The Fine Arts Party

May 13, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, Australian Politics, LIFE, Ulalume |

A Fine Arts Party (Pieter de Hooch)

It being Friday 13th, The Varnished Culture will break from its traditional disdain of party-politics and weigh-in to the current imbroglio.  There’s a federal election in Australia set for 2 July 2016, when we will have to watch the skies (it being World UFO Day as well). Recently, P suggested, innocently, that only a terrorist could enthusiastically, seriously, cast a vote for the Greens.  Whereupon my two very reasonable and intelligent interlocutors informed me that they would be likely to vote for the Greens.  (I am certain they are not terrorists).  So ended my brief role as a pundit. Be that as it…

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Safety Last

Safety Last...Todd Russell 'clocks off' (checks in his personal safety tag)

9 May 2016 10 years ago today, Todd Russell and Brant Webb left the Beaconsfield mine in northern Tassie, where they had been trapped for two weeks.  We honour them and their not-so-lucky comrade, miner Larry Knight, who perished far underground.  However, their dramatic story remains ripe for political and commercial exploitation – there’s a TV mini-series in the offing, and a photo-opportunity has already availed itself on the campaign trail.  See our updated link to Ace in the Hole for more details.

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Rampage at Port Arthur

March 9, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Australian Politics, LIFE |

28 April 1996 TVC has friends who were honeymooning in Tasmania on the above date.  That morning, they had a lovers’ tiff: she wanted to go to Port Arthur, the pretty but desolate and spine-tingling remnants of early convict settlement, vividly recounted in Richard Flanagan’s Gould’s Book of Fish (although that is set elsewhere in Tasmania).  Her beau, however, thought they should take advantage of the mild weather to climb picturesque Cradle Mountain, and his argument prevailed. It’s the kind of argument where you can never say ‘I told you so.’  For that day, a young (28 year old), well-to-do,…

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Damned Whores and God’s Police

Black-eyed Sue and Sweet Poll say goodbye (by Robert Sayers)

(by Anne Summers) (1975) (updated 1994, to 2000s and beyond) The title is a bit of a howler, for it derives from a statement attributed to someone in partial error. But it is still a great title, and it synthesizes the point of the book, which is to reveal and detail how the bifurcation, by colonial authority, of early Australian females into saints and tramps, has formed the nation’s bedrock and permeated the social fabric ever since. This is a difficult case to make.  For instance, such ‘types’ are considered somewhat one-dimensionally cartoonish now.  And wouldn’t the outlook change with the development of a free…

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Vietnam / Iraq

South Vietnamese forces follow after terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, center, as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places, June 8, 1972. A South Vietnamese plane accidentally dropped its flaming napalm on South Vietnamese troops and civilians. The terrified girl had ripped off her burning clothes while fleeing. The children from left to right are: Phan Thanh Tam, younger brother of Kim Phuc, who lost an eye, Phan Thanh Phouc, youngest brother of Kim Phuc, Kim Phuc, and Kim's cousins Ho Van Bon, and Ho Thi Ting. Behind them are soldiers of the Vietnam Army 25th Division. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

While recently reviewing The Deer Hunter, we strayed In Country, a tangled thicket where the eternal skirmish over Vietnam carries on. Now it is held-up as a mirror to military madness, and as a parable for the incursion / invasion of Iraq.  But whereas the strategic argument for Gulf War II remains opaque to this day despite inquiry after inquiry, I suggest that the escalation in Vietnam, as at 1965, is different to the events of 2003 by a substantial degree, rendering most modern comparisons between the two erroneous. The late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s formed the middle age of the Cold War (a…

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