Sunday, February 24, 2008

Page Six Girl: a letter I just wrote to the editor of The Age.

Dear Sir,

Judging from Justin McManus's photograph on page six of The Age on Saturday February 23 ("Four sommeliers walk into a bar..."), it's easy for women to avoid being "wine wankers". They just need to get their tits out.

Nowhere in this story does writer Daniella Miletic explain why sommelier Paula Scholes feels the need to remove most of her clothing (save for an odd piece of towel-like drapery) in order to demystify wine appreciation.

Nor does the story suggest, as the photo caption and the awkward, overlong headline do, that the "food and wine festival performance" being "rehearsed" by Ms Scholes and her three male colleagues will involve her stripping off while they openly ogle and titter (excuse my pun) at her breasts.

Apart from being offensive, it's also just plain unimaginative. I realise that women's breasts are pretty awesome but surely photographers and journalists with actual talent could make this story interesting without belittling its subject's expertise and professional standing.

Yours boobiliciously,

Melissa Campbell, Carlton.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

On Aussie pride. In many ways Darp was ahead of his time, fighting those abhorrent white supremacist organisations. Back around 2000 I thought they were wacko fringe groups, but then along came Cronulla, which marked not just the mainstreaming of Australian racism, but also its wilful misrepresentation as national 'pride'. The Howard government was especially culpable in encouraging this slippage between racism and pride (or, conversely, between the rejection of racism and shame).

Suddenly there was no more joy in kitschy symbols of Aussieness - they became creepy signifiers of a particularly mindless and chauvinistic assimilationism. This isn't new - The Bulletin in its fin-de-siecle heyday espoused a virulent, exclusivist nationalism that was expressed through literature. I've really sought to do my bit to reject it: writing about how stupid the flag-capes that seem to have infected music festivals make you look; refusing to publish photos of people with links to some fairly worrying white 'pride' organisations.

So I learned to think shamefully of Australia: its joyless, victory-obsessed cricket team, its hick towns where people I know get bashed for saying "Happy Invasion Day"... but most of all, its immorally populist government. I have been almost stunned in recent weeks to see the new Rudd government doing and saying things I actually believed in. Today's apology felt like a landmark because it was the first time in many years that I felt proud of my government's actions.

It was infuriating, then, to go on MySpazz and see various people's status updates along the lines of "XX is not sorry". Then there was the abusive message from one of these 'Aussie pride' characters, telling us we were "un-Australian" and that we ought to be ashamed of ourselves. Not today, bucko.

Telephonic dissonance. There were two occasions this week on which telephones made me feel very embarrassed and uneasy, neither of which you'd think would inspire such negative feelings.

The first event was that I was over at my parents' house downloading songs from the '90s for a club night I am DJing this coming Saturday at the Laundry. (My computer craps itself when I so much as try to check my blog stats, and I can hardly download stuff illegally on Rupert's watch.) I was awaiting my brother's arrival because it was only from his computer that CDs could be burned, and it was getting on for 10pm and he still wasn't home.

I thought I would call him but I couldn't be bothered getting my mobile phone to look up his number. (In this day and age I probably know only about two phone numbers off by heart, and they are the ones I memorised before mobile phones became the dominant way to contact people.) But I knew it began with 0412, so I scrolled through recently dialled numbers on my parents' phone, reasoning that they would have called my brother recently.

Aha! there it was, an 0412 number. But when I called it, my brother did not answer. It was some other dude.
Stalling for time, I said, "Hello, it's Mel."
"Hello Mel, how are you?" said the unfamiliar voice.
"Not too shabby," I replied automatically, scrolling through a mental playlist of familiar voices. I thought, oh noes, I've called my other brother by mistake!
"Is that Tim?" I asked tentatively.
"No," said the voice.
"Oh, sorry, wrong number," I said, and hung up.

I felt really awful for quite a while after that, wondering who I'd called by mistake. I don't know why I was so upset at the prospect of a mere wrong number.

The second incident was that the other day I was on the tram to work and I saw my former officemate Evet on the corner of Little Bourke and Swanston Street, wearing a pink windcheater. I thought I would text him, "Hey, nice pink jumper!"
But his response was, "Who is this? I have no pink jumper!"
"It is mel, and dammit you were wearing one earlier!" I replied.
"Or maybe you have pink tinted glasses! My sweater is white!"

I was adamant that it was pink - and indeed, I was sure I had seen Evet in the office wearing the same damn top! I don't know why it was so important to me. So I thought I'd text his girlfriend, a woman fond of the colour pink and sure to notice her man modelling it:
"Hey lucymo, does Evet own a pink windcheater?"
"No siree, not that i would discourage such a thing... He's already wearing cardigans, i suppose pink windcheaters are imminent."

After this I wasted a lot of time pondering whether I was going crazy. I was walking back to the office after lunch yesterday and I passed a toddler strapped into a stroller. She had a harassed look on her face that corresponded perfectly to the way I was feeling at the time.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Come to grief. Last Monday I was walking home from work and on Rathdowne Street I saw the body of a fluffy black-and-white cat that had been hit by a car. It was lying on its side on the edge of the footpath as though it were stretching. I went up to the cat and was quite shocked to realise that I could not see a face where I expected one. It was not that the cat was particularly bloody or gory; I just looked at its head and I couldn't discern any facial features. It had obviously taken a hit to the head.

As I stood there, shocked and puzzled, looking at the cat, two people walked past in the opposite direction. One of them was holding her hand at the side of her face like a blinker, so she couldn't see the cat as she passed. I walked home feeling quite sad.

Then on Saturday night I passed the same spot again and noticed several shiny strips of tape wrapped around a tree. I went to investigate and found that the owners of the dead cat had left a memorial, similar to the ones you see by the sides of the road to commemorate human roadkill. There were flowers taped to the tree as well, and a wooden plaque nailed to a protruding root.

I felt sad to know the cat's name, and to realise how it must have been for his owners to discover him lying there with no face. I also felt a bit weird because of the anguished language used in the note. You never see these kinds of roadside shrines for animals. I mean, just up the road, on the corner of Lygon and Elgin Streets, there is one for a young man who died horribly last year when he was mown down by a speeding car. It almost seems disrespectful when the same kind of memorial is dedicated to an animal.

Ultimately, who am I to say how people should show their grief? But nonetheless whenever I pass the little shrine I feel very sad.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

And now, let's crack a beer because it is time for some gratuitous Angus Sampson blogging. Angus Sampson is my chief Australian celebrity crush. I really enjoy the way he speaks: there's a certain droll gravity to it. I also like his facial hair and his general way of appearing alternately really ugly and extremely attractive. The man cannot do any wrong in my book - I just about swooned when I heard that he indulged in a spot of freestyle rhyming at the IF Awards after party.

There is a really nice photo of him in Beat this week, as he is starring in a play called Shadow Boxing. But I cannot find that photo anywhere online.

I found this photo on a website which brilliantly summarises Angus's career:
ANGUS SAMPSON - Angus was Dylan Lewis' silent sidekick The Enforcer on Recovery for many years, before being recognised for his lame Snack Stop advertisements. He then starred in a string of unremarkable tv shows, before rising to fame on Thank God You're Here, where he played himself. With a deep raspy voice, dry sense of humour and lips like a male Angelina, Angus is not for sharing with you Poms.
Damn straight he's not! Also, I like this WikiAnswers page.

When I discovered that Angus would be making an appearance at Meredith last year, I was pretty excited. (I believe my email to Natalie referred to "Angus 'Mel's future husband' Sampson".) Tash and I had a friendly rivalry over who would pash him first. As it turned out neither of us did, because in an extremely farcical development, we decided randomly to ride the Meredith Eye ferris wheel shortly before Angus appeared on stage. So we could only hear his dulcet tones advising people when the bus to Geelong was leaving, while we were trapped high in the air in a metal cage.

In case you cannot tell, I now have the internet at home and a bold new era of extremely trivial and facetious blogging is about to commence.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Site Meter