The Midday Meal

A repository for the various things i consume in the course of daily existence

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Tired

It could be that John Howards ridiculous pork barrelling has gotten too much for me... but there is a real desire to find a politician who is actually focused on doing some good rather than having control. What has happened to the light on the hill? or any vision of what or where Australia should be heading, we have not had that since the Howard govt arrived, and Mark Latham has no idea either.

What we end up with is the blatant attempts to buy votes from certain groups of marginal voters. Elections should always be based on trust, but not the trust that John Howard seems to think resides in him, it is the trust which Edmund Burke argued the electors of Bristol had placed in him. We should be able to trust our politicians that they will apply their knowledge and judgement to pursue the outcome which is for the benefit of all, to acheive some better outcome for the entire society.

It seems to me the election has sunk to cynical attempts to retain or to obtain power, with little real thought given to the end which the means being promised will take us toward. It strikes me as one of the differences evident in the US election. George Bush's world view may be frightening to most of us, but it is at least a big picture, one which American voters can try to paint themselves into to test if it fits and choose their votes accordingly.

It's not something we have here, I have seen enough of John Howard to be convinced that he doesn't have one, the goal of being in power is an end unto itself, and I increasingly get the suspicion that Mark Latham is a similar animal to John. Although the "ladder of opportunity" is perfect marketing jargon it's essentially meaningless without a destination all these people are supposed to be climbing to.


Friday, September 24, 2004

Song 6 Living Colour - Elvis is Dead

Zilla's prescience aside, the reason that Living Colour have not appeared earlier in the list (which is in a number of ways developing semi chronologically) is simply because I can't pick a song. Now that he's raised them I couldn't put off making a decision any longer, because this is around the time the boys should be getting a mention, but which song? As probably their biggest hit, Love Rears it Ugly Head was a chance for a guernsey but everyone knows that one, similarly Cult of Personality was their first single, and as much a statement of intent as anything else they did. I've settled on Elvis is Dead, because it demonstrates a number of the reasons I liked Living Colour.

Living Colour were a black rock band… it’s a rare thing when you think about it. After Hendrix there were a number of great black artists, but none of them rocked, Hendrix's influence was felt more by white musicians than black ones, who preferred to follow the lead of James Brown (see Parliament, Grand Master Flash, Public Enemy). Through the 70s black music was the funk, which grew into rap and hip hop in the eighties and nineties. Although they didn't distance themselves from those musical styles (Public Enemy featured on their first album) they incorporated rock into the mix along with the other stuff.

The other feature of Living Colour, particularly their first two albums, was their awareness. They had something to say, it wasn't that different to what Public Enemy had to say, and probably not far removed from the daily reality of an intelligent black person who grew up in the states in the 60's and 70's and wanted a better life, but it an awareness that was so alien to a white Australian teenager growing up in the suburban wonderland of Canberra.

I had a number of friends who were quite interested around the time (and the few years previous) in the growing rap genre, particularly acts like NWA and Public Enemy. Although, I think that had more to do with the anti authority appeal of listening to music with the word motherfucker sprinkled through the lyrics than any burgeoning political awareness. LIving Colour's lyrics weren't spectacular very often, indeed listening to them now

I'd like to claim it was the intelligence behind Living Colour that attracted me to the band, but it was the wild noises that Vernon Reid could coax from his guitar that first peaked my interest. What kept me interested was how different Living Colour was to most of the rest of the music that was around at the time, and it made me realise that music could (at times) try to aim towards affecting something bigger than the kids in the mosh pit, while still keeping them happy.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

so true...

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Warm Fuzzies

Sometimes, something happens that makes you think there might be light at the end of the tunnel... its a little thing, and by no means is it going to change the world, but I'd like to think it might be a ray of hope.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Song 5 Pearl Jam - Yellow Ledbetter

I first heard Pearl Jam's Alive in 1992. I have always wished I'd brought the single. I've never been one for buying singles, particularly when I could pay a bit more and get that song and a whole lot more on the album. I've always felt that singles that don't form a part of an album experience somehow lack credibility (maybe this is some kind of attempted defence against falling for one hit wonders). In this case, I was a bit strapped for cash at the time and had considered purchasing the Alive single, which featured a "b-side" named Yellow Ledbetter and a track from the album called Once. But I figured with two album track I may as well wait a week and buy the long player.

Although Ten probably makes my list of greatest albums ever, it did mean that I missed discovering what would become one of my most favourite songs for a few years, until my older brother brought the single of Daughter that also had live version of Yellow Ledbetter as a b-side.

I'm still quite a fan of Pearl Jam, and have brought a number of those official bootleg albums they put out on a regular basis, however I only buy those concerts in which they play Yellow Ledbetter. I remember seeing Pearl Jam at NATEX and all I wanted to hear was this song and it wasn't till after the encore (with both Split Enz's I Got You and the Hunter's Throw Your Arms Around Me) that the Eddie, Mike and Jeff were left on their own to deliver this one last song that I felt justified in the money I'd spent.

I don't know what Eddie was talking about when he said he couldn't tell if he was the boxer or the bag and I've never actually seen the same version of the lyrics anywhere because Eddie never spent much time on his elocution and I am pretty sure he changes them every time he sings it anyway. It isn't important though, because my love for this song isn’t because Eddie delivered some poetic lyrical insight. I love this song because no matter how unclear what he's saying is, you can feel exactly what Eddie wanted you to feel.

I think its a song about an end, a loss, of what I don’t know. What ever it was, it will be missed, but there's no chance of getting it back. I will never know what Eddie lost, but I do know that any time I feel I've lost something important, I can put this on and spend some time with a friend who understands exactly how that feels.

Indifference?

At least 9 people have been killed, over one hundred wounded. The attack was clearly aimed at us, but appears to have claimed only one Australian victim.

I'm not sure why but when I heard about it yesterday (and working in our particular govt office that happened quite quickly) I couldn't raise much emotion, and that worries me more than a little.

I'm not sure if it's the ridiculous number of horrific things that have happened in the world over the past few weeks. But 9 dead in a terrorist attack, even if one of them is Australian, is such a small number in comparision to what occurs all over the world every day that it doesn't seem like a big deal. On top of this I can't help but feel as though we had it coming.

Although the government will claim that in the current world environment we would always have been in danger of such attacks it is difficult to believe that the chances of something like what happened yesterday occuring has not been increased through our involvement in Iraq and with the U.S. crusade on terror (which is quite easily painted in the light of the earlier crusades by anyone with a reason to do so).

I can't raise much emotion over it, just as I couldn't over Beslan, or over the WTC three years ago tomorrow, its just too big to comprehend, maybe we should follow the lead of the zilla head out to the middle of nowhere and just not think about it. Unfortunately a big part of me believes its jsut that sort of thing that got us here in the first place.

Although my prayers and best wishes are with Elizabeth, I hope she will not be the only Australian victim of this attack. I hope that in the coming election the Australian public realise that the path we've troden since the planes took off three years ago has not made us safer, its made the world more dangerous.

Despite the committment by the major parties to stop campaigning for two days so as not to take political mileage out of tragedy (only two days though... couldn't not give Kerry P his election debate on sunday night could we?), the debate in the press will continue over the reasons for the attack and who best to keep it from happening in the future.

It would appear that the decisions we've made are coming back to haunt us, and it would only seem fair to me that those responsible for it, and who achieved it in some of the most underhanded ways possible should at least have it come home to roost on them.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Songs 3 & 4 Guns & Roses - Sweet Child of Mine / Motley Crue - Kickstart My Heart

I realise I'm cheating a little with two, but this could well have been three or four songs. However, as the Captain and Grievous have already grabbed some sugar and been dancing with the neighbour I can limit it to two. I love guitars. This love never inspired me to learn to play the guitar properly, but I still love guitars. These two songs are all about the guitar.

For a period in the late 80's I was convinced of the value of owning the great albums on vinyl, I've since gotten over that conviction, but it left me with a fantastic collection of two "classic" records on vinyl (I've recently returned to the love of vinyl, although for different reasons).

Motley Crue's Dr Feelgood was one of these two (the other was Def Leppard's Hysteria). These were two albums I was convinced would be cool forever, so that when I turned 40 I could fire up the turntable and lay these babies down and bask in the awe my amazing rock credibility would create.

I'm still holding out hope that I'll be able to do that with Hysteria, but I am resigned to the fact that Dr Feelgood will not go down in history as the greatest album ever and that if I were to bring my copy of that album out at my 40th it would be met with the howls of derision it so richly deserves. By 40 I think I'll be well over the idea that drinking Jack Daniels from the bottle is the way to go, and I'll have realised that wearing a silly hat and having a cigarette hanging out of my mouth is not the epitome of cool. I'm pretty sure right now I don't think that's cool any more and as the Dandy Warhols said heroin is a bit passe.

Having said this Kickstart My Heart was written about being hit with the defibrilator after having O.D.ed on the Horse. And it has guitars, and it rocked... hard... really really really hard, or so i thought at the time. It was loud and distorted and full of noise. I think I mistook this for rocking, I was only 13 at the time. It would take me a few years and hearing bands such as Soundgarden and Kyuss to truly understand how heavy guitars could be, but as with Revolution, the growl of Mick Mars' guitar in this song whet the appetite for guitars further.

Sweet Child O' Mine is different, sure it's by the band with the guy who wore the silly hat and had the cigarrette and the JD but it's not about the alcohol, the drugs, the women. It's lyrically cheesy, but it is sweet, and it hasn't been diminished significantly in the 15 years since it came out. I bet there isn't many of you who've not heard the intro and played a little air guitar along with it, I still do. There was a time when I even learnt to play the real thing (but only the intro).