Thursday, February 23, 2006

Saint Nick on Satan Howard and his new film.

Looking like some kind of wild hombre himself, Nick Cave is interviewed in this week's Time Out London, on his new Cowboy ("There's no gay sex in our western") film, "The Proposition". In it, he laments the direction his native Australia has taken under the Howard regime, and how he feels the movie is quite apt for the time.

Click on the image, and you should be able to get it to full (readable) size by clicking again in the new window. If you can't, mail me and I'll send you the jpeg.
"The Proposition" is headlining the London Australian Film Festival, at The Barbican in March.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Generation eXpat: Beyond the cultural cringe

A comrade of mine, Ryan Heath, has written a book about the generation of young Australians who live overseas – why they leave and why they really hope to come back and what it means for Australia if they don’t. There's a launch here in London on March 9th. Here's a bit of an extract:

"More than 250 million people in India are aged 18-35. Imagine if 25 million of them - 97% of them professionals - decided to move overseas and spend their most productive years in England. What would happen to India? If that seems far-fetched, then imagine if you woke up tomorrow and Australia had an unemployment rate of 12 per cent or 15 per cent, instead of 5 per cent.

Why? Because the equivalent is happening in Australia right now. As you read this, ten per cent of our 18-35 year olds live overseas. Almost all of them are highly skilled, and only some of them plan to return. It’s not a cultural cringe – we know Australia can be great when it tries. The problem is it doesn’t try that often anymore.

But instead of working hard to lure talented Australians back to their home – our institutions actively push them away. The week before Christmas I received a letter saying that I had 14 days to re-register with the Electoral Commission or be thrown off the voting roll. No email, no phone call (why did I provide these details in the first place?) and given the Christmas mail surge, no chance that the letter would make the stated deadline.

Like thousands of other young Australians, I love Australia but I can’t even vote. Now I’m just a number: one of 1.2 million members of Generation eXpat..............."

Read the rest of the extract, and check out how to buy Ryan's book here.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The humble Blunnie

Fashionably unfashionableAndrew Anthony
Friday February 3, 2006


There was a time, not so many years ago, when just about everyone - skinheads, postmen and right-on professionals - wore Dr Martens shoes and boots. They were the bold footprint of a new democratic age: practical, classless and, though they were designed by a couple of Bavarian physicians, quintessentially British.

Then something terrible happened. They became fashionable. Which is to say, they became self-conscious, ironic, jokey. Before he became an expert on TV shows about the 70s, the designer Wayne Hemingway began doing groovy things with Dr Martens for Red or Dead. Style diversification became the norm, and very soon the boots lost their distinctive identity. Now you can find 78 types of Dr Martens on the company's website, and none of them looks like required wearing. Not even my postman wears Docs these days.

However, there is a boot that remains true to itself, functional, simple and a thing of understated beauty. Step forward the Blundstone, which, as the company likes to say, is Australian for boots.

Aside from Errol Flynn and the devil marsupial, Tasmania has not given the world much to celebrate. But if for nothing else, it deserves global approbation for the Blundstone boot. Its style is as imperishable as its material is indestructible. I've had a pair that I've worn most days for about seven years and they show no sign of wearing. Indeed, I've noticed that if I leave them to their own devices, they seem to clean themselves. What more could a man want?

Blundstone has not been immune to the pressure of diversification, yet, while it has developed a number of ranges, it has managed to retain its classic appeal. All the same, Blundstone wearers should be wary of the company's boast that the boot is "as likely to appear on Parisian catwalks as it is in the mines of Pilbarra". Fashion: it really is the pits.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Save Recherche Bay

Recherche Bay is about as far south as you can drive in Tasmania. We camped for years at Cockle Creek, quite close to there. It is the site of the landing of a French expedition which pre-dates the British landing there by almost ten years. As seems with most of the beautiful areas in Tasmania, it is under threat by the woodchippers. There's a special feature in this month's Leatherwood Online. There's some beautiful pictures by Bob Brown here , and here's a timeline of the battle that's currently raging.