Saturday, August 25, 2018

'The fucking train is fucking late...' Sydney is Chickentown

' fucking wait and fucking wait.'
Another Saturday, another meltdown of the train system, which is amazing really, the fact they actually made it a whole week before the system melted down again, sending it all into total chaos.

It can't be that hard, I mean the very fact it keeps getting worse indicates it can be better, as it was better.

Other countries manage it, somehow, Last Saturday, when I couldn't go anywhere due to the last total meltdown of the train system, I tortured myself by watching a documentary all about how brilliant'y efficient Japan's trains were, always on time to the very second and almost never malfunctioning, despite, in Tokyo, dealing with many millions more people than Sydney.

Then there is the ever-worsening "nanny state" killing any life at all in this city, with the pokie-ridden pubs already almost killing love music before "noise complaints" by people living near venues known for playing live music... and the lock out laws, that somehow managed to entirely exclude the Star Casino, killing the precincts like King's Cross and sending their patrons to invade other precincts like Newtown, so what was once a gay-and-alternative-friendly area is increasingly ridden with violence.

And the whole thing, on top of rising rents and a housing shortage... it all adds up to make Sydney more and more like Chickentown of "Evidently Chickentown" by John Cooper Clarke, the punk poet from Salford just out of Manchester in England. It was presumably Salford, which was also the inspiration for Ewan McColl's folk standard "Dirty Old Town", that Clarke had in mind, but the words of his most famous poem fit a little too well in this fucking shithole.

The fucking cops are fucking keen
To fucking keep it fucking clean
The fucking chief’s a fucking swine
Who fucking draws a fucking line
At fucking fun and fucking games
The fucking kids he fucking blames
Are nowehere to be fucking found
Anywhere in Chickentown

The fucking scene is fucking sad
The fucking news is fucking bad
The fucking weed is fucking turf
The fucking speed is fucking surf
The fucking folks are fucking daft
Don’t make me fucking laugh
It fucking hurts to look around
Everywhere in Chickentown

The fucking train is fucking late
You fucking wait you fucking wait
You’re fucking lost and fucking found
Stuck in fucking Chickentown

The fucking view is fucking vile
For fucking miles and fucking miles
The fucking babies fucking cry
The fucking flowers fucking die
The fucking food is fucking muck
The fucking drains are fucking fucked
The colour scheme is fucking brown
Everywhere in Chickentown

The fucking pubs are fucking dull
The fucking clubs are fucking full
Of fucking girls and fucking guys
With fucking murder in Their eyes
A fucking bloke is fucking stabbed
Waiting for a fucking cab
You fucking stay at fucking home
The fucking neighbors fucking moan
Keep The fucking racket down
This is fucking Chickentown

The fucking train is fucking late
You fucking wait you fucking wait
You’re fucking lost and fucking found
Stuck in fucking Chickentown

The fucking pies are fucking old
The fucking chips are fucking cold
The fucking beer is fucking flat
The fucking flats have fucking rats
The fucking clocks are fucking wrong
The fucking days are fucking long
It fucking gets you fucking down
Evidently Chickentown

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Saturday. An in-depth conversation with my brain.

Here at An Alcoholic's Guide To Modern Life (AAGTML), we* strive to provide you, the reader, with fresh daily content for your enjoyment and enlightenment, and before this post we had managed to provide a sum total of two posts for 2018 to date, which frankly is a pretty good fucking hit rate for a blog with "alcoholic" in its title.

Anyway, in big news, I've got a new job that gives enough cash to drink myself to death, but not the time to do the drinking, that old catch-22 of the working man. Of course, the harder you work, the more you value your weekends and so here is my average Saturday, which is today motherfuckers!

ME: Oh Saturday! Finally, a chance to sleep in as long as we like, eh brain?

BRAIN: Yeah, lol, fuck that shit WAKE UP NOW!

ME: But... it's like 6am, like I don't even wake up at 6am on weekdays! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?

BRAIN: I know, I'm crazy! This is what you get, arsehole, for constantly trying to kill me off with booze!

ME: Yeah? [Picks up bottle] Well fuck you! I'm gonna poison you real good now, you self-sabotaging prick!


ME: [chug chug chug]

BRAIN: [Out of tune] 'I met my love by the gas works wall... IT'S A DIRTY OLD TOWN, IT'S A DIRTY OLD TOOOOOOWN....'



ME: Haha... oh shit.


Here is a loosely related new song by outlaw country act Sarah Shook and the Disclaimers with a clever inversion of the late great Merle Haggard's classic, "Tonight The Bottle Let Me down".

Every day you tell me I'm a drunkard
And every night you lie awake and stew
I never claimed to be anything other, darling
'Cause the bottle never lets me down the way you do

Every night I sit 'til sun-up drinkin'
And every day I wait for night to fall
So I can clear the darkest mem'ries from my recollection
And hear no sounds and feel nothing at all...

* I use the "royal we" coz... I don't need a fucking reason!

Monday, May 21, 2018

And some people think capitalism is a system with nothing of any social value to offer any more???

Prince Harry and Princess Meghan, I think.
Now, after the incredible scenes of the royal wedding on Saturday, it may be possible the world's had its fill of Prince Harry and Princess Meghan news.

But it would be a fucking shame if we let this moment pass, in which the very embodiment of imperial power, unearned wealth, inherited privilege sought to slightly soften its image by letting a ginger marry a biracial American while the homeless were physically evicted from the surrounds, without highlighting a profound point it has proven beyond doubt.

Because there are some people out there who refuse to stare social reality in the face ... (possibly printed onto a single piece swimsuit)... and say capitalism is nothing more than a social system based on gross exploitation of people and the planet that has long exhausted any historical progressive role it could play!


Yeah! Check it out!
Yeah that's right, forget "but what about your smart phone" smart-arse answers to those who defend a social system that can only produce such technology in factories so terrible they put suicide nets to stop the modern day slaves from jumping... WE FINALLY HAVE THE EVIDENCE OF JUST HOW SOCIALLY VITAL CAPITALISM TRULY IS!

YES!  The online printing company Bags of Love is offering customers the chance to have the newly-wedded royals faces printed on anything customers want, which is exactly the sort of individual choice directing a free market that Adam Smith famously described in his 18th century treatise: An Inquiry Into How The Wealth of Nations Can be Extended By Putting An Inbred Ginger's Chin Onto a One Piece Swimming Suit So It Sort of Looks A Bit Like The Wearers' Exposed Pubic Area.

A spokesperson for the told the Metro:
Our favourite [printing suggestion] has to be the Harry and Megan and Wills and Kate swimsuits. Nothing like printing the face of a Prince or Duchess on a swimming costume and rocking it proudly on the beach.
Oh no, nothing like it at all, and in case you've forgotten, HERE IT IS AGAIN!!!

Yes, according to
Your royal creation will be printed and posted (to UK locations) within days ... The bizarre product will set you back $68.24 (£38) plus a $7 (£3.99) delivery charge (delivery in the UK only). 
If a swimsuit’s not your thing, there’s hundreds of themed merchandise springing up on the internet to buy. From a commemorative coin to tea towels, condoms, T-shirts and napkins, here are some of the wacky items on sale.
My God, you read that right! Harry and Meghan condoms! WHAT A SOCIAL SYSTEM!

Oh capitalism has its critics who bang on about how 62 people own 50% of the world's wealth while 25,000 children die every single day from mostly preventable causes. BUT FOR FUCK'S SAKE... HAVE ANOTHER LOOK AT THESE SWIMSUITS AND TELL ME IT ISN'T WORTH !

Sadly, no image of the condoms were available.
Do you think these would be produced in... oh I don't know... maybe Cuba??? I don't think so.

Sure, Cuba has free health care and has a lower infant mortality rate than the United States, but what is the point of raising children in a world where they cannot buy a swimsuit to allow Prince Harry's chin to cover their groin??? IT DOES NOT BEAR THINKING ABOUT!

AND THE THREAT TO HARRY AND MEGHAN SWIMSUITS IS NOT JUST IN THE CARIBBEAN! No, the leader of Her Majesty's Allegedly Loyal Opposition is Jeremy Corbyn, an infamous self-confessed socialist!

And his left-hand comrade is Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who just fucking told the BBC that his "job" was to "overthrow capitalism"!!!

His pathetic justification was that he wanted to “radically challenge the system” to prevent another catastrophic economic crisis like the one ordinary people are still paying for with savage austerity, with the sick freak stating :
Only a few months ago we had someone die, a homeless person die, within feet of a door at Parliament. I don’t want to live in a society like that and I don’t think the British people do either.
Yeah that's right. NO MENTION AT ALL of Harry and Meghan swimsuits or even condoms! Presumably such progress has no place in Comrade McDonnell's socialist dystopia.

Sure, Corbyn-led Labour's policies aim to end homelessness and extreme poverty.... BUT AT WHAT COST TO SOCIETY???

Well OK maybe their proposals actually say nothing at all about not letting people part with presumably hard-earned cash to get disturbing products over the internet, and are just about bringing the large corporations to heel and putting essential and major industry into public hands to organise the economy in a more rational and sustainable fashion... but can we afford to take the risk???


This is too valuable to risk!
No, we must stick with the social system we know and trust. The social system that delivers! OK maybe not in relation to action on climate change, as just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of all global emissions... but on the important things like how to commemorate a wedding involving an aristocratic, outdated, over-privileged institution with real style!

As the great, sadly late Texas country singer-songwriter Guy Clark puts it so clearly in the song below, let's stick with the "stuff that works".

Stuff that works, stuff that holds up
The kind of stuff you don' hang on the wall
Stuff that' real, stuff you feel
The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall...

I can't say for certain, but I am pretty sure Guy Clark was talking about monopoly capitalism in this song.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018







RUSSIA I KNEW IT Russia Russia Russia I kne...

Oh shit, it's not Russia!

Holy fuck!

It's Israel.

The Guardian reports:

Revealed: Trump team hired Israeli spy firm for ‘dirty ops’ on Iran arms deal
Aides to Donald Trump, the US president, hired an Israeli private intelligence agency to orchestrate a “dirty ops” campaign against key individuals from the Obama administration who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal, the Observer can reveal... 
Jack Straw, who as foreign secretary was involved in earlier efforts to restrict Iranian weapons, said: “These are extraordinary and appalling allegations but which also illustrate a high level of desperation by Trump and [the Israeli prime minister] Benjamin Netanyahu, not so much to discredit the deal but to undermine those around it.”
... [It is not]  known if the black ops constituted only a strand of a wider Trump-Netanyahu collaboration to undermine the deal ...
Yes, collaboration with Israel towards destroying a deal to defuse dangerous tensions with Iran, so as to avoid a dangerous war with unpredictable consequences against a nation with a far bigger population that neighbouring Iraq. COZ WHICH SORT OF SICK BASTARD DOES NOT WANT A POTENTIALLY NUCLEAR WAR AGAINST IRAN???

Not that is the first evidence of Trump collusion with Israel. His team did that before  he was even inaugurated president, which is what they are accused of doing with Russia. Such collusion is not legal.

The Intercept wrote:
Trump’s Transition Team Colluded With Israel. Why Isn’t That News? 
...Thanks to Mueller’s ongoing investigation, we now know that prior to President Donald Trump’s inauguration, members of his inner circle went to bat on behalf of Israel, and specifically on behalf of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, behind the scenes and in opposition to official U.S. foreign policy. That’s the kind of collusion with a foreign state that has gotten a lot of attention with respect to the Kremlin – but colluding with Israel seems to be of far less interest, strangely.
Hmmmm. Oh well... I mean if it is the recipient of the largest quantity of US military assistance in the world.... so as to scuttle a deal so as to make war more likely and to back illegal settlements based on ethic cleansing... well... sure it may be collusion with a foreign power, but that kinda thing is about as American as you can get.

As you were.



Here is an irrelevant Tom Waits song coz it is awesome and I haven't posted one in ages.

...And I wondered how the same moon outside over this Chinatown fair
Could look down on Illinois
And find you there
And you know I love you baby
And I'm so far away from home
I'm so far away from home
And I miss my baby so
I can't make it by myself
I love you so...

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Shovels and Rope's 'Busted Jukebox Vol 2' and it is great. Like Shovels and Rope-scale great. Which is really great. Really really great.

Shovels and Rope are husband-and-wife duo Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent, based in Charleston, South Carolina, and they deliver dirty, sweaty, and insanely beautiful, in turn or all at once, country/folk/bluesy rock with more than a dash of punk attitude.

The magic of Shovels and Rope is their raw energy, combined with often soaring harmonies and wrapped in sheer joy and love for what they do. They sound like Angels from Heaven, but one's who've just escaped Hell. They're beautiful, but singed.

Playing just guitar and drums, and occasionally keyboards, swapping between the instruments mid-show, they are really a band to see live to get their full value -- their records are great, but it's hard  for a recording to fully capture the live dynamism.

That is not to say a new Shovels and Rope record is not a cause for wild celebrations coz it definitely is. There should be street parties. Public holidays should be declared. They won't be, because we are all governed by pricks, but they should be.

So what could be better than a new Shovels and Rope album? Well, it seems the second volume of their covers project, whereby they collaborate a different artist on each track., as with Busted Jukebox Volume 2, which was released on Thursday and which you can and indeed should purchase here.

In all honesty, I didn't full expect that. It follows on from Busted Jukebox Volume 1, where they also recorded a series of covers with other artists.

And that was good. I mean I doubt Shovels and Rope could do bad if they told them their lives and the lives of all their loved ones depended on it. Among other highlights, their version of "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understand?" is transcendental. But it never grabbed me as hard as their original music

I'm not sure exactly why I feel Busted Jukebox 2 is different, but it is. It is not just a pretty good record done well and interestingly: every track sounds like a revelation. They take well known songs and turn them inside out, or just add fresh layers and new elements that create a different, but often profound impact.

This is a record features everything that is great about Shovels and Rope... then adds to with a different awesome singer/performer added to each song. They manage to give each track a unique feel with different singers brought it, yet their sparkling performances always makes it sound like Shovels and Rope. It sounds fresh, evocative and full of wonder.

Here, you can also listen to each track with interesting notes specifically written by Shovels and Rope at.

It is hard to know which tracks to highlight as I really like them all. Their version of Faith No More's "Epic" is one of the more interesting. Featuring Lera Lynn (possibly the only good thing about season 2 of True Detective), it is a significant re-interpretation of the song.

However, I've chosen to highlight three other tracks that give a good feel for the vibe -- including,  naturally, their glorious version of the Clash's "Death of Glory" featuring none other than Hayes Carll (who I may have mentioned on this blog once or twice). I post them below, following a playlist of each track on the album.

With a new Shovels and Rope album,t he only thing that will make this week better is if, tonight, the Western Sydney Wanderers do the unlikely and beat Sydney FC in the derby.

A cover of a song by post-rock art-rock band from Iceland, Sigur Ros, Shovels and Rope noted: “A lot of people might not know the original version of this song but it is a beautiful, floating, anthemic soundscape by Sigur Rós."

As brilliant a songwriter as Leonard Cohen was, he often lived up to his reputation as "depressing". This song, which vacillates between declarations of being determined to prove love and admission of failure, comes with more colour and life here than the beautiful but typically more downbeat original.

In their notes, Shovels ad Rope had these lovely words to say: “Hayes Carll was the first guy to take us out on the road when we had absolutely nothing going on. He taught us a lot about what’s important and what’s not in this business and on the road. He’s one of our favorite songwriters and human beings and we owe so much of what we’ve been able to build over these last six years or so to his kindness and generosity.

“We wanted to do a slinky, swung version of this song where we traded off verses and just had some fun with it; loose and raucous. It still sounds like punk rock, but with cowboy boots.”

The full playlist:

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Happy birthday Tom Waits!

On December 7, 1949, the man who was to become best story-telling songwriter ever was born "in the back seat of a Yellow Cab in a hospital loading zone and with the meter still running. I emerged needing a shave and shouted 'Time Square, and step on it!'", according to an early record company press release, which is about as likely true as anything else Tom Waits has ever told the world about his life.

To celebrate, here are six relatively randomly chosen songs!

'Hey Charlie, I'm pregnant...'

'Sane, sane, they're all insane...'

'Well with buck shot eyes and a purple heart, I rolled down the national stroll...'

Well she's up against the register with an apron and a spatula...

'Got no time for the corner boys...'

'It's dreamy weather...'

'You're the head on the spear, you're the nail on the cross...'

Monday, November 27, 2017



Hugo Chavez is speaking

To thousands of tired youths

On youth's energy

Creating a future

Without disgrace.

In contingents 

They listen

'Youth are an Atomic explosion

Greater than Hiroshima

To create,

With revolutionary power,

A new world.'

Somebody hands me a phone

I am in Caracas

My sister in Perth.

The president speaking.

And she says:

'It’s Justin.'

And I know.

I am in the future

Talking to now

Where gay men die

Aged 24

By their own hand.


Yes... a fucking poem. Not a joke poem. I usually restrict myself to joke poems out a self of basic human decency.

But I wrote this when a facebook friend specifically asked me, after I made a joke about no one paying for my poetry, to write a poem about "Utopia", coz why have a simple topic. 

So I figured, seeing as I wrote it, this Godforsaken blog might as well be subjected to it.

It is about the  2005 World Festival of Youth and Students, an annual gathering of thousands of left-wing and progressive youths from around the world, that was held in Caracas that year. I was there with a "solidarity brigade" from Australia. 

At the opening of the event in a huge stadium in Caracas, then president Hugo Chavez address probably tens of thousands of youth from all over the world, divided into contingents by country. Chavez had only recently declared the goal of the Bolivarian revolution he was leading must be "socialism of the 21st century" -- and that this should be the goal for the whole world, lest we face extinction. This was the basic tenor of his festival speeches.

As Chavez spoke, one of the brigade organisers took a phone call on their mobile and somehow my sister had gotten through. I had been very sick and in hospital. First of all, the private hospital I was taken to just milked me for travel insurance cash, putting in antibiotics that made me sicker, and I was pretty ill.

The doctors in charge were white, upper-middle class and hostile to the government. When they weren't around, the dark-skinned nurses declared themselves Chavistas. There is a photo of me somewhere, sick as a dog on an IV drip, with two nurses, all of us with our fists raised.

Eventually, the supporters of the Chavez government and the pro-poor Bolivarian revolution who were looking after our brigade brought in a couple of the Cuban doctors working in the poor communities in Venezuela due to a deal with the Chavez government, where they staffed the free health clinics. The Cuban doctors, careful not to speak in front of hospital staff so their Cuban accents didn't give them away. (they were were hated by the private health doctors). 

They looked at the charts next to my bed, declared I should definitely get out of there or the mistreatment could kill me, and so, still so sick I needed to be on a drip, the unhappy hospital had no choice but to discharge me.

I was taken to one of the new clinics in a poor area run by the Cubans providing free health care to the poor -- the fact that, as a journalist for Green Left Weekly, I was there in part to report on clinics like the one I was now lying in seemed to bring endless amusement to the medical staff. 

Compared to the lush private hospital room, it was austere. Just three beds on a concrete floor and the food, and I use the term loosely, was bought from some nearby streetvender. But whereas I got worse in the three days in the private hospital, here, I got better over the next three days, and, being discharged,was handed the medicines I needed, no charge.

While still recovering, I logged in to check my email for the first time in ages. My sister wanted to get in touch urgently. Someone else, with no connection to my sister, also wanted to get in touch with me urgently. I couldn't for the life of me think what possible common issue would have both desperate for me to get in touch, but I was in Venezuela for a couple more weeks. It was clearly gonna have to wait.

It waited until that stadium in Caracas when I was handed the phone while Hugo Chavez spoke of youth in the forefront of a global revolutionary transformation. Justin was my best friend. I spoke about him a little bit here a couple of weeks ago in relation to different issues. 

There is a lot that could be said on the topic. I wasn't there, I hadn't spoken to him for months, I don't really understand the circumstances. I didn't go to his funeral or memorial as I was half way around the world. I am not sure if that is better or worse.

The main thing I take away is that "Utopia" only has meaning in relation to the darkness of today. 

I promise don't intend to keep being so serious fucking thing. I've been to serious lately, what with pieces on the death of Irish comic Sean Hughes, heartfelt ruminations on homophobia and 

Justin would walk away from me in disgust if he know I'd written a fucking poem.

Regardless, here is a song by Lucinda Williams, who has something of a tendency to write about this type of thing (this is the new version she has recorded of this track, originally released in 1992). Her lyric, unshockingly, make better poetry than my effort. 

Then again, Lucinda Williams wasn't standing in the stadium in Caracas listening to Hugo Chavez urge the  a new world, so it certainly isn't the same. Still she can fucking sing this story.

See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world
The breath from your own lips, the touch of fingertips
A sweet and tender kiss
The sound of a midnight train, wearing someone's ring
Someone calling your name
Somebody so warm cradled in your arm
Didn't you think you were worth anything...

Millions of us in love, promises made good
Your own flesh and blood
Looking for some truth, dancing with no shoes
The beat, the rhythm, the blues
The pounding of your heart's drum together with another one
Didn't you think anyone loved you...