Saturday, December 29, 2012

Two songs: Sheryl Crow versus The Jesus and Mary Chain -- a case study in responses to late monoply capitalism

So I pretty much wrote this yesterday evening. It should be clear early on why I failed to complete it then. So today, fresh from another trip to the bottlo, I have tidied it up and I post this discussion on two responses to the horror of late monopoly capitalism for your consideration. *TRIGGER WARNING* Features Sheryl Crow.

* * *

For reasons I'm not sure I can explain rationally, I listened to the two songs discussed below one after the other. I *should* point out that I did leave my home in the mid-afternoon to go for a walk -- because anyone who knows me will tell you straight up how seriously I take exercise. And, strangely enough, I ended in the local pub where I drank a couple of beers with a whiskey chaser, all the while reading the new Rebus (YES! HE IS BACK! AND HE IS AS "DRINKING-TO-FORGET-HOW-HE-FUCKS-UP-ALL-HUMAN-RELATIONSHIPS" AS EVER!!!).

"Whiskey Make Crazy", so sung those Celtic punk legends The Tossers, which helps explain why, floating through a lovely whiskey-and-beer-haze, I ended up, while in the supermarket afterward shopping for dinner, seeing a cut-price pre-prepared-for-roasting chicken all tied up with string with some sort of horrible sauce/gravy type thing already so unkindly added, and concluded WHAT A GREAT IDEA!

And then I get the fucking thing home, more booze at hand, and think how fucking LONG does it ACTUALLY TAKE to roast a fucking chicken??? And the answer is TOO FUCKING LONG!

And then, after some more waiting-and-drinking, there was an "incident" with the oven during the attempt to cook the fucking chook, of which my lawyer has instructed me to make no further comment, and the fucking chicken ended up in the frying pan. So, I guess it was really no longer roasted exactly. Or two thirds roasted, one third fried, or something -- LET THE PHILOSOPHERS DEBATE IT, ALL I KNOW IS I JUST I *ATE* THAT GODDAMN "FROASTED" CHOOK! (you see what I did there?)

My point is, I was feeling a bit odd. By which I mean, pretty fucking happy, thanks to that beer-and-whiskey buzz. And yet... with this underlying sense that the word remains extremely messed up. I mean... we are racing towards a climate catastrophe of a scale it is hard to comprehend... and like, how do you DEAL WITH THAT SHIT, you know?

And I felt a strange compulsion to listen to the one song that I know of that perfectly captures the desire for hedonistic escape, just to lose yourself in the NOTHINGNESS of intoxication while the outside world goes about its pointless, ritualistic... well FUCKING RITUALS... YES you know what I am talking about... Sheryl Crow's 1994 hit "All I Wanna Do is Have Some Fun"!!!

Yeah. See, Sheryl meets Billy in a bar and it is midday on a Tuesday and they decide to *just drink*, while sitting opposite a, and I quote, "giant car wash". I know right? (or, as the kids say, "IKR?" -- see, I am down with them).

It is actually, surprisingly, for a song with such a fucking irritating chorus and hook, quite ... poetic. Which it should be, seeing as the verse were taken, almost entirely wholesale,  from a 1987 poem called "Fun" by American poet Wyn Cooper. Here are the words to Sheryl's hit:

Hit it!
This ain't no disco
And it ain't no country club either,
This is L.A.

All I want to do is have a little fun before I die
Says the man next to me out of nowhere
It's apropos of nothing he says his name is William
But I'm sure he's Bill or Billy or Mac or buddy

And he's plain ugly to me, and I wonder if he's ever
Had a day of fun in his whole life

We are drinking beer at noon on Tuesday
In the bar that faces the giant car wash
And the good people of the world
Are washing their cars on their lunch breaks
Hosing and scrubbing as best they can
In skirts and suits

And they drive their shiny Datsuns and Buicks
Back to the phone company, the record stores, too
Well, they're nothing like Billy and me


All I wanna do is have some fun
I got a feeling I'm not the only one
All I wanna do is have some fun
I got a feeling I'm not the only one
All I wanna do is have some fun
Until the sun comes up over
Santa Monica Boulevard

I like a good beer buzz, early in the morning
Billy likes to peal the labels from his bottles of bud
He shreds them on the bar then he lights up every match
In an over-sized pack letting each one burn
Down to his thick fingers before blowing and
Cursing them out, he's watching
The bottles of bud as they spin on the floor

And a happy couple enters the bar
Dangerously, close to one another
The bartender looks up from his want ads

But all I wanna do is have some fun etc etc etc

Otherwise the bar is ours, the day and the night
And the car wash, too, the matches and the
Buds, and the clean and dirty cars,
The sun and the moon ,

But, all I wanna do is have some fun etc etc etc

Yeah, IKR? Fucking poetry. The full poem, unabridged and without a chorus written to for radio with the sole purpose of INFECTING OUR BRAINS, is actually marked by its contradiction between an outsider wanting to sneer at the world around them, while also feeling below the  world around, drowning that tension with beer and hiding behind an aggressive declaration that the "city is ours" (ie the drunks)

Hell, if it wasn't for the fact that Sheryl Crow chose to weld those words to what surely must be a strong contender for the MOST ANNOYING CHORUS EVER in the history of popular music...then we would have ourselves a FUCKING GODDAMN *SONG*, yeah?

But no, Sheryl had to go and add a dull, repetitive and, worse, SMUG AND SELF-SATISFIED chorus, and add in a film clip where she does nothing but look SMUG AND SELF-SATISFIED ... and all despite the fact that runs DIRECTLY COUNTER to the goddamn WORDS she is singing from a poem she nicked!

Sometimes, a chorus or the general tone of a song is deliberately in contradiction to the bleak nature of the words. Say, of many examples, The Gin Blossom's Hey Jealousy, or famously Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA. That is a possibility here, except for the seemingly straight-faced way she delivers lines about "the party has just begun."

If you ignore the chorus, the actual verses impart actual desperation, of a desire to use intoxication deliberately to block out the world, to pretend it doesn't exist, to "have a little fun before I die", a comment made poignant by the fact the character who utters it "out of nowhere" makes Sheryl "wonder if he has ever had a day's fun in his whole life".

Yeah. Profound. JUST IGNORE SHERYL'S STUPID GRIN. (Like seriously, does she EVEN LISTEN to the words she is singing?)

So that is one response to the horrors we face. In the face of society's horrors, a retreat to the bar, to the sweet lullaby that Sheryl describes as a "good beer buzz, early in the morning".

And WHY? Because "all I wanna do is have some fun" while the "good people of the world" are "washing their cars on their lunch breaks"... FLAUNTING THEIR MIDDLE-CLASS EMPTY LIVES JUST ACROSS THE ROAD FROM WHERE SHERYL AND BILLY ARE DRINKING!!!

The imagery could not be starker. Hedonism is counter-posed to the grinding life of the average pleb "in skirts and suits" under late monopoly capitalism, with its "giant car washes"!


Sure, a "happy couple enters the bar" who are "dangerously close to one another", threatening the sanctuary of the bar with all their "happiness" and "closeness"... but fear not! For "Otherwise the bar is ours..."

Sheryl and Billy are alienated from that outside world of happy couples and suit and skirt wearing folk with their "shiny Datsuns and Buicks" who are "hosing and scrubbing as best they can", before the suckers go "back to the phone company..." (oh, OUCH! Probably one of those call centre jobs too... you know, where you not just deal with arseholes constantly the entire shift wanting to know how to plug in a fucking phone extension cord or blaming you personally for how the privatised company has cut every conceivable corner, including the corner that used to be marked "MAKE THINGS FUCKING WORK" in the pursuit of the greatest profit for the cheapest outlay imaginable, but all while the bastards monitor your fucking toilet breaks and sack anyone who even *mentions* the phrase "union" on company premises... )

FUCKING SUCKERS! Billy and Sheryl are right across the road, in that darkened dive bar, getting pissed and it is only 12pm on TUESDAY! What MOTHERFUCKING REBELS!

The song depicts a desire for a somewhat extreme binge that lasts from a "morning beer buzz" right through to when the "sun comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard". (Interesting side point here, until I had to google the fucking words for this blog post, I had no idea what Crow was singing there, like I thought it was something to do "sitting on a couple of bars", but that never made any sense.)

And yet the ultimate tragedy, of which the story's narrator (if not the actual singer) is all-too-aware, is that the only outlet they have found to express their rebellion is alcohol abuse.

And, what is more, the actual "fun" activities, despite the presumably constant drinking, that are mentioned involve peeling labels off bottles of beer and shredding them (admittedly, this is one of my favourite pastimes), then lighting matches from an "oversized pack", letting them burn right down to Billy's "thick fingers" before "blowing and cursing them out."

Then, when that gets boring, Billy watches the empty beer bottles as they spin on the floor. Wow! No wonder Sheryl notes in the chorus that she's "got a feeling the party has just begun".

Perhaps sensing the one-sided inadequacies of Sheryl Crow's 1994 chart-topper, YouTube offered in its right-hand side bar of suggested related songs, for no other explicable reason, Jesus and Mary Chain's "Darklands".

In this song, the miserable Scottish bastards that are the brothers Reid actually *embrace* wholesale the misery that surrounds them. Far from hiding in some dodgy pub for a whole day or two, they CALL FOR THE HORROR TO COME AND FUCKING MEET THEM!

I'm going to the darklands
To talk in rhyme
With my chaotic soul
As sure as life means nothing
And all things end in nothing
And heaven i think
Is too close to hell
I want to move i want to go
I want to go
Oh something won't let me
Go to the place
Where the darklands are
And i awake from dreams
To a scary world of screams
And heaven i think
Is too close to hell
I want to move i want to go
I want to go
Take me to the dark
Oh god I get down on my knees
And i feel like i could die
By the river of disease
And i feel that i'm dying
And i'm dying
I'm down on my knees
Oh i'm down
I want to go i want to stay
I want to stay

Yeah that is RIGHT motherfuckers! William Reid takes on vocal duties ahead of his brother Jim on this one to sing that life MEANS NOTHING! And all things END IN NOTHING!

Listen to that Glaswegian prick! You wanna escape? You wanna seek "refuge" in drink? Well, just you remember, good friend, that William Reid teaches us that "heaven, I think, is too close to hell"!

But even the path of embracing the horror is not easy. William pleads, over a melancholic but nonetheless enchantingly catchy tune: "Take me to the dark".

But "something won't let me go to the place where the darklands are". OH NO! What? What won't let you, William? It is never spelled out. But the poor bastard is "down on my knees, oh I'm down".

All he wants to do is "talk to my chaotic soul". But "I awake from dreams, to a scary world of screams". Oh the poetry of the chaotic soul!

That 1987 classic came from the album of the same name -- a follow up the much-lauded feedback-laden 1985 debut Psychocandy that largely (but not entirely) eschews the feedback noise for a greater focus on the melodies. Dark melodies, OF COURSE.

Now, if you don't believe me, you can listen to the entire 36.09 minute-long masterpiece on Youtube, but let me assure you, the defining characteristic of the album is pointed to in its title. It is dark. Really dark.

It is dark from start to finish. Like, listening to it right now, as I type I am hearing these lines: "As far as I can tell, I'm being dragged from here to hell. And all my time in hell is spent with YOU!"

And that could be any song.

At its absolute brightest, the album manages a kind of melancholic wistfulness. Its happiest point comes in the final song when young Jimmy Reid finally concedes that perhaps "there's something warm about the rain".

I mean, it also makes a point of noting that "people die in their living rooms, but they do not need this god almighty gloom", but, nonetheless, that is as cheery as the fucking thing gets.

And such lines are, as often-as-not, put to truly great pop tunes. I mean, take the sublime April Skies ("As I stand here don't you walk away, and the world comes tumbling down...") or the equally great pop tune and lyrically self-explanatory Happy When it Rains.

I still remember when I first bought that album. It was out at Curtin University in Perth back in say 1998 or early 1999. I was "studying" at Curtin, as in technically enrolled in some first year courses. As was my want when enrolled in first year courses, I did anything except turn up to any classes. In this case, I looked over a second-hand CD stall set up on campus and found Darklands for ten bucks.

I was hung over. I was hung over a lot in those days. Much like *these days* really. A year or so past my first real broken heart, I was a mess of heavy drinking and messed up nerves caused by working too many graveyard shift at McDonald's every week. Too much sleep-deprivation, caffeine and alcohol.

I was an angry, confused, emotional wreck. The album was perfect. I was instantly hooked. I listened to it obsessively for about a year.


Yeah, I get it. But, you know, I am not 19 any more. And I can’t play guitar. And black was never my colour, not with my complexion.

Yeah, I used to go the Goth clubs in Perth, the least Gothiest citizen of that city imaginable. But I'd go, coz in Perth in the 90s, you had a lot of places for rednecks, endless places for yuppies and maybe one or two for Goths. And that was it.

And the key thing was, of them all, the Goths were the least likely to punch you if you nicked their drink when their back was turned. They'd just glare at you, but they did that anyway. It was hard to tell what was a greater crime for a Goth -- nicking their beer when their back was turned or being the sort of pond scum who just didn't look very Gothy.

And, of course, you always got to dance to Love Will Tear Us Apart. But it was mainly the drink thing. And you could score cheap dexies. But that goes without saying.

And in other news....

'I put my shoes on backward on the way out to a dance. Then I had to go back home cause I forgot my pants'

Sunday, December 23, 2012

And now available embedded on this blog -- Carlo Sands' stand up clip for Five Minutes Live online competition! WOW! THANK YOU CARLO!

This is the clip of most of my five-minute performance at Comedy at the Rox from November. It was filmed, and posted, by Five Minutes Live -- which is a Sydney-based online stand-up comedy competition for amateur comics.

It runs till next September, and the competition is based on which clip gets the most "likes". (To "like" a clip you gotta actually go to the site and sign in. It only takes a few seconds and they don't spam you, it is just to prevent repeat voting).

And the prize... *now this is the key thing from my perspective* ... the prize is FIVE GRAND! THAT IS A SHITLOAD OF BEER!!!

AND YOU CAN WIN FIVE GRAND TOO!!! FOR BEST "COMMENT" UNDER THE CLIPS!!! And I read a few of 'em, nost of em up so far aren't exactly Oscar Wilde. I AM SURE YOU COULD WIN IT!!!

Now, I am not going to pretend this whole thing is perfect -- or even close to it. I mean, don't get me wrong, I am *thrilled* they filmed and posted the clip ... *BUT*... I feel I CANNOT let Five Minute Live's terrible act of political censorship in editing my set go unchallenged... THEY CUT THE LAST JOKE ABOUT NOT WEARING PANTS!!! Everyone who knows me will tell you, the right to not wear pants is VERY important to me! THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!!!

I raised it in the comment section under my clip and the bastards came back with some mealy-mouthed defence of "we don't censor anything" and "it was cut to fit the five-minute timeframe" ... YEAH WELL YOU CAN'T USE YOUR BUREAUCRATIC RED-TAPE TO SILENCE CARLO SANDS! I posted the censored joke there and I post it here, for the WHOLE WORLD TO READ!!!

Here it is: "[The Adelaide bus ticket] says 'Your smile is the most important thing you wear'! No. No, no, no, no, no. That is NOT EVEN LEGALLY ACCURATE! I think you'll find the cops usually insist on pants at the very least.

"And I can tell you from my own experience, that if you are standing there, not wearing pants, GRINNING at a cop... it really doesn't help. IF ANYTHING, it only makes things worse!"


Also, don't forget to sign in and click like if you liked it. If you didn't... ah, forget I said anything. No need to waste your time signing in to "dislike" or leaving a nasty comment... Just have a beer and forget about it, yeah? Here is a Hayes Carll song, just to show I love you all.

'I'm knocking over whiskey, no one's laughing at my jokes. They got me spinning round in circles, like a tin can in the spokes. When I left town this morning, with a smile upon my face, oh babe I swear I never knew I'd end up in this place.'

The NRA has a point, if you'll just get drunk enough to consider it properly

A lot of people have been greatly concerned about the seemingly never-ending spate of mass shootings in the Land of the Free.

Well, I think we can all say, after Friday's thought-provoking press conference, the NRA has got the whole "insane spate of shootings thing" (with more than 100 shooting deaths in the week *after* the Sandy Hook massacre) well covered. It took the time to avoid knee-jerk politicised reactions, and instead came up with a calm and sensible solution: militarise every school in the country.

Rather than *ridiculous* attempts to restrict access to semi-automatic weapons designed for mass killings of the sort Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza used -- let alone deal with their fucked up system, whose military slaughters children oversees, and which alienates people at home and fails to give them health care -- the NRA knows what is really needed: Armed cops in every school -- and principals and teachers also armed and trained to kill.

Now I realise that might, at first, seem a bit mad. It is, after all, a call to steadfastly *refuse* to make it harder for psychos to get hold of instruments of mass death, but rather put more instruments of death in every school.

But I promise you, if you think it through while consuming a full vat of bourbon... especially if you mix that with some powerful mescaline... then, at the end of that, I think you'll find the NRA starts to make some real sense. Give it a go, you'll see what I mean.

Coz, sure it failed to stop the Columbine massacre, in which 12 students and one teacher were shot to death despite an armed guard at the school, but that's just coz the armed deputy was not given access to depleted uranium-tipped missiles to fire from a shoulder-held rocket-launcher. Or a decent supply of white phosphourous. And he suffered from the *catastrophic absence* of a giant Death Ray.

Just think about it! If it wasn't for the fucking bleeding heart liberal Big Government fascists in Washington denying American schools such heavy weaponry, then we would see a drop in violent incidents for SURE!

More or less. There might be *some* hiccups, like that described by @SarahbaxterSTM, who tweeted: "Armed guards at school? My kids actually had one in the US. He shot his teacher ex-girlfriend and was shot by police." But look, no system is perfect.

And if you read the full transcript of the NRA press conference, actually look beyond all the sensationalist headlines from the biased press about how all the NRA can propose to stop gun violence is even *more* guns, you will see some very important analysis on what *actually* causes mass shootings.

It is not the guns. Or the bullets. It is "violent video games", "blood-soaked films" and music videos that "portray murder as a way of life". It is really not so hard to see if you are willing to think about it, particularly if you have also consumed huge quantities of mild-alterting substances: fictional depictions of violence cause violence, not the actual real instruments of violence that are actually used in real life to cause violence.

The NRA also pointed out it was impossible to stop killers, "given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill". Finally, SOMEONE has the courage to come out and SAY what we ALL FEEL: anyone with mental health problems is a menace to society who, far from treated, should be feared and demonised.

And once more, the NRA comes up with a *practical* solution, not just more sensationalist headlines -- create a national database, a proposal that would, if I might make a humble addition, be assisted by making all those with mental health issues wear Yellow Stars in public. That way, the armed guards will know who to aim for.

And has anyone *really* thought through the consequences of banning these assault weapons? I mean, check out this ad for the semi-automatic rifle, made by gun corporation Bushmasters, that Adam Lanza used to shoot dead 20 six-and-seven-year-old children.

You can't just go around banning these things! How would our "man cards" get reissued? We wouldn't be able to tell men from boys, not without making every male walk around without pants to see whether or not they had gone through puberty and that is just really fucking creepy. What a freaky nightmare society these liberal sickos want to create!

And how would Americans defend their homes? I mean, here in Australia, it is terrible! All over the country, innocent citizens are being slaughtered in their beds every night, in THEIR THOUSANDS, and everyone of them, their dying words before evil monsters bash their brains out, is a screamed: "IF ONLY BUSHMASTER WERE ALLOWED TO SELL HIGH-POWERED SEMI-AUTOMATIC WEAPONS OF THE SORT CAPABLE OF GUNNING DOWN DOZENS OF YOUNG CHIDLREN IN SECONDS...BUT NO, THE GOVERNMENT TOOK MY 'MAN CARD' AWAY AND NOW... OH NO... AAAARRGGHH!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Bushmaster's website points out: "Whether it's helping soldiers secure our freedom, protecting a police officer in the line of duty, keeping families safe and sound, hunting big game, or bringing home a coveted competition trophy, we understand the important role that Bushmaster plays in the lives of our customers. That's why, for us, building rifles and carbines is more than a job-it's a passion."

And passion, we can all agree, is important. But surely Adam Lanza's sharp shooting should not be forgotten! And while it was a pretty impressive individual effort, not for nothing do Bushmaster boast that "the quality materials, quality control and craftsmanship we build into every Bushmaster rifle give it the potential for exceptional accuracy".


Really, their marketing department has not got their eye on the ball. They are letting a huge opportunity to demonstrate the brilliance of their merchandise slide right past -- almost as if they are *ashamed* to highlight the role of one of their own products!

Some might say, was it really a *fair* demonstration of its capabalities? After all, while *Lanza* was armed with this powerful, accurate, just plain FINE AND LET'S FACE IT KINDA SEXY speciman of a mass killing machine, it was NOT exactly a fair fight from the perspective of the 20 kids he killed.

Bushmaster understands. That is why, under the subheading of "Junior Corner", they point out: "The NRA Advanced Junior Shooting Camp provide an excellent opportunity to hone your rifle shooting skills."

(The young sporting shooter/mass murderer can check out the NRA's youth progams via links helpfully provided by the Bushmaster's site.)

And really, if not for all those fucking bleeding heart liberal Big Government fascists in Washington who think six-year-old kids should be denied access to high-powered assault weapons, then this terrible tragedy might have been avoided. If there is one lesson from these terrible events, it must surely be ARM THE KIDDIES!

'Children have a right to guns!' Here, enjoy 'Arm Your Children', a song from Montreal punk band Schlonk from 1990! I found it by puytting 'arm children' into YouTube's search engine! ENJOY! BUY ME A BEER SOMETIME! GO ON, YOU CAN DO IT VIA THE PAY PAL DONATE BUTTON ON THE RIGHT!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Behind the scenes at Green Left TV -- how DO these "reports" get made?

Well, my fans will be well aware that this blog has, of late, been somewhat underused. I have been so busy jet-setting all around Sydney's inner-west from one seedy pub to another in a non-stop series of open mic comedy gigs (speaking of which you *can* sign in and watch my clip at Five Minutes Live, an online comedy competition, and click like). And then there is the RANTING AND RANTING I have to do with my written and filmed Carlo's Corner for Green Left... It is all so draining...

But I thought, well, it is has been a while. What would my many fans want to know about? It it occurred to me, something of a "behind the scenes" kinda look at Green Left TV and its famous fortnightly "Green Left TV Report"!

How does the magic actually HAPPEN? How does the glory of "Carlo's Corner" come together? Do hosts Mel and Simon *really* find it amusing? Do they ever want to smile more during the show? Who the fuck designed that back drop? The questions are many.

So I thought I'd try and give you a bit of a special "insiders" look into the "making of" Green Left TV's final report for the year, filmed just this very Monday!

* * *

Well, let us start at the start!

On an evening like Monday's, which has been especially "set aside" as a night to "record" a fresh Green Left TV Report, the first task, of course, is to ACTUALLY GET TO THE STUDIOS.

Simple, you may well say, why I am sure you just GET A BUS to the famed Actively Radical Studios in the Addison Road Community Centre in Marrickville here in ol' Sydney Town!

Now those of you who have watched my clip on the Five Minutes Live online comedy competition, will know full well that catching a bus in Sydney is not as easy as it sounds in theory.

But as I set off in the midst of peak hour at about 5.30pm on Monday, keen as mustard to just get to the Marrickville studios and GET CRACKING WITH MY RANTING, this proved not a problem at all. I had but just goten to the bus stop on Broadway when the very bus I wanted, the 428, arrived at the stop.

And I was just about to board it when it dawned on me... I didn't actually have a FUCKING "travel ten" multi-pass FUCKING ticket and, until 7pm, you need a FUCKING GODDAMN pre-paid FUCKING GODAMN TICKET.

OK NOW FUCK... I mean REALLY. My well-laid plans of not being really late and holding up filming LIKE USUAL have already started coming unstuck. I have to miss this bus, go find a place that sells pre-paid tickets and then come back and wait for the next bus. And, as this is peak hour and many people want a 428, Sydney bus logic says there won't be one for a FUCKING LONG TIME...

So I turned my back on the bus I need, waited for what seems forever to pass *back* across Broadway and go to the newsagent to get a ticket. I told the bored bloke behind the counter I wanted a one zone ticket and he looked confused and eventually sold me the cheapest possible concession ticket, which costs $1. This means I save money, but also means he thinks I look like a student. Which, OK, I do -- but I am FUCKING 35-YEARS-OLD! I save money but lose dignity. And anyone who knows me knows just how important *dignity* is to Carlo Sands.

I made it back across the road and before too long, to my surprise and utter joy, the L28 came, which I am pretty sure is more or less the same as the 428 only a bit more express or some shit!

I now experienced a rare moment of happiness, because I will actually be more or less on time! But as we made our way down King Street in Newtown, a loud argument broke out at the back. Someone, a young, aggro lumpen bloke who just doesn’t want to take any shit, was yelling at some other guy: “What the FUCK are you looking at cunt? STOP LOOKING AT ME CUNT!”

This was met with equally loud yelling in response of “JUST TURN YOUR MUSIC DOWN! YOUR MUSIC IS TOO LOUD!” and “DON’T YOU THREATEN ME!”

This was met with the strident counter-argument of: “DO YOU FUCKING WANT TO FUCKING GO ME YOU CUNT? STOP FUCKING STARING AT ME!”

As the bus drive on, this get more and more heated and the young lumpen threatens to “FUCKING TAKE YOU, YOU CUNT!”, met with “there are a dozen witnesses SO GO ON PUNCH ME! I’LL CALL THE COPS GO ON PUNCH ME!”, itself met with “then where are you getting off you CUNT?!?” met with “STOP THREATENING ME!” met with “THEN STOP STARING AT ME YOU FUCKING CUNT!”

The louder and more aggressive this conversation gets, and the more extreme the threats of physical violence, the more intently everyone else looks stonily ahead or engages in their own quiet conversations, every other passenger committed to a united front strategy of pretending this is not happening while praying that one, or preferably both, get the FUCK OFF THE BUS ASAP.

The bus pulls up at Newtown train station amid mutual, screamed recriminations about who was going to punch who and who was going to call the cops. And before the bus driver can pull out again, down storms the man upset about loud music who just would not stop staring at that angrily young lumpen man.


And, like I am sure everyone else on the bus, I am thinking “seriously, how fucking pathetic is your life that you need to deliberately provoke and then KEEP provoking some random aggro lumpen young man just so you can storm down the bus all in a fluster and claim the high moral ground?”

Like, get yourself a more useful hobby, like finding sleeping Grisly Bears to poke. Just don’t get on a bus, stare at some aggro young bloke playing loud music, and then when he calls you a “FUCKING CUNT” and threatens to beat the shit out of you, YELL BACK AT HIM. For Christ sake, they invented FLOORS for buses so you have something to stare out in such circumstances.

The driver clearly thought the same and, for a minute or two, put up an argument about why he had no desire to call the fucking cops. But eventually he cracked, in the face of the flustering insistence that this man JUST DOES NOT DESERVE TO BE THREATENED IN SUCH A TERRIBLE WAY and reached to a phone next to his chair, and called the fucking cops.

I watched with a sinking heart thinking the same thing as everyone else on that bus: “But surely this won’t hold up the bus... surely, you can’t hold up a bus in peak hour just coz two dickheads have been screaming at each other... I mean... SURELY...”

It turns out you can.

In the middle of peak hour, the driver sat there, the bus idle, not moving while the police failed to arrive.

The entire bus was getting increasingly agitated and the quiet mutterings starting growing into a generalised “OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE!” when down came the young lumpen bloke, who has had enough himself. “Look, alright, look just let me off! I’ll go!” he says.

But no. The driver, having now called the cops, won’t open the doors to let the key source of the entire hostility OUT so the bus can move on.


I went up and started begging the driver to move on. “Just let him out so we can move! It is PEAK HOUR! I am running late! I gottta be somewhere! Come on!”

The driver said “So do I! I gotta be somewhere too!” and would not open the doors.

I thought of telling him: “But you *don’t understand*, I am *Carlo Sands*! *Carlo* Sands*! You know, Green Left TV? We have a show to record and the last one had literally *hundreds* of viewers...” but I got the sense he wouldn’t grasp the importance of what I was saying.

The driver, facing growing hysteria from passengers, kept going back to the phone to call the cops again and again. Still the cops were nowhere to be seen, still the young lumpen insisted with greater and greater aggressiveness that he just wanted to GET OFF and the only problem was “THAT CUNT JUST WOULDN’T STOP STARING AT ME” and still the bus wouldn’t move.

A pissed-off middle aged bloke in a suit, infuriated that the bus was being held up by this bullshit, came down to ask the driver: “Well then just let ME off!” And the driver refused. “YOU WON’T LET ME OFF?” No, he wouldn’t.

This guy tried pleading, he tried insisting, he tried emphasising that he had to go pick his kid up from school and just let him out so he could go catch ANOTHER FUCKING BUS... and still the bus driver refused to open the doors.

By this stage, as the driver tried calling the cops *again*, there was generalised “WHAT THE FUCK?” atmosphere growing among the passengers. Like a serious disbelief that we appeared to be prisoners... and all because two dickheads no one knew or gave a flying fuck about had started yelling at each other.

The young lumpen was now pacing up and down the bus, and when he complained a woman near me said “Well this is *your* fault” and he started shouting at her to “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” Because “YOU DON’T KNOW ME! I COULD HURT YOU! I COULD BE AN ICE ADDICT WITH A KNIFE! I COULD KILL EVERYONE! YOU DON’T KNOW! IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE HURT JUST SHUT UP!”

At which point this has become a FUCKING SAFETY issue for everyone on the bus AND STILL THE DRIVER WOULD NOT OPEN THE DOORS, meaning no one could ESCAPE this ranting lunatic who just raised the prospect of killing us all and STILL NO SIGN OF THE FUCKING COPS...

Another bloke in a suit from the back comes down the aisle and puts his arm around the young lumpen and tells him he understands but we just gotta get through this, don’t worry about all these people, relax... and it has an effect... someone talking nicely to him calms him down and he starts saying “I know, I know, you just don’t know the DAY I’ve had! It has been a terrible day and then this CUNT WAS JUST STARING AT ME!”

“I know mate, I know.”

And then... screaming across King Street, scattering peak hour traffic to make room, came a police wagon and cop car with sirens blazing... causing groans from the passengers at the extreme overkill at cops who turned up to a case of two people yelling at each other with multiple vehicles and a good handful-plus of TASER-and-gun-toting cops ... and you could see in all our eyes the question: what fresh hell will these fucking cops unleash on us?

The young lumpen bloke, however, just looked relieved that FINALLY he can get off the FUCKING BUS and waited at the still-closed front door with his hands in the air in front of him, ready to be cuffed for the crime of shouting at a CUNT WHO WOULDN’T STOP STARING AT HIM.

Cops came on, dragged him off and the passengers all shout in unison at the cops that they must ALSO TAKE THAT OTHER BASTARD TOO, the one who made the driver call the cops and was fundamentally responsible for this horror because he couldn't just IGNORE the young lumpen like any one else would.

And so the cops take him off too, while he tried to tell his story. The young lumpen, meanwhile, has been pushed, spreadeagled, against a wall, cops searching him.

And still we dodn't move. By this time, myself and the other passengers were on the verge of a riot.

STILL nothing happened. A cop stood on the steps next to the front door asking the driver questions. I was hoping the cops started asking the passengers about what happened so I could a) tell them I hoped that fucker who provoked the lumpen by staring at him rots in jail and they throw away the key, and while I am steadfastly against police brutality, if they wanted to whack him a couple of times I for one would swear to any jury I never saw a thing and b) I DON’T GIVE A FUCK I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY JUST TELL THAT FUCKING DRIVER TO FUCKING DRIVE.

But no, the cop just stood there, asking the driver questions, everyone of us unable to get off. Then he went off to ask his superior questions, and then back to the driver for more questions, then back to his superior. Then he asked the driver for his phone number. This took at least five minutes. I have never seen someone give a phone number so slowly, nor the number be accepted at such a snail’s pace.

My hopes of making it on time to record my "Carlo's Corner" were history.

The cops were by now searching the young lumpen's shoes, and still had found nothing. And a random person waiting for an entirely different bus had taken umbrage at this police harassment and started yelling at the cops to leave the spreadeagled, shoeless young man alone.

THEN FINALLY... the cops told the driver he could go. And the middle-aged bloke with a suit and a son waiting to be picked up jumped off as fast as he could. The rest of us passengers put down our pitchforks and machetes and took our seats. And the bus... peak hour traffic racing around it... finally started to move...

And as the passengers muttered curses to each other... the bus turned right too early off Enmore Road, and it dawned on me. I don’t *actually* want the L28 at all. The L28 is THE WRONG FUCKING BUS!


I eventually managed to get off at the Livingstone Hotel in Petersham, a pub that says open pretty much 24-hours and which I happen to be reasonably well acquainted with -- but that is a WHOLE OTHER story.

I trudged the long walk up to Addison Road and the venue, fielding the invevitible call as to my whereabouts. I finally made it. The rest of the Green Left TV crew were hanging around, chatting and waiting for me, so they could get the last thing done and fucking go home.

I opened the beer that is a permanent prop in my Green Left TV rants -- because as I always say, if you are going to have a prop, make it one that feeds your alcoholism. And I fucking drank deeply.

Then they pointed a camera at me and I started yelling. I took my anger out on Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, who deserves it. But, really, I was still just pissed off at that sad desperate pathetic git who tried to make himself feel important by getting into a yelling match with a young lumpen who had a bad day and "WILL NOT TURN MY FUCKING MUSIC DOWN YOU CUNT! WHAT ARE YOU STARING AT YOU CUNT! FUCK YOU CUNT!"

And then, that done, we went to the pub. And so that is pretty much the story of how the Green Left TV Report is made! Obviously there is a bit more to it than that. Some other people have to actually do a shit load of "editing" and what have you. Obviously *they* didn't go to the pub! They had work to do!

But in essence that is it! I hoped you enjoyed this little "insight" into the whole process. Here is a song by Hayes Carll! It doesn't really relate to the story, I just really like Hayes Carll.

'The cops all got your number, the bars all know your name...' Hayes Carll is singing my song. Interesting Hayes Carll-related fact -- I am actually *wearing* a Hayes Carll T-shirt in that clip of my doing stand up on Five Minutes Live! You know, that competition you can sign in, watch me and click "like" in! TRUE STORY!

UPDATE: You can now watch the episode of Green Left TV Report mentioned in this post below... Watch the whole thing, but shuold you really just wanna bit of Carlo Yelling Action, I start the angriness at 17.07.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Come on spring, do your thing

Yes, my last post was actually in winter and it struck me I have to get a post in sometime during spring and spring is nearly over.

So, you know, what better opportunity for a post than to bring to your attention THIS EXTREMELY EXCITING PIECE OF NEWS!!! Yes! It is true! The great film clip to Australian supergroup/side project from the 1990s Antenna's great 1998 song "Come on Spring" is back up on YouTube after being so cruelly removed!!!!

IKR?* Super cool.

Antenna was a brief collaboration between two giants of Australian rock, Kim Salmon (The Scientists, Beasts of Bourbon, Kim Salmon and the Surrealists) and Dave Faulkner (Hoodoo Gurus). They released one album in 1998, and off that came this near-forgotten gem.

I love the clip coz Kim Salmon just looks so seedy, to say nothing of sleazy when the couple kiss on the park bench next to him. The frustrated lust that is just, barely, under the surface breaks out through the song and the clip as it goes on.

Story-wise and thematically, it feels a bit like Sunday Morning Coming Down, only even grubbier. And more filled with promise, like the protagonist is finally rising from drunken slumber and now wants his due.

(You can read Kim Salmon discussing the song's lyrics, and also here is Mick Harvey's cover version just to prove once again how wasted Harvey was all those years as Nick fucking Cave's side kick.)

'Come on Spring, do your thing... have you got something for me?'

So, I hear the frustrated legions of Carlo Sands fans, is that fucking it? I return to this blog for the first time since *AUGUST FUCKING 5* (and *even that* was pretty much just an extended plug to a handful of forgettable stand up gigs in suburban pubs) and I just talk about some long-forgotten, obscure song from the margins of Australian music no one GIVES A FUCK ABOUT???

Jesus, fuck you! I am a busy guy! I have to write my Carlo's Corner column for Green Left Weekly, like, once a fucking week! Seriously, that is, like, 500 words and, sometimes *even more*, EVERY WEEK!

And as if that is not bad enough, once a fortnight, I gotta then do a four or five minute rant in front of a camera for the Green Left Report. And yes, sure, most of the time it is just a verbal version of my column, *sure*. And *yes* I get to drink while I record it... but still... it is quite stressful coz I gotta make sure I am sober enough to still speak by the "5pm-ish on a Monday" recording time. LIKE *FUCK* talk about slave drivers.


Anyway, at least I have done a post that is not some pathetic plug for some stand-up thing. Though, if you are in Sydney and want to help me rig an audience-voting comedy competition on November 28 ... well... details are here.

'You drink too much coffee, I drink too much stout!' Yes, here is a SECOND song for you in the same blog post! AND BY FLOGGING MOLLY! Don't worry about it, buy me a beer sometime.

* If you don't know what "IKR" stands for, then I don't *even want to know you*, you out-of-touch, uncool person who probably has a "life" and therefore knows little of the social network jargon.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

I wanna see Carlo Sands on a motherfucking stage! How do I see Carlo Sands on a stage? Plus other crucial Carlo Sands news

Yeah, I know. It has been, like TWO FUCKING MONTHS since I last posted shit here.

And I know what you are thinking: You finally deign to post for us once more and it is to fucking PLUG a a fucking handful of almost entirely of forgettable open mic stand up gigs in FUCKING SYDNEY?

That's right. Exactly.

And I know what else you are thinking. You're thinking: "You've changed, man. This is it then is it? Your blog is just some fucking nearly totally neglected occasional bulletin board for whatever random shit you are doing in the next month? HUH? TALK TO US CARLO, WE YOUR FANS DEMAND A FUCKING ANSWER!!!!!!!!"

Alright, Jesus. Calm down.

Fuck. I know, yeah? I get it. Thousands of you wanna know: Where is the Carlo Sands who produced such uncompromising pieces of social criticism, such as the widely lauded, if pretty much never reposted, "Dear Motherfuckers: An Open Letter the United States Government". What happened to the author of "Could This Be The Wall?", a serious and detailed examination of the all-too-often overlooked question of *where* to line up the capitalist fuckers destroying all life on Earth in order to most effectively pump bullets into their worthless, parasitical planet-destroying bodies?


Fuck, seriously, go get a beer. And stop shouting, you are freaking me out.

And shut the fuck up, anyway. It is my goddamn blog. Go write your own, you useless ungrateful little gits.

No. Yeah. Where was I?

Oh yeah. They let me on stages these days. I mean... not BIG ones. Tiny ones, in cold rooms in the basements or outside of suburban pubs. But I wanted to let you know *when*. Because I can, having a blog and all.

So, let me see, where *can* you see Carlo Sands in Sydney?

* Tues. August 7 Comedy at the Edge. 8pm. The Pub Formerly Known as the Shannon. (I will never type its so-called new name out)

* Fri. August 17 Comedy Court. 8pm. Star Bar. Book here!

* Sat. August 25 Green Left Weekly/Socialist Alliance council election fundraiser: A night of comedy, music and politics. Newtown Neighbourhood Centre.

*new* Mon: August 27 Comedy Lounge in Surry Hills.*new*

* Thurs. October 11 Mic In Hand. 8pm. Friend in Hand Hotel.

* Roxbury Hotel some time for prelim final of Quest for the Best.

See? Exciting no? NO? Fuck you.

Actually, of that list the only one I really give a fuck about people going to is the Green Left/Socialist Alliance fundraiser -- also with stand-up comic and Newcastle Greens councilor Hannah Gissane.

You know, coz the Socialist Alliance sorta stands for not letting the corporate fucks kill the *entire* fucking planet. And Green Left -- they gave me a whole goddamn "Carlo's Corner" column to rant in. So I am all for giving these bastards as much cash as possible.

The rest of it just seems cool to list. Like, to someone who doesn't know any better, it might look like I actually have some sort thing going here. You never know, one born every minute, as they say. Speaking of which, you can donate to Carlo Sands at the Pay Pal button on the right hand column.


So what have I been up to then, you ask? Well, you know me, busy, busy, busy. These hangovers don't generate themselves! Well actually, now I am in my mid 30s they kinda do. But anyway.

I have been very busy watching with horror as Essendon's AFL season crashes into a brick wall. They are falling down that ladder faster than Labor Party polling figures in Queensland. Or, just Labor Party polling figures.

My last post, I was whining about how hard it is to watch a goddamn game of AFL in this fucking city. I spoke of how I went into some dive in Redfern and asked politely if maybe ONE of their dozen screens playing a rugby league game so I could watch Essendon play Melbourne. Finally, they agreed to change over the smallest screen 0ut the back in the cold, with the sound turned down so the pool players could watch the rugby league on the bigger screen near by -- only, at a crucial part of the game, just as a Melbourne player lined up for goal, the rugby league finished and EVERY SINGLE SCREEN in the joint changed over to music clips and starting playing "Things that Make you Go Hmmm."

It took about 20 minutes of pleading and looking like I was going to cry before they finally put a screen back to the game, in time for me to see the Bombers lose to Melbourne by a goal.

So, give all that, you can imagine, when I recently found myself in Adelaide for a weekend, just how excited I was to be in a an AFL town once more. My visit coincided with Essendon's Friday night game against Geelong and, sure enough, it was the easiest damn thing in the world to find a pub screening it on a huge screen.

Far harder, as I discovered, was finding a pub that *wasn't*. Because the Cats slaughtered the Bombers in a debacle of a match. And it was impossible to escape. I found myself in a dive at midnight surrounded by huge screens replaying the fucking match, and in every direction I looked there was an Essendon's player missing some fucking easy set shot for goal. I ended up pleading with the bar staff to change it over the rugby league -- to no avail.

I also done some stand up stuff. Last post, I described what an open mic gig was like, based on my experiences that week at Comedy on the Edge at the Merton Hotel -- a night on which almost no one but the comics showed up. Well, a week later I was on at the Laugh Garage. This time, only the comics showed up. Not even guy running the evening bothered. So we all just decided to go home.

As well as being cold and wet and dark and in the middle of the CBD, it also coincided with the second State of Origin match. So it was maybe not surprising. But I actually had some shit I wanted to try out ahead of the Quest for the Best heat I had coming up. I was reduced to wandering the streets accosting strangers and shouting at them: "So have you seen those Drinkwise ads??? I can't relate to them!"

Then, a bit over a week ago, I was back on at the Merton. It was just like the last time I was on at the Merton, only minus the handful of audience members. Asides from the six or seven comics, there was the bloke who runs it and the girlfriend of one of the comics.

About half way through, an old bloke who had been to some of the other nights rocked up and sat in the "crowd". But that was after I had been on. It is an interesting experience trying to make nine people laugh. The main thing I took from it was jokes about horses go down well. Unfortunately, I really only have one.

But in between those gigs, I had some good experiences. For one thing, on July 4 I won the heat in the Quest for the Best competition at the Roxbury Hotel. It is by audience vote, and it helped that I stacked it like a desperate Labor Party hack seeking pre-selection for the nation's last safe Labor Party seat. And that it coincided with the State of Origin decider (I was beginning to wonder if there was a policy of only letting me rant on a stage if it coincided with a big rugby league event), thus keeping general numbers low.

But the point is I won. YEAH! VICTORY WAS MINE!!!!

'I just can't relate to their Drinkwise ads...' I'm attempting stand up comedy, so I can't show you my face.

Also, while in Adelaide, I got to rant on stage at a fundraising gig for Green Left Weekly, put on by those young people involve in the socialist youth organisation Resistance.

I have no footage of that event to show you, but I *can* tell you I made jokes about Clive Palmer. I have since read that the mining magnate billionaire wants to clone a dinosaur in his own personal Jurassic Park. And as soon as I read that I swore off Clive Palmer jokes for good. Seriously, there is no point trying to compete -- Palmer does them so much better himself.

However, there *are* pictures.

Here, I teach the youth how to do the robot dance.

And here I do my famed zombie impersonation.

Anyway, so that is me. I'd *love* to stay and chat, hear all about you, but I gotta run. Essendon's game against Adelaide, in Adelaide, is about to start and so I gotta find out if Essendon will score a badly needed upset win by a narrow margin, or whether they will thump the Crows. In the meantime, here is Texas country singer Hayes Carll, singing my song.

'Go tell your momma I done paid my dues ... I gotta gig, baby...'

Saturday, June 09, 2012

The greatest drinking game ever invented -- or 'life', as I call it

The Overthinging Person's Drinking Game was a post by a friend on Facebook, that wonderful outlet that provides a window into so much that is culturally important, especially if we are talking about my incessant posting of Tom Waits clips.

Finally, a drinking game based on deep-seated angst, alienation and uncertainty. Or, as I like to call it, "life". Now I know what you are thinking: surely I drink purely for the endless joy heavy drinking brings to my life! What the fuck does *Carlo Sands* have to be uncertain about, what personal angst could possibly haunt the life of a man with such truly wondrous cheekbones, as shown in the profile pic thing on this very blog?

I know, I know. My cheekbones are truly amazing. But even the combination of my cheekbones and extensive collection of Tom Waits' albums, I too -- yes even Carlo Sands -- stare in panic into the empty pit of horror that is life in late monopoly capitalism sliding ceaselessly towards a eco-holocaust, wracked by war and Nickelback.

To prove my point, I provide a short list of just some of the terrors haunting me right now:

Facebook: It is fucking up. My account has been a nightmare for the past week or so, with comments not appearing or disappearing or being unable to access things and shit repeating and JESUS FUCK I have built my entire existence around that fucking thing. It is extremely disturbing -- like having things in your daily life just fucking disappear, like your bed at 3am, or a train that just never ... ah... actually, maybe the bastards who run CityRail have bought a controlling interest in Facebook's public float. That could explain it.

My latest Carlo's Corner YouTube rant: Like seriously, just not enough of you bastards have watched it. What, 178 views? For an angry rant about the Queen's Diamond Jubilee? Who the fuck knew there wasn't mass market for that? Watch it, you useless pricks. Then go and give me a jubilee, it is long overdue.

Trying to do stand-up comedy: What kind of mentally deranged idiot would decide to try and do stand-up comedy, and embark on a series of open-mic gigs in Sydney's suburban pubs? Severely mentally deranged idiots who probably also have drinking problems that unhinge them further.

Based on my experience on Wednesday, here is a pretty accurate guide to how such a thing is likely to go: Call time will be 7.30pm, and when you show up, defying extreme weather warnings and pouring rain and cold, it will just be a group of comics sitting around a table "workshopping" jokes among themselves until well past the start time until someone finally makes the effort to cajole enough of the pub regulars to make the thing worthwhile and then the MC won't even bother telling you when, in the line up, you will be called to the stage to perform in front of 10 or so comics who have mostly seen your shit and the handful of pub regulars dragged in in a desperate bid to give the evening some kind of point as you stand in front of a microphone on a concrete floor in the semi-exposed coldest part of the fucking suburban pub and look out, blinding by two HUGE FUCKING SPOTLIGHTS they have set up just two metres in front of the mic stand that achieves nothing except to disorientate you and stop you from having any clue as to how your rant is being received beyond the few laughs you can hear come up every now and then, but not from the only audience member you can actually see... a bloke sitting right to the side so that he is out of the glare and he just spends the entire time looking up at you blankly, never once even smiling, or even frowning in disapproval just looking at you with a studied boredom AND NOT EVEN YOUR JOKE ABOUT HOW THE QUEEN'S JUBILEE OBVIOUSLY IS GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY BECAUSE ECONOMICS 101 STATES CLEARLY THAT WHEN IN A SEVERE ECONOMIC CRISIS THE FIRST THING TO DO IS BUILD A GIANT STAGE AND PUT ROBBIE FUCKING WILLIAMS ON IT WILL CAUSE HIS REACTION TO SHIFT EVEN ONE MILIMETRE!

Fucking madness. I am doing it again next Wednesday at the Laugh Garage.

Essendon Football Club and the "Curse of June": It is June, time for the Mighty Bombers to start losing in the Australian Football League. Their season structure has been quite well-developed over the past three or four seasons: runaway success in the early stages, stunning fans and observers alike with an exciting brand of footie that helps the Bombers win games against teams much more fancied and generate excitement that maybe, just maybe, the Bombers are back! Then the calendar ticks over to June and Essendon, with the same sense of dramatic panache with which they raced up the ladder, start to lose to teams no one should ever lose to. Like Melbourne. Which is exactly what happened last Saturday night.

Seriously, I think Essendon's forwards had some sort of sponsorship deal whereby they get a dollar every time I scream: "FOR FUCK'S SAKE KICK STRAIGHT YOU USELESS BASTARDS!" If they did, they'd at least have secured financial security in retirement out of that game alone.

And while we are on the topic, let me add the near impossibility of actually watching an AFL game in fucking Sydney. True, the Melbourne game was on digital TV, an advance over ever single other Essendon game this year bar the one against Richmond (which, it not yet being June, Essendon duly won), but I don't have a fucking set top box coz that shit costs money, I have none and what little have goes on my booze bill.

So, I trudged into some fucking dive of a place in Redfern with a TAB on the ground floor and a restaurant and bar upstairs and, after much cajoling, managed to convince them to turn one of the dozen or so TV screens all showing the fucking rugby league onto the Essendon game -- the smallest screen out the back in the semi-exposed cold bit (which seems to be where I spend *all* my evenings these days) with the sound down so the people playing pool could hear the rugby league.

And then, having been earnestly watching and drinking beer, just before three quarter time, with Essendon still just in front but Melbourne coming back and the tension level building to near breaking point, a Melbourne player takes a mark about 40 metres out and walks in to a bid to kick the most important goal in the game so far and I am on the edge of my seat willing with every inch for him to miss and just as he goes to kick the ball the GODDAMN RUGBY LEAGUE FINISHES SO EVERY SINGLE SCREEN IN THE ENTIRE PUB SWITCHES TO MUSIC CLIPS AND BEGINS PLAYING "THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMMM".

It took me about 15 minutes of desperate, panicked pleading and looking like I was about to cry to convince the manager to change the thing centrally so all the screens changed from clips of shit music from 1991 that no one was watching to the Bombers-Demons game. So that I could, nearly having multiple heart attacks, watch Essendon lose by a goal. To Melbourne, a club in free fall who had not looked close to winning a single game all season up until that point.

So, as you can see. I have problems. I need to drink. Clearly. So, be as cool as Carlo Sands and try out the drinking game below that someone else has written but which I have copied and pasted to my own blog. No need to thank me, just buy me a beer. I am serious. GET ME A FUCKING BEER!

* * *

The Overthinking Person's Drinking Game by Leigh Alexander

When you experience a vague sense of inequity or deprivation but don’t have a template for whether your expectations are fair, drink.

When you aren’t sure whether the lingering sensation that you aren’t liked enough is a rational response to unfair circumstances or is in fact symptomatic of your tendency to blame your environment for your own failure to self-actualize, drink.

Drink if you experience a sudden flood of shame at the realization that you haven’t done much to deserve really any of the things to which you aspire.

If you suddenly realize you actually felt militantly entitled to something while sabotaging yourself, drink twice.

If you spend a long time mulling the nature of ‘deserving’ and what it actually means, and if you can’t really resolve the question of whether anyone specifically ‘deserves’ anything and come to an impasse about chaos and the innate unfairness of life, drink.

When a person or situation isn’t what you thought it was going to be, and you can’t figure out whether this is your fault for projecting unfounded qualities onto the person or someone else’s fault for actually misleading you, mistreating you or letting you down, drink.

Drink when ambivalence haunts you.

If you notice that you unconsciously but consistently put yourself into situations that deprive you of your resources and move you further away from your goals, drink.

If you cannot work out whether your present situation, challenge, relationship et al is yet another state of unconscious self-sabotage despite the fact you feel deprived, drink.

If you can’t tell whether you’re actually in a negative situation or just an ungrateful person who blames everyone else for your problems, drink.

Drink if you aren’t sure whether you are assuming too much responsibility for your own current unhappiness or not enough.

If you find that after long hours of contemplative malaise you suddenly feel as if nothing in particular is actually wrong and you feel the desire to relax or celebrate, drink.

If you suddenly find yourself highly focused on gratitude and create for yourself a long list of all the things that you are doing successfully or correctly or that you are fortunate to have and want to feel unburdened or euphoric, drink.

If you can’t decide whether you are actually ‘celebrating’ or simply engaging in artificial gestures of relief, take two drinks.

If you can’t tell whether you are an overly-strict person with inappropriate guilt about normal human self-moderation behavior or an avoidant adult child making excuses for your poor coping, drink.

If you feel persistently like you are failing to grow up, drink.

If you can’t tell whether a certain youthfulness in others represents an admirable refusal to adhere to repressive social norms or an actual inability to deal with difficult adult challenges, drink.

If you aren’t sure what it is right to expect of yourself, drink.

If you aren’t sure whether you are repeatedly failing to reach a personal set of behavioral goals or simply consistently feeling inadequate no matter how hard you work, drink.

If you aren’t sure whether you need to ‘lighten up’ or employ more self-discipline, drink.

If you aren’t sure whether you do or don’t want to talk to your friends about it because you aren’t sure whether you are a reasonable person experiencing occasional insecurity or a neurotic person who cannot be soothed, drink.

If you suspect you might not even have much reason to be unhappy and in fact just overthink everything and lack a stable internal compass, drink.

If you think you might just feel lost because you drink too often, but then you think too much when you aren’t drinking, cry.

If you’d rather not think about this kind of thing right now or maybe ever, take two drinks.

'I don't have a drinking problem, 'cept when I can't get a drink.' There you go, an *alternative* version of a Tom Waits classic. Seriously, get me a fucking beer right now! Use The Paypal function in the right column if you have to. I am fucking thirsty.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Town: a story of one man's heroic struggle against tyranny and sobriety.

A lot of people have been asking me just how I got to be such a miserable and embittered bastard.

Well, there is a reason. See, once upon a time in a land far, far away, I used to live in this town. I shall refrain from naming the town, as I believe the authorities still have an arrest warrant out for me over a small misunderstanding involving a machete, a bottle of gin and a town council meeting on the question of pub closing times.

I have decided to render the story of what occurred in this town so many years ago, which shall go some way to explaining my demeanour, in the form of a short story as part of my bid for the Nobel Prize for Literature, so cruelly denied me up to this point despite my profound work in the field of poetry.


By Carlo Sands

Then they locked me in the tower and I don’t know why. I mean, I used to walk the town streets in shorts despite not really having the legs for it, but still.

Or maybe it was the drinking. Staggering through the darkness and kicking poles for fun. Lucky I had some sturdy boots or I would have broken more toes than I did.

I did stab a man once, maybe that’s it. I stabbed him amid the stench of urine and vomit in the alley behind a pub. There was a fight over a game of pool and everyone knows if you sink the white while on the black you lose. In the alley, as we sought to resolve the dispute, it was kill or be killed.

I watched him lie there in a growing pool of dark red in the dim light from the pub kitchen, swigging gin. A dog ran past and, nerves on end, I threw the bottle after it. Fucking thing was two thirds full.

But how many unsolved murders are there in this godforsaken town? It can’t be that, I’d recall a trial, surely.

Or maybe it was my tilt for the office of the President of the United States. Such a lovely building, the White House. But I lost, only just but I lost.

Now, I have no problem with them locking up a past or even sitting US president, goddamn criminals the lot of them. But they can’t lock you up for trying, surely, not for the crimes you would have committed as Commander in Chief of the greatest army ever to slaughter for freedom.

Maybe it was my new wave haircut I used to have or the poetry I wrote when I was 21 and old enough to know better. Can they do that? I don’t mean should they, but can they?

All I knew is I was in the fucking tower. And it was fucking dark.

I had missed something somewhere.

* * *

What happened next I could never have guessed.

I was locked up for god knows how long. It felt like five lifetimes, or being forced to listen to entire album of folk protest songs.

Then one day light streamed into my cell as some bastard burst through the door in a dramatic flourish. “Come on!” he yelled, “let’s go!”

He was dressed head to toe in red and carried a card table.

“Who the fuck are you?” I asked. “What the hell is going on?”

“It’s the Forces of Evil”, he half-whispered, leaning towards me. I wasn’t sure if they were the ones who locked me up or wanted me free.

Before I could ask, he yelled “Let's go!” again and handed me the card table to carry.

We exited through the busted door and made our way through dark, damp and twisting corridors that never seemed to end.

My nerves weren’t helped by my liberator insisting on stopping every ten metres to set up the card table and put a badge board on top, offering small, cheap badges with a variety of political slogans.

“You never know when people might want a badge,” he said. “Hmmm”, he added with what I swear was a note of sadness, “I guess the ‘Free Carlo’ ones are out of date.”

“Not yet, let’s fucking move”, I said, before he thought too hard about the potential loss of revenue associated with my freedom and changed his mind.

Finally, we emerged from the tower and stumbled out into the bright streets of the town.

As I got my bearings I was stunned by what I saw. I left my red-clad liberator at a corner to hawk a petition and wandered in awe.

Things had changed in my absence and I didn’t have a fucking clue what was going on.

On the main street, bankers and beggars were dancing the waltz together, out of time with what seemed a plague of buskers playing “Stand by Me” and massacring Neil Young.

Literally on one corner. A gang of buskers had Neil Young tied to a chair and were trying to torture him to death with renditions of “Heart of Gold”.

Town treasury officials were walking the streets, with baseball caps in outstretched hands asking passerbuyers for money.

“Hey man”, one asked me, “could you spare a couple of bucks for the train?”

“What the fuck is with the bankers?” I asked, watching one dance the salsa with a dishevelled homeless man near a busker 13 minutes into a version of “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”

“Trying to trying to look like they’re poor”, the official said. “Seriously, man, can you help us out with two bucks?”

I shook my head and walked further. I stopped to watch journalists giving head to defence department officials on park benches, the journos stopping every now and then to type furiously on their iPads. I guessed they were taking down official statements, though I am not sure what value there was in “Oh, yeah just there!” and “Yes! With the tongue!”.

I assumed “Fuck! Watch the teeth!” was off the record.

The town was always a disturbing place, but this seemed insane. I found no obvious means of escape. The train was running 16 years late and all buses had disappeared after they were flogged off for two scratchie tickets.

There was some excitement, I was told by a bored looking old man in need of a shave behind the ticket counter at the train station, when one of the scatchies won a free scratchie. Unfortunately, the third scratchie won nothing.

Fuck, I thought, I need a drink.

My local, I discovered, had been renamed. It was now called the Four Standard Drinks Or More Is Binge Drinking Hotel.

When I tried to enter some lump of beef dressed in black with an earpiece stopped me and grabbed my hand. The bastard stamped a bar code onto my palm.

“What the fuck is this?” I asked calmly.

He stared at me. “You buy a drink and bar staff scan it. Once you have had four standard drinks it starts beeping to alert security.”

“Then what?”

He stared in greater wonder. “Then we come over and beat the shit out of you and throw you out on your alcohol-abusing arse!”

A loud repeated beeping broke out from just inside the door. The bouncer said “Excuse me” and went inside, followed in quick time with a sharp cry of pain and then a body flying out the door.

A young man dressed in a collared shirt, trousers and smart casual shoes picked himself up slowly and stumbled away.

The bouncer came out and resumed his stance, feet part, hands behind his back. His face appeared expressionless behind his sunglasses.

I glanced apprehensively as I walked past him into the pub. I regretted I didn’t have my machete, seized when they locked me up for reasons that remained a mystery.

Inside, I looked around with growing dismay.

It was no longer dingy, but brightly lit. The old, scarred wooden tables and chairs were gone, replaced with shining stainless steel surfaces for as far as I could see.

And the uncomfortable-looking shining white swivel seats were occupied by young men and women in smart casual dress engaged in what, as far as I could tell, was disturbingly polite and restrained conversation.

The jukebox was no longer in its dusty corner and the sound system was playing Nickelback.

With a growing sense of horror, I approached the bar. I asked a thoroughly bored young woman, who I picked for an English backpacker, for a schooner.

“Light or midstrength?” was the uninterested response in a Manchester accent.

I was staring at her in shock when my ears caught a sound I hadn’t noticed over the plaintive wailing from the Nickelback CD. Someone was beeping from the very far corner of the pub.

I looked over into the pub’s only dark corner and made out a shape throwing back the contents of a small glass. I looked around but saw no security rushing over to deal with the issue. The bartender kept looking blank.

I started to walk over and the figure noticed me.

“Carlo!” she cried amid the beeps. “Good to see you! Have a drink, you’ll need one!

She yelled at the bartender for two scotches, which the woman dutifully began to pour.

“Magda!”, I said in some surprise, pulling up a white swivel seat. “It has been a long time.”

“It sure fucking has”, she said, beeping. “You’re out of the tower? Some big fucking changes.”

She shook her head as the drinks arrived. The bartender walked away as quickly as she arrived, ignoring the mad siren going off on Magda’s right hand.

I took a big gulp of the scotch and it burned delightfully down my throat. Such a long time between drinks.

“So how come”, I asked as the English backpacker slotted back behind the bar, “they serve you proper booze and don’t toss you out?”

“Ha! They stopped trying after I decked two dozen bouncers and a squad of cops a couple of years back. Hang on.”

She shouted to the bartender and raised her hand. Dutifully, the bartender came over and ran a scan over Magda’s palm, silencing the beeping.

We were left with the sound of Chad Kroeger whining, with an affected growl, about having been down the bottom of every bottle. Why such an occurrence was cause for whining escaped me.

I looked at Magda and she appeared to have not changed in however many fucking years I was locked away. Of indeterminable age, she had beautiful, flowing auburn hair, bright green eyes and arms like knotted tree trunks.

Once, with the courage only a serious pear cider binge can bring, I had suggested perhaps we could make our way home together when the pub closed. She laughed hysterically for about 15 minutes and then said, in her sweet and tender way, “It’s your fucking turn at the bar, you useless prick!”

“So what the hell is going on?” I asked as I took another deep gulp of scotch.

Her face darkened. “It’s the Forces of Evil.”

There was a silence, broken when Magda looked at her empty glass and shouted across the room: “MORE FUCKING SCOTCH!”

Then she turned back to me. “They saw you as a potential threat to their evil plans, so they had you locked up. Since you’re gone, their control over the institutions of power in this town has grown. Their power is now complete.”

“It is hell, Carlo,” she added and for the first time ever I sensed fear in her voice.

“Well, drink up”, she said when fresh glasses arrived. “Place closes at 7.30.”


“Gotta make sure citizens are well rested for their compulsory 5.30am jog to to the gym.”


“It’s alright”, Magda assured me. “You can crash at my place. The fuckers learned the hard way not to try and wake me before midday.”

On our way out, Magda stopped at the bar and ordered the bartender to get her a full bottle from the top shelf, a well-aged single malt scotch.

She turned to leave when a thought struck her and she turned back. “Oh, and that bottle of cheap gin down there for Carlo.”

Back at Magda’s, we sat up all night drinking and discussing plans. Things had to change. We could not accept this tyranny. The rich had bought the entire place and the poor, denied the most basic public services, were sober and fit.

It was a living nightmare.

The only choice was to resist, the only question was how.

“That activist who freed you,” Magda said. “We need his help.”

I was less than convinced, but Magda, swallowing the last drop of her scotch, called him up and invited him over for what she described as “the formation of a united front committee”.

He arrived and explained earnestly that he was there to attend the meeting as the official representative of the United Alliance of Popular Democratic Resistance of the Workers and the People (UAPDRWP).

He enquired as to the proposed program for the committee. We had worked this one out during the night.

Our revolutionary program was three simple points:

1) Immediate implementation of a revolutionary law that under no circumstances shall any busker play a Neil Young song unless said busker is capable of proving, via appropriate documentation, that he or she is, in fact, Neil Young. In the absence of being Neil Young, said busker shall be required under pain of death to SHUT THE FUCK UP.

2) Immediate repeal of all laws relating to the false scientific principle that a mere four standard drinks (less than three schooners) is “binge drinking”. All enforced “fitness” laws shall be repealed in the interests of general happiness.

3) Tax the rich to pay for decent public services abandoned or privatised during the reign of the Forces of Evil and an end to exploitation, injustice, discrimination, unfairness, slavery etc etc etc etc. (We kinda got bored during this one and it was really there for the benefit of the UAPDRWP rep.)

The UAPDRWP rep listened with interest and nodded.

“I shall have to consult my organisation”, he said and walked into the next room to make a call on his phone.

We caught snippets of the conversation.

“That’s because it is a FUCKING UNITED FRONT! We agree with point three, that is grounds to unite in order to ... but we need to relate to the masses and ... it is NOT a violation of our program, we can agree with key parts … well that is JUST ABSENTIONIST BULLSHIT and ... Listen, you fucking Bogdanovist arsehole ... FUCK YOU you can’t split, you’re FUCKING EXPELLED!”

He returned and informed us: “The UAPDRWP has agreed to the formation of a united front around the three points set out for the draft provisional program of the committee. We shall throw our full forces behind the campaign against the Forces of Evil.”

“Unfortunately,” he continued, “we have been weakened by a recent damaging split carried out by an irresponsible and fundamentally disloyal minority, but we have emerged stronger and more united.

“Of course, as a united front I feel obliged to point out that all forces involved retain full independence of propaganda and activity, including freedom for the fullest criticism where deemed necessary.”

That seemed fair to the two of us.

We decided the first course of action would be to stand myself in the approaching election for All Powerful Ruler of the Town on the agreed upon program. With that, the red-clad activist shook our hands and departed, saying something about an important stall to set up.

Magda went out and returned with fresh supplies of booze. I asked her what was the real value of involving the UAPDRWP, but she insisted I’d see.

And sure enough, by the following morning, a walk confirmed the entire town was covered with A3 posters in Impact font declaring the candidacy of Carlo Sands for All Powerful Ruler of the Town in the coming poll and spelling out the program.

So, the battle had been announced. The program proved wildly popular. T-shirts, bumper stickers and graffiti appeared as if out of nowhere with my name and a seemingly spontaneously adopted logo of a schooner of beer.

How would the Forces of Evil respond?

Come election day, polls suggested our campaign would score a run away victory. I cast my vote before the cameras, ballot in one hand, bottle of gin raised high in the other.

Surely, all there was to do was wait until the moment came for me to deliver my victory speech and accept the office of All Powerful Ruler of the Town.

I was enjoying a quiet pre-election victory drink at Magda’s when they came. It was a full-scale military operation. Heavily armed soldiers, tanks, fighter jets overhead, heavy artillery lined up and down the street and, we were told, the incumbent All Powerful Ruler of the Town was in his office with his finger on “the button”.

They stormed the house and a general covered with medals from the top collar of his military jacket to the bottom of his every-so-slightly flared khaki trousers informed me the election had been cancelled due to the discovery of a “threat to public security and basic human decency”.

Information had come to light, the general said, about a plot originating from this address and associated with my campaign. He refused to give details of the plot, insisting it was not appropriate for "mixed company".

I would have to go with them.

Magda jumped to her feet, empty scotch bottle in hand. She took out a platoon before eventually being subdued by a barrage of targetted cruise missile strikes.

I was dragged out and thrown into the back of an armoured vehicle. In a huge military convoy, we drove through the streets of the town. It was the aftermath of a one-sided war and dead bodies were strewn everywhere.

“We have restored order”, the general told me, his medals clanking noisily as he sat up straight.

“In fact,” he said with a small smile at the memory, “I have just come from an important media briefing on the matter.” This reminded him to do up his fly.

The Four Standard Drinks Or More Is Binge Drinking Hotel was burned out, which struck me as no great loss.

The buskers still played, “Summer of ‘69” seemingly a favourite, but the homeless danced alone.

They tossed me back into my cell in the tower and shut the repaired and reinforced door shut.

Here I was again, in the same dark fucking cell.

Only this time I wasn’t alone. Someone else’s voice broke the silence.

The UAPDRWP spokesperson said: “The problem was we made a strategic error, an electoralist deviation. We should have sought to rely on the self-organisation of the working class and based ourselves on the strength of their independent mass mobilisation.”

“Oh, shut the fuck up,” I said and tried to get some sleep.

'No can do this, no can do that, what the hell can you do my friend, in this place that you call your town'.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Arrested for walking while looking like Ben Cousins

Ben Cousins has refused to comment on fresh charges laid against him after he was caught being Ben Cousins outside his North Beach home in Perth on April 17.

The news that Ben Cousins was stopped by police outside his Western Australian home yesterday, and charged with possessing less than a gram of marijuana has finally forced me to break my silence on this blog.

I have had one or two things to say about the former West Coast star and famous drug abuser in the past. So I felt what the world needs now, at this difficult time, is my clearly stated views on the matter.

This is especially crucial seeing as "Ben Cousins" is no longer trending on Twitter, and therefore at high risk of disappearing from the front of everyone's minds.

So, allow me to state as clearly and forcibly as I can that, without any doubt, the Perth cops were more than justified waiting outside the home of the fallen star until he dared showed his face outside. The threat of Ben Cousins walking the streets with a tiny amount of pot is a threat to our society so great that no amount of tax-payer funded resources is too high to stop the menace.

And it is not just in Perth that our men and women in blue are taking action. Just today, while walking walking down harsh streets of Sydney's inner-west, I saw a bloke walking past me and thought: "Hey, he looks a little bit like Ben Cousins."

Barely had the thought entered my head when a cop car came screaming 'round the corner, pulled up and two burly uniformed blokes lept out and tackled the poor bastard to the ground.

"We are from the Ben Cousins Action Squad," barked the first cop to the man being shoved onto the ground by the second cop. "And you are under arrest for walking the streets while looking Ben Cousins!"

"But I'm not Ben Cous...," the man tried to splutter before a boot in the face silenced him.

"Shut up, you sick bastard! Walking around looking like Ben Cousins! There are children nearby too! Read him his rights Serge."

The second cop, knee in back of the man who looked a bit like Ben Cousins, began: "You are under arrest for looking like Ben Cousins on a public street. You have the right to conduct an exclusive interview for an undisclosed sum with a media institution of your choosing. Anything you say may be taken down and used against you in future media reports in a bid to wring the last possible ratings out of your sordid, fucked up story."

"But I'm not Ben Cous....,"the man tried again, before a fresh boot in the face silenced him.

"Oh yeah?" taunted the first cop, waving around a tiny amount of pot in a small plastic bag. "If you are not Ben Cousins, then how do you explain the fact we just found this illicit substance in your pocket?"

"That proves it!" spat the second cop. "Only Ben Cousins would be so evil as to the walk the streets with pot in his pocket!

"What? You bastards planted that!"

"Sure, as if anyone is going to believe someone who looks like Ben Cousins," said the first cop. "Cuff him serge."

And as the poor bastard who looked a bit like Ben Cousins was cuffed and thrown into the back of the cop car, I made my way down the street, trying my hardest to look as non-sportsmanlike as possible. Luckily, in that field I'm a natural.