Thursday, October 18, 2007

~The Council of Grey Sentinels

A weekend that swept the cobwebs from my system, leaving me with the grim realisation that the cobwebs themselves had been holding me together.

I went with Lynne and Polly to see a character called Dan Zanes at the Meat Market. He fronts a band that plays a simple kind of blues/country mix designed particularly for children. Lots of catchy choruses and danceable rhythms. The venue was crawling with kids and, by the end, the whole audience, young and old, was on its feet dancing. [Save for the council of grey sentinels seated high at the back, consulting their wrist watches.] Zanes himself is a tall scruffy grey haired guy with a broad smile and a loose attitude. As I was walking through the crowd a woman pointed out that we could be relatives. Naturally, I was flattered.

I thought of the Wiggles, Hi-5 and all those trivial, prefabricated kids' acts. They seem so shamelessly commercial in comparison to Zanes. Actually, they seem evil, certainly greedy, and isn't the world just a big bloated repository for greed? Sure, Zanes had his CDs for sale at the gig, but not the bewildering array of merchandise pushed by these other bands: clothing labels, toothbrushes, canned spaghetti, yoghurt, breakfast cereal, yo-yos, stickers... this list could stretch to the end of the universe and it's all gomi. They are profit-making entities, [brands, as Naomi Klein would define it,] managing their images in high towers white the plastic gewgaws are manufactured in Chinese special taxation zones - angling themselves at kids' vulnerabilities, even at their budding sexuality, using colours, lights, action and canned cute.

Once, I saw an interview with the Wiggles in which they were asked about the reason for their success. Their answer? "We think it's the skivvies."

Dan Zanes' was just a band playing good, thoughtful music, and everyone had a superior time. It was refreshing to be free of all that other drivel.

I do what I can to expose Polly to materials with some degree of artistic merit, [of course, it's impossible to completely shield her from crap]. I think the films from Studio Ghibli in Japan are a good example of worthy kids' entertainment: Spirited Away, My Neighbour Tottoro, Princess Mononoke etc. - these are all favourites and hopefully stuff like this will help her develop some taste as she grows. Burn all Bratz, I command! Li'l Bratz & Baby Bratz too! Slash the plastic flesh of Barbie's impassive pink face! Force all Wiggles over the cliff at gunpoint!

After Zanes, I ditched Polly at her Grandmother's and drove to Mick Lewis's house, [For the benefit of ancient historians, he was the guitarist with The Ears]. With his partner, Donna, and the lunatic painter Pasquale we proceeded to the Nick Cave concert at the Forum.

And it was much as you'd expect - save for three things: [a] aside from Nick, the band, including Warren Ellis, sported bushy beards that reached their navels, - making them look like hoopleheads from Deadwood, [b] Nick stood and played a guitar - maybe he's done it before, but I've never seen it and he did it with style - and [c] his hairline was rapidly receding. People tell me it's been happening for a while, but now, in concert with his moustache, he has at last achieved the porn star look to which I believe he has always aspired. Funny thing, his jet black hair does not seem to have greyed, as one would expect, under the winds of Quinquagesima. But that's a topic for another day...

Be certain, I mean none of these comments to be malicious. I deeply admire Nick Cave. He's provided an ongoing soundtrack to my life and has always been a deep inspiration. The concert, naturally, was great - but, well, perhaps I've just seen him too many times over the course of time. A few songs stood out. Tupelo, for one... In my mind's eye, I saw that squalid room at the Bondi Cosmopolitan in the early eighties... My imprisonment at Propaganda at the hands of Mr Australia... The ride I took in the white Mercedes convertible with one of Sydney's more notorious crime figures...

A woman in the crowd gave me these words: "Fear is false evidence appearing real". She said it came from Oscar Wilde. I have been mulling over it ever since. Who can tell me what it means?

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Anonymous said...

Hi Sam, thanks for your thoughts on that Nick Cave gig , I'd rather read honest reviews from another muso from the same era, than some young journo jumping on the bandwagon in the papers. I'm glad I ddint missout on much! I wondered if you knew NC from way back then, I'd love to hear a few stories from the 80's music scene, it was so exciting back then and I'm sure theres plenty to tell!!
I agree with you on the kids entertainment biz, it's such crap, but my 3 and a half year old son, did like hi5 and Wiggles for a while (he's almost over it and into superheroes now..ahhhh!). If you're interested for Polly, there's a puppet play on at the NGV called "Headhunter" by Polyglot Puppet Theatre. It's on the 28th Oct (I won't be there, I'll be at World Vegan Day watching SK play a gig!). But we saw it last year, and I'm sure little Polly would love it, my son Phoenix will be there again (I think he'll understand it a bit more now that he's older. Anyway check out the website if your interested.
(Sorry for such a long comment, I'll keep it short next time!)
Love Amanda

Ann O'Dyne said...

I do love dear Oscar Wilde, and am sad when I consider the bad stuff he endured.

Cannot, however, help with the meaning of the quote - just a little too open to interpretation for me.
I have been terrified of everything around me for all of my life.
'We have nothing to fear but fear itself ?'

lily was here said...

Im not even sure if it was Oscar Wilde or not. And its funny, but I mulled it over too and couldnt quite put my finger on how to exactly define fear. Maybe not false evidence because you cant say that what you believe to be possible is false, can you?..but maybe more real fantasy? Or maybe reading SK's latest blog is putting magical realism in the mix? More confused now. But then I discovered that its partway correct in an acronym kind of way :


Im very envious of your Nick Cave gig but even more that i missed the Abattoir Blues tour & Sam you're teasing with the memory stick-it notes you throw in, ie limousine rides with notorious crime figures etc, and Nick le pornstar has maybe discovered Grecian 1000 or whatever its called? He's becoming a caricature, but I do love him.

Sue x
ps an acquaintance bemoaned to me the fact that tickets for The Wiggles were harder to obtain these days than tickets for the Rolling Stones. My apologies too for such a long comment

steve kilbey said...

i hate the fucking wiggles with a vengeance
i too must steer my little poetesses away from this horror of emptiness and toothpaste franchise
sam you will never lose your hair like the cave
moustaches suck i say
unless you have the beard to go with it
cave is thrashing round looking for an image
as his barnet disappears
the wigmans call?

Hugh Marchant said...

"Fear is false evidence appearing real" - Oscar W knew what he was talking about.

Imagine an animal hidden in the night, trying to escape the carnivore stalking it. The carnivore makes small sounds, slight movements in the darkness to flush out its prey - we do not know its true form/nature, it does nothing but project fear.

Imagine a man living in his home, avoiding his neighbours. They want his attention, his money, a cup of sugar. The man has been told they want all this from him, but he has never met his neighbours and does not know where he gets the information from.

Read 'The Giants' by JMG LeClezio - he suggests that fear has been created by the masters of language and the masters of thought in order to control us - and we do not know it.

I guess they mean that what we fear is inside our minds – is that banal?

Hugh Marchant said...

"Fear is false evidence appearing real" - My banal rationale is not to be confused with Theodore Roosevelt's idealistic and saccharine:

"There is nothing to fear but fear itslef."

It is not all in the mind. There are obviously real monsters that we must truly fear - they are camouflaged by the glamorous trappings of modern life (consumer culture and media terror), and it is an illusion that has beguiled and confused us. It has turned humanity and nature into a disposable asset.

We are filled with fear because there is no longer anyone to trust. We fear other animals because we cannot control the social situations around us, but this fear is in our heads - it becomes paranoia and anger.

False evidence made real is a government that starves its people of truth. We are angry because of all the lies we've been told. We are angry at our leaders for failing us, angry at corporations for exploiting us, angry at our neighbours for ignoring us.

But fear is good, it triggers the survival instinct. From fear comes the courage to hunt for something better, or to escape to another hiding place. Soon there will nowhere else to hide. Fear will either nourish us or destroy us.

Sam Sejavka said...

Hugh, it's a weird comment, isn't it? I suspect a misquote in retrospect. I think fear can be true evidence appearing real, too, don't you? Fear CAN BE false evidence appearing real would work, but what's witty about that?

Hugh Marchant said...

And Oscar put the W back into wit didn't he. His was an age of terror though (for homosexuals, women, the africans and chinese, etc;) - so it's apt to revisit the (mis)quote in the Council of Grey Sentinels.

I received this from the ever reactionary and newly blind Evan English; "It is from a fabulous first person account of the New Orleans Hurricane Katrina fiasco. After days of being left for dead, the President of the USA is rumored to be coming to New Orleans to view the post Katrina madness."

"On St. Claude Avenue, just below the French Quarter, there was a scene of indigents, old people and gay men employed in the arts fleeing what they took to be bombs being dropped on them by Army helicopters. What were being dropped were, in fact, ready-to-eat meals and water in plastic jugs. But falling from the sky, these missiles looked unfriendly, and when the jugs hit concrete, they exploded and threw up shrapnel. The people in the area had heard from the police that George W. Bush intended to visit the city that day, and they could not imagine he meant them any good - but this attack, as they took it, came as a shock. "Run! Run!" screamed a man among the hordes trying to outrun the chopper. "It's the President!" "

"Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is."
---- German Proverb

Ann O'Dyne said...

re your "Once, I saw an interview with the Wiggles in which they were asked about the reason for their success. Their answer? "We think it's the skivvies."

There is a Ramones album cover, predating the Cockroachles, where the Ramones are wearing a variety of primary-colour skivvies ...