Workshy by Dave Graney


(Adelaide launch, 10 November 2017) At Imprints on Hindley Street, The Varnished Culture attended the launch of Workshy: My Life as a Bludge, the modestly titled autobiography by the undisputed Funky King of the Lounge Lizards, Dave Graney. Mr Graney read excerpts with verve and wit and then thrilled the crowd with a couple of acoustic numbers, including “Night of the Wolverine.” Graney’s songs insinuate themselves into the brain till they become giant, lurid earworms.  Think “Rock ‘n’ Roll is Where I Hide.” His prose is similar.  His account starts with his childhood in Mount Gambier at the bottom of South Australia….

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Dumb Things

November 20, 2017 | Posted by Guest Reviewer | AUSTRALIANIA, Modern Music, MUSIC |
Photo of Paul Kelly by Andrew Braithwaite

Photo of Paul Kelly by Andrew Braithwaite

Songs in Our Heart # 88 Dumb Things (by Paul Kelly) (written by Paul Kelly; released January 1989) [Pure pop by a lyricist with classical learning and sensibility. They just don’t write these anymore, more’s the pity. Kelly has written over 500 songs, and there are lots of great pieces in that portfolio, but none better than this.] “And I get all your good advice It doesn’t stop me from going through these things twice I see the knives out, I turn my back I hear the train coming, I stay right on that track In the middle, in the…

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The Cars That Ate Reason


Mitsubishi folded car manufacturing in Australia in 2008.  Last year, Ford closed. This October, Holden closed its plant at Elizabeth, with stacks of local workers shown the door and associated industries going to the wall.  It is not as if we made crap cars.  It wasn’t from lack of an enthusiastic local market for Holdens and Fords. And it’s not as if the good old Aussie taxpayer hadn’t stumped-up its fair share of subsidised cash to keep the embers glowing. Market forces are many and varied. But they tend to follow immutable, organic, rules.  When organised car-making started up in…

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Wake in Fright: Conclusion

October 16, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | AUSTRALIANIA, Drama Film, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

October 2017 We have spoken with fervent admiration of the book and the film but nevertheless found some good things in the first part of this television re-make, updated to render the appalling bleakness of the story more palatable, and credible, to a new generation. The point of the original film was its grand mix of hedonism and nihilism, which needed no explanation and would actually have suffered for it. To a more prosaic audience, perhaps (one arguably a trifle less worldly?) more needs to be explained, or constructed. And such scaffolding over the underlying story dissipates its elemental power. Part Two opens with the…

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Wake in Fright


(by Kenneth Cook) (1961) (Directed by Ted Kotcheff) (1971) (TV mini-series directed by Kriv Stenders) (2017) “May you dream of the Devil and wake in fright.”  Kenneth Cook began his terrific debut novel with this ancient curse, and then set his Dantesque tour in hell in a one-horse town where innocent, city-boy teacher John Grant, learns all about the dark underbelly of the Australian bush. Experience can be a brutal teacher and in the book, the hospitality of the locals from “The ‘Yabba” is far worse than anything a gang of criminals or terrorists could serve up: it’s a never-ending free-for-all…

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