The last days of radicalism.


I like the idea or at least the tradition of the Italian vendetta … or as the Latin origin would have it : “Vindicta”. : “A rod used in manumitting slaves … : deliverance … ”

“In Roman law. A rod or wand; and. from the use of that instrument in their course, various legal acts came to be distinguished by the term; e. g., one of the three ancient modes of manumission was by the v indict a; also the rod or wand inter- vened in the progress of the old action of vindicatio, whence the name of that action.”  (Google)

To me it symbols a kind of natural justice, delivered when civil justice is absent or deliberately denied … even a kind of “poetic justice” could be seen as a comfort of a successful “vendetta” by fate … by mute Nemesis.

Yes .. certainly a “deliverance” from a perceived injustice, be it by person or persons known, corporations or political opponents … Radicalism against conservatism could be seen as a vindicta .. ; a deliverance from oppression of bland and suffocating mediocrity in life.

Clarence Darrow, in his 79th year, saw the publication of his brilliant dissertation “On Selecting a Jury”, in Esquire Magazine , May 1936 .. :

” EDITOR’S NOTE: The late Clarence Darrow was 79 when this achieved print. Active practice was definitely over for the lawyer who never, in more than fifty years at the bar, appeared on the side of the prosecution, who never, in scores of capital cases, had a client executed. We gave him a fairly pedestrian assignment, asking him to write a piece giving a few pointers on jury-picking. It was greater luck than we merited to receive in return this winged answer to profounder questions than we had the wit to ask. For here is no less a thing than a golden epitome of all the wisdom that has accrued to an ever-youthful spirit in the late evening of a well spent life. Far more than a mere footnote to the tricks of his trade, it is a philosophic summation of the practical answers to any present day Pilate who might jesting ask “What is Justice?” It is an answer wise though witty, compassionate though cynical, the answer of the man who said of the great Governor Altgeld what might equally well be said of himself: “Even admirers have seldom understood the real character of this great human man. It was not a callous heart that so often led him to brave the most violent and malicious hate: it was not a callous heart, it was a devoted soul . . . that spoke for the poor, the oppressed, the captive and the weak.”

His own assessment of the bias of “justice” in that same article can be read below:

“ In the last analysis, most jury trials are contests between the rich and poor. If the case concerns money, it is apt to be a case of damages for injuries of some sort claimed to have been inflicted by someone. These cases are usually defended by insurance companies, railroads, or factories. If a criminal case, it is practically always the poor who are on trial. The most important point to learn is whether the prospective juror is humane. This must be discovered in more or less devious ways. As soon as “the court” sees what you want, he almost always blocks the game.”   Clarence Darrow .. on selecting a jury. Esquire, 1936. (  )

This publication by Darrow, could be seen as a kind of fulfilled “vendetta” against those who would victimise the same ; “… poor, oppressed, the captive and the weak.” He left no stone unturned as he dissected the bulbous, inflated buffoonery of civil laws that worked mainly for the wealthy and privileged. Those were the days when a radical attitude toward the conservative establishment was a respected and almost a desirable quirk of the human condition. These days, however, it seems almost a dirty word, where “people of taste and style” are more savvy to avoid distasteful confrontation for what can only be described as acceptance .. acceptance of what is described as the “inevitable” , the  “reality of the situation” and an avoidance of anything that smacks of the distasteful in either language or opinion … ”one’s upbringing .. doncha know!”… when all the time it really is just simple cowardice.

Acceptance in human psychology is a person’s assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it or protest it. The concept is close in meaning to acquiescence, derived from the Latin acquiēscere (to find rest in).  (google definition )

And then there is this:

“ Often when I discuss acceptance with students or clients, a common argument is put forth: “Acceptance is no good. It is passive and accepting things as they are is giving up. It is resignation to something unpalatable.” But that is not the real meaning of acceptance. There is no better explanation than Jon Kabat-Zinn’s in, “Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness”: “Acceptance doesn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, mean passive resignation. Quite the opposite. It takes a huge amount of fortitude and motivation to accept what is- especially when you don’t like it-and then work wisely and effectively as best you possibly can with the circumstances you find yourself in and with the resources at your disposal, both inner and outer, to mitigate, heal, redirect, and change what can be changed.” In other words, desiring the world to be something it is not at the moment is stopped and ruminating thoughts about how things “should be” are put aside. Then change what can be changed.

Acceptance helps reduce what people experience as negative. That is only half of the solution to improving one’s quality of life, however. It has been purported that it takes five positive experiences to counter one negative (Gottman) or, more generally, your brain responds to positive events like Teflon and to negative ones like Velcro (Hanson, Mendius). So, the new goal is to allow the positive to resonate, to be prolonged, not in a desperate grasping fashion, but instead through mindfulness and allowing it to permeate one’s attention. This helps counter the balance, and swing experience to the positive.”

What a load of privileged-class wank, but taken alongside the silence or the defensive acquiesce in regards to the “majority decision” on refugees etc., the “outrage” against the minutiae of political behavior and the pathetic seediness of sexual misconduct of the politically ugly and degenerate and one has to wonder if with such limp-wristed pontification, we ; The People, are not moving into the last days of radicalism.

Me personally, I prefer Norm Gallagher’s simple response when told of the bankruptcy of a particularly nasty building company .. ;

“It couldn’t’ve happened to a nicer bunch of bastards!”





A close friend told me that not long before their mother passed away, she was given a “smartphone” by her children so as to be ready reachable and in case of emergency…they paid the connection fees etc. all she had to do was sign on.

Of course, signing on to such services has a security obligation and so one is called upon to use identity clues for a secure connection..clues that no other person will know…but being older, she knew from experience that she had best write those clues down just in case she would be called upon to repeat them verbatim at some future time.

So there, under the lid of the box the smartphone came in was a slip of paper with three items that were the answers to three obvious requests from the service provider..:

“My first pet ..: ‘ Taby’..”

“I was called ..: ‘ Peggy’ when young.”

” My parents met in the city of ..: Sydney”

These three little insights into a past life give clue to the gentle humanity of us all…little “songs” shall we say, of those moments that are held softly and secretly within our hearts, like a faded flower holding a special memory, pressed between the pages of an old novel.. Strange then, that we will share them with an anonymous machine without compunction, yet not be inclined to freely reveal such to other people…Perhaps it is that machine-like anonymity that reassures us..some people seem to have that same encouraging “feel” whereupon you can unload worries or confidences into a sensitive ear.

This, to my way of thinking is a failing of history..of our local history, where incidents and events are recorded minutely in committee records and local government archives etc…but where are the personal names?..Where are the identities that these events centered around? Who were these people who marched down the street of the town on such and such celebration day?..What was the fate of the person who’s car or buggy or person was crashed and injured in industrial accident or fall?..Who were all these people who marched through time with neither personality or history?..are we all to be slaves to opaque anonymity?..Where is the colour in the canvas .. the eyes that are the mirrors to so many souls?

I recall perusing through some archived photographs of a local town’s German school from the 1930’s. There were the usual gathering of kids ranging from around fourteen/fifteen down to seven or eight years, their beaming faces giving lie to their shoeless poverty…but then I noticed in the second row, in the shadow of one of the many Sagenschnitter brood, a dark-skinned boy of around (at a guess) ten years..I enlarged the photo on my computer and sure enough, there he indigenous child ……amongst the twenty or so German kids..What was he doing there?

Fortunately his name was recorded along with all the others in handwritten script under the photo and with a degree of complicated research, I eventually found the solution to the conundrum. He was one of the Stolen Generation..placed in care as a ward of the State in 1921 from the tender age of two years for being “illegitimate”…and I learned from local sources that some indigenous children were placed in these country centres far away from their original place of birth as a “subsidy placement” (whatever that means) with suitable families. But whatever the suitability of the family who took this boy in, it was recorded that he escaped their care and eventually made his way under several different names to Mildura where he died suddenly in 1936 aged 15yrs, under suspicious circumstances from Strychnine poison. The history of this lad’s fore-shortened stay on this earth would have gone un-collated save through police and one paragraph newspaper notification and indeed, because the death was in another state from the one he was registered in, no enquiry was conducted and he would have been totally forgotten..but for this accidental notice of a different ethnicity amongst all those Germanic children..and what also of his mother and relatives in this entire sorry affair? THAT is the chance of history.

And what chance for many others, identities forgotten in the steamrolling onslaught of capitalist production, so many heaped together in congested tenements and desperate lodgings so that even in old age we become just another commodity of “cost per unit” in an aged “care” investment property portfolio? .. as has been recently aired on the ABC with the closure of the “Gatwick Hotel” and the subsequent disasters for some of the tenants who resided there.

Here is the link to a short story about this very subject by Lajos Zilahy..: But for this”..

Is this the universal fate for those without funds or favour in the wider community?..lost in the sands of have any memory of their personal idiosyncratic character die along with the last one who has a direct knowledge of them at all…with perhaps nothing left on record save those “personal security identities” clinically saved on some sort of android device…a history condensed to three passwords..three little moments of one’s personal identity…a soul incomplete.

We are all humans in a humanist society .. and we should not think nor treat others as a capitalist commodity.

The old couple.

Geezus!..the old couple that came to the free community nursery workshop…I almost forgot…ah!.I was buggered after a lousy sleep the night before, what with all the lightning and thunder…I went straight to sleep after dinner last night.. I’ll tell you now.

It went like this…

This old couple..Now we get a few curious people come to these workshops, some tree-change people who want to grow their own..some for company and a day out…we got one couple who grew lilliums for show…they moved out here to stop other ‘breeders” from stealing their bulbs and such..very jealously competitive is the flower showing fraternity….We had a couple of miniature horse breeders once…but I won’t go there!

This old couple turned up, John and Helen…never seen them before..said they were up visiting some rellies and thought they’d come see ( we advertise in our newsletter). A nice couple, smartly if a tad conservatively dressed, sharp-pressed slacks and trousers, cardi’ and collar shirt …snug-fitted slip-on sandles..a lot of pastel know ; the “eastern suburbs grandparents look”.

As a matter of fact, it was that which drew my attention to them…they had that exact look that you’d expect the perfect grandparents to have…Her hair; short, curled and permed, his short, parted to one side, held in place with some sort of hair crème, a brush of a mustache. They looked a parlour-picture of genteel grandparentlyness.

At the end of the workshop, when they were purchasing some pots , soil and a few plants (our prices are very cheap…cost only), I approached them with my observation…the lady laughed out loud and the man smiled..

“Touche’” he said..”Or rather; “Une touché de elegance” !”  and they both smiled.

I raised a quizzical eyebrow.

“I am afraid you see us in our theatrical becomes very difficult to shake off at times” The lady explained.

‘This sounds interesting” I remarked  “Can I coax you in for a cup of tea and biscuits while you tell me about it?” I offered .

They accepted and we sat at the kitchen table while they revealed all.

The lady spoke.

“We hire our persons out to people or organizations that want couples such as ourselves to add a certain “touch of elegance” to an occasion..or as John said ;”Une touché de elegance” a matter of fact, that slogan is on our invoice.”

“ Let me get this straight” I pleaded “ people and companies hire you to come to their events just to give it a sort of  elder citizen cred’? “

“Exactly.” He answered

“What sort of companies?”..I was curious.

“ Oh financial investment, aged care providers, companies selling certain products for the elderly..we go there and ..well..mingle..that sort of thing.”


“Yes…look respectable…like you’d expect a grandparent to act…sweet, polite, gently condescending…a tender touchy-feely-warm-fuzzy..that sort of thing…full of good, sound advice…provided by the organizers of course.”

“And private people?” I asked.

“Now THEY are the difficult ones!” he sipped his tea and placed the cup and saucer back on the table. “ We have some who want to claim us as their real grandparents or as older friends of. . . so as to have a kind of “genealogy  line” to impress another party..And we get invited to informal luncheons and what-not..They supply a few pictures and we refer to them in conversation, sometimes we photo-shop ourselves into another photo..say “at the beach” or somewhere…for that extra touch of reality..”

“Isn’t that a bit risky?”…

“You mean in case someone recognizes us in another place sort of scenario?…well, my dear chap, that’s where the theatrics come into play…”

“We are both retired actors.”  Helen took up the telling “ Small repertory companies, that sort of thing..Noel Coward farces and comedies..Unfortunately those small companies and theatres mostly  closed down with the internet and whatever..and we got bored with a dull life at kids, you see…so we thought of this..”

“I tell you,” John leaned over the table to me…”we could come in next workshop as different people and I guarantee you wouldn’t recognize us!”

I believed him.

“But we did have some beauties before we got saavy on how to handle “situations”..John , you remember that Italian woman…the fiancé of the orphan gentleman…”

“He was no gentleman!…more of a hustler…and so was she!..Dammed embarrassing!..almost made a fool of myself!..But I plead innocence in the matter..” John protested.

“Shall I tell him, John?” Helen touched his hand gently.

“Oh go right long ago now it’s almost funny”.

“Well” began Helen “ We had this commission from a wealthy Australian business chap that was going to marry an Italian woman…a real Italian woman..from Italy..IN Italy. Neither of them were in their first blossom of be kind..but he was an orphan and her family expected him to have certain “credentials” so to speak.. English respectability I suppose you’d say…Anyway , we were hired to play the Grandparents…He was on holiday in Australia with the lady and they were to “drop in” on “Gran and Papa” for afternoon the English manner, and we were to impress the lady with our quaint charm and so on…”

“And did they? “

“Did they bloody ‘ell! “ Helen blurted.” Like a cloudburst!..I’d no sooner answered the door when SHE was in the hallway like a stray dog after a square meal!”

John took up the story.

“The woman was unstoppable!..All bouffant,  bottom and bosoms!”: John phewed  “ I was sitting in the club chair and she came straight over to me…I was about to get up when she came and planted big, fat, juicy kisses on both my cheeks and then my forehead!…My nose wedged into those voluminous bosoms like Edmond Hillary descending into a crevasse on Mt Everest!..and I tell you what, the perfume she had soaked down there nearly knocked me out cold!..I’d just come up for air when she exclaimed..: “ You are Brendan’s Granpapa but now you are my new Nonno!…and she sat BANG down on my lap!…”

“Ha!” Helen exclaimed “ dammed hussy!”

“..and no sooner than she sat down, IT came up!”

“IT ?” I asked….

He pointed meaningfully toward his crotch.

“Lazerus rising!” Helen mocked.

“Whoa!” I exclaimed.

“You’re not kidding ; whoa..I quickly jumped up, sending her to the floor, spun around to conceal and re-adjust the “inconvenience”. and then doubled over pleading “my old hernia”.. “

“Anyway, we got it all sorted out and they departed happy if apologetically after a suitable time…I believe he informed her some months after the wedding in Rome that we had both died of a heart “followed” the other into God’s care..a nice romantic touch, don’t you think?”

They both smiled…

“I say” John leant over to me..” I don’t suppose you’d mind an old pensioner taking a couple of those nice vo-vo’s with one …for a snack on the way home…Ta!…” and they stood to depart.

I gave them the invoice for the plants and potting stuff they took.

“You’ll accept payment in seven days, I take it?” John asked, wide eyed.

I hesitated…then smiled in return.

“Of course, of course…and thank you very much”.

I don’t think I’ll see them at too many more workshops.







On Health Practitioners and other medicines.

There ought to be a rider attached to that response on the “happiest day of your life”, with the assurance of ;”I will……….provided!(see section 31-a…clause 19)”….I say that because when I first entered into that ‘contract’, I went from a batchelor whose only adult affliction was a terminal case of “lateral spine” with the attitude that most physical complaints could be cured with a good book and a good lie down to a co-habiting consumer of health foods, fads and fantasies!

But, like any dutiful spouse, I partnered this new opinion of the infallibility of “wholistic medicine” with all the best intentions, no-one has ever attacked a nice, healthy bowl of tofu and brown rice with as much gusto as myself!….and I can honestly say to this day that the road to hell was never more solidly paved!

But don’t get me wrong, I hold as deep suspicions about “orthodox” medicine….and I have memories of the family doctor  (whose child had the same christian name as myself and also suffered from asthma) using me as a guinea-pig for any new industrial/medical concoction dreamed up as a ‘cure’….”…and he seemed such a nice chap” as my mother would say.

While the orthodox doctor may indeed bury their mistakes, the alternative pickle theirs! Having had everything from suction cups to dubious creams and healing hands smeared all over my skin, over more than a decade of compliant nievety, I have to say that such applied medicine is by far the preferred option to the plethora of applied psychology of the “empowering guru”! Yes…ah yes!…I suffered from that one too….why are they always smiling?….I gaze at my empty wallet now and I am enlightened, for while even Jesus and Socrates struggled to realise the nexus between philosophy and pecuniary interest, with the modern “practicioner”it is a seamless weld!….

When one looks back over those wide plains of time and life-experience, the entire schmozzle can best be seen as a sort of  Key-stone cops bugger-up overlaid with the closing theme music from the “Benny Hill Show”…you know : Yah dah dadadadah….!

I wasn’t going to regale you with any tales but one springs to mind that will reveal all…

Our family was “encouraged” to take part in a “circle-dance” in the first moon cycle on the beach at Largs Bay. We were sitting on the sand there at the bottom of the steps waiting for “Marcie” who at that moment appeared at the top of the steps… “Oh look!..” one person said, “She isn’t wearing her glasses….you know, she’s been taking that potion to strengthen her vision and she has been seeing “Janice” about ‘overcoming with  her mind’ so she can stop using her glasses”….Indeed, there she was, hand on the rail stepping elegantly with pointed toe straight toward us measured step by step with all the grace of a queen….we sat there in silence, in awe….then at the foot of the steps, while staring dead straight at us, she suddenly threw a leftie and started to walk away up the beach!…….yes..yes…blind as a bat!….”Marcie, Marcie” we called…………..

There will always be those who cannot help but seek out the oracle and worship the idol, but of course, one would be foolish to dismiss out of hand the beneficial uses of organic compounds and comforting meditations, alas, I am always drawn to a maxim from my father…: “Doctors, priests and lawers..;one will ruin your health, one will ruin your soul and the other your pocket!” Mind you, with this “lateral spine” I suffer from, what I wouldn’t give for a damn good massage!


Maris Zalups.

One of the lads I went to school with died about a year ago…of a heart attack, I am told. His name was Maris Zalups…Of course, we kids lazily condensed his Latvian surname to more suit our casualness and his happy easy-going nature to “Slopsy”….His brother’s name was Arrtis (sp?)…..too hard!…he got called : “Harry” (He too passed away just recently)….Harry grew from a gangling boy to a full-blown archetype “Viking Warrior” in both phiz and psyche!.. a body like “Conan the Warrior” and a voice like Barry White….he was much in demand by the “gentler sex”….we scowled in the corner of the local front-bar…but we scowled quietly!

Their parents were escapees from a turmoiled Europe after the second world war…the father was a very good musician…before a very bad motorcycle and side-car accident….I remember him tirelessly trying to teach Harry the piano, and he succeeded..even against Harry’s wishes (too much sun..too much surf in Australia!)…there was a small bust of Ludwig van ‘ on the upright piano and Harry would everyday be there rolling out some turgid piece, with his father smoking a dour pipe whilst sitting in a teacher’s contemplate at the end of the keyboard. I remember once the father went out of the room to fill his pipe as Harry played…he had no sooner gone than the rebellious spirit grabbed the youth’s hands and a playful Jerry-Lee Lewis piece sprung from the keyboard….parents came running and Harry immediately fell back into the rhythm of the classical piece as if nothing had happened!

Maris was a lost cause as far as artistic instruction went and his father left him alone and he, with all us adventurous kids would immediately make for the gully to swing from the trees like Tarzan, or wooden sticks in hands, make for the seaside sand-dunes ala Beau Geste!…we could always see Harry, finally released from Tchaikovsky, running toward us in frenetic glee!

Their mother was an artist..with oils…she could often be seen UNDISTURBED! in a small side room off the shed painting away. I remember once..I must have been about nine or ten..chasing Harry through the house and we were pulled up in the lounge room where Mrs. Zalups had a lot of her framed paintings propped on the chairs there…She held us up ..”Boys, boys…stop!..I would like you to meet Mr….” of course, young boys are even less inclined to remember names than manners and we said hello to the grey-suited stranger standing there hat in hand and stolid standing…and then ran on. It was only many years later, whilst walking down Rundle Mall, past a Myers window display of a full-size photo cut-out of a man in a grey suit with several framed paintings of his on display that I recognised him as that same gentleman in Mrs. Zalup’s lounge-room ..and her introductory words came straight back to me..”Boys, boys..stop!..I would like you to meet Mr. Hans Heysen”.

This is an important story…look at the players..Myself ;Italian / Irish..them Latvian..others in our group incl’ English, Dutch , German..and know it…..AND…let us embrace the reality..: All Australian! the Australia I vote for, not a mean-spirited polarising of one ethnic group against the other…for there is no one ethnic majority that can work this huge nation on it’s own…there never has been….This is the Labor objective I’s motto, no less intense than us kids on a limb of a huge pine tree about to group-swing way out over the gully depths, all clasping onto the one many-knotted rope..: “One in -All in!”…..GO!… this is the spirit of the people who still stand united together around the “light on the hill”.