Saturday, December 29, 2007

Guitar unsmashed

For Christmas my nephew gave me a copy of The Rolling Stone Interviews. Bless him, he probably thought it an astute choice as I, being nominally a Baby Boomer, must of course be vitally interested in the self-obsessed maunderings of such iconic personages as Jim Morrison, Phil Spector, Joni Mitchell and others.

Never mind that I came in on the tail end of the Baby Boom, such that by the time I hit my youthful peak all the purported good times were over. Worse still, all we had to look forward to were the Seventies. Beyond that we might have looked forward to the End of History, if it weren’t for the fact that this happened to coincide with the End of Certainty.

But I digress. I’ve determined that I should immerse myself in my glorious Boomer heritage, and that my nephew’s gift of this absorbing tome must not go unread.

First up is an interview in 1968 with Pete Townshend, the motive force behind archetypal rock band The Who, and (as I read elsewhere long ago) “the thinking man’s rock guitarist”.

Townshend’s interlocutor, Jann S. Wenner, begins by asking:

“The end of your act goes to ‘My Generation,’ like you usually do and that’s when you usually smash your guitar. You didn’t tonight — why not?”

To which Townshend quite reasonably replies:

“Well, there is a reason, not really anything that’s really worth talking about...”

Well, of course — except that the interview then goes on for four pages about why he didn’t smash his guitar, why he’s done so up to that performance, how it affects his guitar playing, etc. This interview is dated September 28, 1968, so by this time Townshend has been smashing guitars as part of his live act for perhaps a couple of years or more.

In other words, Townshend has persisted with the practice for as much as two years after guitar-smashing had been roundly debunked by Michelangelo Antonioni in his 1966 parable of ‘Swinging London’ Blowup.

In the film, we find swinging Londoner David Hemmings at a Yardbirds gig in some swinging London venue. Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck are both doing their swinging London guitar-hero thing, climaxing with Beck doing his swinging London guitar-smashing thing, after which he hurls the remains of his instrument into the reverentially watching crowd of swinging Londoners.

A struggle ensues among the spectators for possession of the holy relic. Hemmings somehow wrests the coveted thing from the pack and legs it out the door, hotly pursued by several of the faithful.

Cut to the next scene out in the street, where Hemmings, having evaded his pursuers, examines the smashed guitar a few moments before disdainfully tossing it into the gutter. As Hemmings strides off down the street, a couple of long-haired swinging London bystanders pick up and examine the wreckage before similarly discarding it for the worthless piece of junk it has become.

Antonioni’s searing demystification of ritualised guitar-smashing seems, therefore, to have been completely lost on such leading exponents of the practice as Townshend. Thinking man’s rock guitarist, indeed!

Phew! Only four pages into the first offering of the 450+ pages of The Rolling Stone Interviews, and already my progress seems to be stalling. Watch this space for further reports as they arise of snippets that may or may not be of interest.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Raspberries provoked

Islamic cleric and former Jemaah Islamiya leader Abu Bakar Bashir has toured a village in the badly affected Karanganyar district of Central Java.

He took the opportunity to blame the deadly landslides and floods on the “immoral acts” of the victims, of whom 130 are so far known to have died.

If God is Great, there will be raspberries blowing all over both the Islamic and Infidel world, just for that callous little ςυηt. It might be hoped that other Muslim leaders will more convincingly model Muslim brotherly compassion.


Howard supplanted

Following the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, the country’s ‘ex-military’ president Pervez Musharraf has achieved a national opprobrium matched only by former Australian prime minister John Howard.

Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif has denounced Musharraf as the source of “all the problems confronting the nation.”

Strange, but I seem to recall it was Bhutto’s corruption-mired prime ministership that helped tip her country into the spiral of instability that culminated in the ascendancy of the military under Musharraf.

The slaying of Bhutto is, of course, to be unconditionally condemned. Quite arguably, however, Musharraf is a prominent symptom of a deeper malaise.

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Goat Friday

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Word from multicultural France

During their visit to Australia in 2002/3, my cousin and his wife and child from the Netherlands stayed with us in between gadding about the country, including an extended campervan trip up and down Western Australia early 2003.

Little Marc, who turned 1 year old during his sojourn here, has been one of the most widely-travelled babies in the world, and now lives with his growing family in the Pyrénées-Orientales area of southern France.

His Papa recently emailed:

Marc is almost 6 and is a real boy now. Now and then we talk about Australia and then he says he remembers everything but you never know. In his bedroom is a map of the world on the wall and he knows where Melbourne is where his auntys, uncles and cousins are living.

He is in his 3th year of school and speaks french as a real french boy. Of course at home we speak dutch and ones in a while we go to Holland to meet the family. It’s funny but Bart doesn’t know any bad language in dutch, but after a visit to his nephew (7 years) he picked up enough in one afternoon to shock us.

At his french school is doing ok and he has a couple of good friends. There is already a nice french girl, Justine, in his live!!

Johanna turned 4 today, it’s not the best day to have your birthday just before xmas but we have celibrated it never the less. It’s the month of pressents. First we had Sinterklaas in Holland at the 5th of december, today she had more pressents for her birthday and tomorrow there is even more under the xmas tree.

For Johanna it’s more difficult at school but it’s getting better now and she starts to speak better french. She is a happy girl and really 100% female, everything concerning pink, prices, or make up is very very interesting and the rest is cava as they say here in France. Also Johanna is in love and already knows who is the lucky boy who will be the father of her 8 children!!

Yep, they grow up so fast in this age...

click to enlarge

Second-cousins Marc and Jacob take in the Southern Ocean at Berries Beach, Phillip Island, December 2002.


Folk remedy

A chap I met at one of the endless Christmas parties related the following solution for keeping your dog from attacking the chooks, suggested in all seriousness as recommended by his old father.

You will need:

  1. Your dog,
  2. A large Hessian sack,
  3. A mature chicken (alive or dead, but whole including plumage); and
  4. A length of irrigation hose.


  1. Place the dog in the sack.
  2. Throw the chicken into the sack on top of the dog, briskly closing the sack into a tidy bundle.
  3. Soundly thrash contents with the hose, ignoring sundry yelps and various other noises and signs of distress.
  4. Release your dog from the bag.

If and when your dog emerges from under the house in a day or so, he will now think it was the chicken that beat the shit out of him, and should never trouble the chooks again.

Note: If this remedy is not effective, you’ll have to think of something drastic to solve your problem.

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