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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Saturday, 23 July 2011
The dry drunk theory of workplace bullies
Mood:  cool
Topic: culture

We've had this discussion with quite a few Gen X colleagues over recent times. One, a barrister was commenting on a mad bad magistrate.

I explained my observations based on some Dr Google and personal observation of a high functioning alcoholic relative now dead - father in fact.

It's about the "dry drunk" routine. As the alcohol over years, and decades in the case of boomers, alters brain function causing a trend towards depression, the otherwise high functioning and generally unaware boomer starts lashing out at seemingly trivial bits of uncertainty and chaos that occur in every normal day.  A typo, a slip up, a correction or fudge that needs to be clarified.

Everyone is an idiot or a f*ckwit except of course our hero the high functioning dry drunk boomer, when actually the every day mishaps trigger a deep and powerful  subconscious and alarming reliance on the alcohol fix to smooth things out, especially after hours of withdrawal. This reliance creeps up so incrementally, probably over decades, the addict probably doesn't even realise the source of their deeper seated fear, powerlessness, depression and anger. Not for nothing is alcohol known as the Great Deceiver:


It's very destructive too with the mood swings, the belittling pre-emptive innuendo, the degrading personal comments - all to project the addict's problem onto others just as long as they can get that alcohol anaesthetic for the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Here is one description of the behaviour of the so called "dry drunk":


and here complete with "grandiosity":


The worrying thing is that this effect surely applies to everyone who takes alcohol fairly regularly over the years, whether they believe it affects them or not. Really every bad mood they have may or may not be caused by alcohol cravings. They will never know without a reasonable period of abstinence and self aware monitoring to note any difference in the upward or downward trend of their moods and contentment.

Also given alcohol is the drug of choice of older working Australians the younger generations will have to deal with the associated pathology of their older colleagues for a long time to come and probably forever.

Posted by editor at 7:12 PM NZT
Updated: Saturday, 23 July 2011 7:29 PM NZT
Monday, 8 March 2010
Lucie Thorne master songstress
Mood:  lyrical
Topic: culture

Memories of coffee and chocolate ...


Posted by editor at 11:24 AM EADT
Saturday, 16 May 2009
Dawn over Froghollow
Mood:  lyrical
Topic: culture




Posted by editor at 9:23 AM NZT
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
Quest for the perfect gear change on a bicycle rebuild
Topic: culture

Careful what you wish for when it comes to bicycle rebuild projects. Over the break we marshalled a bunch of old bikes and parts - maybe 5 different wrecks - and other spares to make a nice fast safe bike in city traffic.

Most people these days seem to settle for a mountain bike with knobbly tyres. But this weighs alot. We have one of these already which is nice and robust for towing our bike trailer on slow trips. But on scenic or fast trips you want light racer/hybrid wheels, skinny frame and 'slick' treads. And gears that work smooth in the clinch like Samuel L Jackson smooth. Like Denzel Washington. And with explosive power like Daniel Craig. All those fantasies.

We had some rusty hybrid wheels with good aluminium rims potentially savable via wire brush on power drill and oil to protect from new rust. Also suitable chain wheel/ring - drives the chain off the right pedal via 3 front cogs for more gear combos. As long as there is clearance on the axle of the 'bottom bracket' (see BB below) for the modern chain ring.

Then gears. These can be a real beast. Are the front and back derailers worn out or modern enough to take the extra cogs? Mine were both too small and too worn. Damn. Keep looking.

What about the sprockets/cogs on the rear/free wheel. Is it a "cassette" or single piece asked the bloke at the medium trendy shop. Ans: The former for a hybrid. Is the casette worn out so that the chain skips? Yes. There goes the cheap 2nd hand part via The Bower. A new casette cog assembly comes in at a cool $50 which is no longer a cheapie rebuild. New casette means new chain at $25 because the two match by wearing out together. And chain tool. Add two new tyres at $30 and $35 because the real trendy shop only had those sizes when the tyre blew.

We were already at $140 plus for the perfect gear change on the "cheap". We will be going back to our low rent untrendy suburban bike shop for the gentle prices.

Not forgeting to clean/re-grease the wheel and BB bearings and axles: The BB is that mysterious closed mechanism between the pedals. You need a neat tool to painlessly remove pedals and it helps to have customised spanners to get in there. We had the first but only standard spanners/grippers for the latter .... and suffered accordingly.

Then brakes: Mountain bikes have 'off the forks or old style' but neither fit hybrid/racing wheels. But here scavenging paid off, as did the hard core goose neck on the straight handlebars. Many, many instructive hours later, and too many fiddly detours and hand washes with degreaser and vitamin E cream to mention, we have arrived. Complete with new $10 water bottle cage on clips because there are no bolt holes on the old fashioned chrome frame. Sigh.

Then close to the bell (geddit?) of this 16 round bout the gear switch to the rear derailer started slipping out of position. Not only annoying but also dangerous in those acceleration moments at crossings. Maybe we could just hold it in place? Nah, f*ck that for a joke.We took a day's rest in despair. This has delivered solutions at least 3 times already. We took a second day off for good measure. Sure enough we re-assembled the switch lever slightly wrong. All is forgiven. The perfect gear change for a slightly dodgy left hip.

That's our third bike since the break. Cool. Look out clunky knobby wheels ....

Some lessons for the future: The web, like for most other subjects, is amazingly helpful in learning the ropes about various technical aspects and diagnosis - like skipping chain. People are really glad to record their lessons if you google the right keywords and read patiently. Also get to know your local bike shop when they are not too busy serving customers. Vitamin E cream before getting greasy is very wise for an easier washup. Then use again when clean to rescue the hands a bit more. One might even try gloves? Don't force the tools or threads on nuts and bolts etc. It works or fits or it doesn't. And remember riding a well constructed bike is a joy. And a bad one a misery.

And if all else fails stop being so cheap and buy a new one.

And very lastly, at all costs resist 'stealing' parts off the abandoned racer chained to the fence in front of Marrickville railway for 2 weeks with increasingly bigger signs of vandal abuse - buckled back wheel, bent front forks where the steal cap boots jumped on it with violent purpose. It could lead to awkward moments with lads and lasses in blue, at the early morning cafe nearby, spanner in hand with no key in sight. And we did so resist. The day we finished our sleek mongrel bike the object of our temptation had gone - no doubt to the landfill in the sky via the council workers back from holidays. And it had such nice shiny alloy pedals too. So sad.

Posted by editor at 6:52 PM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2009 12:14 PM EADT
Friday, 26 December 2008
Roisin Murphy from Eire shows Kylie how?
Topic: culture

Posted by editor at 9:05 PM EADT
Tuesday, 23 December 2008
Reflections on a grieving (?) Andrew 'Boy' Charlton, Australian swimming legend
Topic: culture

File:Boy Charlton.jpg

It's summer holiday time in Australia and that means water. Beach recreation. Boating. Even watering the vegetable garden in the cool of evening. Like most coastal Australians this writer has experienced all of these our whole life too.

Appropriately the ABC tv national broadcaster has replaced it's normal Monday night scheduling with outdoorsy shows with one about portraiture of sporting legend "Mr Charlton" , another about wild water rafting and kyaking in Butan.

Andrew i??Boyi?? Charlton

Andrew 'Boy' Charlton

Screens Monday 22 December

In the summer of 1924, at the age of 16, Andrew Charlton raced and comprehensively beat the then swimming world champion Arne Borg at Sydney's Domain Baths. A young country finally had a world sporting hero to call their own - a 'boy' wonder of the pool.

But as suddenly he had arrived at the peak of world swimming, embarrassed by the adulation, he turned his back on fame and possible fortune to become a jackeroo and realise his dream of being a man of the land.

Through family interviews, historic Newsreel footage and the intimate findings of his biographer, we will uncover the soul of this extraordinary but simple man to paint a portrait that reflects his superhuman physique, yet humble inner self.

There are some really sad aspects to the traverse of 'Boy' Charlton's remarkable life story. One that he died at 68 of a heart attack from emphysema due to a life of cigarette smoking. Another that he shunned his fame and mass media compared to the sporting "heroes" of today. In his day he held many world records. A pool in Sydney is named after him.

But the most sad we suspect was his mother's death when he was only 13 - a long illness that he witnessed. And it's this we suspect that hold's the key to 'Boy' Charlton's personality. The show last night suggested he got solace from swimming. True enough swimming laps or body surfing has the sensuous feel of a woman caressing one's body. Soft, wet, powerful, and yielding. Interesting too that dream analysts refer to the ocean as symbolic of one's emotional world.

What does seeing your mother die slowly do to a young teen? My intuition is that he felt dreadfully powerless. Also that he was grieving his whole teenage years. Poor kid. He certainly doesn't look happy.

The Bill Leak show last night dwelled for a moment on a certain expression of the youth emerging from the victorious race against Arne Borg. It's in the picture 2nd above. He was hearing no doubt the wildly cheering crowd, and his eyes are tracking the camera barrel, with not a hint of celebration or even happiness at beating the best the Old World had to offer. He's not even very puffed. Unlike in the pool in the race it was no doubt an "overpowering" public and media reaction.

Reaction to such celebrity takes many forms. It can be confronting. It can be thrilling and an ego boost. It can bring money and influence and 'friends'.

Apparently he was rowed around the pool on display. He was carried aloft on the shoulders of a crowd at Manly ferry wharf. Literally powerless in the crowd surf. Poor Andrew. A sports reporter said he was deeply embarrassed.

We do wonder if the reaction of the crowd and media may well have felt in his boyish emotional state like another overwhelming force on that scale of life changing events ..... namely loss of his mother. Was it the only other overpowering force he had the emotional equipment to compare with? By some confused cross wire of the emotions the 'joyful' experience reinforcing the grief stricken one? He was only 16 when he beat the world's best. Young men mature slower than girls at that age. If our guess is right then no wonder he never enjoyed the popularity and adulation - because the overpowering aspect bespoke a terrible loss.

So it seems he needed a situation that was in it's way big but different - like jackarooing outback, his own 10,000 hectare farm, or surf swimming - that he could still manage to control. None of the crowd or the adulation would bring back his mother. It was nothing compared to that. Medical science was a long way off yet too.

Poor bastard. It's not an entirely rational response to public acclamation but then high emotion doesn't follow orderly rules either. One hopes that at least in his private moments he felt real pride at his achievements away from the public glare when he had time to reflect on an incredible chapter in the history of the nation. And his role in it.

An aspiring youn bloke, a family friend recounted his dream to an older Mr Charlton - his dream to be an Olympic champion too: "You can't make a living from it" came Charlton's gentle response. Or did he mean: 'You can't make your mother live with it'. No indeed there are some things fame or even money just can't do. Ask the ghost of billionaire Kerry Packer RIP.

Who doubts Andrew Charlton would have traded all the world records and boat trips to Europe and celebrity and adulation in exchange for a hug from his living mother.

Here's to a sporting prodigy and man of the land Andrew Charlton, his mother's son. At least that's our interpretation of a remarkable life.

Posted by editor at 4:45 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 27 December 2008 10:19 AM EADT
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
Bob Walshe OAM, environmentalist, speech on 154th anniversary of Eureka Rebellion to Victorian ALP Cabinet Dec 7th
Topic: culture

Colleague and role model Bob Walshe, author and environmentalist, now 85 years old sends on this speech read for him at the above function, attended by the Victorian Community Cabinet and local worthies in Ballarat 7th December 2008. Notice the typo in the first line of the local newspaper, 154th not 54th anniversary. Bob was present at the 100th anniversary as well as indicated below held at the Sydney Domain. This event probably should have been covered by the ABC in its Fora ABC2 and web based service, and maybe it was (?).

Posted by editor at 6:35 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 16 December 2008 7:08 AM EADT
Sunday, 21 September 2008
Activist nostalgia for mainstream ...rich ..... contemporaries
Mood:  lyrical
Topic: culture
Sold for $47m .... this house in Vaucluse.

Sold for $47m .... this house in Vaucluse.
Photo: Louie Douvis

Well it takes all kinds.

In the last several months we have been noticing our cohort in the news. Yesterday (p3 Sydney Daily Telegraph) it was the rather beautiful kind hearted Marina Ritossa of tall slender Croatian extraction and wife of rich man Ivan Ritossa even back then in 1990-91. Marina started out in the local property section of multinational Baker & McKenzie lawyers same year as us in litigation. We remain eternally grateful for her helping carry a brutish bill of costs up Phillip St in 3 copies by 4 volumes we had to file by a deadline one Friday for senior partner Keith McConnell.

We won that one against a Hong Kong developer but the firm gave moi the flick soon after in the property crash of 91, while she is the rich patron of the Royal Flying Doctor Service today as well as purchaser with Ivan of a $47M pad in Vaucluse. Phew.

17 years back Marina knew all about how the "Title deeds" column in one of the property newspapers indicated who was on the way up and who was going down and now she's in the story herself.

Then there is Gordon Plath, class of 1989 ANU law school now manager of environmental litigation at the NSW Dept of Environment and Climate Change in charge of 15 or 20 bods after starting out in criminal prosecutions. He doesn't look any different to 20 years ago to his picture in the professional pages of the Weekend Australian Sept 13-14 08. Just hope Mr Plath is nailing the white collar polluters and rednecks according to his mandate (?).

Then there is Shane Barber, another lawyer starting out at Bakers in 1990 who turned up in the legal pages of the The Australian as some high power IP and technology lawyer as partner at firm Truman Hoyle. Nothing exceeds like success.

We wrote in our penultimate post about whipper snapper at 36 Kirsty Ruddock on her altruistic and acclaimed trajectory in the public eye as principal of the EDO - not strictly this writer's cohort but a contemporary of sorts.

Other sundry folks - Tom Baddeley from the ANU law school in the eighties on abc tv there in WA, or was now some Economic think tank, and handy Aussie Rules player too. We might even have noticed a relative Chris McLoughlin as reporter on abc Adelaide tv news last night.

Then there's the discovery of grandfather we never met Eric McLoughlin, journo, and confidant of Robert Menzies famous founder of the Liberal Party of Australia, not quite my politics but there you go. I do suspect we express alot of his genes - the good ones!?

Bete noire of HIH corporate criminals is another ANU lad Robert Beech Jones now at the Sydney Bar. Tragically we learned of high school contemporay Brendan Keilar's successful legal career in Melbourne only to hear of his foul murder. 

Which in aggregate reminds of a collectivist radical academic in the USA who said it's hard sometimes in the hippie herbal food co-op when your peers are so financially successful and embraced by the Establishment and you are down in the humble grovel as undoubtely the SAM operation is.  Yet it is the life we choose, and that's the point really that constantly reinforces our sense of self. We've done a few things so far and it ain't over yet!

Time stands still for no one so best to play the long game:

Posted by editor at 8:42 AM NZT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 September 2008 11:35 AM NZT
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
The Dark Knight: A short review from the Australian provinces
Mood:  chatty
Topic: culture

Theatrical release poster for The Dark


“Our boy” is what Neil Armfield is supposed to have said on the cutting floor analysing rushes of  Candy starring Heath Ledger. It’s a movie I’ve avoided because drug use is too disturbing for the son of a son of an alcoholic. The implication though is clear – the guy had a sliver of genius amongst we 6 billion or so.


We also avoided Ledger in the emo/gay favourite Brokeback Mountain. But we did catch a DVD of Lords of Dog Town on the foundation of the 1970ies skateboarding sport craze. Based on a real life Aussie character.


Sliver of genius cutting across the wave face of life … and wiping out as some do.


Heath Ledger played chess well they say and worked at his subversions of the Establishment. He spoke against the Iraq war on a chat show in 2003. He hated the celebrity press, some of whom hated him back and shame on them.


Damn, damn, damn, we wrote sincerely on the news of his premature death amongst acclamations and dissension over his arguable importance.


Recently Andrew Bolt, a professional right wing contrarian claimed Dark Knight was a paean to Dubya Bush's stand against terrorism. Mmm. We expressed doubt from ignorance but now we have seen the whole 3 hours worth and can offer some serious reflections.


Yes it is a movie that leaves you thinking some days later. That’s a good sign.


The saying ‘good art doesn’t preach, it’s nuanced and let’s the audience find and prefer their own meanings’ seems to genuinely apply here.


There are some very obvious references to grim movie No Country For Old Men

(a) the coin flipping, references to fate, you lose the toss you die

(b) the dog attack on Batman early on.


These are maybe ripoffs - leveraging a better crafted story for a narrower audience into a blockbuster mass one - or maybe a compliment. Depends on your cynicism perhaps.


‘Our boy’ does his craft and his colleagues and himself proud. If method acting preparation didn’t’ screw him up then nothing would. He comes over so real. The Joker is capital B bad. Audiences drink up a complex villain the way we never quite get why children die no matter how many ‘facts’ about poverty, illness, madness, genetics, criminality.


Some stand out line for this writer:


(a) “Some men just want to see the world burn” observes Michael Caine as the butler; and

(b) “It’s not about money, it’s about sending a message” as The Joker puts the flame to a multi million dollar pile of dough;

(c) “What doesn’t kill you, makes you … stranger” by you know who.


The movie descends into the blockbuster staples of car chases and shoot outs but it’s The Joker that grounds the narrative as Ledger did in Dogtown playing Skip the drunken entrepreneur. My companion who despises ‘mindless Hollywood violence’ wanted to walk out bored, contemptuous. But that would be a 1% audience reaction proving the rule. Even she was impressed by the pencil trick.


We noticed some curious echoes in the show too – Gotham General Hospital gets blown up. A cliché but the falling bricks somehow reminds of the Canberra hospital demolition tragedy. The allegedly beautiful love interest was fairly plain by movie star standards but I got to like her for her savvy and guts which is what you want in a lawyer after all. Not least her sad foreknowledge.


So what about the politics? Well it’s there, post 9-11 with all this crazy destruction an obvious echo, and sinister duality of authority figures in the age of rendition, but what it means is up for grabs. Pick your angle in the kaleidoscope of imagery and buttons being pushed. In the end it is a cartoon of life.


Harvey Two Face could be the USA national character – handsome, strong, smart with madness in his soul from love lost. Or just a plot line.


Batman could by Dubya or more likely the national USA psyche – the running hero who is resilient enough to take false accusations for the greater good. Or Batman could be Osama depending on which side of the corruption soliloquy in Syriana you prefer.


The Joker could be Osama the terrorist “who just wants to see the world burn” as per World Square destruction, or he could be Dubya - seeking Christian evangelical Rapture meaning a world burnt to a crisp initiated out of a conflict in the Middle East. Or so they say. And what is the shock and awe bombing of Iraq on a false pretext other than a desire to see something burn – if only for revenge.


But here is what I conclude the politics of the movie is about – that fear and pain leading to revenge results in madness and chaos and misery. And that’s an accusation pointing in many directions.


It’s a movie that is almost certainly an hour too long but then any chance to see more of ‘Our boy’ is fine by me. Good one Heath, wish you could have stayed.

Posted by editor at 3:56 PM NZT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 August 2008 5:01 PM NZT
Tuesday, 8 April 2008
Unwatchable Films event in Erko this Wedn evening 9th April 08
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: culture

photo by Alex Wisser. 

It's been ten months in the making but
kicking off this Wendeesday nite 9th April
is .....drrdrrdrrrdrrrrrrrrrr
A series of screenings of BRILLIANT FILMS that you haven't seen
or maybe even heard of -
226 Union St, Erskineville
upstairs in the Alpha House Gallery
7-11pm (movie runs 7.30-10)
First on the wall will be Hungarian director Béla Tarr's 2001 film "Werckmeister Harmonies".
From Darrin Baker, co-programmer -

Many consider Werkmeister Harmonies to be Bela Tarr's greatest achievement to date, and I have to agree.

A carnvial arrives in a freezing Hungarian town, and brings with it a malevolent form of hatred and mistrust, that spreads throughout the town's inhabitants.

This amazingly shot and directed film was never released in Australia, despite winning many prestigious awards. And aside from a screening at the Sydney Film Festival on the year of its release, this will probably be Werkmeister Harmonies' first public screening in Australia!

Slightly more information (or the same info, slightly different) can be found here -
Logisitics -
It's essential that you bring your own bean bag or cushion to sit on
and a gold coin will get you in.
Handing over yet another gold one could get you soup or mulled wine or pop corn... or just a smile - try your luck on da nite. 
Alpha House is close to King St, Newtown.St Peters is the closest train station and Newtown station is about an 8 minute walk away.
Can't wait for it to be 7pm!
wu hu!
* Feel free to bring friends and to forward the invitation on - especially to people who make films.

Posted by editor at 5:18 PM NZT
Updated: Tuesday, 8 April 2008 5:27 PM NZT

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