Friday, June 07, 2019

My latest Carlo's Corner column on the smug bastards ending the world and how I won everything!

My latest "Carlo's Corner" column for Green Left Weekly, fuelled by booze, despair and fury, in no particular order.

Destroying the world is bad enough but do they have to be so smug about it?

It is bad enough that our rulers insist on pushing ahead on a course so disastrous that when a new report says human civilisation could end by 2050, you think “that’s optimistic” as you just saw another report saying the Arctic is melting so rapidly the scientists trying to measure it keep losing their tools, but, honestly, do they need to be so fucking smug about it?
“How good is Australia!,” leers our prime minister, a grown man known as “ScoMo”, who grins like a psychopath who has just caught a fresh victim in a B-grade horror flick.
Defying grammar and Amnesty International reports alike, this is a statement, not a question... read the full rant
 Contemplating the report mentioned in my column, that human civilisation is likely to end in 2050, I got very worried and posed The Big Question on Facebook: "If human civilisation collapses in 30 years, what will happen to all our blogs?"

Of all the responses I got, the most reassuring said: "The blogs will remain, dormant in the datasphere, awaiting the rise of a new civilisation or alien archaeologists."

I thought thank fuck, coz I was getting really worried that this might all be in vain, and I've got some awesome drinking stories buried among the wild rants on here!

However, one other comment simply read: "The hottest take."

I asked, obviously, "Does this mean I win?" and got the reply, "Only if you blog it."

Now I have. I WIN!

I have about three decades, max, to enjoy my victory. I think I'll get another beer.

The weather's been funny thirty years or so
the winters got warm, not as much snow
hear the big cats comin 'cause there's nowhere left to go...

Canadian county singer Corb Lund, in 2007, makes some obvious points.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Tuesday Evening in Sydney, Wanting A Quiet Drink And An Easy Train Ride Home

I wanted was a quiet beer after work. And a simple train trip home.

In Sydney. What a fool.

Now admittedly, you can't blame the authorities, maybe, exactly, for how little I enjoyed my regular "post-work" pub. I mean not logically, but I'll give it a go!

And sure the train wasn't too bad. The trip only took 20 minutes longer than usual, and, by itself, that hardly seems a guillotining offence,

But it is the sheer consistency with which things get worse in this city that grinds you down.

So maybe I can't blame Our Overlord Gladys for the pub adjacent from my work in Surry Hills being seemingly inexplicably overrun by young arseholes. But the generalised degeneration of pubs in this city?

It isn't even the much-talked about "lockout laws". I blame the fucking pokies. It's bad everywhere, but you head west of Ashfield and "pubs" are mostly gambling dens, with huge rooms of pokies, a big room for the TAB and then a bar stuck somewhere near the front with a couple of small tables.

Well before the "lockout laws", the dominance of pokies in NSW pubs killed live music Sydney outside a small, shrinking number of venues. Why would a venue owner pay for live music when there's a far greater revenue stream in zombified punters in front of flashing screens scientifically designed to maximise addiction and minimise loses to the house?

All the old-timer stories about iconic pub gigs by "the Oils" or "Chisel" don't outweigh the easy cash stream generated by pure human misery accompanied by an irritating electronic orchestra.

So I yeah I blame Gladys and every NSW corrupt politician before her who let the cancer of gambling erode the decent cancer (as in the one I personally enjoy) of alcohol abuse.

But I guess I can't blame our inexplicably re-elected Premier for what happened as I strode from my office on Elizabeth Street to the Strawberry Hills Hotel, one block up from Central Station in Surry Hills, for what I had imagined would, as per usual, be a QUIET post-work beer at Happy Hour prices.

I managed to catch the end of Happy Hour, but there was little happy about it. The bottom floor, usually sparsely inhabited on a Tuesday evening, was packed. With fuckwits.

They were young. They were loud. They were obnoxious. And they were everywhere. Much like an infestation of cockroaches in an over-priced Sydney flat, only at least these patrons left less droppings around the place. So far as I could see. Still, the night was young.

How bad was it? I had to share a table! On a Tuesday evening at the Strawberry Hills Hotel (or "The Strawbs" as the signs around its interior indicate it desperately wants to be known... or to go by one sign, #thestrawbs, even though if that hashtag were to ever "trend" on Twitter, it would surely be for reasons the hotel management would regret).

How bad was it? The table next to me was packed with loud young people holding forth on the important matters of life. Which, in their case, centred on a couple of the loudest young dudes at the table discussing how frequently people vomit in their sharehouse.

Spoiler alert: pretty fucking frequently.

How frequently? Well, they announced they'd taken to leaving hand towels around the place, strategically, so when people chuck up, they can at least clean themselves up a bit.

They really were pretty proud of this state of affairs, which you might have thought would be cause for an emergency "house meeting" at the very least.

With my beer and Happy Hour both finished, I made a rapid exit, and discovered the problem: renovations to the upstairs area that features a beer garden. All the pricks I don't normally have to deal with who drink up there were, tonight, downstairs. Taking up space and discussing vomit.

It may not be rational, but I still blame Gladys.

I was not ready to face Sydney Trains just yet. I only went to #thestrawbs in a futile bid to dodge the worst of a packed peak hour on the 40 minute ride to my new place in Granville, despite knowing the trains remain pretty unbearable until much later.

So I stopped at the Royal Exhibition Hotel, opposite Central Station, and discovered the paradise I was seeking,

There was hardly anyone there, which is only decent for a pub on a fucking Tuesday evening. I enjoyed my schooner. I felt as relaxed as I foolishly hoped to be after visiting the Strawberry Hills Hotel. I thought: "This evening isn't so bad!"

Fucking idiot. I had forgotten I still needed to get a train home. In Sydney.

Of course, I arrived in time to just miss a train. But the next one stopping at Granville wasn't too far away. It is not, after all, the scheduled frequency of trains that causes the ever-growing angst with Sydney Trains. It is every single other thing.

The train arrived and I think it was more or less on time. By now, just after 7pm, it was even possible to get seat. Things were looking up!

They looked up for all of about a minute, before the train stopped inexplicably somewhere between Central and Redfern, which is the very next station after Central. The train had gone a few hundred metres without any issues, which probably broke some sort of record for efficiency.

There was no announcement. What that means is, whatever the problem is, they dare not even tell the driver...

It can't have been too bad. We didn't wait too long before the train started moving... slowly.

I don't know why it moved so slow. What I do know is that somehow, travelling between Redfern and Burwood took half an hour, which, for a limited stops service, surely defies the laws of physics.

"How are we only at Burwood?", someone around me asked. Perhaps realising how weird this was, the driver broke his silence, apologising for how slow the train was moving, saying it was down to "operational issues". I'll bet Thersea May wished she'd thought of that and blamed Britain's Brexit debacle on "operational issues".

I felt for the driver. Surely, by now, they could have automated these apology announcements, much like the weird, disjointed recorded announcements that tell you the next station is Strathfield and you should change at Strathfield for trains to the Central Coast and Newcastle. They should just follow that with "And we... apolo...gise for... all...the de...lays" as a matter of course. If only to save the voice of the poor drivers.

Because the train was now running late, it picked up significantly more passengers than usual at its key stops, till the carriage resembled the ground floor of #thestrawbs -- far too many people for this time of night. What was comfortable at the start of the trip was now definitely not.

It wasn't just the inevitable urgent need to take a leak that comes with getting on a train after a couple of beers that was bothering me. No, I had to deal with a "manspreader".

Now, I was lead  to believe the problem with "manspreading", whereby some entitled male takes up more space than they are entitled to, was an issue to do with sexism! Yet I am a male! And here I was suffering!

How can this be? Have the feminists lied to me? Or should I have turned to the manspreader and said in my deepest, most manly voice: "I believe think there has been a misunderstanding here!"

I don't know, all I know is from Strathfield on I was pressed uncomfortably into a corner of the train cabin by a bloke with his legs unnecessarily spread, as I desperately sought to suppress the beer-driven desire to take a piss.

The train moved at what felt like a snail's pace. Somehow, it made it to Lidcombe, which just meant more people piled on. Then Auburn and then Granville was next!

Oh fuck, not quite. I'd forgotten Clyde Station. What is the fucking point of Clyde? Has any human being ever gotten off at Clyde?

The answer is yes: this night, one guy out of the entire packed carriage got off at Clyde. I cursed and tried not to piss myself.

I made it. To Granville with non-urine-stained pants. A MODERN DAY MIRACLE!

Little known fact: this 55 minute train trip only takes 35 minutes according to the Sydney Trains timetable! It's like an especially irritating time machine!

And yes, OK! It was only 20 minutes late. It wasn't the full scale meltdown that increasingly plagues Sydney Trains. But it is the sheer repetitiveness of this that starts to grind. The inevitability of constant minor inconveniences punctuated by large-scale collapses of the system.

And sure, it all seems inconsequential compared to the news today we are looking at the total collapse of the ecosystem with no less than 1 million species facing extinction... but that is the point, surely. This fucking system is bringing on a horrific, runaway, multi-faceted ecoholocaust and THEY CAN'T EVEN MAKE THE FUCKING TRAINS RUN ON TIME!

I mean, if they can't even do the basic minimum to sustain civilisation -- functioning public transport and decent pubs -- they got fuck all chance of stopping the shitstorm already under way.

Overthrow the pricks. The Bolsheviks made the Russian Revolution around the three simple slogans of, "Peace, Bread, Land!" Let us do it around our own, modest demands: Pubs, Trains, and No Total Destruction of All Life on Earth in an Unprecedented Ecoholocaust.

'We want to burn your fucking whole town down!' Sometimes, The Nation Blue, I get your point.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

This Is An Important Blog, As Is Widely Recognised, With Important Things To Which To Link To

This is an important blog.

Make no mistake! The commentary here is of great important, ranging as it does from issues relating to Texas country singer Hayes Carll, to my strident defence 12 years ago of then-AFL star Ben Cousins right to get wasted on whatever intoxicants he wanted (that ended well), right through to that time I yelled a lot about George Pell and it didn't even involve child sexual abuse!

Very few people seem to realise this, sadly -- indeed shamefully! SHAMEFULLY!

The few interactions I get are of a -- and I hate to say this about about my fan base -- commercial basis. By which I mean spammers. The readers of this blog seem to all be spammers. Often, but not only, trying to sell Viagra.

So I was very happy to receive a message that wasn't about Viagra or gambling.

Back in 2017, I made a quite personal post in the midst of the marriage equality "plebiscite" about sexuality and homophobia. At some point in it, I included a link about LGBTI health statistics, coz I figure I needed to prove I was basing my shit on something and that was the first link that came up when I googled it.

Well, this did NOT go unnoticed!

I received an email last October, which I didn't notice at the time. It appealed to me, Carlo Sands, directly! It said:
Hello there Carlo Sands,

I saw that you mentioned here and I wanted to share my gratitude for your work on the promotion of LGBTQ-related issues.

I'd like to suggest that you also share an important LGBTQ online safety guide which came out recently. Did you know that 73% of LGBTQs have been harassed online due to sexual orientation or gender identity? This guide aims to empower them and give them the tools to protect themselves online.
I like how they give a few tips and practical suggestions for each situation.
Thanks for helping protect LGBTQs online...
Now OK having edited a marginally better read publication, Green Left Weekly, I know you get these types of requests to highlight some url or other, for reasons that have never really been clear to me, coz very very few urls, especially in the form of hypertext, are ever clicked on.

It is also pretty clear, actually, that this particular link is to something that is both important and yet still posted purely to promote their "vpnMentor pioneering toolkit", and so you know, it might not be Viagra but the logic is not overly different.

Now I may have missed that first email, but vpnMentor -- fair purveyors of a vpn-related pioneering toolkits (I don't know what that means either) and very concerned about online bullying of "LGBTIQs" were not willing to accept my silence lying down!

I got a follow up email, which I did see, that simply said:
I wondered if you had a moment to look at the article I mentioned below:
Please let me know if you decided to share it with your users :)
Thanks in advance for your cooperation.
                                             Have a great day,
Wow they are really keen for me to post their link about cyberbullying of LGBTI+ as a way to get people to their site to sell them some weird internet privacy thing I don't even understand! AND FAIR ENOUGH asThis BLOG IS IMPORTANT even if only spammers REALISE it!

So who am I to deny this report to the masses who read this blog! READ IT HERE!!!

Are YOU worried about cyberbulling of LGBTI+ people on social media? Of course you are, unless you are some kind of homophobe and then you are probably the one DOING the cyberbullying, you prick!

If you wish to know more, please click the link! It even has reasonable advice on how to deal with them. There is a full report there that I have skimmed and the stats sure are damning and it is a worry. Hell, maybe even look into the weird vpn shit they sell, I don't know because, as I've said, I don't understand it. But still, as far as spammers go, at least their hook is something of social value for once.

So, I am thankful this blog could bring this to your attention, and maybe next time you goddamn arseholes will realise I have IMPORTANT THINGS to pass on and PAY ATTENTION! It is not ALL country music you'd rather not listen to on here!

Speaking of which, here is LGBTI activist and country singer Sarah Shook.

'Just gonna lie here and complain instead...'

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

I Saw John Prine Live And I Didn't Cry, Who Said I Did?

John Prine, at a gig that wasn't the one I was at, but at which I also didn't cry.
I saw the legendary American country/folk singer John Prine on the weekend at the State Theatre in Sydney and I didn't cry. Why would I? Who said I did?

What sort of freak would cry at the likes of Prine, who was discovered and championed by Kris Kristofferson (who said Prine's songs were so good "we'll gave to break his thumbs") and who, when singing 'Sam Stone', one of the first songs he ever wrote while working as a mail man about five decades ago about a Vietnam vet suffering PTSD who dies from a heroin overdose, offers up lines like "good songs don't last long on broken radios"?

I didn't cry.

I didn't cry when his opening act, young Kentucky country singer Tyler Childers, ended his set by singing "Lady May", a beautiful love song to his wife. I don't know who has been telling you what, but my eyes were dry!

I was bemused, I'll admit, when Childers first appeared coz he was wearing a nice suit and was clean shaven with a short, neat haircut whereas the clips I've seen of him he had his long, wild red hair pulled back with an unruly beard and his dress sense was more... well about up to my standards of slovenly care.

How I had been lead to believe Tyler Childers would look.
But then he started singing and his hoarse, but emotively powerful voice rang out through the State Theatre and that was him alright, singing his stories of a heartbroken preacher succumbing to alcoholism or of a quiet night where he "only had a couple of drinks" and "a few good hits from an antler pipe" and he "must admit I had a couple of white lines' and then the next thing he knows he awakes to the noon light with a pounding head and a black eye and it "feels like fierce abandon", you just like everyone else's Tuesday night too, this guy is singing our lives!

I may have have been enthralled in his stories, sure, but I never cried when a simple story of love like "Lady May", sung as the best country songs are, from the bottom, from a man who has "held my weight in shame".

Now I ain't the toughest hickory that your ax has ever felled, but I'm a hickory just as well. I'm a hickory all the same...
I think it is his use of rural imagery that enables me to relate, being a renowned outback type myself.


Now I will admit I felt like crying, sure, at only being able to see a truncated opening set by Childers, without his full band. And at the fact that, early on especially, he had to play while many in the audience were still taking their seats. Sure. I felt like crying. But the point is I didn't, whatever tales may have been spread by my enemies.

Then John Prine came on and he at least had the decency to look exactly as expected -- small, hunched over, old and absolutely nothing like any kind of popular music star, let alone icon. Until he sings his tale of wit, love and loneliness, but, and I don't know who has been telling you what, but even when he went for the heart I didn't cry.

I didn't cry when John Prine sung "Hello In There", from his 1971 self-tiled debut album, about the loneliness of growing old. I didn't cry when the narrator, recalling his growing list of dead friends, notes, "We lost Davy in the Korean war. And I still don't know what for, don't matter anymore." Anyone who says I did is a straight up liar.

I didn't cry when John Prine sung "Summer's End", a melancholic song tinged with a gentle sense of grief from his latest album, which was released with a video tying it to the US's devastating opioid overdose crisis, now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. Of course I didn't.

I didn't cry when he played "Angel from Montgomery" from his first album that was later a hit for Bonnie Raitt, or at the endearing sweetness of "I Have Met My Love Today" from his latest. All these accusations are getting ridiculous.

I may have laughed.

I may have laughed when he sung a one-person duet of "In Spite of Ourselves", his tale of lovers who bug each other, first recorded with Iris DeMent. (He "drinks his beer like its oxygen", she "thinks crossing her legs is funny").

And when he sung "Jesus The Missing Years", where he speculates about what the Son of God might have gotten up to in those years the Bible doesn't mention (such as recording with The Stones). And at "When I get To Heaven", from his latest album details the vices he is keen to restart.

I definitely smiled an illegal smile during "Illegal Smile", also off his debut and which offers an energetic defence of consuming cannabis. Mine came courtesy of the baking efforts of a friend staying with me, but judging from the enthusiasm of those who joined in the chorus, I was not alone in wearing a grin still banned in this godforsaken country.

Hell, I probably should have cried when he played "Paradise", one of popular music's first ecological songs that describes the environmental destruction wrought on the town he grew up in by a coal company, seeing as that describes the goings on in this godforsaken country all too well.

But at no point, and I can't stress this enough, did I shed any tears. Nor were my eyes even moist. It is absurd that I have to answer this campaign of fake news, but these are the times we live in.

I'll admit one thing: I still feel like crying when I think of how expensive the tickets were. Mine was in the cheapest stalls and was still just shy of three figures. The profiteering gentrification of live music seems to gall more with the case of someone like John Prine who has dedicated his career to singing stories of ordinary people only for the type of characters who fill his songs to be priced out of seeing him play them.

But I didn't cry, and I hope that is the end of it.

'You know what blood looks like in a black and white video? Shadows...' John Prine also played this literary tale that jumps from a pre-European colonisation creation tale to a disintegrating marriage to two random, unexplained murders.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Thought for the Day: 5/3/19

If you have finished your journey, fear not! For you have only just begun another.
I hope this inspires you. Here is a totally unrelated song about someone going from journey to journey in this society by John Prine, the legendary country singer-songwriter I have the insane pleasure of seeing this weekend in Sydney.

I got hired Monday morning
Downsized that afternoon
Overcome with grief that evening
Now I'm crazy as a loon

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Thought for the day: 7/2/19

IMPORTANT PSA: if you are in a murder mystery please do not call up the murderer and say "It's me, I need to see you!"  Please. There has been enough blood spilled by that time of the show. Think of your loved ones.

Here is a sort of related Tom Waits song,

'...and I want to know the same thing. We all want to know... how's it going to end?'

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Thought for the day 3/2/19

The pen is mightier than the sword, but the penknife is sort of in between. You wouldn't want to take it to a gun fight maybe, but it'd do the trick at a writers' conference.
Here is a only slightly related song by the great, late Guy Clark.

'...and living was mistakes not made.'