I went to the March in August rally in Garema Place on Sunday. It was a bright sunny day, and Canberra looked gorgeous, as it tends to do in spring.
Given the number of people that I know that are angry, disappointed, and dismayed by the measures that the Abbott Government is attempting to implement (and some of those it has already implemented) I had expected to see a lot of people there.
Given the number of people I know that post angry disaffected comments on Facebook and Twitter, with links to media coverage of the next insensitive or offensive remark by a Liberal politician, or that bemoan the lack of media coverage on the impact of the budget, I had expected to see a lot of people there.
Given the number of people I know that are fully aware of the lack of evidence behind the decisions being made by this Government, people that feel strongly about human rights, about taking action on climate change, about access and equity for government services, I had expected to see a lot of people there.
My expectations were not met. I am not sure if it was poor advertising by the organisers, or the lure of nature on a spectacularly beautiful Sunday, but there were not a lot of people there.
And it made me angry. Not as angry as I am at the Government, but angry nonetheless.
One of the speakers said something along the lines of ‘if you want good government, you have to work for it’ and there weren’t a lot of people working for it in Canberra.
Across the country over 40 000 people rallied. But across the country I know there are a LOT more than 40 000 people who are going to be hurt by this budget, and who are already being hurt by the decisions being made by Tony Abbott and his policies.
It seems to me that for a lot of people, until they have to fork out that extra $7 for their doctor & $5 for every script they will not take a stand.
Until their kid’s university degree costs over a hundred grand and keeps them living at home because they can’t afford to meet repayments and pay the rent, they will not take a stand.
Until Canberra is hit by another bushfire from a climate-change-induced extreme summer; until they’re one of the thousands of public servants who lose their jobs; until their kid is stuck at home because there are no jobs for young people and there are no places to live that will let you skip rent for half a year; until petrol prices skyrocket & they’re choosing between paying the phone bill and driving to work that week because they only have enough cash for one; they will not take a stand.
Until they can’t afford the electricity bill (because the prices have still risen despite the loss of the carbon tax), and they’re unable afford the solar panels that can no longer be made in Australia because the renewables industry has been demolished; until they meet an asylum seeker and hear just how horrific their life was both in the country they’re fleeing or in the detention centre they were kept in for years; until one of our spy agencies serves their partner with terrorist charges because metadata showed that they once went to a Greenpeace meeting; they will not take a stand.
Until it actually smacks you in the face and it’s too late to even pretend like you’re doing something about it, you will not take a stand.
I am begging you, please do something. Unless people fight this, the Government will have their way.
I know public servants live in fear of losing their jobs if they speak out, but they cannot fire you for going to a rally.
I know you might agree with some of the measures in the budget, but I am sure you know at least ONE worth fighting.
I know you might be completely sick and tired of hearing about the circus on the hill, and the Canberra bashing that comes from being so closely associated with politicians.
I know you probably have more interesting or more pressing things to do with your precious weekend than stand around with a bunch of people all furiously agreeing that something has to change.
This Government is ignoring people because it can. Because most people won’t stand up and say “No”.
Please, the next time there is a rally, let me see a lot of people there.
P.S. On the positive side - yay to thousands of people out there! And yay for everyone writing to their MPs, signing petitions, lobbying their friends and doing whatever they can to draw attention to the issues and make change!
We arrived early to see 20,000 Days on Earth. We went to a cinema that neither of us had visited before, and like so many things in New Acton, it looked beautiful (with the correct amount of quirky). It had a created cool, the kind always leaves me feeling righteously inadequate and scornfully jealous of the pretension. An appropriate venue to see a film about Nick Cave I think.
We waited amongst older women with perfectly disheveled hair, neatly attractive men, and young women with cute but sensible boots. We walked down a signal-less and narrow corridor to cinema 7, and we waited again until the polite young man finished cleaning and let us in.
We took our seats, those allocated to us close to the far wall in a centre row. Looking around and seeing no one enter, we moved closer to the middle. Throughout the long-running advertising we waited for more people to come in. However, we remained alone. And being alone, we watched Nick Cave tell a story about his 20,000th day on earth.
I have been a fan of Nick Cave since ‘Into My Arms’. I have listened to album after album on repeat. I have seen him live at the Myer Music Bowl in 2013, and will see him at the State Theatre in Sydney in December. I have attempted to read his novels. I have sat through The Proposition, I have visited the exhibition of his paraphernalia at the National Library, and I have been transfixed by his portrait at the National Portrait Gallery. I have loved him, and felt that love both deepen and diminish as his music has changed.
Watching this film, I realized just how influential Nick Cave has been on my life. Using evocative imagery, a soundtrack full of thought, and lyrical words spoken in his distinctive baritone, this ageing man expressed his fear of being forgotten, and attempted to explain both his relevance and what he has become. Through that explanation, I went into my own head and saw my own fear and desperate need for validation.
When he talked about the muse – that for him it is always a real person – I agreed. When he talked about Susie being present in his work – cannibalised by his art – I agreed. He takes a grain of truth and expands upon it until it’s no longer recognisable in a literal way, but with every musical note still clearly depicts his very personal experience. When I write, I begin in truth and spin it into fiction. When it is finished, it stands on its own, apart from me. But it is still obviously, painfully mine. I see that in his work, and wonder if my writing would have been the same if Nick Cave’s lyrics had not writhed and snagged throughout my brain.
He spoke of his memories of his father – and the pace of the story gave me space to consider my own. My memories of my Dad are nearly always of him outside and working. Nick’s were of a near silent watcher - and the link he and the therapist drew between his father and The Father was blatantly clear.
Along with the unhurried pace, the experience of being alone in the theatre also gave us space to consider the film. Though there was no one else there, I still felt a little like we were transgressing when we spoke aloud or questioned something on the screen. We shifted in our seats more than normal, and commented as you would if you were watching in your home. We both observed, at the end, that you know and find out so much about the inside of Nick Cave’s head, but so very little about his life.
We had watched something intensely personal but incredibly exposed, alone but in a public place.
The film raised questions that were never answered for me. What is the significance of the strong prominence of the bass guitar? Why is there no mention of his other children? Why Kylie and not PJ? (Is she still too painful a memory?) Why Stagger Lee, but so very little of the music before Push the Sky Away? Who was the first guy in the car? (I know I could google that one, but I have a strange reluctance to do so). Where is Warren’s house? Are the archives real? Fred told me that there was the sound of rain throughout the movie (I didn’t notice) – and certainly the weather is a big feature of this movie, as is the climate (particularly of Brighton) – so how is it that I was so lost in his words that I missed the sound?
One question of mine - what the hell was Push the Sky Away - has been answered. I remember writing about that album after seeing him in Melbourne. I wrote that it seemed like he was pleading for relevance – particularly with Higgs Boson Blues (the Miley Cyrus references still irk me). I remember being jarred by seeing the children singing his words & wondering at their understanding of his music. He made very clear points about counter-point in this movie (I love the unicycle reference), and about the search for relevance. So I can’t help but understand now.
Though, having spent the night and most of today ruminating on the movie, I am beginning to wonder if this is all just Nick having fun. If the heavily-laden, mid-life-crisis-like expression of his desire to be remembered is a dig at himself, and at his very real influence on music and art. I wonder if there is humour buried and bound beneath layers of beautiful broken words.
Either way – you can only love the narcissism of the man. And loving it in him, I revel in it in myself. His comments to Kylie about terrifying the front row of people at his shows and about not seeing the rest of the room, lingered with me. I have never been front row at one his shows and it is unlikely I ever will be. Therefore I will never make even the most fleeting of impressions on him. This movie proves to me that he has carved far deeper into me and twisted far further than I had known, and even knowing that I will never register with him, I am quite content to spin his tales into mine and create my own beautiful world.
"There will be sunlight, at the end," she said
As the stars burned out of the sky
“We will aim our arrows at the heart of all things,
And we’ll feast on our blood as we die”
“And the sunshine will roast our bellies,
And crackle our sweet freckled skin”.
I smiled & I tasted her broken mouth,
and asked “Well then, shall we begin?