THE FASHION NAZI

PEOPLE with too much time on their hands irritate me. Tourists, window shoppers and tyre kickers have the annoying knack of getting under the feet of the busy people around them, some of whom are unfairly judged as being prickly.

But when I’m on holiday and in a new city, the rules change. Sue me.

Waiting for a family member at a nearby hipster barber shop, I impatiently skulked outside a funky menswear store in what I assessed to be the heart of Auckland’s fashion district.

When the light rain which had been drizzling for much of the day began to fall more heavily, I entered the oddly named Strangely Normal store for a look. The store’s facade and colourful window display could easily have been the New Zealand bricks and mortar version of the J Peterman (of “Seinfeld” fame) fashion catalogue.

Strangely Normal

It was a cross between the result of someone getting over excited at a Peter Allen garage sale and the type of menswear store from my childhood where it was mandatory to display plastic male mannequin torsos encased in the iconic jockey brand of mens underwear. Thankfully I was not in the market for underwear that wet Wednesday in Auckland. My “boys” didn’t need “a house”.

Once inside this Aladin’s cave of haute couture (tho it may have just been funky fashion bazaar) my attention was immediately drawn to a large wall of hats. The impressive and comprehensive range of lids included straw, felt, woollen, high, low, square and peaked – suprisingly though, not a single Urban Sombrero in sight. Suprising because it was the type of men’s fashion store in which you’d half expect to spot the odd puffy shirt, and possibly the fabled Manssierre or Bro on proud display. Nor were there any velour tracksuits or belt-less trench coats for that matter. As I stood drinking in this colourful catalogue I spotted in my periphery a man of similar age to myself but vastly more flamboyantly attired. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I was ready with the universally accepted response, “No thanks, just looking” to the anticipated, “Can I help you sir?”.

Instead, he began a long, slow, judgemental scan down my person beginning at the faded black woollen beanie, featuring the East Berlin traffic light walk symbol Amplemann. He continued through my burnt-orange Kathmandu windbreak-with rain-hood and six generous pockets, my battleship-grey but extremely functional backpacked mid section, down my beige Vinnies sourced Country Road chinos. He finished with a scowl at the Vans Sports (black suede and again picked up at an Op shop) on my feet. I was speechless. I had no speech.

At this point he rolled his eyes superciliously and spat out something which may have been “bloody tourists” but was more likely “how could you possibly think we would stock anything the likes of you could afford or appreciate?”.

No service for you. He was a fashion nazi. A dictator of dapperness.

He then dramatically returned his focus to the chunky mahogany counter and the keyboard on which he was furiously tapping, one finger at a time, when I unwittingly entered his hallowed and tasteful turf, savagely assaulting his sartorial sensitivities.

It was a form of discrimination to which I had not been subjected before. I’ve weathered society’s cruel intolerance to short, Tasmanian, collapsed Catholic, recovered bed wetters, but to be judged on my fashion sense, in a menswear shop, was beyond the pale.

I “sarcastically” apologised and left the store. I could have gone harder but- given I was on holiday- my comeback locker was bereft of zingers apart from “the jerk store rang”.

I could have also pulled a “Vivian” from “Pretty Woman” and slipped around the corner, purchased an expensive hat and popped my head back into Mr Snooty’s den to show him he’d made “a big mistake”. 

On reflection, at the very least I should have flounced out the door with a dramatic “well, I never” swirling in my wake, but the truth is I don’t flounce. No flounce.

Clearly this fashion nazi is years behind the edgy, “almost homeless, semi-retired over 60s Op shop loiterer with precious few fucks left to give” wave. I’ll wager he will one day kick his own arse when he twigs his dismissive and uppity behaviour cost him a ground floor fashion advantage offered by an authentic and visionary vintage trendsetter. Big mistake. 

Later that day, my faith in the humans of Auckland was fully restored. Leaving a bar, heavy rain still falling, a man entering handed me the cheap black umbrella he was collapsing and shaking with a friendly: “You’ll need this”. The only caveat was: “If you’re still standing here when I finish my pint I’ll have it back”.

He may well have been taking pity on a homeless person loitering at the front of a bar for loose change, but I’d much rather believe he was a kind soul looking out for a fellow traveller.

And the day took a major upturn later with a high-grade celebrity spot. The Australian actress Rachel Griffiths was out doing a spot of shopping. I have no doubt if the stylish star of the Aussie classic “Muriel’s Wedding” and director of current hit “Rides Like a Girl” popped into crusty old mate’s gentleman’s emporium, he’d be gushing like the geysers at Rotorua for a month.

ALAN JONES LISTENER CALLS TIME ON OUR CRIPPLING DROUGHT

By Mike Welsh

Talking about the weather, as we all mostly seem to do, the drought has finally broken and it was an elderly (is there any other?) Alan Jones listener who predicted it. Not only did she comprehensively and succinctly “call it” she did so with nothing more than the aid of a simple and totally unscientific method. Ants. 

CLIMATE RALLY PARLIAMENT HOUSE FEB 4

Many people, myself included myself, believed Irish smart arse Oscar Wilde had uttered the durable and useful phrase “everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it”. While Wilde is responsible for the cynical and snobbish “conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative”, American wise guy Mark Twain gets credit for a clever take on the topic about which everyone talks but does nothing.

It turns out Twain often “banged on” about the weather, including an unkind comment about spending a “cold winter San Francisco in the summer”. But even from when the dawning of the age of Aquarius in that cold “Summer in the City” first “let the Sunshine in”, motivating creative folk the world over to have “thunder in their hearts”, “walk on sunshine”, “chase” and “catch the wind”, stand, sing, cry, dance and even get naked in the rain which was sometimes “hard” and at least once, “purple”, no one has topped Twain’s astute observation of humanity’s apathy to all things meteorological. That is until Alan Jones’ listener, Thelma last week.

Not CSIRO boffins nor the raft (a pet Alan phrase) of climate experts and scientists who’ve conscientiously mulled over data the divisive debate has coughed up for decades had come within a bull’s roar of predicting the end of our crippling drought.

But there it was, live on my AM radio ( I know, it’s a dirty and unsociable habit like nose picking) at 6.52 on Tuesday morning. Alan shared the profound thoughts of listener Thelma who wrote.. “all this climate change guff” was just that. And if only someone had “bothered to ask me I’d have been able to tell them”,Thel offered and explained…..”ants have returned to my pantry and that means the drought is broken”. And right on cue it began to piss down biblical all the way down from Queensland to southern NSW and into Victoria and is still coming down five days later.

Yet just a few hours after Thel’s BOM beating bombshell, hoards of angry people began descending on the lawns of our Federal Parliament armed with placards saying nasty and hurtful things about good ole ScoMo who was leading his embattled LNP troops back into battle for a new year just a few hundred metres up the hill. If only the protesters had tuned into Alan Jones show that day they’d be much wiser and less confused and conflicted about the climate. And less ignorant when talking about the weather. 

ScoMo in happier times

And a tip for new Q & A man Hamish McDonald. If you desire the dizzyingly high rating numbers and frenzied Tuesday water cooler post mortems the other ‘Jones Boy (with the occasional assistance of the real ‘Jones boy) incited, put Thel up against palaeontologist and environmentalist Prof Tim Flannery and allow her to unleash her undoubtedly extensive list of tried and true methods of predicting weather patterns. Thel may even also have a few other gems up her gnarly old hand knitted beige cardigan sleeves. Such as a nifty but non surgical method of ridding oneself of warts ***. Champagne television guaranteed.

Prof Tim Flannery

I’ve attempted to remain faithful to my mother’s considered rebuke of my bagging of humans quoting Max Ehrmann of Desiderata fame …“and listen to others. Even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story”. But there is a limit.

Back in the day (before climate change) I once made the rookie mistake of sitting too close to a barfly in a city hotel one quiet afternoon. Though mercifully a man of few words the barfly was generous enough to share with me his breathtaking and dangerously sweeping conspiracy theory that “the pill has made women savage” .

A Q & A topic for another day. Bettina Arndt?

*** Take a dead cat to a cemetery at midnight and just like magic your warts are dust.

F*CK ME NOT THE PLANET

Seven Days columnist MIKE WELSH wonders about the propriety of the climate protest by girls from a northside private school.  citynews.com.au

MOST students attending Canberra’s Global Climate Strike rally skipped classes with their schools’ blessing. But should those in charge at one northside private, Christian school be more engaged in students attending future protests?

In a sea of provocative signs, including one featuring Scott Morrison holding a lump of coal, captioned “Old King Coal was a Merry Arsehole”, four female students from the faith-based school in full uniform proudly held a placard which took the “make-love-not-war” mantra of their grandparents’ era to a new level.

FROM an oversharing generation to a member of one who should know better comes this pre-Midwinter Ball overshare story. Former ABC breakfast TV host Virginia Trioli tweeted: “Travelling from Melbourne to Canberra with a thousand yards of tulle on a nail-bitingly tight flight for the Parliament #midwinter ball. Hair and make-up will be done in the lav: Apologies to all on board”.

Within an hour “The Australian” was reporting an in-flight tantrum, alleging one ball guest had their knickers in a bunch en route about the placement of her $5000 dress. The paper later retracted its reportage and made a personal apology to Trioli.

THERE’S a booze ban at Bruce. As the city turns greener, Raiders players got “on the wagon” from Mal Meninga Medal night onwards in order to be clear headed for Friday’s preliminary final against South Sydney.

A “Sydney Morning Herald” piece on coaches’ eccentricities: “The traits that make the NRL’S coaching kingpins a cut above”, attempts to psychoanalyse Raiders’ coach Ricky Stuart. The article, by Phil Lutton, also speculates on Wayne BennettCraig Bellamyand Des Hasler, suggesting many “are deeply eccentric. Some are superstitious, others make a point of dispensing with the mystical and building their empires on relentless work and dedication”.

According to Lutton, Stuart falls into the paranoia group: “His team v the world when Ricky Stuart, master of the siege mentality, is on deck”.

IT’S been a busy week on the hill with all manner of visitors, including a Peregrine falcon called Floyd. The bird came to the rescue of Parliament House horticulturalists who are again drowning in duck droppings and ducking dive-bombing magpies. Federal Parliament’s pristine gardens and forecourt are under attack and Floyd has been tasked with dispersing the menacing Maggies and ducks with diarrhoea.

Three days walking from Collector to protest press freedom… 77-year-old Adrienne Carpenter and her dog Phoebe. Photo: Mike Welsh

A 77-year-old Collector woman and her dog had a message for Canberra on press freedoms and walked from her home to deliver it. Adrienne Carpenter says: “When I heard about [lawyer] Bernard Collaery, I just had to do something”.

Adrienne and Phoebe pushed her “Freedom of the Press” baby pram 70 kilometres over three days, camping overnight in the snow at Lake George.

LAST September Falun Gong practitioners assembled on Parliament House lawns highlighting the widespread practice of human organ harvesting in China. But their protest was thwarted as inside, political practitioners including senators Derryn Hinch and Pauline Hanson, were slobbering over visiting superstar Olivia Newton-John.

Ditto this week, only this time starstruck pollies were fawning over the likes of Hugo Weaving and Rhys Muldoon in town, again, to lobby for more local content in the local film industry, as the Falun Gong, again, lobbied on the lawns in silence.

SEEMINGLY the country’s first human rights compliant correctional facility, the Alexander Maconochie Centre unofficially goes the extra mile on conjugal visits, with reports of male inmates penetrating the wall between them and the girls since 2017. An internal probe found a male prisoner had jumped into the women’s section in April and attempted to have sex with a female inmate but the action was scuttled after male prisoners watching became overly excited.

THE ABC journalist reporting snow blocking the Hume Highway at Goulburn didn’t put much thought into his piece to camera after Tuesday’s unseasonal weather event. The young man confidently told his audience the “spring dump caused truckies to be severely backed up”!

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CITY NEWS JUNE 7

City News

DESPITE a relatively unremarkable-to-date annual kangaroo cull, an animal rights activist is spooking Canberra motorists.

The protester sets up on Mugga Lane most afternoons between 3 and 6, complete with corflutes and a lifelike kangaroo mask, urging passersby to “stop the kangaroo massacre”, which is “cruel and catastrophic”.

Some motorists toot in approval, others give a lengthy blast to show displeasure and occasionally yell obscenities.

While our intrepid activist is cull-campaign toughened, one recent experience left the protester blindsided.

The driver of a large black, four-wheel drive pulled in after dark one night, then quickly left. The driver returned the following night armed with a portable light and a supply of batteries, “to make sure people see your sign”.

LRVs are coming and they are fast. Posters are popping up in shopping centres warning that LRVs (Light Rail Vehicles) are “approaching” and posing the question: “Are you Rail Ready?”

Canberra-metro.com.au has begun training commuters to “only cross at designated intersection crossings”, pointing out that LRVs move quickly and that “earphones and other distractions can put you at risk”.

Meantime cynics who scoffed at a 2018 Stage 1 deadline may have a glimmer of hope with the wriggle room that appears to have been applied to the latest update.

The word is that the project will be completed on schedule by the end of 2018 with the first passengers carried in the first quarter of 2019.

As for Stage 2 it appears to be way ahead of schedule, given there is no schedule. A large “light rail stops here” banner is plastered across the facade of the site of Geocon’s skyscraper, the Grand Central Towers at Woden.

IF there was a Walkley Award for weasel words Nationals’ leader Michael McCormack would already have his name engraved on one of the prized gongs.

Attempting to drown out predecessor Barnaby Joyce’s noise on decentralisation, the former journalist said: “Whilst there is always more work to do, any initiatives which enhance the government’s strategic policy focus on decentralisation – to not only grow regional communities but also decrease congestion in our cities and improve the quality of life and share economic opportunities more broadly – are always welcome.”

DESPITE the ongoing debacle surrounding Barnaby Joyce’s relocation of the APVMA to Armidale, the decentralisation sword of Damocles continues to hang over some Canberra public servants.

At a recent estimates hearing Nationals Senate leader Nigel Scullion admitted “seven agencies were being considered by cabinet for decentralisation away from Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne”.

The former Deputy PM continues to mock the concept after reports of staff being moved from Sydney to Parramatta suggesting: “You can’t decentralise to the centre. You have to decentralise from the centre”.

IN 2013 Belconnen was proud that a local pizza shop was consistently topping its franchise’s nationwide chain. Florey Domino’s dominated the chain’s 550 outlets nationwide winning its 13th straight annual sales award. At the time Domino’s Florey was knocking out a pie every two minutes. Now Domino’s languishes at the bottom of the just published Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre study.

STILL on nutrition and the University of Canberra is trumpeting the appointment of health and fitness guru Michelle Bridges’ dietitian Lisa Donaldson.

Diagnosed with coeliac disease and other intestinal issues more than a decade ago, Ms Donaldson, who holds a Bachelor of Education degree from UC, returned to the institution to undertake a Master of Nutrition and Dietetics graduating in 2011. Donaldson, who has also worked with Channel 9 nutritionist Dr Joanna McMillan, returns as UC’s dietitian in residence.

FORMER Ainslie transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey apparently has made giant steps in handling her “potty mouth”. The athlete who came to prominence after being banned by the AFL from playing in the AFLW recently appeared on Fox Footy’s “Open Mike” with the doyen of Melbourne AFL scribes Mike Sheahan. Mouncey tweeted that she had “recorded Open Mike without swearing… seriously, it’s a big f&*%@$g achievement”.

TOP 10 BARNABY JOYCE HEADLINES USING BEATLE SONGS

By Mike Welsh

1 WHEN I’M 64 (SHE’LL BE 47)

2 TWIST N SHOUT (JOBS AND GROWTH)

3 WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS (MY SAX WAILS)

4 JOHNNY B GOODE (BARNABY B BAD)

5 PAPERBACK WRITER (THE PUBLIC HAS A RIGHT TO KERNOT)

6 I SAW HER STANDING THERE (SO I THOUGHT WTF)

7 LET IT BE ( A BOY CALLED BARNABY)

8 HAPPINESS IS A WARM GUN (AND I’M FIRING REAL BULLETS)

9 THE FOOL ON THE HILL (FELL FOR A GIRL ON THE RISE)

10 HELP (I’M A CELEBRITY GET ME OUT OF HERE)

RODNEY DANGERFIELD

The one-liners were impeccable, unimprovable. Dangerfield spent years on them; he once told an interviewer that it took him three months to work up six minutes of material for a talk-show appearance.

CreditAllen Tannenbaum/Images Press/Getty Images.

Imagine having no talent. Imagine being no good at all at something and doing it anyway. Then, after nine years, failing at it and giving it up in disgust and moving to Englewood, N.J., and selling aluminum siding. And then, years later, trying the thing again, though it wrecks your marriage, and failing again. And eventually making a meticulous study of the thing and figuring out that, by eliminating every extraneous element, you could isolate what makes it work and just do that. And then, after becoming better at it than anyone who had ever done it, realizing that maybe you didn’t need the talent. That maybe its absence was a gift.

These were the stations on the via dolorosa of Jacob Cohen, a.k.a. Rodney Dangerfield, whose comedy I hold above all others’. At his peak — look on YouTube for any set he did between 1976 and 1990 — he was the funniest entertainer ever. That peak was long in coming; by the time he perfected his act, he was nearly 60. But everything about Dangerfield was weird. While other comedians of that era made their names in television and film, Dangerfield made his with stand-up. It was a stand-up as dated as he was: He stood on stage stock-still in a rumpled black suit and shiny red tie and told a succession of diamond-hard one-liners.

The one-liners were impeccable, unimprovable. Dangerfield spent years on them; he once told an interviewer that it took him three months to work up six minutes of material for a talk-show appearance. If there’s art about life and art about art, Dangerfield’s comedy was the latter — he was the supreme formalist. Lacking inborn ability, he studied the moving parts of a joke with an engineer’s rigor. And so Dangerfield, who told audiences that as a child he was so ugly that his mother fed him with a slingshot, became the leading semiotician of postwar American comedy. How someone can watch him with anything short of wonder is beyond me.

“To be a comedian,” he said, “you have to get onstage and find out if you’re funny.” He wasn’t. During his first career, performing as Jack Roy, he was a singing waiter, used props, tried impressions. Even after his second coming — using a stage name devised by a club owner as a gag — and becoming a regular on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” he could be miserable. In a YouTube clip of him performing on “Sullivan” in 1969, Dangerfield’s face is the unsettling bluish-pink of raw chicken. The jokes — about getting directions, his wife’s driving, their apartment — keep bombing. The setups are too long; the delivery is too slow; the punch lines are so lame that you can hear the scattered laughter of distinct individuals. Even worse, he panders. “I’ll tell you, it’s nice to hear you laugh,” he says at one point. It’s almost unseemly.

In the decade that followed, Dangerfield eliminated everything from his act but the setups and punch lines. In his determination to unlock how they worked, he devised multiple jokes around the same setup, like a composer writing variations on a theme. “When I was born, I was so ugly the doctor slapped my mother” might be followed with “I was an ugly kid. When I was born, after the doctor cut the cord, he hung himself.” His body of work is a codex, a “Well-Tempered Clavier” of comedy.

Most comics use the setup and punch line like a nail and hammer, but Dangerfield used them as a theremin player uses her hands, to bring forth strange, unexpected effects. Some were so masterful and odd that they transcended linear logic. My favorite joke of his — “I told my dentist my teeth were going yellow. He told me to wear a brown necktie” — barely makes sense at first. It’s a bewildering piece of misdirection. But it works as a marvel of dream logic, a joke Kafka might have liked.

With other jokes the angle between setup and punch line was so acute that it momentarily stunned the audience, requiring an extra beat to sink in and creating opportunities of timing. You can watch one at the close of a Dangerfield set on the “Tonight” show. It’s Aug. 1, 1979, and he’s at the summit of his craft. As with the very best comedians, the laughter begins before he speaks. His delivery is angry, rapid-fire, leaving the audience no time to recover. The standup portion kills, but everyone knows the better part will happen at the host’s desk, where Johnny Carson, pulling on a cigarette, will gamely set him up.

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FAKING NEWS…NEVILLE NOBODY VOTES NO. WHO KNEW?

By Mike Welsh

Neville Nobody knows nothing and nobody and anybody who knows Neville knows he never did no harm to nobody. (Like Neville those who know him didn’t receive a complete education).

Neville Nobody is so straight up and down and nigh on invisible that he’s not eligible for the colourful Aussie moniker “Nifty”. Fact is Neville doesn’t even qualify for the slightly less formal but grudgingly accepted- by most Nevilles- the abbreviation “Nev”. It’s Neville and that’s it. Nothing and no-one will ever change it or him.

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But that is until now. While change doesn’t sit well with Neville Nobody, one thing has seriously niggled (Neville hasn’t been niggled, seriously or otherwise since February 14 1966 on the introduction of decimal currency) and that’s being told how to to vote. Neville Nobody does vote but nobody who knows Neville knows how he votes. They accept that nobody tells Neville Nobody how to vote. Nobody!!

Nobody knows this but many who know Neville are prepared to bet a “penny to a pound of goat dropping” that Neville’s problem is he has never fully recovered the trauma he suffered as a schoolboy boarding public transport on that D day in ’66 and being given “yank” money in change for the fare he paid in pennies.

Now Neville is not your type to boycott something just because its bent out of shape.  No, Neville is not by nature or any stretch of the imagination a protester and by boycotting the poll he’d also be stepping way out of his comfort zone. So without malice or judgement, Neville Nobody,as far as anyone knows, is voting no. Not because he has an issue with same sex relationships or has any conflicting cultural or religious beliefs but simply he firmly believes there are some things which matter. Although nobody who knows Neville knows if there are any other things which “matter” to Neville.

 

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It’s simple, the most non-threatening- know- nothing -nong on the planet should not have to endure some loudmouth slapping him around the head with a rainbow placard and demanding he vote yes is beyond the pale for the this seriously washed out beige battler.

Telling Neville Nobody or anybody for that matter how to vote is simply un Australian. Beware the Neville Nobodys.