Monday, October 18, 2010

Day of the Meerkat: a damn good band

“History doesn't happen its made. How much did you get paid today? A city stops when met by a thousand cops. Black and blue lines are crossed and justice is a battered word...” Day of the Meerkat perfom "History Doesn't Happen Like it Used To" at the Gaelic Club.

Carlo Sands was pleased to get to see Sydney band Day of the Meerkat at the Live Red Art show at the Marrickville Community Centre yesterday. It has been a while since I saw this intoxicating mix of hillbilly rock live.

Day of the Meerkat are aptly described at the Band Next Door blog in this way: “Some wild form of raucous and rough stuff is what Day Of The Meerkat are known to do best, and for now, they are one of the best.

“Something which is suitable to drinking those cheap beers at the danky pub in your inner city bohemian land.”

This is a practice, the blog argues and Carlo Sands agrees, that “should be revived in this land of boudois venues and heavily legalised way of having fun”.

“Day Of The Meerkat is that band to save us from it all!”

The clip at the top is a performance of “History Doesn’t Happen Like It Used To” from the band’s May 22, 2009 launch of their EP Dirty Tricks on Sinking Ships at the Gaelic Club in Sydney.

The song is about the 2007 APEC protests and the way Sydney was turned into a police state during the forum attended by war criminal and then world emperor George Bush. (I remember seeing the Meerkat playing at the post-APEC protest party and benifit gig.)

I was there at the EP launch at the Gaelic Club. It was a great show, Carlo Sands was down near the front dancing as only Carlo Sands can: very badly.

In fact, if I recall, I was sick as a dog that day and drugged up with codeine. The only sensible solution to this predicament was to drink as much beer as I could before the gig, during the gig and after the gig.

In the audience shot at the end of the clip, in may be possible to grab just a glimpse of a notoriously secretive and rarely seen in public Carlo Sands, but about that I can say no more.

Day of the Meerkat perform at the Gaelic Club in May last year. Carlo Sands was out there somewhere, drunk and dancing poorly.

Sources close to the band have informed this blogger that the Meerkat have an album due out next month. Included on the record is the song below, “Bird on the Windshield” — of which I am a fan and got to see performed live yesterday.

"You were right, I was wrong, I was nuts all along." Carlo Sands approves.

NOTE: You can download (for free or a donation) Day of the Meerkat’s songs from their first two EPs here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A reply to a reader on the question of google ads

I received a note from a reader of this blog that raised some very serious questions - nay allegations - in relation to the service provided by the blog of google ads for the readers' shopping pleasure.

These said ads are in my humble opinion - and it is my fucking blog so my opinion is what fucking counts - one of this blog's most attractive features.

(Asides, that is, from my profile pic in the top right hand of the blog. I am told I remind people of a famous film star. I don't see it myself, but then I have never been a fan of Tom Hanks.)

There are so many advantages to the google ads, which you will find at the top of the blog just above the post.

A key one, besides the cash Carlo Sands earns, is the wide variety of automatically generated ads. Everything from "Beer" to "Spirits" to "Alcohol" to... all sorts of things.

Sometimes they go all left field and the ads will offer a range of seemingly random things, such as a series of NGO jobs: "Teach English", "NGO jobs", "NGO jobs in Kenya", "NGO jobs in Bangladesh".

There is always choice on offer, such as the time the two google ads on offer where "Humanitarian aid" and "Un humanitarian aid".

Choice is what this blog is all about and I am proud to provide ads that allow people to decide for themselves whether to help or hinder the less fortunate.

My personal favourite, though, was one automatically generated by my last post about Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow, which offered "Pirate Treasure Chests". I really think you cannot ask for more than this.

Some, it seems, disagree.

It is really hard to please some people, and Carlo Sands received the following disgruntled letter from a reader not at all satisfied with the results of clicking on a google ad.

I provide the letter below.

* * *

Dear Mr Sands,

I was perusing your most excellent blog whereupon I noticed a Google ad for "Binge Drinking". "Don't mind if I do", I thought to myself, and clicked, expecting a bounty of alcoholic options to be arrayed before me.

What I must ask you now is this: What are you playing at? What in the blazes do wedding photography, Floriade and Bob Jane T-mart have to do with binge drinking?

I expect you'll claim innocence, blaming Google or somesuch. I say this will not stand.


A disappointingly sober fan.

* * *

Calling the quality of Carlo Sands' google ads into question is no small matter. If the implications of this letter were true, it would be serious business indeed.

However, Carlo Sands feels greatly wronged. And therefore allow me to publish the following Open Letter to a Reader on the Crucial Question of Google Ads:

Dear A Disappointingly Sober Fan (and I agree it is a great disappointment to find you in such a state),

I mean, for christ's sake! Take a good look at yourself, Disappointingly Sober!

Most people in this world are too damn poor for google ads and you are whining that the one you clicked on didn't present you with choices you consider adequate!

Oh the shame of it.

Allow me to state what should be blindingly obvious: if you, Disappointingly Sober, require the assistance of google ads to partake in the joys of binge drinking, then I dare say you are doing it wrong!

What you do, for future reference, is walk to the fridge and/or cupboard, open the door and consume all the booze within.

Should such spaces be empty, then you open the front door, having picked up your wallet from wherever the fuck you said you liked to leave it in that pointless meme, and walk to a pub and/or bottle shop.

Then you buy as much booze as the contents of your wallet allow and drink it.

Now, can google ads play any role in this process? Yes, in two ways.

First, look at the wedding photography that so drew your ire. I mean, seriously look.

Keep looking. Avoid the temptation to avert your eyes or scratch them out. Do this for a good, say, 15 minutes.

Now, don't you feel an overwhelming urge to drink as much as you can as quickly as you can?

Try it with Bob Jane T-Mart. Maybe it wont work for you, but I gotta tell you, a Bob Jane T-Mart catalogue sure sends me running to LiquorLand for their strongest brew every fucking time.

The second way it assists is it generates cash for Carlo Sands and Carlo Sands spends that cash on booze.

He may be willing to buy you a drink out of the bounty, but not of you keep acting up like this.

Grow up, Disappointingly Sober! Stop blaming Carlo Sands and his google ads for any state of sobriety you find yourself in, get yourself some decent fucking booze and fucking DAMN WELL DRINK IT!!!

yours sincerely,
Carlo Sands

P.S.: Thank you for your support.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wherever people long for freedom, Johnny Depp is there

Yes, it is all over the media.

The Greatest Actor of His Generation turned up at a British school in full pirate regalia after a young fan wrote to him seeking help to stage a “mutiny”.

“Beatrice Delap, nine, wrote to Captain Jack Sparrow — Depp's character in the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies — asking for help with an uprising against teachers at Meridian Primary School in Greenwich, south-east London”, said.

“We are a bunch of budding young pirates and we were having a bit of trouble mutiny-ing against the teachers,” Delap wrote. “We’d love if you could come and help.”

Recognising that surprise is of the essence in a successful insurrection, Depp gave the school just 10 minutes notice of his visit in response to the call for assistance in the students’ liberation struggle.

Panicked, the school establishment called a hasty assembly, into which Depp strode in full pirate regalia, accompanied by four pirate offsiders. The students, we are told, burst into applause.

No doubt this ovation was also accompanied by many cries of “Long live the revolution!”, “Fourth graders united shall never be defeated!” and “To the wall, teacher scum!”

However, corporate media accounts omit any reference to such chants.

Despite the element of surprise, it turns out there was a turncoat in rebel ranks. Addressing the rebels, Depp was forced to advocate a tactical retreat: “Maybe we shouldn’t mutiny today because there are police outside monitoring me.”

This was a wise tactical move. With the forces of reaction mobilising their repressive apparatus against the rising in advance, the rebels were surrounded. A hasty rising in such circumstances could only lead to a bloodbath.

And a heroic but failed rising is of no use to anyone — unless you’re Irish, perhaps.

Far better to keep the powder dry, regroup, gather the forces, strengthen preparations and prepare to launch a successful insurrection tomorrow.

“So we’ll mutiny, take over the school and eat lots of candy till our teeth fall out.” Depp expounds the rebels’ action program.

Now there is more to Depp than his role as revolutionary leader. He also directed and starred in the clip below for the Shane MacGowan and the Popes song “That Woman Got Me Drinking” — an ode to the noble art of mending a broken heart with huge quantities of booze. (Of course, this features Shane MacGowan before he sold out and got his teeth fixed.)

“She said she’d always love me, she said I’d be the one. Now look at the way she treats me, just like a piece of scum. That woman’s got me drinking, look at the state I’m in. Give me one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten bottles of gin.”

From assisting primary schoolchildren in their bid to throw off their oppressors, to directing a clip celebrating binge drinking as a legitimate response to heart ache, to completely failing to win an Oscar despite being the greatest actor of his generation and despite Tom Fucking Hanks winning two... it seems there is truly nothing Johnny Depp cannot do.

And here, on this very blog, Carlo Sands has been kind enough to provide, in one single post, no less than two clips featuring Mr Depp.

And I do this entirely free of charge, purely out of passion for my work.

And all Carlo Sands asks in return is you have a look at the google ads kindly provided at the top of the page for your shopping pleasure, check them out, and, if you see anything like, give them a good click or two.

You'll find if you refresh the page, google kindly provides an entirely different set of ads — feel free to check them all out!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Some good news for a change

Oktoberfest beer festival in Taybeh, occupied West Bank.

It can be hard to find good news is this god-forsaken hellhole of a world.

When I look in the papers these days, two things repeatedly send that shiver of horror and disgust up my spine: the latest Western-backed Israeli crimes against the dispossed Palestinian people and the latest crypto-prohibitionist assault on our right to drink to forget the world right here in this grand nation of ours.

But there is some good news amid the horror.

I like the October 5 Sydney Morning Herald story pasted below because it is about beer. And Carlo Sands likes beer.

I like it because the story of the Oktoberfest festival in the Palestinian West Bank town of Taybeh is about enjoying beer in the face of far greater odds than drinkers in this country could dream of.

And I like it because anywhere people defy the odds to get pissed is a victory against the anti-drinking elements everywhere.

And by "anti-drinking" elements, I don't mean those who don't drink. I mean those who seek to stop others drinking. Usually, such people drink themselves, the selfish fucking hypocrites.

In the story below, a Muslim Palestinian, who has never tried the beer, says she thinks "the festival is a good thing".

A large number of Muslims are like my friend Conehead - their poison is coloured green. Like Conehead, they do not judge others for the intoxicants they use to deal with this insane world.

The Israeli authorities, on the other hand, no doubt drink like fucking fish. But Israel has made it near impossible for Palestinians in the West Bank to enjoy some booze themselves.

The West Bank having been militarily occupied by Israel since 1967, its only brewery was only opened in 1995 thanks to the small easing of conditions Palestinians lived under as part of the Oslo Peace accords.

The article below details the difficulties the brewery faces trying to operate under Israeli occupation, with the free movement of goods and people denies, with endless militarty checkpoints and checkpoint closures, and the heavy costs bringing in needed goods from Israel.

And it is not just military occupation. More and more Palestinian land in the West Bank is being annexed for illegal Jewish settlers. All sorts of Jewish-only roads and other forms of infrastructure are taken up by the settlements.

Also, water is diverted to the settlements, making it scarcer for Palestinians. No doubt this is an extra impediment and cost to any Palestinian who may wish to brew beer in their own fucking country.

Despite these formidible obstacles, the article explains, such is the passion for letting Palestinians enjoy a few fucking beers that brewery owner Nadim Khoury works 16 hours a day to get the stuff out.

What a fucking hero. This is a good news story indeed.

It is inspiring. But there is a scary side worth considering: if they were to set this festival up on any of the 180 streets in places such as Kings Cross, Redfern, Surry Hills and Newtown that the authorities have now declared alcohol-free-zones, then the cops could seize the booze and fine those involved $2200 each.

The SHM article:

There was meat grilling on barbecues, children with painted faces, stalls selling crafts and cakes, a stage for live music and even the odd priest wandering about. Everywhere people were clutching glasses of beer in the afternoon sun.

Welcome to the annual beer festival in the West Bank, specifically the village of Taybeh, home to the only brewery in the Palestinian territories.

Around 10,000 people were expected to attend the weekend's Oktoberfest, which would have made it the biggest since the event began in the Christian-dominated village.

It is a mark of the festival's success that it was crammed with food stalls doing a lively trade to Palestinian families (both Muslim and Christian), diplomats, aid workers and tourists.

But it was the eponymous beer itself, briskly selling at 10 shekels ($2.80) for a half-litre glass, that was the star of the show.

Made without additives and using water from the spring of Ein Samia - ''delicious'' in Arabic - it was slipping easily down the throats of thirsty visitors.

Business, according to the brewery's owner, Nadim Khoury, is booming despite the obvious difficulties of operating in an overwhelmingly abstinent Muslim environment. The brewery faces ''many obstacles - religion, culture, occupation, closures'' plus a prohibition on advertising alcohol, Mr Khoury said.

''I'm on my feet 16 hours a day to promote the beer, going door-to-door, bar-to-bar, hotel-to-hotel. It's not easy in this part of the world.''

The firm started brewing beer in 1995 in the optimistic years after the Oslo accords. When the second intifada started in 2000, the brewery faced a crisis.

But output has since tripled to 600,000 litres a year and there are plans to expand. A non-alcoholic version of the beer for the Muslim market has made a good start, said Mr Khoury. He would like to see an end to the expensive ''back-to-back'' system of moving goods from the West Bank into Israel.

The beer has to be unloaded from Palestinian trucks at checkpoints and reloaded onto Israeli trucks, often involving long waits in high temperatures.

At the festival, two young women are listening to a Brazilian band. Nibal, 22, a Christian Palestinian, enjoys drinking Taybeh beer, but Samah, 24, a Muslim, has never tasted the village's famous product.

''But I think the festival is a good thing,'' she says.

Beer on offer. Half a litre costs about $2.80. Even in the West Bank under Israeli military occupation, despite the high costs and difficulties of importing goods, despite the scarcity of beer, it is still cheaper than under Australia's aclohol taxation regime.

On a Redfern street, these would be confiscated.

Israeli settlers are yet to take all the water. There is still enough for a few draught beers.

Looks like it tastes good. But, like, hang on! Aren't, like, Palestinians all, like, woman-oppressing Muslim extremists? Why is, like, a young woman drinking beer in public? We haven't been, like, fed bullshit propaganda have we? Surely not.

Life's greatest joy: sitting around drinking beer.

That guy has clearly enjoyed his Oktoberfest. Lucky he isn't on a Sydney street, lest he be arrested under the noticeably drunk laws introduced last year.

All in all a rare, badly needed good news story. And good news calls for a celebration. And that means its time to drink some booze.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

As nearly seen on 60 Minutes

I have long been aware this blog has fans in important places. It attracts the crème de la creme of the Australian, indeed world intelligentsia. True leaders — doers, not just thinkers.

The movers and the shakers (and not just with DTs).

So you can only imagine how disappointed I was to get an email from someone from 60 Minutes telling me she “loved the blog” and wanting a chat.

The first I heard of this strange episode in Carlo Sands’ life (you can refer to yourself in third person if you are famous and Carlo Sands has decided nearly being on 60 Minutes counts) was an email from one of the administrators of the “Who is Carlo Sands?” facebook group that posed the obvious question: “what the fuck?”

The administrator had received a message via facebook from 60 Minutes seeking help in tracking Carlo Sands down.

A few thoughts occurred to me: this was someone's idea of a joke; 60 Minutes were planning an attack on binge drinking and figured a few cheap shots at a proudly alcoholic blogger would score easy points; or possibly it was about that cake recipe from Conehead the Barbituate I posted, even though I clearly specified it was for educational purposes only and, if you really wanted to bake it, to use the non-THC strain.

I didn't have to ponder too long, as I discovered 60 Minutes had sent Carlo Sands a message too.

There it was in my email account, which I rarely check as only spammers and fake hit-collecting sites seeking "link exchanges" ever email Carlo Sands, with the official Channel Nine logo at the bottom: "Dear Carlo, I saw your blog and would love to chat with you about it..."

It struck me that whatever 60 Minutes wanted, it was unlikely to be good news for Carlo Sands or the much-maligned binge drinking community.

But, curious, I sought more information. Sure enough, I got this response: "I’m working on a story on alcohol and the push to change legislation, cut opening hours etc

"I’m looking for someone who can defend those who like going out and drinking. It wouldn’t necessarily have to be you but I do love your blog. I’d love a chat on the phone if you have a minute…"

Well, it is true the attacks are increasing alarmingly.

The propaganda comes first. Salvation Army released a widely covered report aimed at proving kids today are all out-of-control drunks.

Even god damn mX got in on the act with a stunning front page story on September 17 that purported to reveal shocking evidence of damaging “memory loss” among youth due to binge drinking.

But the free Murdoch rag then shredded its credibility by quoting some “expert” speculating an increase in youth dementia rates “could be because alcohol is more readily available and affordable”.

What the fuck? More readily available than where? Saudi Arabia?

It is certainly not more readily available or affordable than times gone past in Australia. Anyone who thinks it is should read my post and the comments on it about the now-demised South Pacific Rugby Club in Canberra and ask themselves what odds such an establishment has of existing in today’s anti-booze atmosphere.

More affordable? Jesus, with taxes ratcheted up, the only way you can afford a few schooners these days is to apply for a mortgage.

I gotta cousin who has moved to Dubai and says booze may be harder to get, but it's a damn sight cheaper. Our god damn livers are being taxed to death.

The propaganda sets the stage for action. The September 17 Sydney Morning Herald reported the City of Sydney Council had declared 180 inner-city streets "alcohol free zones".

The cops will have the power to seize alcohol and issue fines of up to $2200 for those drinking in public within these zones.

Drinking in public is legal in New South Wales - asides from the now-proscribed areas.

Then, and at this point I nearly decided to just end it all now than try and live in such a horrible fucking world, came the news of a push to force pubs in Sydney to close up for the night at... GOD DAMN FUCKING MIDNIGHT!

Midnight! I mean for christ's sake.

I am not saying it is necessarily bad thing to call it a night and stagger to the train station at midnight. With a few good hours of drinking behind you, it can often be fine.

But not all the god damn time.

No, there are some nights, they happen to us all and to some of us quite frequently, whereby midnight is just not enough. More drinking is needed.

This is especially the case if, for reasons outside your own control, you started drinking late. Reasons such as work.

Some people work late. Some are fucking shift workers. Their right to cope with the mind-numbing, soul-destroying horrific job they are forced to do to pay the fucking rent by drinking and then drinking some more is under attack.


These attacks are too serious not to take any opportunity to resist. My duty was clear: I gave the journo my mobile number.

When she called, she started by asking a whole lot of impertinent, but predictable questions, such as: was my name really Carlo Sands, or else who was I? What was it I did?

She probed and took a guess I worked in the media. She claimed this was because I clearly knew how to write (has she fucking seen the typos on this blog?), but really I think it is simply because stats show almost no one drinks more than journos.

She asked me questions about what I thought about booze and binge drinking and the new laws. Then she got to the point.

Most media, she said, would do the standard youth binge drinking and alcohol-induced violence story. 60 Minutes brilliant idea for a different angle was this: How about they filmed "me and my mates" on a night out drinking, to show a different side, that people can go out and drink and joy themselves without causing or getting into trouble.

A 60 Minutes cameraman and producer would simply tag along, film it and try and not get in the way.

Note: Nothing was said as to who would pick up the tab.

My first thought, again, was: Has she read the fucking blog? She wants a night that *doesn't* end in messy chaos?

I am not saying I don't have such nights, but I try and keep pretty quiet about the fact.

And I was certainly not thrilled at the idea of such a night being fucking broadcast on national TV! Carlo Sands has a reputation to uphold.

My second thought was: it's a set-up. Whatever we do, we'll have no control over how 60 Minutes presents it. Commercial current affair shows specialise in that shit.

I suspect that wasn't the plan at all. For one thing, they would have offered to pay - to make it more attractive and ensure we got shitfaced. I suspect 60 Minutes did just want a different angle.

Now, Carlo Sands is willing to do whatever it takes to resist the crypto-prohibitionists. I have no problem doing whatever would give me a national TV audience to that end.

Hell, I reckon they should take me to a pub, fill me up with beer and film me ranting about crypto-prohibitionists in an extended live-to-air special feature that ends sometimes after 2am.

But convincing anyone else it is a good fucking idea to let Channel fucking Nine film them getting pissed is a different matter.

It isn't so simple to say to someone: "Pub? Just for one..." ("Just for one" is code for "Till we stumble out at closing time and try and find another venue open for more").

"Oh, by the way... 60 Minutes are going to film us."

I told the journo I'd give her an answer the next day.

There were those who strongly advocated taking up the offer. Whatever happened, it would be amusing.

But almost without fail, such people were safely in another city. (Though there was at least one offer to fly in to Sydney for the event - I make a point of never using people's real names on this blog so let us just call him "Ben".)

In the end, almost no one actually in Sydney was willing to take a public stand and get pissed on the telly. I had no choice but to say no.

60 Minutes would have to find some other alcoholic to con his friends into letting a comercial current affairs show stick a camera in their boozed-up faces for a night.

Yes, Carlo Sands’ one big chance at glory, at showing this god-forsaken country just how it should fucking be done, at smashing the crypto-prohibitionists with one big televised binge... it has come and it has gone.

It could have been Carlo Sands' one shot at the big time, at fulfilling a life’s dream: getting pissed on prime time TV.

Fuck, I need a beer.

“Now he’s spilling whiskey and learning songs about a one that got away”. Tom Waits captures the tragedy of those who nearly made it.