to thaw and melt away, as the woman alone reading her New Yorker removed her sunglasses and put them on the table, chugged the last of her wine, and stood up. I saw a stain on the thigh of her skinny jeans as the napkin dropped from her lap to the dirty sidewalk. She turned to the man in the stroller, who was now within earshot, baby still screaming bloody murder. “I guess he’s not going to sleep,” she said to him as he engaged the foot brake. “We should go then,” she said, glancing at me and my now silent baby.

“How old is he?” I asked, sipping my glass of wine. “Nine weeks tomorrow,” she said, smiling weakly. “How old is she?” She gestured to Zelda, who waved, smiling a drooly smile. “Just passed seven months” I smiled back. Little old nine-weeks was still wailing, dad desperately attempting to jam a pacifier into its mouth over and over. “Does it get easier?” he asked, looking up at me for the first time.

“Oh, we have our days,” I said.

“This seems like one of the good ones,” mom said, jamming her New Yorker into the stroller. “I guess so,” I said, shrugging and smiling at my baby.

Before I had a baby, I disliked them intensely. I could get along with toddlers and children; we had things in common, like getting food on the front of our clothes during meals and barking back at the dog when she barks at us. Babies seemed annoying and loud and unmanageable.

I spent a lot of time in high school babysitting. I enjoyed it, but as I fumbled towards adulthood, babies became an aberration in my life. My only experience with them, for a very long time, was seeing them throw food onto the floors of the various restaurants that I worked in. Or hearing them scream on airplanes. One of the first times I travelled long distance with my husband, I remember how shocked he was when I craned my neck around, looking frantically for the source of the screaming. “Who brings a baby on a seven hour flight?” I screeched. “I hope someone died, at least.” The sound of a baby, wailing uncontrollably, was worse than any sound imaginable, to me just then. “It’s not the baby I’m upset about, it can’t help it. It’s the parents I’m angry with!” The parents, I reasoned, were putting this baby — who obviously belonged at HOME — into situations where both it and I were unhappy. Shame on them.

If there is such a thing as eating one’s words, allow me to feast on them now, barely chewing, gulping them down with a giant glass of pinot noir, since I now have a one year old baby. As soon as the ground thawed and we began to explore, around the time the baby was just a few months old, I decided to “take her out.” In practice, this meant to stores and to restaurants. At first, it was a nightmare: her in her stroller, me choking down a salad at the neighborhood bistro, nervous on behalf of the other patrons, since she could and would lose it at any moment. But there’s nothing a parent learns to ignore faster than the sound of a baby screaming, and I acknowledge this with some sense of the irony involved.

I learned some tricks. I learned to love noisy restaurants, because they hid the sounds of her loud, boisterous speaking voice. And once she was old enough to sit in a high chair, I only went to restaurants with high chairs. I had a list of them in my mind, and some of my formerly favorite haunts became absolutely off-limits. I went on off-peak hours—if the place opened at 10 for brunch, we’d be there waiting, the first people in the door. Dinner at 5PM? We’re there. We went to the same places over and over, getting to know the staff, so that they (we imagined) welcomed us. I tried to take her out when she’d just woken up—she was happier then, and hungry.

She loves going out to eat. And she makes friends at nearly any establishment we go to. But I have no illusions about her manners. Now that she is fully onboard with eating solid food, she is quite messy. The floor beneath her high chair after a meal is a bloodbath, and she hasn’t mastered the art of not pitching her bottle, or sippy cup, or bib, onto the floor whenever she has finished with it. At first, I spent a lot of time at the ends of meals on my hands and knees, wiping up piles of discarded food from the floors. Eventually, enough busboys and servers and restaurant managers discouraged me that I simply stopped trying. Now, at the end of a meal, after paying, I simply say to the server, “sorry about the mess! Her manners are a little lacking!” and hope that tipping thirty-five percent or more makes up for our daughter’s obvious faults.

I am fairly certain it does. As does being simply apologetic for it. As does not tolerating a full on outburst in a public, controlled setting. Which we don’t: once or twice, Zelda has decided that she is just not in the mood for brunch. Fair enough: off we go, out the door. I’ve left my husband several times to finish his food alone and pick up the check. I know my daughter’s limits, and I know the limits of what I, in my former, babyless days, would find tolerable. I can tell when the cute has worn off.

That’s not to say she isn’t annoying. And here is where I’ll eat my words: She is annoying. She is loud and messy and gross. She is a baby, and lacks any semblance of real-world human skills. I accept this as a harsh reality, spending, as I do, twenty-four hours a day in her company. I don’t treasure her running the butter-soaked palm of her hand down the side of my face, and shirt, and crotch, any more than anyone else would. I try to be realistic about her aptitude for the outside world, and it’s a pretty low bar some days.

As Zelda and I walked home that day, I had a stunning though obvious realization: we were all babies once. I didn’t spring into life, fully grown, an Athena in our midst. I once was an awful member of society. I once groped my mother in public and yelled for strangers’ attentions. I once hated other people’s babies, and, truth be told, I can still get a little judgy at the sight of a particularly awful baby specimen. But, now that I’m a parent of an actual, tiny, barbaric human, I see that it’s my duty to take her out, daily, into society, in order to cull her of her worst impulses. To teach her that sometimes the people sitting just one airplane seat over don’t want to talk, or that the lady reading her New Yorker five feet away isn’t her best friend. This is the social contract: we must raise our young to be human people with manners and dignity. And you, the adult humans of the world, must tolerate us while we embark on our excursion.

I apologize in advance: you are part of the journey. I promise, she will be better for it. Thank you for your patience.

Photo by Daliophoto


The Parent Rap is an endearing column about the fucked up and cruel world of parenting

19 Feb 21:00

The 2015 Cool Cat Name Contest

by Hallie Bateman

18 Feb 16:19

This 1956 Kitchen Hasn’t Been Touched For 50 Years

by Dovas

In a strange and unexpected discovery, furniture designer and creator Nathan Chandler found and bought a home that had remained sealed since 1956, keeping its mid-century American interior perfectly intact. Though the house has recently been sold, the retro interior design of this kitchen provided us with a look at a time long gone.

It’s not clear why the original owners of the home kept it sealed for so long, but we’re glad they did, because the interior décor elements are absolutely perfect. From the pastel pink counters to the manuals still attached to the unused GE home appliances, every detail is straight out of a 1950s American family sitcom.

The fate of this period kitchen is uncertain, but we’re glad to have had a look into such a strangely-preserved historic space!

More info: Flickr (h/t: retrorenovation, demilked)

The first thing you’ll notice is that this kitchen has pink everywhere

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These are the buttons to an electric stovetop – note the old-school cover

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This fridge is mounted at eye-level, like a cabinet

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Even the oven is pink!

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The appliances all still come with their 1950s manuals

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The fridge is a bit small, but at least it’s… pink

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The dishwasher pulls all the way out

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Here’s what dish detergent looked like in the 50s

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02 Feb 21:00

Punk band with Down Syndrome looks to raise awareness in Eurovision Song Contest

by Alex Moore

A punk band from Finland is looking to make this year’s Eurovision Song Contest a little more interesting.

PKN (Pertti Kurikan Nimipaivat) is a four-piece punk band whose members all have Down Syndrome—some are also autistic. They’ve been playing together for the last six years and were the centerpiece of a 2009 documentary called “The Punk Syndrome,” which explored the band as a vehicle for self-expression and raising awareness about Down Syndrome.

The band formed in a charity workshop for adults with intellectual disabilities, and The Independent reports that this year they’re hoping to bring more awareness to their cause by competing in the Eurovision Song Contest.

Eurovision is kind of like the Olympics for pop songs, but only in Europe. Also like the Olympics, none of the winners are people you’d hear about in regular life—the only Eurovision champs you’d probably recognize since the event’s founding in 1956 are Celine Dion and ABBA.

So suffice it to say that a Finnish punk band with Down Syndrome will be a break from the norm. PKN winning Eurovision would be about the only thing that would make the contest really noteworthy on a global level.

The Independent notes the song they plan to submit is “Aina Mun Pitaa,” which translates to “I Always Have To.” Take a listen:

The contest winner will be announced in Vienna, Austria—this year’s Eurovision host country—on May 23rd. Before getting to the finals PKN will have to beat out 17 other Finnish bands to represent their country at Eurovision.

But judging the career arcs of past years’ winners, these guys have already won just by raising the awareness that they have so far.

[h/t Independent Image]

27 Jan 09:06

NewWind raises €1.1 Million for its Urban Tree-Shaped Wind Turbine

by Peter Campobasso

NewWindFrench green tech company, NewWind, just raised over 1.1€ million for its product, l’Arbre à Vent. A wind turbine in the form of a tree, this device is capable of generating enough electricity for a family of four, or about 3.5kW of energy. The innovation comes in the silent spin of the light-weight metallic leaves on each branch that turn even in the lightest of winds, essentially able to generate energy in most weather conditions.

The Brittany-based company received its funding locally, with 390,000€ coming from Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne, Crédit Agricole des Cotes d’Armor, and the Initiative Armor, while the other 760,000€ came from WiSeed, a French crowd funding site. The money comes just two months before the Arbre à Vent makes its debut at the Place de la Concorde in Paris. This couldn’t be better positioning for a Green Tech solution orienting itself towards urban settings. In a city preparing for a Global Climate Summit later on this year, the Arbre à Vent is may just be poised to receive even more financial support as well as great media attention. It could certainly make a big splash in the Reinvent Paris call for projects, in which it is taking part.

Pricing for the Wind Tree turbine runs at about 29,500€. Time will tell just how this product will be used. NewWind shows the prototype in urban public spaces, such as parks, and it is certainly imaginable in many open spaces. While it’s definitely a new concept to address urban sustainability challenges, I question how the “planting” of these new turbine-trees will impact their natural neighbors in an urban setting. Whether people will go for the juxtaposition could be at issue. Municipalities purchasing it will have to address what exact use it will serve, in particular how much power they are expecting to get from it when deciding if it’s worth the cost. However, the response it receives in Paris, a city of aesthetics, will be highly demonstrative as to whether or not this will be a hit on the market as a whole.

"NewWind raises €1.1 Million for its Urban Tree-Shaped Wind Turbine" by Peter Campobasso originally appeared on Rude Baguette

22 Jan 06:04

Björk Just Dropped Some Serious Truths About Women In The Music Industry

by Meg Watson

To discuss the release of her new album VulnicuraBjörk — Icelandic musician and global trendsetter in all that is weird — recently sat down to talk to Jessica Hopper from Pitchfork. This new album, which works through the end of her relationship with long-time partner, Matthew Barney, is a major turn for the artist whose music has previously been occupied with surreal takes on particle physics and an ongoing fascination with gemstones.

So naturally, there was a lot to talk about.

Published today, the interview starts out in a predictably odd fashion (making note of the fact the artist is attired in a flamingo-pink kimono and sporadically breaking into tears), but it ends somewhere a lot more interesting. Björk used it as an opportunity to speak out about some of the problems and prejudices she’s faced as a woman in the music industry.

Here are some of the serious truths she dropped.

#1: “Women are the glue. It’s invisible, what women do. It’s not rewarded as much.”

When speaking about the huge difference in subject matter between Biophilia and Vulnicura, Björk tried to explain the way in which the former album was also a kind of statement about womanhood.

“I was being like Kofi Annan — I had to be the pacifist to try to unite the impossible. Maybe that was a strange, personal job between me and myself, to show how overreaching I was being as a woman. The only way I could express that was by comparing it to the universe. If you can make nature and technology friends, then you can make everyone friends; you can make everyone intact. That’s what women do a lot — they’re the glue between a lot of things. Not only artists, but whatever job they do: in the office, or homemakers. Biophilia was like my own personal slapstick joke, showing I had to reach so long — between solar systems — to connect everything. It’s like the end scene in Mary Poppins, when she’s made everyone friends, and the father realises that kids are more important than money — and [then] she has to leave [crying]. It’s a strange moment. Women are the glue. It’s invisible, what women do. It’s not rewarded as much.”

Of course, you may not have got this impression at first from listening to songs like ‘Crystalline’ where she puts her head inside a planet and shoots laser beams at the moon, but it’s a pretty interesting idea all the same.

That Bjork piece is so important, esp thinking about how women’s labour is meant to be so invisible that it isn’t even thought of as labour.

— Madeleine Wall (@clairgustance) January 22, 2015

#2: On taking ownership of her work: “You’re a coward if you don’t stand up. Not for you, but for women. Say something.”

As is the case with many female artists, there have been many times when she hasn’t got the full credit she deserved. This came to a head most recently with Vulnicura; many news outlets credited Alejandro Ghersi (aka Acra) with the production, despite the fact Björk was a co-producer.

“I didn’t want to talk about that kind of thing for 10 years, but then I thought, “You’re a coward if you don’t stand up. Not for you, but for women. Say something.” So around 2006, I put something on my website where I cleared something up, because it’d been online so many times that it was becoming a fact. It wasn’t just one journalist getting it wrong, everybody was getting it wrong. I’ve done music for, what, 30 years? I’ve been in the studio since I was 11; Alejandro had never done an album when I worked with him.”

just to clarify! rather than "sole producing,"@bjork and I are coproducing music together! just a quick correction to phrasing !! *curtsie*

— Arca (@arca1000000) September 30, 2014

She then spoke more generally about the problem at large.

“I have nothing against Kanye West. Help me with this — I’m not dissing him — this is about how people talk about him. With the last album he did, he got all the best beatmakers on the planet at the time to make beats for him. A lot of the time, he wasn’t even there. Yet no one would question his authorship for a second. If whatever I’m saying to you now helps women, I’m up for saying it. For example, I did 80% of the beats on Vespertine and it took me three years to work on that album, because it was all microbeats — it was like doing a huge embroidery piece. Matmos came in the last two weeks and added percussion on top of the songs, but they didn’t do any of the main parts, and they are credited everywhere as having done the whole album. [Matmos’] Drew [Daniel] is a close friend of mine, and in every single interview he did, he corrected it. And they don’t even listen to him. It really is strange.”

While I was thought Kanye as a conductor, not pure creator, on his last album, I had no idea Bjork did Vaspertine's melodies. Amazing.

— Allistair Pinsof (@megaspacepanda) January 22, 2015

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#3: “Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times.”

After firmly establishing that she’s had to deal with some pretty fucked up things, she came out with some broader life advice for women who can learn from her experiences.

“I want to support young girls who are in their 20s now and tell them: You’re not just imagining things. It’s tough. Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times. Girls now are also faced with different problems. I’ve been guilty of one thing: After being the only girl in bands for 10 years, I learned — the hard way — that if I was going to get my ideas through, I was going to have to pretend that they — men — had the ideas. I became really good at this and I don’t even notice it myself. I don’t really have an ego. I’m not that bothered. I just want the whole thing to be good. And I’m not saying one bad thing about the guys who were with me in the bands, because they’re all amazing and creative, and they’re doing incredible things now. But I come from a generation where that was the only way to get things done. So I have to play stupid and just do everything with five times the amount of energy, and then it will come through.”

Yikes. Though that may be helpful for women who are feeling downtrodden or unheard, it’s a pretty sad state of affairs when your best advice is, ‘It sucks, but that’s the way it is’.

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#4: “It’s a lot of what people see … maybe it’s not all sexist evil.”

The musician then conceded that it’s difficult to convey a sense of ownership in her kind of musical style — one hugely driven by behind-the-scenes mixing work that nobody ever gets to see. Though that doesn’t really account for her seemingly shitty experience with men elsewhere, it’s probably an important concession to make when making such accusations.

“When I met M.I.A., she was moaning about this, and I told her, “Just photograph yourself in front of the mixing desk in the studio, and people will go, ‘Oh, OK! A woman with a tool, like a man with a guitar … It’s a lot of what people see. During a show, because there are people onstage doing the other bits, I’m just a singer. For example, I asked Matmos to play all the beats for the Vespertine tour, so maybe that’s kind of understandable that people think they made them. So maybe it’s not all sexist evil. [laughs] But it’s an ongoing battle. I hope it doesn’t come across as too defensive, but it is the truth. I definitely can feel the third or fourth feminist wave in the air, so maybe this is a good time to open that Pandora’s box a little bit and air it out.”

YES. Who knew Björk made so much sense when she wasn’t making whale noises?

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Read the full interview on Pitchfork.

21 Jan 18:20

How to Not Give a Shit: Making Art While Female

by Dayna Evans

How to Not Give a Shit: Making Art While Female

"I feel very strongly about that: an alternative to the idea of women being a certain way." Janet Weiss, the drummer for Sleater-Kinney, was sitting on a leather green swivel chair three feet in front of me as she responded to a question from Broad City's Ilana Glazer about feminism. "The quiet, demure, soft-spoken sort of stereotype. The three of us get on stage and we really try to break that down and give people who feel differently than that a place to go and a place to express themselves."

Read more...

21 Jan 20:02

Remedial Bicycling

by Hallie Bateman

20 Jan 17:00

Why You Should Always Lock Your Car Doors in San Francisco

by Matthew J.X. Malady

People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, writer Roberto Baldwin tells us more about living in a state of Uber confusion—which is to say, California.

Pulled over to text wife. Someone got in my car thinking it was an uber. Le sigh

— Roberto Baldwin (@strngwys) January 3, 2015

Roberto! So what happened here?

At some point every car in San Francisco will be an Uber and every citizen, a driver, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when a random stranger walked up to my car, opened the passenger door, and started to take a seat. Actually, it’s really my fault. I pulled over to respond to a text from my wife a few yards from the famous-for-charging-too-much-for-toast coffee shop, The Mill. If you’re a car near The Mill, you’re probably picking up or dropping off a very important startup founder or VC. 

Still it was a bit surprising when a gentleman who was on the phone started to get into my car. Before he actually took a seat, he peered into the vehicle and I asked, “Can I help you?” His response, “Oh shit!” He then quickly closed the door and ran off. I mean ran in the literal sense. He actually ran away from the car. 

As he ran off (actually running) he mumbled something to the mysterious person on the other end of his phone call. Maybe he told the person he almost got into a private passenger vehicle thinking it was his Uber. I like to think he told the person that he was almost kidnapped and it was only his quick thinking and sprinting that saved him from a life of basement bondage.

The weirdest part is that I drive a Fiat—the small one with only two doors. Not exactly a car made for driving random strangers around (or kidnapping them), and yet this has happened before. 

Wait, this has happened to you in the past? Does it always go down in the exact same way? And have you thought about running some sort of prearranged bit the next time this occurs?

Not only has it happened before, but other people are telling me that this happens pretty often in San Francisco. The last time it happened to me it was about 10 p.m. at night and I was South of Market. I had just gotten into my car and started it up. I was selecting music on my iPhone when a guy walked up, opened the door and began to sit in the passenger seat. I just looked at him iPhone in hand, The Smiths blaring out of the speakers, thinking it was someone I knew hopping in the car to say hi. Nope, just some random dude who decided that getting into a stranger’s car in the middle of the night without first making sure it was his ride was a smart idea. He quickly realized his mistake, apologized, and got out of the car. 

I’ve decided that next time this happens I’ll just drive off with the person and start asking if they have the money for the “stuff.” As they stutter that they’re not sure what I’m talking about and that they must have gotten into the wrong car, I’ll tell them: “Yeah, I bet Dave told you to say that. You know what? You can tell Dave he’s not getting his pets back until he pays what’s due. In fact, I want you to put that fancy-ass phone to your ear right now, call Dave, and tell him I said that.” At that point I’m pretty sure they’ll just jump out of the vehicle. Or, they’ll call Dave and tell him what I said. 

Another option is to treat it like a car-jacking and scream at the individual that I have a wife and kids and that they can have my car, just please don’t hurt me. 

Lesson learned (if any)? 

I suppose I should start locking my car doors while I drive. People will still try to get in the car, but a locked door will hopefully snap them out of their trance and allow them to see that this Fiat isn’t their ride to the Battery or startup party or wherever the hell they’re going. 

Just one more thing.

The next iteration of this is someone knocking at my front door because they think I’m in their Airbnb. There’ll be confusion and phones will be double checked because “I’m sure this is the address.” Eventually they’ll leave. Well, hopefully. 

This is just a symptom of everyone in San Francisco walking around in a smartphone-induced haze. Sure it happens in other places, but this is the birthplace of the technology that begs for our attention. And because we can never be unconnected or bored, we gleefully give it over. So instead of paying attention to what’s going on around us, we jump into the car of a random stranger because an app said that’s where our ride would be located. 

I’m just as bad as everyone else, with my face buried in Twitter as I walk past the bar I was supposed to meet friends at for the third time. How long until someone actually drives off with a confused Uber customer? I’m sure it’s happening right now. But at least they’re not being charged surge pricing or a safety fee.

Photo by Joakim Formo

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23 Dec 19:00

The Passive-Aggressive Guide to Book Gifting

by Louisa Hager

Hamlet, by William Shakespeare
The perfect gift for: Your mom
What you're really saying: "Your new boyfriend is not my dad and I'm going to make things very difficult for you."

Le Morte d’Arthur, by Sir Thomas Malory
The perfect gift for: Your absent father
What you’re really saying: “See what happens when you ignore your kid?”

The Odyssey, by Homer
The perfect gift for: Your boyfriend
What you’re really saying: “You’re always late, and I have other options.”

Read more The Passive-Aggressive Guide to Book Gifting at The Toast.

15 Jan 20:20

Belle and Sebastian Albums, In Order

by Alex Balk

bellea-ifyour_04

9. Storytelling

8. Write About Love

7. Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance

6. Dear Catastrophe Waitress

5. The Boy with the Arab Strap

4. Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant

3. The Life Pursuit

2. Tigermilk

1. If You’re Feeling Sinister

12 Jan 16:20

The Internet Is Terrible Because Of Everyone: A Continuing Series

by Alex Balk

For someone who believes that everything is terrible and only getting worse, and that what we see on the web is both fulcrum and paradigm of that horrific progression, I spend a lot of time thinking about and discussing the Internet and its awfulness. Perhaps it is masochism. Perhaps it is the manifestation of a desire to somehow identify the source of the increasing terror that is corroding our souls. Perhaps it is a combination of the two. Regardless, my continuing examinations into the nightmare of our existence in the digital space and its spillover into our waking life have already resulted in the discovery of Balk’s Law (“Everything you hate about The Internet is actually everything you hate about people.”) and more recently yielded a further realization which, in consultation with a team of advisers, is still being refined, but that I feel is too important to keep from the population at large until it has been fully developed.

I want to repeat the caveat that this is highly theoretical and its ultimate implications have not yet been rationalized, and also warn you that there is a good deal of technical imprecision to the theory as it currently exists, but if you are willing to look past those exceptions we can proceed. Okay. At some point, probably in the ’80s, probably in The Book of Questions or one of the myriad knock-off versions, a query was posed about whether you would actually want to know the totality of what other people genuinely thought regarding your appearance, temperament and behaviors, instead of the sliver that they, bound by the dictates of courtesy and tact, expressed in your presence. The premise behind the question was the idea that society is only held together by a massive state of denial in which we consciously disregard the low esteem other people have for our assortment of generally disagreeable personality traits while maintaining a thick internal file of our various collected disdain for everyone else’s. This is not particularly groundbreaking in its understanding of the cognitive dissonance necessary to avoid widespread psychic paralysis but it was a recent reminder of the question that brought me to what I am tentatively denominating Balk’s Second Law. What I realized was that the worst thing isn’t knowing what everyone thinks about you. No, Balk’s Second Law puts it this way: The worst thing is knowing what everyone thinks about anything. And here is where we see the true malignant force that drives the Internet: It is the purest mechanism yet through which everyone can express every idiot opinion they have about everything to everyone else. I will not even get into all the metacognitive aspects of this or the terrible ways in which we classify all these opinions, the derisiveness of which is its own kind of awfulness. No, for now I just want you to let this sink in for a second: The Internet is poisoning you every day with its constant gush of idiot opinion from the vast waste-ridden tide of people who need to be reminded to shut their mouths while breathing. It is terrible and only getting worse, and the various forms of social media are only amplifying the process and hastening us toward our inevitable end.

That said, even I have to admit that there was something indescribably beautiful this weekend to watching a bunch of Dallas Cowboy fans bitch and moan on Twitter, without any sense of irony or self-awareness, about how a bad call robbed them of a playoff victory. Hahahaha! Suck it, you ignorant sacks! I hope bitterness tastes good, because that is all you will have to eat for another year. Hahahaha! Losers!

12 Jan 05:00

News: The Drones Are Reissuing ‘Everything We’ve Recorded’

by Mess+Noise

The Drones Are Reissuing ‘Everything We’ve Recorded’

The Drones have jumpstarted the new year by announcing ambitious plans to reissue “everything we’ve recorded.”

First up is a double-vinyl new edition of their 2005 third album, The Miller’s Daughter. Long out-of-print and celebrating a decade this year, it’s just been reissued by Spanish label Bang! Records and features a cover of John Lennon’s ‘Well, Well, Well’ that was only available in the original vinyl pressing, as well as “previously unseen pics and revised artwork,” according to a recent Facebook post. It’s available now at select Australian record stores, says the band.

The Miller’s Daughter will also see digital release for the first time this year, according to another Facebook post, and the band’s AMP-winning Wait Long by the River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By (2005) and debut LP Here Come the Lies (2002) will earn their first-ever vinyl release.

The Drones’ most recent album, 2013’s I See Seaweed, topped our Critics Poll and came in at #2 on our Readers Poll. The band are working on its follow-up as we speak. Also, frontman Gareth Liddiard will play solo as part of The Gasometer’s Collingwood Open series on Friday, February 27, supported by Ela Stiles (Songs, Bushwalking, solo) and Jensen Tjhung (Deaf Wish, Lower Plenty, Exhaustion). Tickets for that here.

23 Dec 15:12

Lord Of The Rings Litter Box And Sauron Scratching Post For Cats

by Julija K.

Tim Baker and the team of Superfan Builds make the most awesome one-of-a-kind items for fans of movies, video games, comics and other pop culture. In celebration of the release of the final Hobbit movie, the team surprised a true Lord of the Rings fan and his two cats, Frodo and Sam, with Hobbit house cat litter box and the Eye of Sauron cat scratching post.

They used foam and rope to build the tower, attaching a catnip eye at the top. The house was also made from foam, decorated with delicately made trees and flowers. They even recreated Hobbit’s tiny tools and pot plants near the windows!

To see the reactions of fans and how the team made this possible be sure to watch the full video below.

More info: Facebook |  Youtube  (h/t: neatorama)

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The making of

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06 Jan 19:00

The Sounds of Rain

by Josephine Livingstone

Illustration by Hallie Bateman

When I woke up in the middle of the night that joined Monday to Tuesday, I only had a few hours left to sleep, but didn’t. The rain was back! My body was tired but the night was singing. I smiled into the dark and listened. That night I stayed awake through the real rain; other times, I depend on simulated rain. I incessantly play RainyCafé while I’m working but also need the Rain, Rain app to fall asleep. My favorite setting is “City Rain” (“Harbor Seagulls” is totally awful, “Rain on a Tent” is fine). I can hardly sleep without it.

Actual rain falling on my urban windows was, however, just too good to miss. I have lived on three continents and my family comes from a fourth: these circumstances have forged in me a deep and abiding attachment to environmental constants. At two, the rain in Hong Kong seemed to bounce off the pavement as high as I was tall. At ten, I slept under a slanted window in an attic bedroom, watched over by rough grey London skies. The smell and the sound of rain, you’ll find, doesn’t change much. Hot rain falling on the sea is a bit different from cold rain falling on concrete, sure, but there’s a note somewhere in there that is always just the same.

Without that constant note, I can’t concentrate or empty my mind. Similar feelings can be found in music, and it is no coincidence that good work-music often sounds a bit rainy. Tim Hecker veers pretty far into the crunchy drone of noise but also likes to punctuate his work with events; snapping, crackling passages that roll across the ceiling of the music like thunder. Slowdive totally sounds like rain. My friend Georgia associates rain with Gnossiennes No. 5. Stan Getz’s Blood Count does it for me. For a whole year I only listened to Wagner’s Parsifal while working, not because I like it that much (I’m not that high-brow) but because my German is so bad that the libretto neither distracted me nor warned me when the terrible screams were coming. Like thunder, screams keep you alert.

Rain sound is like opera because they both have core thematic structures but are also so big and organic that no single moment is characteristic of the whole thing. It takes hours to absorb and appreciate the whole. It is also like opera in that it is music, not noise. A lot of people find brown noise (named for Brownian motion, not the color) or pink noise (named the color of visible light with the same frequency spectrum) soporific, or calming. There are many thousands of hours of these noises to be found on YouTube. But it doesn’t suit me: noise doesn’t vary, it is just a smoothed-out, blanketed audio ooze. Noise has a quality, but not a music. Rain’s musical aspects—the pattering rhythm of its fall, the various percussive timbres specific to its fall on particular surfaces, the sweet modulations of the storm’s thunder-cracks—are particular to it, and special. Noise without dynamics is just silence with a different color.

In honor of the subtle music of rain, therefore, here is a rundown of the five most important types, to me:

Spring rain (London, England)

Spring rain in England happens often. It is a sweet bright sprinkling in the inkling of warm weather, still very cold but landing on blossom rather than bare branches. Attempt to eat in a park and grey clouds will roll over your April lunch break, determined to spatter your sandwich. Watch it through your office window instead, dreaming about your summer holidays and forgetting that this, the green and tender knife-edge of the year, is already perfect. Sleeping under this rain is a bit over-exciting and you may well become tired and stressed. If you have big exams coming up, try to read a detective novel until you get drowsy, then let the imagined pressure of the drizzle bash you gently to sleep.

Summer rain (Hong Kong, China)

It doesn’t rain all that often in Hong Kong, but when it does, it rains very hard. These are my earliest memories of anything. This rain is pummeling, hot, and lands on water and wood and the roofs of the trams. This rain was happening the first time I tried to stay awake all night on purpose and could not manage it. We were too far from the ground to hear the splashing of puddles—inside the cloud, really—so the sound of the storm was deep and structural. I fought the drops coming down the window against the orange night sky and lost.

Autumn storm rain (Brooklyn, USA)

You will be cornered by this rain, which howls at you like a vengeful harpy. Occupy the bedroom accordingly. Make fortifications. Do not let anybody you do not like into your apartment. Danger is everywhere. If there is a hurricane, make sure you have enough red wine and cigarettes in advance. Get ready for thick darkness. Watch Casablanca with one person you trust. Sleep and dream that the sound of stuff smashing on the roof is all about you.

Winter rain (Cape Town, South Africa)

This is driving rain, happening across a grey car park. It is boring, but only because you are a teenager. You try to stay awake to fume about everything but get lulled against your will. You can’t stay angry forever. The rain smothers and traps and soothes you in exactly the same way your big and crazy extended family does, so get used to it.

Total absence of rain (Namibia)

It turns out that after growing up in huge, filthy cities, the general countryside is sort of intolerable but absolute silence is fine. If I was born and raised among traffic and yelling and rain, my dad was born into the opposite. Pressed between endless semi-desert and a huge dry sky, you couldn’t even imagine rain falling on this little bit of earth. But the stars are bright and you are many miles from the people and duties which stress you out. Turns out you can live without the sound of rain as long as everything the rain neutralizes is gone too. Anyway, it is good to visit the places your parents are from and realize that you could live another way if you had to.

Like Klonopin, the therapeutic effect of rain sound lies in its ability to blur selectively. It takes the edge off the silence so that the outlines of your thought (or the purity of your sleep) can stay clear. After I close the rain sound tab I’m listening to now, the inside of my head will feel like your body does after you step off a trampoline: unnaturally hard and heavy, glowing with a kind of swelling and fluorescent anxiety. Empty noiselessness is as horrible as a big, tacky Californian villa. Held in the middle of any ambient cloud of sound—a language I don’t understand, a clattering restaurant, a rainstorm, an airplane’s thrum and rattle—I can sit and work and stay still. I’m not from anywhere in particular, but if I have a home, that’s it.

23 Dec 21:20

Let Baby Bjork Read You a Christmas Story in Icelandic, You'll Love it

by Hillary Crosley

Let Baby Bjork Read You a Christmas Story in Icelandic, You'll Love it

Bjork learned early that few things are more calming than flutes, violins, soft story-telling and a piccolo, which is how she began slaying audiences back in 1976.

Read more...

16 Dec 16:00

What We’ve Done to Wolves

by Amy Collier

Amy Collier's previous work for The Toast can be found here.

Poodles:
1 poodle

Bloodhounds:
2 bloodhound

Chow-Chows:
3 chow chows

Chihuahuas:
4 chihuahuas

large mops:
5 mop

Read more What We’ve Done to Wolves at The Toast.

14 Dec 22:44

An 18-Year-Old Hazara Refugee In Indonesia Is Making Documentaries On His Smartphone

by Alex McKinnon

The debate around asylum seekers in Australia is an old and frequently vicious one that does an excellent job of silencing some of the most important voices: the asylum seekers and refugees themselves. A combination of government secrecy, language barriers, the tyranny of distance and political scapegoating means that we rarely hear directly from the people who our policies affect the most, and struggle to understand their point of view.

Now some refugees living in limbo in Indonesia are taking matters into their own hands, using whatever resources at their disposal to tell their own stories in their own ways. Khadim Dai is an eighteen-year-old guy living in Cisarua, south of Jakarta. He fled his native Pakistan after a bomb went off in his school, killing 126 people, and decided to make his way towards Australia.

Khadim and his roommates, Baz Muhammad, Rahim and Amanullah, are Hazara, an ethnic group prevalent mainly in Afghanistan and Pakistan who have been frequent targets of violence from the Taliban and other fundamentalist groups. Armed with a smartphone, Khadim has begun documenting their lives as they wait to hear on their refugee status from the local UNHCR office — playing soccer, making musical instruments out of motorbike helmets, and making naan and fruit smoothies.

Khadim’s videos recently gained a profile with Indonesian online outlet Coconuts Jakarta, and they’ve started to gain attention on Reddit (via user Captwacky). In an earlier video, Khadim recounts how he and some friends began setting up a learning centre for the dozens of Hazara children in the neighbourhood who aren’t allowed to go to school.

Khadim and his friends have a Facebook page, ‘Who Are We Anyway?’, which they regularly update, as does the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre. If refugees seeking to start a new life in Australia are speaking up despite — or because of — their circumstances, Australia would do well to listen.

Feature image via Who Are We Anyway?

10 Dec 16:00

Ada Lovelace, Genius

by Jazmine Hughes
by Jazmine Hughes

I have a peculiar way of learning, and I think it must be a peculiar man to teach me successfully… Do not reckon me conceited… but I believe I have the power of going just as far as I like in such pursuits, and where there is so decided a taste, I should almost say a passion, as I have for them, I question if there is not always some portion of natural genius even.

This is part of a letter that Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, sent to Charles Babbage, requesting him to be her mentor. Walter Isaacson, author of The Innovators, a collection of mini-biographies, included this in Lovelace's section, commenting: “Whether due to her opiates or her breeding or both… she developed a somewhat outsize opinion of her own talents and began to describe herself as a genius.”

OK, but shouldn't we insist that the person who designed the foundations of modern-day computer programming— back in 1843—actually is a genius? Lovelace "envisioned a general-purpose machine capable not only of performing preprogrammed tasks but also of being reprogrammed to execute a practically unlimited range of operations," and began the conversation of technological sentience we're still having nearly 200 years later (see: Her, sex robots, Bender from Futurama). Let's give her some more credit: Ada Lovelace was a genius. Happy birthday to her.

[via Brain Pickings.]

2 Comments
04 Dec 11:07

A Majestic Cathedral Made Of Living, Breathing Trees

by Dovas

A building doesn’t have to be a dry and dead thing. Italian artist Giuliano Mauri’s epic Cattedrale Vegetale (or Tree Cathedral) is the perfect example of architecture that, instead of competing with or complementing nature, is quite literally a part of it. The late artist’s two groves of trees are destined to grow into a pair of magnificent basilicas.

The framework columns seen in these photos will eventually rot away and decay, to be replaced by the hornbeam trees planted in the center of each frame. As these grow, their canopies will mesh together to form the vaulted ceiling of a Gothic cathedral.

Mauri, who passed in 2009, laid the groundwork for his first visionary cathedral in Valsugana, Italy in 2002. The framework of the cathedral at the foot of Mount Arera in the northern Italian region of Lombardy was completed in 2010.

More info: giulianomauri.com (h/t: mymodernmet, BBC)

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Image credits:  Virtual Sacred Space

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Image credits: Michele Salmaso

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Image credits: Aldo Fedele (left) | Arte Sella (right)

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Image credits: Pava

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Image credits: Arte Sella

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Image credits: Ettore Galata Rizzardini

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Image credits: Pava

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Image credits: Giacomo Bianchi

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Image credits: Riccardo Senia

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Image credits: Pierangelo Zavatarelli

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Image credits: Marco Rosato

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Image credits: santino

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Image credits: Il Giardino Sfumato

01 Dec 04:00

News: Kyneton Music Festival Announces 2015 Lineup

by Mess+Noise

Kyneton Music Festival Announces 2015 Lineup

Harmony, Laura Jean and Money For Rope will headline the third annual Kyneton Music Festival in February 2015.

The lineup also includes Ron S. Peno and Kim Salmon’s The Darling Downs, indie-pop quintet Tully On Tully and seven-piece “punk-string” crew Little Bastard. The acts will play at venues across the historic township of Kyneton – about one hour from Melbourne in Central Victoria – with the bluestone Kyneton Mechanics Institute once again acting as the festival hub, featuring an indoor evening stage and outdoor stage under the big oak tree. Other venues include Major Tom’s, The Pizza and Wine Club, the Stockroom art gallery, and the Red Brick Hall, which will host acoustic sets.

A full weekend pass for the festival on Friday, February 20 and Saturday, February 21 is only $70, and day passes and youth passes are also available. Children under 12 are free. Visit the festival’s website for more information.

Kyneton Music Festival 2015 lineup

Harmony
Laura Jean
Money For Rope
Little Bastard
Tully On Tully
Cherrywood
Charles Jenkins & The Zhivagos
Sunbeam Sound Machine
Yeo
Liz Stringer
The Darling Downs
Three Kings
La Bastard
Archer
Magic Mountain Band
Tracy McNeil
Lunatics On Pogosticks
Seagull
Eaten By Dogs
The Seven Ups
+ many more to be announced

(From FasterLouder)

25 Nov 19:30

The Feminist Vampire Movie That Teaches 'Bad Men' a Gory Lesson

by Laura Barcella

The Feminist Vampire Movie That Teaches 'Bad Men' a Gory Lesson

The scare-queen at the heart of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, a new "vampire Western" film set in Iran, is the exact opposite of your typical Hollywood horror villain. She's not named Freddy or Jason; she doesn't wield an axe, wear a mask, or gleefully interrupt tanned teen couples in mid-thrust. She's also not a mewling, red-lipped cat-woman or a crafty witch in a velvet hood.

Read more...

21 Nov 19:30

If history repeats itself, Cosby’s legacy will be fine and his accusers forgotten

by Robyn Pennacchia
If history repeats itself, Cosby’s legacy will be fine and his accusers forgotten

If there is anything the internet loves to do, it is offer its opinion on what qualifies someone as a “real” rape victim.

“Real” rape victims, of course, always immediately report their rapes to the police, who are always extremely helpful and non-judgmental Olivia Benson-types. Their attackers–who can be clearly identified as bad-seeming people–have defensive wounds because the victim fought and fought to preserve her chastity–which was ideally perfectly intact prior to the incident. They were sober, of course.

If they don’t come forward to identify themselves, it’s because they’re hiding something, if they do, it’s because they want attention, delicious attention. And probably the imagined fabulous riches and major career boost that comes with outing oneself as a victim of rape. If only one victim comes forward it’s “well, if he was such a rapist, he probably wouldn’t have only raped that one woman.” If one victim comes out and then several others do, they’re just all making shit up in hopes of riding that sweet rape train to stardom.

It’s funny how people immediately assumed Janice Dickinson was lying. Janice Dickinson is a woman who has essentially built her reputation and personal identity on on being a bad-ass bitch. To come forward as a rape victim is to come forward as vulnerable–which is one of the hardest things about it. Think about that for a second. Do you think this is something she is enjoying?

Janice Dickinson, like Cosby’s many other accusers, had come forward about him before. It’s just, well, no one really gave a flying shit.  That’s usually the case, you know, when these things come out. Maybe people get angry for a bit, but usually that eventually subsides, and they forget. It is then only brought up by the evil feminists who just “won’t let anything go.”

Currently, many are furiously angry at the idea that poor, 70 year-old Bill Cosby’s legacy and career will be destroyed. Ostensibly by evil, selfish succubi, who will surely profit immensely off the destruction of this poor, innocent man’s life’s work.

Except, that’s not usually what happens. In fact, that is not what has ever happened, in the entire history of male celebrities being accused or convicted of rape or violence against women.

Even in the cases where the male celebrity actually went to jail? When they were actually convicted of a crime? It rarely affects their career or legacy.

Mike Tyson went to jail for raping Desiree Washington.

Tupac Shakur spent time in jail for orchestrating the gang rape of Ayanna Jackson.

Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul and Mary spent three months in jail for taking “sexual liberties” with a 14 year-old girl. He was later given an official Presidential pardon by Jimmy Carter!

Roman Polanski plead down to “unlawful sexual intercourse” with the then 13 year-old Samantha Geimer at the home of of Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston. He never went to jail, but he sure did win an Oscar, and pretty much every celebrity you know and love has come forward to defend him. By the way, he was also accused of sexually assaulting then 16 year-old English actress Charlotte Lewis.

People sometimes bring up Sean Penn’s arrest for domestic violence against Madonna. Surprise! This involved tying her to a chair, leaving there, and then refusing to untie her until she agreed to sexually service him.

Rob Lowe made a sex tape with a 16 year-old girl.

These are just some “confirmed” incidents. This is just the sexual assault. Tell me. Would you have known the names Desiree Washington or Ayanna Jackson if I didn’t just lay them out for you? Does it seem like these women achieved some glorious amount of fame for having accused a celebrity man of sexual assault? Are you aware that even though these men were convicted that their victims are still called liars?

Now onto the murkier stuff.

R. Kelly–somehow not convicted of sexually assaulting a 14 year-old girl despite their being video of it.

Ted Nugent adopted a teenage girl so he could legally have sex with her. He wrote a song called “Jailbait” in which he describes his lust for a 13 year-old girl. Also, in that song, he suggests to the cop arresting him that he use his handcuffs on her instead so they can both take turns on her. Courtney Love stated that when she was 12 years-old, she performed oral sex on Nugent, but she is, of course, definitely a liar. Nugent later went on to campaign for Mitt Romney, and has a plethora of conservative, “pro-family” admirers, like Sarah Palin and whatnot.

Jimmy Page essentially kidnapped 14 year-old Lori Maddox and kept her locked up at his place in order to essentially keep her as a sex-slave for a while.

Charlie Chaplin married 16 year-old Lita Grey in order to avoid being charged with statutory rape.

John Phillips raped his own daughter.

Woody Allen.

Darren Sharper.

CeeLo Green.

Zsa Zsa Gabor accused Frank Sinatra of raping her.

NFL star Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of rape by three separate women.

Kobe Bryant, accused of rape and according to one sportscaster, it gave him “sizzle” and actually improved his reputation.

Errol Flynn was accused of statutory rape by two underage girls. During a much publicized trial, a group of prominent men, including William F. Buckley, Jr, formed “The American Boys Club for the Defense of Errol Flynn.” He was acquitted, and it is thought that this trial actually helped revive his career rather than destroy it. You have probably never heard the names Betty Hansen and Peggy Satterlee.

William Kennedy Smith, of the illustrious Kennedy family, was accused of rape by Patricia Bowman and found “not guilty” after a rather suspect trial. Her name was dragged through the mud, she was called a social climber and a slut, and he got away with it.

To boot, there are male celebrities with serious domestic violence charges whose career and legacy were not hampered in the slightest by beating the crap out of women.

John Lennon, Bill Murray, Axl Rose. Tommy Lee, Michael Fassbender, Chris Brown, Jackson Browne, Dr. Dre, Glen Campbell knocked out Tanya Tucker’s teeth, Joe Dimaggio beat Marilyn Monroe, Miles Davis abused Cicely Tyson for years, Norman Mailer stabbed his wife at least twice in front of a large group of people.

No one really gave a shit about the horrific abuse Phil Spector inflicted on Ronnie Spector until he actually managed to kill someone.

Charlie Sheen, Dennis Rodman, Nicolas Cage, Gary Oldman, Christian Bale, Steven Seagall, Mickey Rourke, James Brown, Christian Slater, Pablo Picasso, Eminem.

I can only think of one male celebrity whose legacy has at all been hampered by domestic violence, and that is, of course, Ike Turner. Took long enough, though.

I could probably go on for much longer than I’d like.

The point is, a crime against a woman is not a crime punishable by losing your career in this country. Pretty much all of these men have done just fine after sexually or physically assaulting a woman. Unless the victims were celebrities themselves, they have been largely forgotten–their short time in the “sun” having largely consisted of being slut-shamed, called a liar, and told they were just looking for “attention” and “money.”

So, hey. If you want, tell me the story of a woman whose career and life has benefited from accusing a major public figure of rape, or statutory rape, or sexual assault, or sexual harassment. I’d be really interested in hearing it. Then, I will be happy to tell you all about how only 3% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail, and you can explain to me what that you are so much less hung up on that than you are on your unfounded theories that the women who accuse public figures of rape are always “lying to get attention.” I think it will be a lovely conversation.

I get it. We think so little of women in general and so very much of these male celebrities, that it is either more comfortable to forget or to believe that they are only in it for the “attention” and the “money.” Because after all, that’s all women want anyway, right? At least the evil kind, the kind who would try to take all your nice memories of Bill Cosby away for their own avaricious gain. Because a few think pieces here and there are worth your dignity, your privacy and your entire reputation.

Coming forward about this kind of thing is not an easy thing to do. It is not a fun thing to do. It does not result in fame or fortune. It results in being called a slut, a liar who just wants attention, a greedy whore, a vindictive bitch, crazy, or a just conniving hussy out to ruin some poor man’s life because he didn’t call her back, or just for shits and giggles. I don’t know about you, but that seems like a poor time to me.

**Would just like to issue a special thank you to everyone on the Facebook thread that inspired this post!**

21 Nov 16:02

How the Web Was Won

by Matt Buchanan

The Web is a Millennial. It was first proposed twenty-five years ago, in 1989. Six years later, Netscape’s I.P.O. kicked off the Silicon Valley circus. When the Web was brand new, many computer-savvy people despised it—compared to other hypertext-publishing systems, it was a primitive technology. For example, you could link from your Web page to any other page, but you couldn’t know when someone linked to your Web page. Nor did the Web allow you to edit pages in your browser. To élite hypertext thinkers and programmers, these were serious flaws.

— Paul Ford on the history of the Web and HTML5, the “markup we deserve”

17 Nov 10:05

There’s A Hotel In Brussels That Lets You Sleep In Your Favorite Pantone Colors

by Low Lai Chow

In Brussels, there’s actually the Pantone Hotel, which offers eyepopping colorful sleeps starting from just 179€ ($223) a night. You can crash in a room with any one of seven color palettes offered by the hotel. Each color scheme swallows up one entire floor.

Opened in 2010 and designed by Michel Penneman and Olivier Hannaert, the boutique hotel is the architectural extension of the Pantone Universe line that includes modestly-sized lifestyle products like watches and storage boxes.

The colorful treatment comes down to even the smallest details, such as snaps by photographer Victor Levy that are suitably hued to match the room’s color scheme and Pantone coffee mugs. As one reviewer wryly noted on TripAdvisor, “it feels like you’re inside a 12-year-old’s pencil case” and “there’s nothing quite like wiping yourself with fluorescent orange 2 ply (toilet paper)“.

Colored pajamas not included – so bring your own to unlock the room’s hide and seek feature.

More info: pantonehotel.com (h/t: fastcodesign.com)

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18 Nov 17:45

German town pranks neo-Nazis, ruins their parade

by Alex Moore
German town pranks neo-Nazis, ruins their parade

Every year for the past few decades in the small town of Wunsiedel, neo-Nazis have convened to hold an annual march for their cause much to the town’s chagrin. The location was selected by neo-Nazis because it was the burial spot of Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess, and hundreds of Germans from all over the country descend on Wunsiedel to hold their Nazi march every year.

This year, however, the town fought back.

Before the march, local businesses and residents got together and decided to turn the Nazi march into an anti-Nazi charity walkathon: They’d sponsor the the marchers, and for every meter they walked the town would donate about $20 to a charity called EXIT Deutschland, an anti-extremism non-profit that helps people transition out of neo-Nazism and other hate groups.

The town let the parade proceed as planned, but instead of keeping their distance like they’d done in the past, they greeted the marchers with rainbow confetti, banners for EXIT Deutschland, and markers painted along the parade route letting marchers know how much they’d raised for the anti-Nazi charity by marching.

 German town pranks neo Nazis, ruins their parade

The neo-Nazis were completely caught off guard—you can see their deer-in-headlights expression in the Washington Post video below. But instead of calling the whole thing off mid-march they completed the parade route with somber expressions and in the end wound up raising nearly $50,000 for EXIT Deutschland.

Suckers. It might just be the greatest Nazi troll in history.

17 Nov 11:00

News: Artist on Artist: Beaches vs Little Ugly Girls

by Mess+Noise

Artist on Artist: Beaches vs Little Ugly Girls

Ahead of sharing the stage at Chapterfest 22, ANTONIA SELLBACH (Beaches, Love of Diagrams) and LINDA JOHNSTON (pictured) of cult Tasmanian band Little Ugly Girls discuss musical catharsis, a feminine voice, developing a stage persona and much more. Photo by ROBERT CARBONE.

Linda: “I shall speak about women’s writing: about what it will do. Woman must write her self: must write about women and bring women to writing ... Woman must put herself into the text – as into the world and into history – by her own movement.” – Hélène Cixous, The Laugh of the Medusa

I’ve been listening to Beaches’ second album She Beats, and these descriptions come to mind: sonic/swirl, seductive, energising, hypnotic. And to my ears your music emanates a strong feminine quality. The Cixous quote is in reference to the idea of Écriture feminine (women writing), a feminist philosophy that stresses the importance of writing purposefully to create a new language that is able to describe female experiences. Although she is referring to literature, I think her ideas translate to writing music, both lyrically and in terms of form and structure.

Do you think there are male rock ‘n’ roll tropes that your bands deliberately avoids? Is there a discourse in your bands about these ideas when you write?

Antonia: I really like that Cixous quote. I think maintaining a female voice is important. We need to get better at historicising female voices and making sure that we are heard. Yet alongside this, I also quite like the idea of freeing language to the point where we can allow qualities to ‘just be’.

The qualities you mention are also qualities I can hear with Beaches. I don’t think we deliberately set out to have these qualities, it was more a case of them emerging and then we fostered the ones we found most interesting. If there was one thing that I was consciously aware of with She Beats, it was that I wanted it to be immersive and I wanted it to sound powerful. I don’t want to sound like a pushover. Yet although I see a power in representing our femininity and selves in way that is real and not prescribed, I also don’t think of gender as something that must always define us.

When discussing gender and music making, I have noticed that gender can often mean ‘everything and nothing’ all at once. I think this is an important point – we need to allow the issue of gender to be everything (I am female; there are experiences unique to my gender that are important and will always inform my practice) and also nothing (music can sometimes be so abstract that it frees us from the boundaries of gender and opens up a world of humanness existing outside of gender). I oscillate between these views and whilst polar opposites in many ways, they can also inform each other and provide a healthy standpoint. Perhaps this makes things complicated to speak about, but it also makes things interesting.’'Everything and nothing’, all at once. I like the plasticity of that idea.

My first question for you: I started watching Little Ugly Girls in Hobart in the late ’90s and also caught your last shows in Melbourne in the early 2000s. I found your band hugely inspiring. As a younger woman, watching you perform made me feel like I could do it too. You seemed to draw on something – perhaps personal, perhaps external (I am not sure) – that appeared immensely cathartic. Having been in the audience, I can say it was cathartic for us too.

As a performer you have a really wild, amazing, strong and quite forward female presence. How did this evolve for you? Was it a reaction to dealing with the dynamic between performer/audience? Was it thought out or did it emerge intuitively? What are your thoughts on catharsis as an element of performance?

Linda: It’s a heartfelt pleasure to know that people have been inspired or emboldened by my music. It gives me a feeling of becoming part of an artistic history of which I am proud.

My first appearance on stage singing was as a teenager playing the part of Columbia from The Rocky Horror Picture Show and while this may induce cringing, her character embodied a wild unruly sexuality that I realised was incredible fun to play and held people captive. Around the same time, watching R-rated films on my black-and-white TV late at night in my room, I saw Glenda Jackson playing Tchaikovsky’s spurned wife driven to insanity in Ken Russell’s film The Music Lovers. Glenda Jackson oozed a crazed energy that I thought was brilliant. I’m lounging in the gold velour beanbags at home in 1980 when David Byrne sang/spoke “This is not my beautiful house, this is not my beautiful wife” and danced those peculiar jarring gestures; I thought it was unnerving, unsettling and its irregularity intrigued me. On Countdown in 1979, I watched Chrissie Amphlett performing “I am just a red brassiere for all the boys in town”, with her neon pole mic stand and her stripper school uniform and I thought she was tough, slutty and awesome.

Fast forward 10 years. By the time LUGs formed in the early ’90s, I’d accrued considerable anger and sadness, growing up in a shitty small town surrounded by dysfunctional people in destructive relationships. By the time I started performing with LUGs I already had stage confidence. I worked as a professional actor in a theatre company for a year and I’d done various amateur things, so it was never a big deal to sing on stage. So I had my inspirations, confidence, buckets of anger, and all I had to do was deliver that energy. I had a formidable band which drew that energy from me. I’m never free from consciousness of being on stage, so there is always a stage persona. I think mine evolved from combinations; there are the influences you consciously choose but I’m sure there are people and events that are unknowing, festering in your subconscious. Sometimes writing songs illuminates your subconscious, revealing yourself to yourself. There is also my attitude towards performance, and that is I take it seriously and I feel a responsibility on stage to be true and generous to the audience.

There was a period in Hobart with LUGs I really didn’t enjoy and I developed a cold and tough stage persona that was combative because our music caused a frenzy that was too aggressive for me. It was really upsetting for me to make music that caused such a violent reaction. (No fun getting the microphone constantly smashed into your mouth.) It may have be that my own cathartic expression had manifested to something that repelled me. Perhaps my own anger was being reflected back. Growing pains!

The songs LUGs perform now were written in the late ’90s and later, and much of the vitriol of earlier years was lost. These songs are more poetic expressions which allow for the exuberance I feel when performing these days.

In the mid-’90s I discovered the RE/Search series Angry Women and Angry Women in Rock, which became my bible. In one interview with Diamanda Galas, she says that when she performs she sings for the gods, and I believe that you don’t need to be an opera singer to share this ethos. Writing and performing for me was without a doubt hugely cathartic and I’m fortunate I was given the chance to pursue this avenue (Thanks LUGs). I was proof that the personal is political, purging the hurt and anger I’d experienced and voicing the injustices and suffering of others I had witnessed. It became a compounding element in my life. It built my confidence, it fed my work (at art school), encouraged my political activities and gave me a sense of belonging within the music community.

I don’t think all catharsis in music is going to be something enjoyable, palatable or entertaining, but I would rather see something shocking than something trite and fake. And if someone howling or ranting on stage saves them from self-destructing, then more power to them. I think catharsis is one thing and self-indulgence another. We seem to suffer and tolerate the latter more often than not. It’s even encouraged as talent. Catharsis, on the other hand, has the potential to be shared. It can reveal overwhelming, powerful emotions that we all experience: anger, confusion, regret, embarrassment, mania, fear, sorrow. Cathartic expression is shared when their is courage in vulnerability. Saudade, the Portuguese songs of longing, loss and sorrow are to me a form of beautiful catharsis. I’d love to write a song that makes people cry.

Here’s my next question for you: I’ve been reading your blogs, listening to your bands and looking at your fantastic paintings ... Thanks Antonia, it’s been great cyber-stalking you! I can see that you are incredibly busy, tour extensively, write blogs and are generally hard-working and self-motivated. I read that you were a grant writer and have been an assessor on the Australia Council Music Board. I was wondering: in all your travels, have you experienced any positive cultural differences in the way bands are perceived or supported? Are you aware of governmental support in any overseas countries that facilitate bands in different ways than Australia?

Melbourne is a fantastic mecca for music and yet we all know it’s difficult to survive financially from a musician’s income. Given the world access the internet provides, do you think self-motivation and imagination are the only barriers to creating a sustainable life playing music?

Antonia: Touring in America, I’ve found people to be fascinated that there are funding bodies that give out grants in Australia. Nothing like that exists for them. Perhaps though, on the flipside, bands coming to Australia from overseas have a kind of ‘cultural currency’ that allow them to charge more for ticket sales and that enables them to successfully tour in a way that Australian bands overseas would really struggle to do. In Australia we seem to view bands from overseas as existing almost in another category than our own ... we raise them up, admire them and generally we will also pay a lot to see them. So it’s not exactly a level playing field – just different.

You get to have a peek into other scenes as you travel and at first I expected everywhere I went to have really robust, comparable music scenes to Australia. Some places do: our friend Allison Woolfe (Bratmobile, Partyline) introduced us to the whole D.C. scene when we first started touring around the US in the mid-2000s. There is a pretty amazing history to D.C.: the influx of musicians coming in from Portland and Olympia in the ’90s and the new bands that were created, riot grrrl in general, the Dischord label ... That specific track of history is palpable but more importantly also still active when you go there to play. We felt instantly accepted there and have made great lifelong friends there. Touring has also made me really appreciate the strength of the music that we have locally. I haven’t come close to seeing anything quite like what we have in Australia elsewhere, but perhaps that partially has something to do with only glimpsing small bits of scenes that you travel through at any time.

RE: self-motivation and imagination, those qualities are important but it is damn hard to make money out of music. I only really know how to make the music that I make and I am aware that it is probably not particularly commercially appealing. I’ve been inspired by the self-taught/‘DIY attitude’ of bands like Siousxie and the Banshees, The Slits, The Raincoats, Young Marble Giants, Pylon etc., whose singers have a powerful but slightly unpolished type of discordance. Perhaps this forever locates us on the border, the outskirts, but this sense of minority also locates us within an underground that we identify with and love. It also means we largely exist outside of the world of commercial viability/marketability/money-making, so rather than make a living solely out of music, I aim for the bands that I am in to maintain their own financial independence. That way the money we make is fed back into the band and we are able to do most of what we want whilst also maintaining creative and financial control.

OK, last question. It has been so great chatting with you, Linda. I feel like some of the stuff we’ve talked about doesn’t get spoken of that much and it’s rad we are having this conversation. It’s so amazing to read about how your stage ‘persona’ formed over time. I also really identify with your thoughts on catharsis, strength and vulnerability. I know for me, playing live has been a massive outlet for anger, confusion, sadness, anxiety/nervous energy ... it’s been really integral to my health.

Have you ever gone for stretches of time where you don’t play music? Or is music something that you can’t ‘live without’? Also, I’m so excited that Chapter are finally going to release the album. I’ve waited so many years!! When can we expect it?

Linda: I’ve loved talking to you too, and especially since we’re both from Tassie and still playing music now in Melbourne. We share lots of ideas and attitudes. Thank you! As we used to say in Hobart ... “not scared.” Looking forward to seeing you and Beaches at the gig on the 22nd.

There was a time I didn’t play or write and eventually I became quite lost and agitated. From memory, LUGs disbanded in 2002, and for the next three years I just held down a 9-to-5 job, drank a lot and yelled at talking heads on the TV. Eventually I figured out that singing is a vital force for me, a pressure-valve release on many levels.

I’d only ever written lyrics and melody so I was not confident in writing songs alone. Bean [Johnston, her brother] went off and formed a new fantastic band Keith’s Yard, so I lost my main writing partner. As time passed and drinking increased, my confidence waned. Eventually I hired a piano and took lessons, which I really loved. Sloth and I started a project called Oko Yono, which was a new approach to writing and from memory pretty cool, but circumstances meant that it didn’t come to fruition.

I know much of my identity was attached to being a singer in a band, and without it I was floundering. Perhaps there is a “well balanced” school of thought that thinks that unhealthy but my solution is to just find a way to sing. It’s part of our culture that if something doesn’t reward you financially then it’s relegated to hobby status. Music is not my hobby. I have hobbies and they are very relaxing. Writing and playing music is not relaxing.

I was temporarily saved by Legends of Motorsport, who asked me to write with them and record a song in 2002. It was released on their Beef With Cheese album. That was actually a big deal for me because I flew to Sydney and recorded with Jonathan Burnside, which was a big confidence boost. Initially I felt fairly intimidated, having previously very little experience in the studio, but I nailed it. What this whole period taught me was I needed to build on my abilities; so I started playing guitar. Bean was keen to play drums. We were both novices on our instruments and I have to say that jamming in those early months of The Dacios was the best fun I’d ever had writing music. I haven’t been playing live as much in the last year, but The Dacios have started recording another album, which we’ll launch next year.

The Little Ugly Girls’ long, long lost album is in the process of being retrieved. The unmixed songs were lost many years ago when a computer containing them crashed. Recently Sloth had them recovered; however, there is a mammoth task of wading through 7000 unnamed files to piece the songs back together. I think there are going to be many nights spent together for this project! I’m not sure how complex this task is going to be, so I’m unsure of a timeframe – the aim is to release the album next year on Chapter Music.

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Beaches and Little Ugly Girls will both play at Chapterfest 22 this Saturday (Nov 22) at Queen Victoria Markets as part of Melbourne Music Week, along with Laura Jean, Pikelet, Minimum Chips and The Backstabbers. It runs from midday to 5pm, with tickets here. Beaches’ latest album is last year’s ‘She Beats’; read Steph Kretowicz’s review. Check out Robert Carbone’s photo gallery of Little Ugly Girls playing at The Tote for the venue’s 30th anniversary celebration in 2011.

18 Nov 02:02

First Contact Is One Of The Most Important Australian TV Shows Of The Year

by Chad Parkhill

How much contact have you personally had with Indigenous Australians and Indigenous Australian culture? If you’re anything like six out of ten Australians – the majority of us – the answer is little to none.

This lack of contact between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia is not only a shame for non-Indigenous Australians, who know little about the world’s oldest continuous culture, but it also helps contribute to a pattern of cultural relationships that oppresses Indigenous people. That oppression, in turn, has real material effects on Indigenous people around Australia, who experience higher rates of infant mortality, illiteracy and innumeracy, unemployment, and have shorter life expectancies than their non-Indigenous peers – in addition to having to bear the brunt of the misconceptions and out-and-out racism fostered by this lack of cross-cultural communication. Clearly, if we are serious about closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, part of the solution is to familiarise non-Indigenous Australians with Indigenous people and Indigenous culture.

SBS’s new three-part reality series First Contact – which premieres at 8:30pm this evening on SBS ONE and NITV – takes six Australians who have had little to no prior contact with Indigenous culture or Indigenous people on a remarkable road trip around the country. The six participants are tested in extraordinary situations, and they find their beliefs about Indigenous people and culture radically reshaped as they come face-to-face with the beauty of Indigenous Australia, the tragedy of its post-1770 history, and the lived effects of Australia’s racial  inequality in the present day. Hosted by Ray Martin and narrated by Hugo Weaving, the result is a television series that is both powerful and confronting.

We spoke to Darren Dale, producer of First Contact, and Bo-Dene, one of the show’s participants.

Darren Dale, producer

Junkee: What was the genesis of First Contact, and how did it develop from that point?

Darren Dale: It all started when we made First Australians, which was a historical documentary series, and some other films for SBS. But really the starting point was: how do you make something that will engage an audience about Indigenous issues? And how do we do something that will get a new audience, not just speak to the people we’ve spoken to before. So we did some research and we came across the fact that six out of ten Australians have had little to no contact with Indigenous people. And we thought, that’s such a simple idea, but a really great idea to test – to get six Australians who had little to no contact and take them to meet and see Aboriginal people, and immerse themselves in Aboriginal people’s lives.

The six participants represent a real diversity of opinions – it’s not just six people who are ignorant of Indigenous Australia, but people with loads of different preconceptions. You’ve got people, for example, who really fetishise and idealise Indigenous culture, which they can do precisely because they haven’t had prior contact.

DD: Having that diversity in the group – like having Bo-Dene, who’s 25 years old – was important, because that will also represent what people at home think. So the idea behind the show, really, is that you can identify with the participants – you can go, ‘Oh, I thought that!’ or ‘Don’t Aboriginal people get more welfare than we get?’ So what we wanted was that people could confront some of their own misguided stereotypes about Aboriginal people from the comfort of their own lounge room. And they can engage with those stereotypes. There are a lot of misconceptions about Aboriginal people, and lots of misinformation, too.

Having Alice on the show is interesting, too – she appears to be so progressive, so politically correct, and so on board with Indigenous identity. But the experiences she has on the road are actually quite confronting.

DD: The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people is fuelled by many different things, isn’t it? It’s not just that people don’t know, or that people are ignorant, or that people have misinformation. Alice is someone at the other end of the spectrum, who has bookish knowledge: she knows about blackfellas, she identifies with them, but actually the reality on the ground is very different.

So I think with all those views – from having ignorance to feeling an affinity with Aboriginal people – there’s something for us to learn through having that human contact.

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First Contact comes at a pretty interesting time, in terms the push for Indigenous recognition in the constitution, and less welcome news such as the number of Indigenous deaths in custody recently, in Western Australia. What do you think First Contact has to say to these current issues?

DD: There’s a conversation that needs to be had, and I think that conversation absolutely involves Aboriginal people as well. As a nation, we have an appetite to engage with Indigenous people – a friend of mine says that our nation has reached maturity and is entering its twenties, euphemistically speaking. It’s grown up, the terrible teens are now over, and we can start to engage with these pertinent issues.

In that conversation, there are lots of Aboriginal people looking for different ways to go forward. So I think it is a really interesting time for us as a country to address Indigenous issues, but a lot of that conversation is taking place amongst Indigenous people themselves: trying to take responsibility for issues that are in our community, and trying to move ahead with those.

Say you are one of those six out of ten Australians who have had little or no contact with Indigenous Australians – what kind of practical actions might you do to overcome that?

DD: I think, as Australians, it would great if we could get to the point where we see Indigenous culture as all Australian’s cultural inheritance. It isn’t just for Aboriginal people; we’re all Australians.

In New Zealand, for instance, lots of people know Māori language, lots of people know Māori culture. It would be great if we could see that Indigenous culture and Indigenous people are part of our nation’s rich cultural inheritance, as opposed to seeing it as just a black and a white culture.

Bo-Dene, participant

Bo-Dene

Junkee: Why did you sign up for First Contact, and how did you find out about it?

Bo-Dene: When I first saw the notice for the show, I wasn’t aware that it would involve Aboriginal Australia – it was just advertising a road trip. Then when I found out that it would involve going to Aboriginal communities, I thought, ‘Wow, this is an amazing opportunity’ – I’d never had the chance to do anything like that before.

It’s interesting that you saw it as an opportunity, because at the very start of the series there is some footage of you saying some relatively unkind things about Indigenous Australians, like “Aboriginal people saying that they’re disadvantaged compared to other people and that they need extra help is crap”. What was your thought process going from feeling that way, to deciding that you’d like to experience Indigenous Australia?

BD: I think that when I watch the series back I’m going to be a bit shocked at some of the things I said, because they were very ignorant views. I wouldn’t classify myself as a racist, it’s just that, growing up, I always had negative views about Aboriginal people. That annoyed me in the sense that I hadn’t had much interaction with them, so my views were pretty unfounded – shaped by people around me and the media, I guess. So I thought it would be a great opportunity to get some first-hand experience – living with Aboriginal people and learning about their traditions.

I have a lot of friends from overseas, and that made me realise that I just wasn’t happy with my view of Aboriginal people – I had a really negative view of them.

How do you think the trip changed those views?

BD: Living with so many different families taught me that Aboriginal people are very much like everybody else – I guess I was really thinking there would be a divide. It’s weird that there were so many things I could relate to with a lot of the people I met. There’s a lot of issues that Aboriginal people face that mainstream Australia wouldn’t understand, and you wouldn’t even begin to start the thought processes about why that’s happening unless you got the opportunity to have the amazing experience we did.

In Fitzroy Crossing, we met June [Oscar] and Emily [Carter] – they started an alcohol ban in that community, it was the first in Australia. I think meeting people like that, who are actually trying to change the bad cycles that are happening in Aboriginal communities, was amazing. Fitzroy Crossing really started to change my opinion of Aboriginal people from what I was thinking prior to the trip – it was amazing, and those ladies showed so much determination for the community.

FirstContact.MR-1332

What was the most difficult part of your First Contact experience?

BD: For me, the hardest part was when we went to Elcho Island. That was really upsetting, because I didn’t think that places like that could exist in Australia. I was born in Ipswich and then moved to Melbourne – I think I just always assumed that Australia was nice everywhere.

The first night we stayed in Elcho Island was so scary, it was the worst night of my life – the houses, the way it was so isolated from everything. It was so confronting to think that Aboriginal people can live in a community like that and no-one … well, personally, I’d never even heard of Elcho Island before the trip.

Now that you’ve done this trip, and had this life-changing experience, how do you personally plan to maintain that engagement with Indigenous Australia?

I would love to go back to the communities again to work, because I made some really good friends on the trip. Fitzroy Crossing was amazing with the work they’re doing there, and I hope some of the other communities we visited before that can take some advice from places like that, which are really starting to turn around. I’d love to help out in those communities again.

The first episode of First Contact screens tonight (Tuesday 18 November) at 8:30 on SBS ONE and NITV, and replays on SBS 2 at 9:30. Episodes two and three will screen on Wednesday 19 November and Thursday 20 November.

Chad Parkhill is a Melbourne-based writer and editor. He has written for The Australian, Kill Your Darlings, The Lifted Brow, Meanjin, The Quietus, and Spook. He tweets at @ChadParkhill.

17 Nov 14:57

Russian Miner Spends His Breaks Taking Photos Of Foxes In The Arctic Circle

by Skirmantė

Russia’s remote north-eastern Chukotka region is an inhospitable arctic tundra, but even in this brutal landscape, Russian photographer Ivan Kislov can find beautiful signs of life among the foxes that live and hunt here in the wild. He agreed to talk to Bored Panda and tell us more about his amazing photos.

Kislov, who lives in the north-eastern port city of Magadan, works in Chukotka as a mining engineer. When he has time during his long shifts, he looks to photography for “relaxation from routine.” He likes to go on “hikes to inaccessible places, raftings,” or just simple walking tours to “observe the wildlife.

Though he takes pictures of everything from bears and reindeer to wolves and stoats, Kislov says the foxes are often very willing models: “Foxes are curious and can come very close, and I shoot with wide angle and telephoto lenses.

More info: ivankislov.ru | 500px | Facebook

 

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We’d like to thank Ivan Kislov for talking to Bored Panda about his work and letting us use his photos. Good luck taking more amazing photos!

15 Nov 06:19

Karl Stefanovic Has Worn the Same Suit Every Day for a Year Because Sexism

by Meg Watson

For more stories like this, Like Junkee on Facebook.

Karl Stefanovic is a lot of things. He’s a manchild with an acute sensitivity to sexual puns. He’s one of the few people in the world to tell the Dalai Lama a joke. He’s a true blue hero who doesn’t mind going on air after a few bevvies, a totally hilarious prankster, and one of the nation’s few professional cat journalists. But now we can add one more line to his already stellar CV — Karl Stefanovic is a feminist.

Seriously.

According to a report from The AgeKarl has spent the last 12 months of his life dedicated to a super secret mission to expose sexism in Australian society. Again — this is not a joke. After becoming frustrated with the superficial standards his female co-workers were held to in regards to the way they dress, Karl embarked on an experiment to test these standards on himself. He wore the same blue suit every day. First for a week, then for a month, then for a year.

A FUCKING YEAR.

“Women are judged much more harshly and keenly for what they do, what they say and what they wear,” Stefanovic told Fairfax. “I’ve worn the same suit on air for a year — except for a couple of times because of circumstance — to make a point [and] no one has noticed; no one gives a shit.”

The only people who knew about the experiment aside from Stefanovic were his co-host Lisa Wilkinson and Sunrise host Samantha Armytage — the women who seemed to inspire Karl to take up the cause. Both Wilkinson and Armytage have been the target of unfair criticism about their appearance in recent times. The latter even suffered a rough onslaught of bullshit from The Daily Telegraph for dressing in seemingly regular clothes while doing normal, everyday activities.

armytage

This just in: woman wears jeans and a jumper. #comfywomfygate

“I’m judged on my interviews, my appalling sense of humour — on how I do my job, basically,” said Stefanovic. “Whereas women are quite often judged on what they’re wearing or how their hair is … that’s [what I wanted to test].”

Now, it seems the test was well worth his time. Though men’s suits are admittedly more difficult to tell apart than the varied cuts and styles of women’s usual dress, he’s got a point. The fact no one noticed proves that no one really cares. And, while that’s totally fine — there’s no real reason we should care what the host of a daily news-peppered infomercial chooses to put on his body — that standard should be applied across the board.

And, though every sane person in the world knows this, it’s exciting to see the point coming from such a prominent figure in the mainstream media. As Clementine Ford said this week following the movements against the socially exiled Redfoo, and the actually exiled Julien Blanc, it seems more and more people are confidently speaking out against this kind of injustice.

Maybe all of Karl’s pranks have been insightful comments on contemporary Australia? Have we been missing something? Someone please decipher his point in the video below. Please. Someone. Give meaning to the world again.

For more stories like this, Like Junkee on Facebook.