It’s the end of the highway…

There is an American folky, country band called the Creekdippers. They have a great, sort of campfire sing-a-long feel to their songs. They have one called The End Of the Highway, and I have been slowly swaying around Sydney, singing it to myself. With one little, minor, lyrical change.

“That’s the end of the highway, Howard.
You’re a sorry, silly man, with a pocket full of mumbles.
Please nod off like the old Generals do.
I wonder if they’d even have you.”

Occasionally, the song doesn’t fit Howard, because of what I figure is his one saving grace – the guy wasn’t evil. He can’t be compared to Bush. Or the Stalins of history. But he was a selfish, backwards, lying prick.

John Howard has been PM my entire voting life. So when he lost the election, even by such a spectacular margin, I had no idea how to feel. As friends (older) punched the air and threw stuff at the TV, I kept thinking, what a relief. And “finally”.

And I don’t want to be forgiving, as this man bows out. I pride myself in seeing the good in most everyone, but the media and Howards team are so good at sweeping things under rugs and tweaking history.

Lets we forget:

Being elected on the promise of NO GST (the thing that killed John Hewson) and then with no apology, in his first term no less, brings it in. I don’t mind the GST so much. The flat out lie, however, was fucked. As an early adult I thought that was a nasty, fucked thing.

KYOTO. I missed the lead up to the campaign, and missed how big this issue was. And thank God! Now we’re not the only modern nation left out. What exactly was the problem here. Yes, environment is good, it would be good for the planet to survive. However, we need to make money. This isn’t sifting through your garbage and sorting out your plastics. And much, much bigger economies in the world have been behind the Kyoto treaty, and taken bigger losses on less healthy economies. Really, can someone do a Howard debrief and just go – “John. Kyoto. What the hell was going through your thick skull?”

BABIES OVERBOARD. I’m descended from boat people. My family didn’t give up their entire living and worldly possessions so they could come to Australia themselves! They did it so their baby children could have a better life, education, a warless society, fair working conditions and maybe a suntan. Would they really throw them overboard?

It brings up the Liberal party’s constant HATEMONGERING. Of immigrants, both before and after September 11. And not to mention Howard’s old nemesis, the Asians. As someone who is not a Howard Battler, it was pretty clear to see they guy never once spoke to me in any forum. He was talking to the whites, with whom I sometimes mingled. This culminated in the party’s disgraceful Fake Flyer campaign. That guy should be shot.

But when it comes to racism, how can we forget the CRONULLA RIOTS. It was the boiling point from years, if not decades, of racial tension. The Liberals, and Howard, did nothing to stop the racial tensions. Under their watch, they bred the cautious, suspicious White Australia – leading to Pauline Hanson. But the worst thing about Cronulla, was the chance we lost. I just thought, this was so disgusting, such an act of unbelievable racist hate, that it would be a turning point for us as a country. A humbling look at ourselves would follow, and we would be better for it, having seen how ugly our distrust have become.

But no, John Howard came along, and played it down. Wiped it under the rug. Not a racist act, he tells us. There is no problem. Nothing needed to be done. Lets all carry on with no effort to understand eachother. That’s not an answer, Howard. This is the scar you left on my country.

But the word that I hope someone writes on John Howard’s grave for all time is SORRY. Again, an act of such ignorance, and a blind refusal to admit a problem in the interest of solving it. How can he stand by this? How can you not say sorry to a generation of kidnapped children? It happened. It shouldn’t have happened. Howard hid behind the legal liability card. That any official admittance of “sorry” could leave the government open to legal action. This, from our great government ever, in an economic sense. You could afford it.

There have been so many times that I thought about meeting Howard. Maybe years and years in the future. Somewhere, I will see him. Like in a Scorcese movie. Out on the docks somewhere on Sydney Harbour, as the early evening sets in. I’m standing there in a trench coat, looking out at the harbour, the bridge, and the skyline. A black van pulls up behind me, slowly. The back doors open up, and a sorry figure in a wheelchair rolls up beside me, and looks at the view. The van drives away, leaving us to talk.

“Hello John.” I would say, without looking at him.

“Hello Danny.” He says, as we both continue to look out in the distance.

“You know, John, you were a terrible Prime Minister.”

“I did what I thought was right, what I thought was best, with the blessing of the majority Australian people.”

“But you’re not the majority of Australia. You’re our leader. We needed you, who sat in those meetings about finances, and environment, and more, and to make the right decisions for us. You failed us, ad you can’t fall back on I-was-voted-in, I’m-always-right.”

“The people trusted me. And I stand by my decisions.”

“I know you do, John.”

And with that, I take a pistol out of my pocket, and I shoot the little fucker in his little fucking wheelchair in the side of the head. I kick the body out of the chair and into the harbour. It makes an ugly splash, as the man pollutes Australia one more time. I walk away and don’t look back.

We will never be sorry to see you gone.

Danny
Sydney

PS. The original of End Of the Highway is about Donald Rumsfield.

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Ambition Makes You Look Pretty Ugly

I am finally, officially, completely and utterly over Radiohead.

There is an article in Billboard today about how Radiohead’s back catalogue enjoyed a spike thanks to In Rainbows. This is the most non-news that news can get.

I don’t care if you’re Coldplay or Seasick Steve; if you put out a new record and don’t get a decent spike in the older albums, you might as well shoot yourself in the head right now. To give some perspective, a recent Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac promotion enjoyed a 1000% spike. It sold ten times more in one month than the month before. This is not news.

Except it is. Because it’s Radiohead.

I have a handful of records that have been given away. Wilco have been streaming albums for free since 2001 BEFORE release. Harvey Danger’s last wonderful record has been free, one of many American indie bands doing the same. Prince gave away his new album with a newspaper (granted that made the news). But so did Ray Davies. And the new Travis single.

Sure. I hear ya. The old “band at that level” clause. BUT, that’s the thing. They can get away with the financial risk. It’s no risk at all really. It’s really easy to be charitable from the Ivory Tower.

And lets talk about what didn’t work with the In-Rainbows-Oh-God-Everything-Is-Over model. No preview? You could have been buying anything. Which for me screams that this is not about the music. It’s about the band, and the brand. This past week, the Eagles debuted at number 1 on just about every chart in the planet. Radio play? TV? What drove the sales? The Eagles name.

And Radiohead are becoming the Eagles.

And they are continuing to appeal to just their fanbase. This back catalogue boxset. That just smells of the Eagles. Expensive deluxe versions of the albums, aimed t the people who already own them all.

Any why donations? Why not give the record away? That charitable band of rich people just earned a lot of money. Let’s not forget that major fact that they are laughing their way to the bank.

You might not agree with me. That is fine. But all this talk about Radiohead being the future… they have presented a new way of releasing music into the world. Fine. They have given us one way.

And I don’t agree with it. If anything, it’s made me think about what I value in the music-to-listener process, and Radiohead goes against everything I believe in. Paying for music. Choosing track by track. Previewing; that is allowing people to judge you on your music (first two, heart of the iTunes model).

I believe in music for everyone. Putting your album in record shops and supermarkets so some 12 year old kid can get it. In having your music exposed far and wide, first and foremost.

The coolest thing you can do in my world is to put out some corker song on a cheap single and put it everywhere, so everyone can hear it and anyone can buy it if they want. Radiohead is the opposite of this.

Radiohead has released no music, made a multimillion payday on the faith of their fanbase, and can happily give up now. Why even try and push the album any further. I guess most of those people will buy the box et next year.

Anyway, all this Radiohead business has made me sick to the stomach. Word is Oasis may do the same. And that’s when I will opt out. That’s when you’re too fat and have started eating yourself.

So before you continue being dazzled by these Radiohead figures, please, think about what you believe in music, and how it should get to people, and ask yourself how well Radiohead’s ideas gel with yours.

Don’t follow. Think. They might be wrong.

Danny
London

Additionals:

If you think Radiohead are just doing what they are feeling as right, and it’s the media that has caught on this story, then…well, you’re not naïve. That’s fine. But in the end they are still doing what they think is right, and I’m allow to challenge that.

Start today tomorrow

I had a big lazy day today.

I haven’t had one in long time. It wasn’t even a day where I was catching up on emails or anything useful. Just lazy.

Woke up far too late. Stayed in bed and finally got back into reading my book which I haven’t touched in weeks (JR Reid’s The United States of Europe – guy writes a little too much from an American perspective but the history and the facts are great). Read most of the new Mojo, and flicked through quite a few of the CD booklets I’ve gotten lately and not spent any time with.

Conversations about the death of music artwork interests me. So many poor album covers. And so very few timeless ones these days. And liner notes are a lost art. Which made reading the notes to David Gary’s new Greatest Hits so great. I don’t know half the songs on there, but he writes about everyone, and does it so well, that I put every one of those tracks on my ipod.

I also caught up on my podcasts. Absolutely top of the lot is Sound Opinions. They call themselves the world’s only rock ‘n’ roll talkshow. And it reminds me how much I love good radio, and how much I loved making it. They really get into talking about albums…really, it’s like the Panel, but about rock.

The boring day continued with catching up with the Office (Joss Whendon directed) and Heroes (so poor so far). Dusted off the guitar and tried to work out every Neil Young song ever (almost). Very little blackberry, or even TV. It felt so good, because next week will be so very busy.

Although, I missed fireworks. It’s on my list of things to do next year.

So not a very interesting post, I know. But you have to write about what interests you, and being totally lazy is very exciting for me. It wont last…

Danny
London