Tag Archives: Australia

Sydney The High Vis City

So I was back in Sydney recently. I live in Europe, and it was the first time I had been back
in Sydney in almost four years.

Being a fairly observant type, I noticed quite a few changes. In no particular order…

*Why is every pub meal now $30? A few years ago if you paid 15 bucks you were ripped off.

*Why does every pub have those same funky hipster light globes? Maybe that explains the above.

*Why are those towers at Barangaroo designed so they will look dated in about half an hour?

*Why is there an M4 freeway… M5 and M7 but no M6? Also what the hell is the A4?
My hire car’s satellite navigation thingo had NFI.

*Speaking of the M4, why didn’t they future-proof it when they first built it, instead of digging it up every five minutes and turning it into a seething, angry carpark?

*Why does every beverage you order anywhere arrive in a mason jar? Have glasses been banned
as part of the lockout laws? I want a drink, not a pickle or a secret handshake.

*Why does the entire population of Sydney now sport a High Vis vest? When did that become a thing? I saw a photo of HSC markers wearing them. The most dangerous thing that could possibly ever happen to them is a rather nasty paper cut.

*When did Australian TV become so, well, crap? I watched Goggle Box for the first time
and I thought the TV shows they were discussing were parodies. Apparently they’re not.

*Can someone, anyone, please do something about Sydney Airport? It really is a shocker.

*Without sounding like a squawking breakfast radio announcer, why are there posters around the city saying “Happy Christmas” instead of “Merry”? Is the word “Merry” offensive now?
I didn’t get the email.

Having said all that, it was wonderful to be back.
Sydney really is one of the greatest cities in the world.

Words and image ©Steve Williams 2017

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Marriage Equality? More Questions Than Answers

For those who came in late, the Australian government is currently conducting
a “postal survey” on same sex marriage. I prefer to use the term “marriage equality”.

Which is what we are talking about.

The question, “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?

Yes, of course you are entitled to your opinion, and how you are going to vote, sorry, respond to the postal survey. That’s one of the great things about Australia in 2017, freedom to express your views.
This leads me into the next sentence.

I have a few simple rhetorical questions to opponents of marriage equality.

*If a couple love each other and want to marry, how does it affect you?

*Why does their gender make the slightest difference? To you?

*Cut through the hysteria of the rabid nutjobs on both sides of the argument who have been polluting the issue… what difference will marriage equality make to your daily life?
Seriously, how will it impact you at all?

*What difference will marriage equality make to YOUR marriage? Is that what you’re worried about? That YOUR marriage will be cheapened in some way? Really?

*If you are voting no on the basis of religious beliefs, isn’t your god a god of love who preaches compassion for all humanity? So how do you justify that? That’s the “mysterious ways” bit again?

*Do you seriously believe that a man and woman are better parents than a couple of the same gender? What do you base that assumption on?

*If you are one of the many who say “I’m not homophobic, I have lots of gay friends”,
would you look them in the eye and say “You are not equal, you do not deserve the same rights
as I do.” Would you? Would you really?

Yes. It is that simple.

©Steve Williams 2017

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100 Words to Describe President Donald Trump

To quote that eerily prophetic song by The Doors, strange days have found us.

Following President Trump’s alleged appalling manners on the phone in a recent one-sided rant
cordial telephone conversation with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (that’s T.U.R.N.B.U.L.L. Sean Spicer), I decided to embark on some research.

President Trump lets his finger do the talking

From my trawling through the gazillabytes of stories, memes and general WTF-ness about the tangerine clown currently wreaking havoc behind the Resolute Desk in the White House,
in no particular order, here are 100 words used to describe President Donald J. Trump.

islamophobic myopic dictator cunning idiot courageous fascist sexist misogynist hero ignorant bully showoff blunt incompetent outspoken grandiloquent meglomaniac dumb comical bigot satan rude successful selfish disgusting pussygrabber douchebag arrogant fool unfit brilliant wanker ballsy asshat tangerine pompous brave straight-talking clown nuts blowhard plutocrat demagogue chauvinistic repugnant wazzock leader dangerous confident aggressive saviour orange racist brash bombastic egotistical rich inept genius unrepentant trustworthy buffoon truthful xenophobic moron transphobic thug fopdoodle honest bankrupt embarrassing different refreshing boisterous moron opinionated unqualified exciting dishonest loser despicable insane tough intelligent bullish competent appalling genius jerk narcissist warmonger entertaining obnoxious scary dickhead corrupt f*ckwit sociopath

President.

©Steve Williams 2017

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Rugby League — Greatest Memories of All

Australian rugby league fans have a passion that can’t be dismissed.

It’s a game we played, grew up with, watched on the telly and listened to on the radio.
We still do. It’s our game.

Here are a few random memories from when I was a kid growing up in Sydney.

The greatest team in the history of sport (www.nma.gov.au and Melba Studios)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Getting splinters in your arse from those wooden seats at Cumberland Oval. The exuberant Eels fans that torched it after the 1981 premiership win did us all a favour.

*Running onto the ground as the fulltime siren sounded to try and grab the black and white striped cardboard corner post. I was successful a few times.

*Listening to the great Frank Hyde on 2SM. When people still listened to 2SM.

*The halftime entertainment malfunctions that have plagued Grand Finals — the busted TV allegedly to promote Optus Vision (which was actually quite prophetic), John Williamson serenading an inflatable rubber tree with “Rip Rip Woodchip” after loggers had threatened a blockade of the SCG, the cast of “42nd Street” standing forlornly in the centre of the ground waiting in vain for their music to start, and more recently, Billy Idol’s hovercraft cutting the power, which was a good thing.

*The sensational prizes bestowed on guests of TV’s “Controversy Corner” — including a Pelaco shirt, vouchers for a Viking Sauna and Kevin Junee’s Run For Your Life sports store and the piece of resistance — a bottle of Patra orange juice.

*“The Theme From Shaft” used over the closing credits of Channel Seven’s Sunday night footy coverage with Rex Mossop. Not sure what a “blaxploitation” film had to do with footy, but there’s probably a parallel. “Chips and eggs” was the standard Sunday night fare in the Williams household.

*The Chook Army (diehard supporters of Eastern Suburbs) singing “We hate Ray Price and we hate Ray Price / We hate Ray Price and we hate Ray Price / We hate Ray Price and we hate Ray Price / we are the Ray Price haters”. One actually threw a grapefruit at him while he was in his petrified praying mantis pose — he didn’t budge.

*The “sand boy” running on with a small bucket of sand to for the ball to sit on before conversions and penalty shots at goal.

*Scanlen’s footy cards — that sweet smell of the thin pink strip of bubble gum lingering on the cards… and still lingers with me. Some bastard kid knocking the cards out of another kids’ hands in the school playground yelling “Scramble!!!” which meant a mad free-for-all.

*Having a birthday party with a few mates when I was about ten at Lidcombe Oval for the Chooks v the Magpies, we were sitting behind the try line and were captured in mid-try celebration mode in a photo on the back page of the next day’s Daily Mirror.

*The arse falling out of your meat pie at a brass monkey-inducing Sydney Sports Ground.

*The trainer scurrying on to the field with his “magic sponge” dunked in a bucket of water, mopping up a horrific head gash, then redunking it in the same bucket, primed for the next injury.

*One of my most prized possessions — the autographs of the entire victorious Roosters 1975 side (on an Easts Leagues Club wine list — thanks Uncle Pete).

For all its faults — and there are a few, it’s a bloody good game. It’s our game.

©Steve Williams 2016

*This piece also appeared in The Huffington Post Australia
The Good Old Days When Rugby Was In A League Of Its Own

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When The Redneck Met Gough Whitlam

To commemorate what would have been the 100th birthday of Gough Whitlam, relive my tribute from 2014.

I was only ten years old when former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was unceremoniously dismissed from office in 1975, but his death last week had a profound impact on me, as it did on so many other Australians.

Prime Ministerial amusement

I am not only sorry at his passing, he was such a towering presence — physically and politically.

Many in Australia mourn that Gough’s political legacy has been tragically trashed over the subsequent decades, by both sides of politics. I doubt we will see a return to those heady days.

I had the pleasure of meeting “The Great Man” years ago when writing radio commercials
at Sydney radio station 2KY, which at that time was owned by the Labor Council of New South Wales.

Former NSW premier Barrie Unsworth was the General Manager and was showing Gough around the palatial corporate edifice.

I was rather a fan of the Mambo clothing company. On the day in question, I was suitably attired in the standard creative uniform of a Mambo t-shirt.

My selection that day was a satirical parody of the famous Australian match brand Redheads (apologies to Australian readers for getting the glove puppets of explanation out). In place of the flaming caricature redhead, my t-shirt depicted controversial “politician” and all round embarrassment to Australia Pauline Hanson. The word “Redheads” had been brilliantly replaced by “Rednecks” with assorted contents and warnings as you can see.

After exchanging pleasantries with Gough, he looked down (quite literally) at my t-shirt,
smiled and said “Well done, Comrade.”

A memorable moment from an unforgettable man.

Vale, Gough.

©Steve Williams 2016

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You’re un-Australian if…

To celebrate Australia Day, one gazillion rainforests have been slaughtered creating weighty tomes of “what it means to be Australian”. Bugger that.

As a Wattle-waving Aussie, I reckon you’re un-Australian if…

If you don’t know who this bloke is, you’re un-Australian

*You don’t use “yeah, nah” regularly in a sentence.

*You know the mysterious second verse of the Australian national anthem.

*You don’t return from a Bali holiday wearing a Bintang beer singlet and / or braided hair.

*You use the word “sheila”.

*You don’t know what Wattle is.

*You don’t know what “wanker” means.

*You don’t drown your meat pie in tomato sauce.

*You don’t eat meat pies.

*You prefer a Sauvignon Blanc with a melon and ripe gooseberry nose to a stubbie you’ve opened with your eye socket.

*You don’t know what a stubbie is.

*You don’t think Kylie is bunging on that pommie accent.

*You don’t know what “bunging on” means.

*You drink Foster’s beer.

*You call a “prawn” anything other than a “prawn”.

*You’ve never had a bindi stuck in your foot (not the Indian forehead decoration or Steve Irwin’s daughter).

*You like the song I Still Call Australia Home even with Peter Allen bunging on that crap American accent.

*You prefer to sit on the grass at the beach rather than the sand.

*You take a soccer ball to the beach.

*You call a soccer ball a “football”.

*You don’t think the lead singer of AC/DC is still “the new bloke”.

*You don’t return from overseas bitching about how everything is better / cheaper / tastier / bigger / less crowded / less smelly / less foreign than here at home.

*You don’t think Cold Chisel’s Khe Sanh should be the national anthem.

*You respond when some bogan chants “Aussie!, Aussie!, Aussie!…”.

*You don’t know what a “bogan” is.

*You think it’s ok that our head of state is a member of an English family.

Words and image ©Steve Williams 2016

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FFS World, It’s Zoolander, Lighten Up

Sadly, I have suspected for quite a few years that the world has entirely lost its sense of humour, and it was confirmed this week.

An apparent non-non-binary Benedict Cumberbatch

I was reading one of the furious flood of online news articles screaming in outrage about a scene in the new Zoolander 2 movie.

No, correct that, a scene in the trailer of the new Zoolander 2 movie. So people are taking umbrage at a movie that hasn’t even been released yet.

FFS world, lighten up.

Apparently some (and our emphasise some) of our LGBT friends and outraged kindred spirits supposedly acting on their behalf are frothing at the mouth that the new film is sexist and transphobic. Really? The pitchforks and flaming torches are being aimed at a ten second scene involving Benedict Cumberbatch playing an apparent androgynous-looking model being asked if he has a hot dog or a bun.

That’s it. You’re losing your mind and clambering to the moral high ground over that? Seriously?

In another article, some earnest and no doubt well-meaning type was rabbiting on that a non-binary model should have been cast to play the Cumberbatch role. I have no idea what “non-binary” means. Is it algebra? (I was probably in the sick bay feigning death when they taught that bit at school)

As I said, all this is over a ten second scene in a movie nobody has seen. The Champagne corks would be popping in the Paramount Pictures marketing towers thanks to the gazillion dollars in free publicity. There are even petitions to ban the film. Now that’s hilarious.

It’s been a fairly shit year. The heartbreaking plight of refugees fleeing the Middle East and Africa resulting in dead children washing up on beaches, commercial planes being blown out of the sky, ISIS goons throwing people off buildings because of their sexual preference, a Sydney police accountant being shot in the back of the head by a fifteen year old as he left work, not to mention the recent events in Paris that killed 130 people whose only crime was going out on a Friday night.

We could do with a laugh. If Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Benedict Cumberbatch can provide a few in a light comedy, offending a few easily-offended in the process, then so be it.

As a kid, I was brought up on a healthy diet of comedy — English imports like Monty Python, Dave Allen, The Goon Show, Fawlty Towers, Derek and Clive, and brilliant Australian productions including The Naked Vicar Show, Paul Hogan, Blankety Blanks, The D-Generation, Doug Mulray, Andrew Denton etc, etc. Yes a lot of it was crass, immature, challenging, totally politically incorrect and simultaneously f*cking hilarious. Maybe they have all affected my moral compass Bermuda Triangle style, but I doubt it.

What happened? When did we lose our sense of humour? When was a jihad waged on satire and comedy?

Today people want to be outraged. They want to be angry and vent on Twitter and Facebook and violently hammer the keyboard creating cranky online petitions.

All of this is totally fine. You just need to make sure you’re angry and outraged over the important stuff, not a ten second bit in a movie trailer.

©Steve Williams 2015

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Richie Benaud – the Voice of Summer

He is being lauded as the “voice of cricket”.

I would go further — to me, Richie Benaud will always be the voice of summer.

I was too young to witness his considerable feats on the pitch, though I remember my first game of club cricket for the formidable under 11/3 side in 1975 was played at Richie Benaud Oval in North Parramatta.

Snapshots of those summers in Australia include the aroma of zinc cream and coconut oil, trying to eat your Splice ice cream before it melted, the backs of your legs sticking to the bench seats in the HR Holden, and the deafening cacophony of cicadas.

But above and beyond all that was the cricket. Playing in the backyard after school (I was always Viv Richards – yes, unAustralian I know), playing Saturday morning, then “Saturday arvo” club cricket — my SS bat was a prized possession, and of course watching the cricket on the telly and listening to Richie.

When Richie raised the microphone there were none of today’s seemingly endless blokey in-jokes and “banter”. Commentary teams of today could definitely do with his eloquence and grace.

I believe it was what Richie didn’t say in his commentary that had the most impact, those dramatic pauses that landed, followed by an insightful, sometimes gently cutting remark, spinning away with that droll and very dry sense of humour.

Richie Benaud was the absolute master of word economy and unlike most commentators, he knew we were seeing in our lounge rooms what he was seeing down the ground, he didn’t need to be constantly speaking, those periods of silence were not “dead air”.

His knowledge of the game and its spirit was incomparable, effortlessly moving from test matches to day / night games, from the SCG to Lord’s and every ground in-between.

I’m loathe to use the cliché “doyen” but…

Vale Richie Benaud. Thanks for those summers.

Words: ©Steve Williams 2015
image: www.joe-digital.com

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St. Patrick’s Day… Munich style

The 20th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Munich was a great day for the Irish…
and Germans… and Aussies… and Slovenians… and dogs… and…

A few of my random images…

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich


St. Patrick's Day Munich

Images: ©Steve Williams 2015

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