Machine noiseSo my machine froze and killed my post about Zadie Smith's winning the Orange Prize. Ah well, let's just say you could drown her in a vat of piss and I would consider it getting off lightly, and you'll get the flavour.
One thing I will note is that in the extract given in the Guardian, Smith is noted as writing that someone has "long black fingernails like a New Jersey housewife".
Now I don't know New Jersey, and my acquaintance with housewives is fairly limited, but I'm pretty sure that not all that many of the latter in that state actually resemble flat, dark pieces of horn.
Smartarsed literary types who want to argue the toss about whether Smith was correct to write that are cordially invited to fuck off. I'm not in the mood.
Still, it's not all bad. I'm listening to Jimmy Little's version of (Are you) The one that I've been waiting for? Nick Cave should beg Jimmy to sing all his songs. It's the only way his turgid shit has any hope of moving us.
I know you don't know who Jimmy Little is. Australian icons don't generally translate. Often a star is huge here and unheard of elsewhere; or becomes huge elsewhere whereas they were not so massive here. I'd simply never have heard of Jimmy Barnes if I hadn't moved into an "Aussie-Kiwi" shared house 15 years ago (and I would never have met Mrs Zen, who moved into the same house some time later, whereupon I pulled her and we've, erm, never looked back), yet every Aussie knows who he is (a poor man's Rod Stewart is close enough).
Much of Aussie "culture" is untranslatable. That old chestnut about being divided by a common language most definitely applies. The difference boils down to something very simple: Australians are incapable of being funny. I'm not kidding. A sketch show here is a good substitute for purgatory. (Fans of Hollywood may have noted that Eric Bana, beefy star of several blockbusters, cut his teeth in Full Frontal, a seminal Australian sketch show, which has the distinction of absolutely never making me laugh, and I've watched it at least a dozen times. He was a terrible comic actor, which probably doesn't come as a surprise to anyone who has seen Troy.) People masquerade as "comedians" who have no ability whatsoever to be funny. We even import people who were so unfunny back home that they could not get a gig. Anyone who finds Jimeoin amusing is seriously fucked up. If he bought you a beer, you'd have to leave two-thirds on the bar, and he'd have to eat your dust, which he could consider fair payment for his "humour".
The worst of it is that Aussies do not understand the English sense of humour. Which is a pity, because I'm fucking funny, and I'm wasted on these clowns. The cornerstone of English humour is self-deprecation, but Aussies are martyrs to amour-propre and simply cannot understand what's funny about taking the piss out of yourself. It's scarcely worth brushing off your sarcastic quips either. All forms of irony are wasted on them. These are people who think shouting and pratfalls are the heights of the comic art. That and viciously unpleasant jibes about others' misfortunes.
The music sucks too. Yeah, there are some high points: the Go-Betweens' brilliant adult pop, Regurgitator's cartoon hardcore, the Avalanches' cutup disco, the Dirty Three's spaced-out ambience, but most Aussie music is horribly uninspired and leaden pub rock. You can only be thankful that Powderfinger, a band so pompous they could lecture in it at the University of Being Up Your Own Arse, have never sold much outside Australia. (Brisbane particularly has a lot to answer for: we were also responsible for Savage Garden and the Veronicas and countless turgid rock acts.) Lack of time prevents me from savaging the many shithouse acts that are played endlessly on the radio here, but let's put it like this: a nation that worships Midnight Oil and INXS fucking is all that bad, no two ways about it.
Don't get me started on the "literature". A smart six-year-old can scrawl better. Okay, there's Carey and Winton, although the former has disappeared up his ring and the latter can veer between sprightly mood pieces and leadfooted overwriting, and Keneally, although unreadable, is a serious writer; the rest, though, to a man, woman and child, are cock.
Art I cannot even begin to discuss. So far as I can see, there isn't any, except for the Aboriginal stuff, which is extremely compelling and imaginative. How those guys can be Australians is a mystery to me.