The Twitter Experience – Don’t Dare Question, or Worse, Respond!

The world of social media, especially Twitter, has become an unwieldy Hydra, where the majority hide behind pseudonyms, belching out fire, disdain and character assassinations based on headlines, or worse, mob rule. Civilised debate is not tolerated and political correctness must be adhered to, or one can expect vilification to rain down. The point of a comment, or an article, is quickly consumed and lost by keyboard warriors and trolls grasping at what they consider to be the ‘real’ message.

I have learnt that the far left are as bad as the far right in any argument, both will assassinate you without a moment’s hesitation, there seems to be a thrill in a perceived kill and the mob closes in, triumphantly retweeting whatever rocks their boat, most having no idea of what the original post may have stated, it’s the dagger and the bullet response they love. The Romans knew the great unwashed loved the spectacle of slaying the beast and in some ways, there is little difference between gladiator auditoriums and Twitter. Except that on Twitter, there is no personal contact, the reality of sitting across from someone and calling them a “Nob” or “lacking emotional intelligence and empathy” and so on, is completely absent, it’s just some vague name on a screen. Such comments are almost inevitably  made from a position of remoteness and a complete lack of knowledge of the person they are defaming. It seems the more vacuous the accusation, the more the mob loves it and retweets without a care. Heaven help anyone who fights back.

There appear to be three major types of gladiatorial keyboard warriors – in the far right corner, it’s usually men. Inevitably trolls, they have no interest in debate, they just want to kill and immediately punch out lines such as, “Lefty fairy,” “dickhead,” “you’re an idiot,”What would you know fuckwit?”, “Muslim lover” is a favourite and there, I must say, it’s amazing how many Islamophobes want people killed, specifically, stoned to death. I always reply to them asking if they’re from Saudi Arabia.

Then there’s the far left. In that corner, sit a number of women with various crusading Amazonian agendas, plus a group of men, usually young, proudly displaying their feminism and desire to fight on the side of right. Now these two groups are not trolls, but as with trolls, they usually don’t want debate and they do love to close in for the kill, what differs is that political correctness rules. One small hint that you’re not towing the acceptable line and vicious retaliation thunders down. The saddest thing, is that usually, these people are championing a good and just cause, it’s just that reason and understanding have no place when one is on a crusade.

The shocking rape and murder of the young comedian Eurydice Dixon, has justifiably created an increasingly resonating call from women (and men) across Australia, for an end to violence against women and for women to be respected and safe wherever they may be. Who in their right mind, would not support that call?  However, as the days have gone on, the call has become a command to men everywhere, to change their behaviour, even to take responsibility as a group, for that and other terrible deeds. The fact that this particular murder was carried out by one individual has been lost in the message.

None of us know whether this person was in the grip of mental health issues, or drugs, or just plain evil, but the awful reality, is that there will always be people who go off the deep end and rape and murder, no matter what we do as a society. The Police were attacked for suggesting that women needed to be more careful. Now yes, that is a dreadful admission for any society to have to make, but it is the unpalatable truth. I certainly don’t like it and I doubt many men do, it’s not how most of us want things to be and that’s the issue –  screaming out that all men have to take responsibility is offensive to the majority of us who aren’t insane and don’t practice or condone violence against women or anybody. Protestations are met with howls of “This is not about you!” Yes, it is, the vilification is directed at every man. It’s an all-encompassing very broad accusation brush.

Somebody needs to harness this genuine and right indignation and rage and create a message of inclusion, not accusation. There is little or no understanding of how men work, think and respond. Men generally work in black and white – This is the problem, what is the solution? Or when being accused, they baulk and argue if they are innocent. In the case of hideous crimes such as rape, murder and paedophilia, the instinctive reaction of most men, is black and white – “I hope they catch that bastard and string him up!”

The call should be along the lines of “Guys, we need your help to try and change things,” rather than the strident ,”Men, you need to change!” But as long as the Voodoo Dolls and pins are out for any male who dares question the language and tone of the rhetoric, men will sadly, shut down and turn off from what is huge issue for all of us.

This sad divide has reached the stage where I’ve seen men called out for having said, or written that they have daughters and understand the issues women are confronted with. The chattering classes round on them instantly, screaming out that the man concerned is hiding behind the screen of his daughters. They’re not, they’re just explaining the process by which they have reached conclusions. However, they roll away, emotionally burnt , vowing not to get involved again. Better not to mention that you have daughters, a partner, or close female friends, indeed, men are learning it’s better to keep quiet and say nothing. I will guarantee that there are a lot of men who have been following this particular Twitter thread, thinking, “Fuck that. I agree with the poor bastard, but I’m not saying anything.” Anyhow, here’s the Twitter thread.

This is the link to Claire Harvey’s Article in the Daily Telegraph

Claire Harvey @chmharvey

Men don’t need to change their behaviour for Eurydice’s sake. https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/rendezview/this-isnt-victim-blaming-its-common-sense/news-story/541ed3a57862600398c43448a2

@GregWRoss

At last, some reasoned comment on this hideous tragedy.

Greg Ross added,

The rape and murder – any rape or murder – is hideous, sickening and inexcusable, but as a man, I don’t need to change or be taught how to behave. I loath violence, but having testicles doesn’t make any more guilty than the woman next door. @abcnews @SBS @GuardianAus

Lisa Elliot

Then it’s not about you. ITS NOT ABOUT YOU. Omg why does it always have to be about you!!!! If you’re not dangerous great, but women don’t know that. Violent men can be very manipulative. So blame them not women for making you feel uncomfortable.

Replying to @Lisa11Elliott @chmharvey

Don’t be absurd, all men are being targeted, or the message would be about violent individuals, you’re painting with a broad brush and it’s offensive.

Replying to @GregWRoss @chmharvey

It’s not about you!!! Omg this is the problem, when a woman is attacked you say you are the victim. You see, you can’t even empathise. Emotional intelligence is your problem and that of any man who can’t find empathy for women.

eplying to @Lisa11Elliott @chmharvey

See there you go – telling me what my faults are. Consider this – mothers are held to be the major influence on children un formative years – ladies stop breeding murderers.

@realDeanCool

Replying to @GregWRoss @Lisa11Elliott @chmharvey

Mate, here’s a man writing about why men need to change. You should read it, you might learn something.

Replying to @realDeanCool @Lisa11Elliott @chmharvey

Boys and girls – I’ve read it, I’m not in disagreememt, what needs to be understood is that your undergraduate enthusiasm and outrage is counter productive. I write to a journo thanking her for not blaming every man and suddenly I’m the problem? Bullshit.

@realDeanCool

FollowFollow @realDeanCool

Replying to @GregWRoss @Lisa11Elliott @chmharvey

You’re part of the problem if you believe that men don’t deserve the blame being heaped on them from everywhere else

5:02 AM – 18 Jun 201

Replying to @realDeanCool@Lisa11Elliott @chmharvey

Ah! There you go, men collectively. We’re all lumped into one brand, the lynch mob ready to hang anyone who protests.

  1. poet laureate‏ @realDeanCool5h5 hours ago

More

The fact that you’re taking personal offense to the suggestion that men, and the cultural impact of masculinity, need to change, shows that you’re not actually considering what people are saying. You’re reacting to your own assumptions.

Direct message

  1. Greg Ross‏ @GregWRoss5h5 hours ago

May I put it this way: An Aboriginal guy steals an article from a shop, do I then brand all Aboriginal men as thieves, not to be trusted?

Replying to @GregWRoss @Lisa11Elliott @chmharvey

This is a cultural issue. Not a race or gender-oriented issue. The culture of masculinity is the problem. Deflecting and denying shows that you still don’t understand what the problem is

Replying to @realDeanCool@Lisa11Elliott @chmharvey

Surely you understand that masculinity means different things to different cultures and societies. The culture one is brought up in, or lives in, affects behaviour.

  1. Greg Ross‏ @GregWRoss4h4 hours ago

Replying to @realDeanCool @Lisa11Elliott @chmharvey

Sadly, if we are to confront the horror of violence, we need to focus in the reality of recent studies showing Aboriginal men are 23 times more likely to be involved in domestic violence than other men.

Lisa Elliott‏ @Lisa11Elliott

FollowFollow @Lisa11Elliot

Replying to @realDeanCool @GregWRoss @chmharvey

He proved to me he’s definitely part of the problem, the part that doesn’t believe there is a problem unless it’s about him. Narcissistic characteristics. Nasty old guy.

  1. Greg Ross‏ @GregWRoss5h5 hours ago

Replying to @Lisa11Elliott @realDeanCool @chmharvey

There we go again – assumptions. You still can’t see that I was attacked due to a Tweet I sent to a journo re an article she wrote, then people saw fit to attack me … and you don’t like that I fought back.

poet laureate‏ @realDeanCool5h5 hours ago

You were “attacked” for making this about you. It isn’t about the individual, it’s about the collective. The individual can influence the collective, but both need to shift attitudes and behaviours.

  1. poet laureate‏ @realDeanCool5h5 hours ago

More

You’re resisting that because you appear to believe that admitting male culture is toxic would place blame on you for existing, rather than seeing that you, and I, are a small part of a much larger problem.

  1. Greg Ross‏ @GregWRoss4h4 hours ago

Where you are wrong, is in imposing your belief systems on me. Certainly our beliefs may match in some areas, however you are missing the point.

 @GregWRoss

Replying to @Lisa11Elliott @chmharvey

Lacking emotional intelligence? Read my first post properly, so far, you’re demonstrating a sad lack of intelligence. Stop screaming outrage and let’s all work together.

7:19 PM – 17 Jun 2018

Lisa Elliott‏ @Lisa11Elliott19h19 hours ago

Replying to @GregWRoss @chmharvey

No thanks, you’re not worthy.

  1. Greg Ross‏ @GregWRoss18h18 hours ago

Rushing into judgement, typical sm keyboard warrior, just read the headline, not the story. Grow up.

 @NickSchwanck

FollowFollow @NickSchwanck

Replying to @GregWRoss @Lisa11Elliott @chmharvey

Nah, she’s right. You’re a complete nob.

  1. Greg Ross‏ @GregWRoss16h16 hours ago

Replying to @NickSchwanck @Lisa11Elliott @chmharvey

Oh dear! As is anybody who questions the outraged PC brigade. Insults, no reasoning, no engaging, just rage and abuse. Come back when you’re an adult.

Lisa Elliott‏ @Lisa11Elliott16h16 hours ago

This isn’t PC to women, sisters, daughters, mothers, wives, this is our reality. This is our existence. #metoo means we ALL have experiences of violence at the hands of men. Don’t you dare call it PC. This is how we live every single day of our lives. Fool.

Replying to  

Good. All you need to do is not sexually harass, sexually assault, rape, or murder any woman. Since you don’t do that, congratulations. You don’t need to change your behaviour at all, except to tell your mates off if they do any of the above, which I’m sure you already do, too.

  1. April Love‏ @ApribLove16h16 hours ago

My Mum used the phrase, there are none so blind as those who don’t want to see. Wasting our time saying the same things, to the same men not listening. Be part of the solution Greg, not part of the problem. Your confronting, condescending tone enables no positive dialogue.

Greg Ross‏ @GregWRoss16h16 hours ago

Yes you are right, however if you follow the trail, I adopted the confrontation and condescension dished out to me, that seemed to be how these people communicate. You are the first to show reason.

Replying to @ApribLove @Lisa11Elliott and 2 others

This is what is rather frustrating – people are off point, assuming I don’t agree with the push to stop violence. It’s interesting to see people attacking me, then tell me it’s not about me.

  1. April Love‏ @ApribLove5h5 hours ago

Greg no one is off point. We need to make this exactly about what it is, male violence towards women, factual. I’m sure you see recent event as heinous, so what can you do to positively lend support to our story?

  1. Greg Ross‏ @GregWRoss4h4 hours ago

Ah, I wouldn’t dare – I’ve seen how other well – meaning men have been attacked for stating they have daughters and understand. The shut – down is brutal. However what I will do is time – line this thread with a story on my blog, people can then judge me with facts at hand.

And hours later, it’s still going:

Gary Rockliff‏ @GR_ComputRepair

FollowFollow @GR_ComputRepair

Replying to @GregWRoss @Lisa11Elliott @chmharvey

Shut your foul mouth you piece of shit.

12:36 PM – 18 Jun 2018 from Sydney, New South Wales

    1. Greg Ross‏ @GregWRoss5m5 minutes ago

Replying to @GR_ComputRepair @Lisa11Elliott @chmharvey

Grow up Gary!

Replying to @GregWRoss

You daft cretin.

Replying to 

Get fucked you pathetic person

And there you have it, one person , April Love, with meaningful dialogue, asking for help, which I would gladly offer. There are lots more, but it’s a wonderful example of the bullying which poses as debate on Twitter. Would the same screaming take place at a town hall meeting, or in a cafe? The barely suppressed violent anger in the subtext of so many of these Tweets, is an education.

Greg Ross

 

Anzac Day Reflections

I grew up when Anzac Day had a quiet, solemn dignity, there was no question of celebration, rather the fine noble need to pay tribute to those who had laid down their lives for us. My uncle, a Gallipoli veteran, told me harrowing stories that still shock me, always finishing his accounts, telling me he absolutely loathed war. My father talked little of his experiences in WW11, barely hiding a muted rage toward anything Japanese, while his brother, less emotionally damaged, told me how much he and his men grudgingly respected Rommel, (as opposed to Hitler). Proud of their war service, both detested war, however Anzac Day was their release from the nightmare memories, as they proudly walked with comrades alive and fallen.

Today, businesses advertise and tweet spurious Anzac associations, social media warriors hijack the occasion for unrelated causes, politicians don uniforms they’ve never earned, posing for cameras, holding wreaths or rifles, football clubs claim they’re honouring the day, while raking in a fortune at the turnstiles, cities send parking inspectors out to dawn services to write $200.00 fines, not to mention the Director of the Australian War Memorial seeking to have service people towing asylum seekers back to Indonesian waters honoured as war heroes at the War memorial.

My dad and my uncles would turn in their graves at the farce Anzac Day is fast becoming. Much is made of the Anzac legend, as we claim it represents the soul of our nation, yet we are destroying it with the collapse of political, corporate and individual respect.

Greg Ross

On Being Bill – the Wanneroo ‘Town Hall’ Public Meeting

I’ve never warmed to Bill Shorten, that wooden, business suited, monotonous TV interview persona, has inevitably left me underwhelmed. However somebody on Twitter the other week, gently chided me for thinking that way, saying if I ever had the chance to meet and listen to him in person, I would change my mind. I replied “Fair enough.” After all, I’ve been wrong about politicians before, Malcolm Turnbull is a prime example. I really liked Malcolm, pre PM days, but the relentless Prime Ministerial years of ‘Not being Malcolm’ have sadly exposed him as hollow. I don’t dislike him as such, I just feel sorry for him – you wouldn’t want him in the trenches with you, as the old saying goes. Was there a chance I would want Bill in the trenches with me?

In a simple Dylanesque twist of fate, Dr Anne Aly, the Labor MP for Cowan, sent out invites to an old style ‘Town Hall’ meeting with Bill Shorten, to be held on Monday 9th April at the Wanneroo Tavern. Now I love Town Hall debates, I participated in one as an Independent  candidate (failed!) during the 2013 WA State Elections, you have to think on your feet and answer truthfully, even though you’re aware somebody in the audience is inevitably going to be offended, possibly even outraged at your response to an unscripted question. And of course, here was my chance to see Bill Shorten away from the TV studios, I replied in the affirmative.

It’s 11.00pm, some two and a half hours after the event concluded, I learnt a lot and I’m still mulling over some things. Firstly, the venue was packed, with people standing on the sides and rear of the venue. I assumed they were mostly rusted-on Labor voters, with the odd sprinkling of Doubting Thomases, such as myself, plus a few LNP plants. However what really stood out, was age, I’m prepared to bet the average was about 65yrs, these were ‘Howard’s Battlers,’ hard working pensioners, some still working, facing the impossible demands of cost versus savings and pension. Yes, there were a few younger people here and there, plus the usual enthusiastic young ‘How To Vote’ card booth volunteers, but the subliminal message was that young people are simply not engaged in politics, whilst older people are.

Alannah MacTiernan was there, which made me smile, as Bill had studiously ignored any talent and experience she has (and she has it in spades) when she was on his federal team. I didn’t see Tim Hammond, although I guess he didn’t want to rain on Dr Aly’s parade. There were some other Labor MPS, State and Federal, but their names didn’t ring a bell with me, plus one or two local councillors.

Bill Shorten made his entrance with his wife Chloe alongside, a good move, the entire hall stood and applauded, the true believers were indeed in the room. Yes, I stood and applauded, it seemed polite, rather like the old days in the movie theatre when ‘God Save the Queen’ was played. You stood as you were worried somebody would cuff you for your indiscretion.

Anne Aly acted as MC, thanking everyone for their attendance and introducing Bill and Chloe, then launching into her good news story re Bill’s announcement to give the Joondalup Hospital major funding if Labor is elected. She presents well and is confident, although somebody should have road tested the mic before the event. She then announced the Q&A session would begin.

Now this wasn’t a true Town Hall debate in the old style, although some unannounced questions were taken from the floor towards the end of the session. Participants, including me, had been asked to submit their question by email and as you signed in, you were given a slip of paper with your question typed out and told to read it if called upon. Anne picked out the questions, one assumes to suit the narrative, telling us Bill would deal with three questions at a time. He’d made notes in answer to the questions, although he didn’t refer to them when speaking. That’s the nature of politics these days, stage managed as much as possible, which just may have something to do with the disconnect, lack of trust and antipathy so many people feel towards politics and politicians.

And so to Bill Shorten, smartly dressed in a suit and tie, I thought back on a golden rule I always taught salespeople in my days as a luxury car dealership marketing manager – “Don’t out dress the customer!”  If I was his advisers, yes, have him arrive in the suit, but three minutes in, say “I know I’m overdressed, I’ve just done several TV interviews, do you mind if I relax and whip off the jacket and tie?” Then have him lean against a table facing the audience, walking forward into the audience on key points. Won’t work at a Business Breakfast, but it will work talking with ‘Howard’s Battlers.’

There was no doubt he was across the questions he answered and his grasp of figures is noteworthy. Yes, it was Dorothy Dixer, in that the questions were pre-selected, but his answers were important and detailed, I was impressed with his honesty in how he replied to the extremely important (for all West Aussies), question on the GST carve-up, it was very informative and acceptable as a compromise. But a Hawke like larrikin Man of the People he isn’t. I began to form the impression his forte is large audiences, he’s possibly not particularly comfortable one on one, that’s not a fault as such, a lot of people are like that, it also would explain his wooden TV performances.

Having said that, every now and then, he’d make a joke, for example, answering a question on aged care, he at one stage said, “… it’s the canary in the coal mine,” then laughed and said, “Well, perhaps not a coal mine, some other sort of mine!” It got a deserved great response. Later, he mentioned Michaelia Cash, then said, “Not that I ever want to talk about her!” bringing loud laughter from everyone, including me. I thought, “Strewth, this bloke actually has a sense of humour, he’s quick witted and funny, why the hell doesn’t he let Bill Shorten the person of the leash?”

He doesn’t smile naturally – perhaps he’s on guard and doesn’t want to detach from the serious political image he prefers, he certainly makes mention of his belief that the public are tired of the constant bickering, name calling and open warfare of politics these days. I’m absolutely sure he’s correct on that, but I’m equally sure Australians do love a bit of ‘Larrikin on the Loose,’

He took several questions from the floor in the last 15 minutes, it was a good move and he was obviously across the topics well enough to answer thoughtfully, although a question about WA’s Landgate, had him quite naturally perplexed, which he freely admitted to – it wasn’t a question to be aimed at any Federal politician. However he handled a disgruntled produce farmer very well and respectfully. The chap was in his mid-80s, and bluntly said he was going to vote informal as he no longer believed any politician, stating he had in excess of one hundred people working on his farm, just outside the town of Wanneroo, but couldn’t get any locals, every worker was a foreigner. He also stated he believed Australia is living way beyond its means and we are leaving a huge debt problem for our children to deal with, what did Bill Shorten and Labor intend to do about it all?

This was the test I’d been waiting for. Bill was good, using a short spiel on why the guy should not waste his vote, to give himself time to construct an answer. He then responded that with his policies on taxation, he intended to make the top of town contribute fairly, but not excessively, so that the burden of debt would not be crippling for future generations. He went on to say he felt our way of life had made farm work unattractive to kids, he believed we needed as a nation, to put farm work back on the agenda as an excellent viable and worthy way of earning a living and this should be done at a young age (presumably primary school level). It was a clever response, letting him segue into policy on education, superannuation and taxation.

Anne Aly then took to the microphone again, thanking Bill and everyone for attending, Bill also thanked everyone and dropped a clue about a forthcoming announcement for her electorate, saying he’d been resisting saying anything, as he needed something to say on Wednesday. He then good naturedly posed for photos and handshakes with the audience.  In our very brief meeting, he called me “Brother,” in much the same way Gough Whitlam once called me “Comrade,”

I drove away thinking deeply about the man and I’ve reached the following conclusions; he’s a politician through and through, not in the manner of Malcolm Turnbull, who sees himself as a leader – someone above politics! Rather, Bill lives and breathes politics, anything else is a distraction. The Bill behind the Bill Shorten mask is genuine, there is passion there, but he’s simply not a publicly demonstrative person. I suspect these ‘Town Halls’ are doing him the world of good, in that it’s helping him overcome an inbuilt unease with small, or one on one meetings. He is more likeable in person and far more trustworthy than he appears on TV.

Which segues into that when I arrived home, I read a number of Tweets from people complaining about Leigh Sales treatment of him on 7.30 Report earlier in the evening. I’ve only seen the clip where she persists in trying to get him to answer whether he’d told somebody he’d rip up any contract with Andani if elected. Unlike his ‘Town Hall’ event, he slipped into political mode and not only pointedly danced all around her attempts at getting a Yes or No response, he twice smiled a very false stage managed grin. Here was just another politician refusing to answer the question, reprimanding the interviewer for not understanding that he had answered the question and switching a false smile off and on as needed, perhaps signalled by a handler somewhere off camera. WTF? John Hewson sprung instantly to mind. The fact is, as with Richard Nixon, the medium of television is not Bill Shorten’s friend.

If I was called on to help get the Preferred Prime Minister opinion polls over the line, I’d tell him to be himself, tell him to crack those little jokes. Yes, maintain the dignity, but let that quick wit out, show us a bit of Hawke Larrikin, give us a little Keating Mongrel – but not too much of that, just enough to tease, grab the TV interviewers, confront and control them. Unsettling journos is dead easy, just keep asking them questions, they inevitably get annoyed, quickly losing control and voila, the audience is on your side. You keep playing by their rules, why?  The Murdoch media machine actively hates you, Labor and the unions with a passion, so forget giving them anything, the bad headlines will be conjured up day after day regardless, besides, you won’t get to young voters with anything Murdoch. Radio and social media, (probably Instagram), are the paths to the youth attention. Use the ABC and SBS more, but make it work for you, give some thought to connecting with young voters through school programmes and visits. You’ve already got the attention of ‘Howard’s Battlers,’ they’re beginning to understand how much the LNP dislikes them, regarding them as welfare recipients, or worse, cheats, dragging the economy down, a burden on decent society! It is a class war, but you didn’t start it, the LNP and the Murdoch media machine created it and revel in it.

I am going to vote for Bill Shorten – well, Labor in my electorate, for two reasons; I loathe where this hideous LNP coalition has taken our country, how they have destroyed our ethos of a Fair Go and after seeing Bill speak in person, my gut feeling is he’s quite possibly as boring as bat shit, but he’s likeable, genuine and capable of providing a much needed steadying pair of hands to a Ship of State currently rudderless.

Greg Ross

The Vineyard Kitchen … Simply Superb.

Vineyard Kitchen Cafe

[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_223328.jpg]250
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_222452.jpg]80
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_222649.jpg]70
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_222616.jpg]70
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_222540.jpg]90
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_222758.jpg]100
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_222728.jpg]90
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_222842.jpg]80
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_130200.jpg]110
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_130336.jpg]80
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_130420.jpg]110
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_222929.jpg]90
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_223012.jpg]90
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_223057.jpg]80
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_223134.jpg]80
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_223246.jpg]80
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_223455.jpg]80
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_223535.jpg]80
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_223614.jpg]100
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_223656.jpg]90
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_223738.jpg]80
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/vineyard-kitchen-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_img_20180408_223410.jpg]80

Bickley. It’s not exactly the sort of name to conjure up mental images of beautiful scenery or great food and wine, it sounds more like one of those solid boring Victorian era mill towns and I’m equally sure Mr Wallace Bickley (late of Heidelberg), was an equally solid pioneer. It is, at best, a dull name for a beautiful valley in the Darling Ranges, east of Perth. It was not always thus; think of Bickley as our colonial response to the British Royal Family and Windsor. WW1 meant that Germans and German names were a touch tricky, so the very German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha became Windsor and so too, did the beautiful Heidelberg district become Bickley.

Almost a century later, the valley is a relaxing day drive mecca  just 40 minutes from the Perth CBD, it’s full of little cafés wineries and health retreats, etc, with seemingly more appearing by the month. German and Dutch people might be very interested to know, there is also a White Asparagus farm in the valley. It’s fair to say that more than a few of these businesses would like to see the area renamed to the far more appealing Heidelberg, all of which segues into a bunch of Germans, an Italian, a Frenchman, a Kiwi and an Aussie or two, taking lunch at The Vineyard Kitchen at the Brookside Vineyard.

It is a very sharp turn off Aldersyde Road into Loaring Road – most cars will need two turns to make it, then a short steep downhill drive leads to the property entrance. It’s beautifully laid out, full of ferns, native trees, a babbling brook and various fruit trees with a gravel road leading in. You actually drive through the outdoor dining area and kitchen / wine tasting building to the lawned parking area on the other side. It’s all set on the picturesque  lower slope of the steep valley, utterly hidden from the road, only 200 metres away.

The main building was, I suspect, a fruit packing shed in days of old, these days adapted to house the kitchen, wine tasting and purchasing area and an indoor dining room (in case of inclement weather). It’s rustic, authentic and peaceful. Bookings checked, we’re ushered to our table by the brook and menus and wine lists given out. The reasonably extensive wine list comprises all their own wines – Brookside and our waitress makes an excellent suggestion that once we’ve chosen our dishes, we might like to come up to the building (ten metres away) and do some wine tasting, before choosing our wines.

Courses chosen, we repair to the bar. Our host and hostess are utterly relaxed and  want us to try everything, a very civilised and much appreciated approach. The wines are very much in the style of the wines to be found down in the Swan Valley – fresh, with that  little touch of vibrant sharpness, a very different style to say, Margaret River or Coonawarra, I have a preference for the more gutsy reds from those two districts and I can struggle to find a red wine to my taste, even in Europe; however they have an excellent Cab Sav Merlot blend that did the job perfectly – the Frog, the Wog and the Kiwi (Christian, Carlo and Greg) spent a very contented Sunday afternoon, consuming a bottle … or two. My German wife, a lover of Champagne and Prosecco, was very happy with Brookside’s Champers and the rest of our party gave thorough approval for the white wines on offer. You can buy everything by the glass, averaging around $12.00, or buy bottles, averaging $25.00 per bottle (the blend we three very contentedly consumed was $35.00 per bottle).

Back at our table under the ferns, the entrees were delivered and they were exquisite, in both presentation and taste, we hadn’t expected quite the level of cuisine we were being presented with! Sure the dishes on offer looked great in print, but sometimes things are lost in the translation from menu to plate. I won’t write down an exact list of every dish, you can look up the current menu on their website if you’re considering visiting the establishment,  suffice to say, there was food for every taste, in terms of entrees, menus and deserts. I had Vodka and Beetroot cured Kingfish as an entrée, Asparagus Risotto as a main and Crème Brule as a desert, Christian felt his main course duck was a little dry, but that was the only niggle from any of us. I’ve posted photos of several of the dishes with this review. The service was fantastic, nothing obsequious, absolutely no attempt to hurry, none of that infuriating removal of dishes and glasses before you’re had time to put your fork down. The young ladies serving us were quite lovely, elegant and trained, it felt European. There were ten of us and the total bill (food and wine) came to $611.00, some didn’t have entrees and some didn’t have desserts, most had coffee. Now that’s not an expensive day for ten people, when you consider we’d also been graciously given a very full wine tasting experience.

The Vineyard Kitchen was an astounding revelation – this was a Margaret River dining experience just 30 minutes from home. If somebody had said the wonderful Aaron Carr was in the kitchen, I would not have been surprised – he wasn’t, I went to thank and congratulate the chef, a young guy with a big smile – since when do chefs smile?  Often in Perth, our restaurants and cafés are sort of nouveau riche in their approach, you sense that it’s business, formulaic, as a customer, you’re almost in the way; down at glorious Margaret River , it can be a touch snooty – fabulous food and scenery, but not quite relaxed, if you’re not part of the in-crowd. The people at The Vineyard Kitchen have come up with a formula, that’s quintessentially Australian, totally relaxed, while utterly professional, serving exquisite food along with very acceptable wines in gorgeous surroundings, all within a short drive of most Perth suburbs! It was a fantastic find, it’s now our priority restaurant café to take visitors, friends and family. It’s a lovely scenic drive, either up Welshpool Road through Lesmurdie, or up Kalamunda Road. All of us, including overseas visitors and locals agreed this was a knockout, we’d recommend this place to anybody, whatever the weather. I have no hesitation giving The Vineyard Kitchen five stars, it simply doesn’t get any better.

Greg Ross

 

SWAN VALLEY GOURMET … WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?

The Facebook promo looked very inviting – a lush bucolic Swan Valley setting along with the offer of a Friday night special – $15.00 Fish and Chips and a $5.00 glass of beer. The Swan Valley Gourmet seemed worth a visit. We booked online, requesting an outside table and the affirmative booking response was very prompt. All good, we were looking forward to it – we rather enjoy finding little gems of cafés to visit.

So early Friday evening, we drove out to the café. The entrance is via a gravel road and it was obvious there was on-going construction work, with a relatively new home on the left, the road turns right, going past a typical farm dam, with, as you’d expect, a low water level at this time of the year. I did for a second, wonder if that was the rather lovely dam scene in the promo shot, but decided it wasn’t. 100 metres along the track and we arrived at a large three story shed, the area facing us was shambolic, so we figured the entrance was around the other side. It wasn’t, that turned out to be the parking area, which looked for all the world like any lay-down area at a farm or mine site. It was a tired and dispirited view, even a grey BMW car stood forlorn next to the shed, its grill filled with old cobwebs. But hey, parking is parking, it could only get better.

We walked around to the front, where there was a nice green lawn leading down to the dam. As we walked along the veranda, there were a couple of tables with chairs adjacent to the entrance door, both with Reserved tags on them, it did look as the tables had just been dumped there, with no attempt at decoration or neatness, but hey, we loved the wonderful, chaotic Café Mueller (now sadly closed), so quirkiness is no barrier for us, we rather like it.

We entered through the fly screen door, to be confronted by an interior that looked like  the early stages of a theatre café stage set, or a second hand furniture store. At the counter in front of us, the lady asked our name, confirmed our booking and said, “You’re on Table 53.” We had no idea of their numbering system, so we confirmed that we’d booked to sit outside. “No. Can’t do that, neighbours.”

“Oh, we did specify.”

“No, sorry, nobody’s sitting outside, you’re on Table 53. Where’s Table 53?” she called out. Another staff member replied that it had been moved and was on the other side of pillar to our left. She ushered us to the table, gave us the menus and explained there was free iced water on a table.

By now we were both wishing we’d gone somewhere else, but they did seem like nice people, we reasoned they were probably just starting up and that no doubt the food would make up for the chaos and dishevelled shed. We looked at the menu and couldn’t quite work out what to get, so we waited for the waitress to return. She didn’t, but it gave us plenty of time to look around. It really was a shambles, with utterly no attempt at décor or fittings, even a few small flowers in vases on the tables would have given the place a lift. There were other people there, looking as taken aback as we were, a young couple with two little kids arrived and they’d obviously been expecting an outside table.

After five minutes or so, one of  the staff members and I must stress, they were all lovely people, although stress is probably the operative word, came over, telling us we had to order at the counter. OK. After a very pleasant discussions with the guy at the till, we decided on a Seafood Basket at $20.00, extra chips for $5.00, a Side Salad for $5.00 and with much encouragement – “Our bread is the best, freshly baked, you have to have some!” We also ordered Bread and Butter at $2.00. The inquiry re Tartare Sauce saw another .50c added to the bill, a glass of Uber Beer was $5.00 and a glass of local white Sav Blanc, $10.00, all up the bill was $47.50. While we were ordering, there was utter confusion amongst all the staff, seemingly around everything, as they all politely questioned each other, alternating between frowns and distracted smiles in our direction. I became convinced it was their first night. Anyhow, we sat down and waited.

Now I’m not suggesting for one minute the meal took a long time to deliver, it didn’t, all good there, however while we were waiting, we popped out to the loos. We figured it wasn’t around the car park side, so went to the other side of the shed, sure enough, in what looked like an abandoned cottage, with stuff piled up on the veranda against the building sides, were the Ladies and Gents. Rustic and clean is the best description. My only other comment would be about the placement of the men’s urinal – there was a boy’s urinal as well, but whoever placed the men’s on the wall, was obviously a seven foot basketballer! It really is true – size doesn’t matter, but bloody hell, height does!

Back to our table and dinner is served.

We looked at it, then looked at each other. It looked for all the world, like pre-packaged seafood from a supermarket. There was only one piece of fish in the Seafood Basket and the chip servings were small, not only that, this was not the first dip in hot oil for the chips, most of them were dry and a number were shrivelling, but this was saved and made edible by the appreciated supply of a homemade relish / sauce (at no charge). The small bowl of salad wasn’t just tired, it was exhausted – limp, sinking in resignation upon itself and the over-supply of balsamic vinegar. The bread? The two slices had actually been buttered! And I’m really sorry to say, whoever is doing the baking has got the basics nailed, but there is a long way to go before a premium sourdough appears. The whole food scenario reminded me of roadhouses at the end of the day in small towns back in the 1970s.

We looked at each other and wondered whether to just leave it and go, but decided we’d paid almost $50.00, so we’d eat. Now the food wasn’t awful, it was quite edible, but the portions were small, there was no presentation, the food was tired and very ordinary. It was strangely depressing, we felt we’d wandered into somebody’s barn, where they were knocking up a quick meal for the workers at the end of a hard day.

We left, with the usual polite salutations and drove off stunned. We often dine at our local, the Rose and Crown, for the same money, we get far fresher food, far bigger portions and a large selection of drinks in a fabulous outdoor setting, or we can amble along to Alfred’s Kitchen, (it’s all about the crowd there, not the surroundings), for a great deal and great fresh food. None of what we’d experienced made any sense, except on the basis that it must have been a first night.

In summary. The staff are lovely people, very stressed, but polite and smiling, however it’s blindingly obvious nobody has extensive experience running a café or restaurant – at least I hope they don’t! It would be absurdly simple to tidy up the parking area – put up a fence to block the shambles, put up half a dozen large pots with trees or flowers and if they want to continue a rustic home style theme, put up some quaint, funny sayings along the path.

The front door / veranda presentation is a joke, you really can’t advertise the place in the way they do and then present guests with what they walk through. The same applies to the interior, c’mon, either you’re having a lend of people, or you really don’t know what to do.

And that most important of ingredients for a café – food – if you’re offering supermarket grade food, you can’t charge the prices you are and you simply can’t call yourself a gourmet establishment! What were you thinking? You’ve opened way too early, I’d hate to see your endeavour fail, but it will if you don’t get some expert help.

Greg Ross

Play Up, Play Up and Play the Game … of Cricket Reflecting Our Society

OK news media, enough of the shock and horror about the cricket cheats. It turns out these fine young men took ball tampering to new heights – sandpaper for fucks sake and now we’re getting reports the same blokes had been under suspicion for the last couple of years! The word serial springs to mind.

However it’s over, I’m not sure what good was supposed to come out of the airport interviews yesterday, although a cynic would say it was a great marketing method of switching anger to sympathy – bloody clever. In effect, their actions are on a par with people doctoring resumes, or plagiarising – the fall from grace is swift and necessary.

It’s also very easy to understand other cricketing nations coming in hard, Australia has always brazenly displayed a ‘holier than thou’ arrogance to other teams, the old saying comes to the fore – ‘can dish it out, but can’t take it’. Be that as it may, it’s now time to leave these blokes alone, to get their lives back together and resurrect what is possible over time and I do think Cricket Australia does have a duty to give them support – they encouraged the culture that claimed them.

The Cameron guy looked like a decent bloke to me, everyone makes mistakes and I can see where peer pressure would be intense to a newcomer, although the reports of established behaviour are disturbing – a question mark remains. The Smith captain cove always came across as a bit of an arrogant sneering prick, I can’t quite feel terribly sad. Warner always struck me as an arrogant thug arsehole. I’d have hated to have had him in any team / sport I followed’ I don’t give a fuck what happens to him. As for Lehmann the coach – we’ve all come across them – boorish thick bogans, Dumbo will survive, too thick not to.

The good thing is, that finally, hopefully, we won’t have cricket and players, rammed down our throats as some sort of heroic endeavour with its appointed heroes saving our souls. Thankfully, the Howard era of pushing cricketers to be Australians of the Year are fading, it was such bullshit! People payed millions then put on a pedestal for doing themselves a favour? It’s time for us all to grow up – cricket, rugby league, cycling etc. are all great sports, but they’re not bastions of decency and fair play, let alone sportsmanship – whatever that may mean these days.

I do think these events point to a greater malaise in our society – all nations. We’ve grown accustomed to lies from all sources we deal with – the non- answers and bare faced lies from politicians – the absolute lie of Weapons of Mass Destruction by that trio of warmongering fuckwit dickheads – Bush, Howard and Blair, the arrogant bovver boy bullshit from the likes of Barnaby Joyce, the brutal lowest common denominator racism and hatred of Hanson as she claws onto power, the “this is all about me” bullshit  ‘anyway the wind blows of Xenophon, the brutality of far right religious Christian politicians, demonising anyone not white, especially Muslims. Jesus wept (that’s appropriate for Good Friday) – the far right are now openly canvassing to put white people in danger ahead of black people in danger!  The utter disregard for objective reporting and blunt social conditioning enforced by the Murdoch empire, the entitlement of a Dastyari, a Bishop, a union official clawing out a safe Labor seat, the lie of Turnbull, too enveloped by power to be himself, the slimy teflon of  the poll driven Shorten, the list is sadly, almost endless. These people are blatantly in it for themselves and whatever team they’re batting for. Nobody accepts responsibility and the umpire’s call is battled out in every court possible – witness the hideous Perth City Council fiasco.

Religion? Bishops, Rabbis, Mullahs and Popes sitting in their cesspits of holiness, protecting paedophile priests in some hideous religious rendition of suffer little children. Catholicism with its entrenched misogyny, worshipping Mary for being a virgin, above other women and worse, rewriting history, presenting Jesus as fair haired and blue eyed. For Christ’s sake, he was a Middle Eastern Jew; he would have looked almost exactly the same as many of the refugees trying to get to reach the sanctuary of Europe and Australia by boat.

Then there’s big business – the blatant lies from telcos, the refusal to deal with people, the hiding behind online forms, the bullshit bait advertising, the lies of Volkswagen in terms of its bullshit diesel emissions – they didn’t give a flying fuck about pollution and consider this, the German Lower Saxony government owns 25% of Volkswagen!  The shocking treatment of people needing assistance from  staff at Centrelink, the abuse of employees through non-payment of entitlements, the theft of superannuation funds by the stealth of fees and bullshit insurances that will never be paid,  again the list is endless.

We have become inured to it all, not only do we not believe anything anymore, we now accept, even laugh about it and take haven in our own tribes. Nazi fascism is on the rise – we’re at a point where the neo Nazis have so confidently crawled out of the sewers, they’re getting seats in governments, they’re confident enough to raise Nazi flags, or versions of that most shocking of emblems. They and their goon supporters call peace loving people who want to look after the Earth and her inhabitants, ‘Fascist Lefties,’ betraying their complete misunderstanding of the word.

We used to have the best, bluntest, most fearless press in the world, but sadly the media barons have retrenched them, turning most of those still in full time employment into contracted hacks working under threat of redundancy if they don’t follow the owner’s editorial guide. And follow they do. The media barons have almost succeeded in their destruction of the ABC and the BBC, with politicians only too willing to shut down fearless criticism. Do we seriously think the likes of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, or Google, or Amazon will give us all the news, not to mention look after our best interests?

Why should we expect our cricketers to be different? The enormously tragic truth is they reflect our society – selfish, thuggish, prepared to sacrifice principles for a win or even just a point. Us.

Greg Ross

 

ROGER WATERS Sublime US + THEM Perth Arena Concert.

Roger Waters US + Them Concert

[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180221_004856-001.jpg]210
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_200307-001.jpg]100
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_200856-001.jpg]300
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_202132-001.jpg]180
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_210612-001.jpg]140
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_210747-001.jpg]100
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_211514-001.jpg]90
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_211832-001.jpg]80
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_214144-001.jpg]60
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_214406-001.jpg]60
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_220044-001.jpg]60
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_220635-001.jpg]50
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_220654-001.jpg]50
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_220859-001.jpg]50
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_220911-001.jpg]50
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_220931-001.jpg]50
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_221031-001.jpg]50
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_221032-001.jpg]50
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_221036-001.jpg]40
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_223347-001.jpg]40
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_223517-001.jpg]40
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_223531-001.jpg]40
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_223549-001.jpg]40
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_223652-001.jpg]40
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_223739-001.jpg]40
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_223750-001.jpg]40
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_223757-001.jpg]40
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_223945-001.jpg]40
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_223947-001.jpg]40
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_223955-001.jpg]40
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_225858-001.jpg]40
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_225900-001.jpg]40
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_230242-001.jpg]50
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_230347-001.jpg]50
[img src=http://www.gregross.com.au/wp-content/flagallery/roger-waters-us-them-concert/thumbs/thumbs_20180220_230348-001.jpg]50

I’m in my mid to late 60s and like many Baby Boomers, I suspect I’ll still be in an armchair, zimmer frame beside me, malt whisky in hand, drifting away to the sounds  of Cream, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd in twenty years time. The concerts will no doubt have finished, but the legends will dance forever on DVDs, perhaps even laser light shows.

For those of us who lived, loved, laughed, smoked and somehow made it alive through the 60s and 70s, these are poignant times – we’ve lost the towering giants, Leonard Cohen and David Bowie, illness such as arthritis is beginning to make performing difficult for other giants – Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond’s had to stop. Individual band members such as John Lodge from the Moody Blues and Rick Wright from Pink Floyd have passed away, voices are starting to go and magnificent artists such as Elton John are calling ‘Closing Time’ on touring. The Stones? None of us know – I think it’s voodoo,  but hell, they’re still wonderful.

The message being, if you love this music, buy a concert ticket! Go now my brothers and sisters, it’s later than you think! All of which is a very long introduction to writing about Roger Waters US + THEM concert and of course, Roger Waters himself.

“Which one’s Pink?” None of them and all of them, nor was there a Floyd, but dear God, was there ever a Pink Floyd! 1965 – Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters and Richard Wright, with David Gilmour joining in 1967. When Syd’s dreadful mental health problems forced his departure in early 1968, bass guitarist Roger Waters became the main lyricist and is often referred to as Pink Floyd’s conceptual leader – think THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, WISH YOU WERE HERE, ANIMALS, THE WALL.

Unfortunately tensions between band members became such, that Roger Waters left in 1985. Since then, David Gilmour has continued to tour as Pink Floyd and Waters as Roger Waters, both groups playing the same back catalogue. There’s a lot more to the history, including a one off reunion in 2005, however this tale is of Waters.

Waters has long been touted as grumpy, difficult and a pain, he’s also a renowned activist and in the past has been so vehemently anti Israel, one could be forgiven for labelling him as anti Semite, all of which had kept him off my must-see list, as much as I loved his music, all of which amounted to nothing, when I found I would be home in Perth when he was touring his US + THEM concert – would the chance to see him ever come about again? I bought tickets, though my wife was even more hesitant than me re the Jewish animosity (we’re not Jewish, indeed my wife is German) – we don’t not support Palestine, rather we see both sides, but enough of the politics.

Though we were seated at the rear of the floor, the view was excellent and as it turned out, the multi media meant we were in the thick of things. But first, my only complaint and I plan to take it further. I have no idea why you would pay hundreds of dollars for a concert ticket and then constantly get up to buy beer, then go the loo, then buy more beer. It drove us mad, your view was constantly blocked by fuckwits who can’t go an hour without a bloody beer! I have struck this once before, at a Leonard Cohen concert in Dublin – perhaps it’s the Irish ancestry coming to the fore – we’re basically alcoholics. The problem is very easily solved. Everyone is allowed to buy a drink (beer, water, wine etc) before the show and bring it in, plus there is an interval to do the same. Perth Arena, CLOSE THE BLOODY BARS WHILST THE SHOWS ARE ON! Simple! It is disrespectful to the artist. Certainly people will still need to go the loo, that’s fine, but a constant stream of people going to and fro is off the planet. If you can walk out of Roger Waters playing WISH YOU WERE HERE to buy a beer, you’re not a fan, you’re just a fuckwit boozer with no appreciation for musicianship, melody or lyrics, the songs mean nothing to you, other than a drunk memory from the past. Rant over.

There’s no point in trawling through every song, we all know them, stand outs just kept happening one after the other. However ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL was something else. It came on early in the first set, I’d wondered what he’d do to freshen it up – we’ve all seen the cartoon imagery a thousand times. My mouth and I suspect those of most other people at the concert, except those out buying beer, is still open in stunned disbelief. As the band got under way, people came out on stage dressed in Guantanamo Bay orange hooded suits, facing the crowd, dancing in front of the band, suddenly their hood were removed, to reveal kids of all ages, singing, “All in all, you’re just another brick in the wall!” As if that wasn’t gob smacking enough, towards the end of the anthem, the kids climbed out of their prison suits to reveal they were all wearing t-shirts reading RESIST!. In light of what’s going on in the US with kids taking the lead against guns and violence, it was one of the most powerful visual images I have ever seen. At the end of the song, Roger Waters explained that although they’d been using kids as they toured around the show around the World, they’d never done it quite like this, he added they’d only met the kids (Variety Youth Choir) at 5.30pm that night and he couldn’t believe how good they were and it was. He laid his arm over his heart and the big screens showed he had tears in his eyes. He had me, my wife and our friends, lock, stock and barrel.

After interval, Waters deeply anti war message asserted itself as the theme of every anthem. It was powerful and I have never witnessed any singer prepared to take a political stand as openly and forcefully he has. Brave, powerful and so decent, you just wanted to shake his hand and yell out, “YES!”

Battersea Power Station and the Pig! (from ANIMALS), are both synonymous with anything Pink Floyd,  and they featured in this show, like you wouldn’t believe! The audience became aware a long web of machinery was lowering above them, stretching back from the front of the stage, to the rear of the auditorium. Once lowered, screens began to rise and from three or four boxes, chimneys extended, puffing out smoke. Suddenly projectors threw the image of the power station walls onto the screens, you were literally there, sitting beside the brick walls of the power station, utterly surreal. Somehow, it didn’t interfere with the band, it all just became one, then the PIG did fly! But this time, there were no wires and, as Pig was inside, no danger of flying away to shut down Perth airspace!, the pig was radio controlled, flying effortlessly around the room.

Waters got vicious. Nope, not about Israel, President Trump. Whilst other despots featured now and then, as the band segued into PIGS, Trump’s image was everywhere. Trump Tweets flashed up on the screen, they were on Pig. Waters ended the segment yelling “Trump is a fucking idiot!” The auditorium rose as one, hands thrust into the air, they agreed. RESIST!  sprayed across the screens.

Sudden darkness, then lasers formed THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON triangle, at the same time, they also began to form the prism effect, bringing yet another massive cheer from the crowd – we didn’t need a guitar, we all knew what was coming, but we didn’t know Waters had a radio controlled Moon. Just as Pig had flown over us, the Moon floated over us, at times hovering over the stage, in front of the laser triangle / pyramid. You didn’t need a joint, or even a wine, this was out of the world, sublime is the correct word and the band! The sound WAS Floyd, just brilliant musicianship and vocals, all you could do was stand and cheer as each anthem finished.

Half an hour overtime, Waters finished a beautiful song PART OF ME DIED (not one of his) lamenting lost love, tender, tears, then there was only one song he could possibly do. The sensation was that of bordering on the edge of sexual climax, you knew it was coming.

“Hello? Hello? Hello? Is there anybody in there?”

Two hands on the massive back screen slowly came together, as COMFORTABLY NUMB pealed, soared and soaked across the auditorium into every soul. The beer drinker procession slowed to just three or four people. The hands disintegrated, the human cost of war splashed across the screen, COMFORTABLY NUMB took on a resonance that hopefully will stick with us all. Ticker tape began to fall from the ceiling, as we reached out to take them, we realised they read RESIST!  Waters put down his bass guitar and unfurled an Aboriginal flag. Tears in his eyes and his hand once more tapping his heart, he told us the Australian and New Zealand audiences had been the best, “.. just something else!”

I believe him. I have had the fortune to witness one of the greatest events – rock concert just doesn’t do it justice, I’ve ever witnessed. I loved it, I loved the music, I loved the message and I love the bloke. My wife Ann was just shaking her head, “OMG! Wow, incredible!” I looked at my boofy mate, I don’t think he’ll mind my saying I saw his tears – they were rolling down my cheeks as well. His wife, a well respected Opera singer in her own right, said, “I am awe struck – the band, the presentation, him, the sound, just brilliant!”

You bloody bet!

Courtesy of The West Australian, here’s the Set List:

Set 1

Speak to Me

Breathe

One of These Days

Time

Breathe (Reprise)

The great Gig In The Sky

Welcome to the Machine

Deja Vu

The Last refugee

Picture That

Wish You Were Here

The Happiest Days of Our Lives

Another Brick in the Wall (Parts 2 and 3)

Set 2

Dogs

Pigs (Three Different ones)

Money

Us and Them

Smell the Roses

Brain Damage

Eclipse

Encore

Wait for Her

Oceans Apart

Part of Me Died

Comfortably Numbe

Greg Ross

Sexual Predators and Their Accusers

In light of the recent spate of allegations of sexual harassment, it appears our justice system is not offering avenues of support and resolution to either the accusers, or the accused. It’s appalling to read that many women feel they hit a brick wall when complaining about behaviour.

We are also witnessing what may prove to be appalling cases of wrongly accused people loosing reputations and careers without any recourse to the justice system or the right to a presumption of innocence, waking to find themselves named and shamed on the front pages of newspapers across the country. In the case of Geoffrey Rush, a journalist went trawling to try and find any gossip about any actor.

I suggest that governments in Australia move as soon as possible to make any complaint of sexual harassment immediately reportable to a specially established court by an employer and the accused, with substantial fines for non reporting.

Such a court would be bound by absolute privacy, as would all parties. The parties would be required to attend and the magistrate (s) – a panel of three might be the way to go – would then determine whether there was enough evidence to dismiss the complaint, warrant a trial, or perhaps mediate a mutually agreeable settlement.

If a trial was established as necessary, at that point and only at that point, would the names of the parties involved be made public, any prior publication by the media, or on social media would also incur substantial penalties.

As a society, we cannot allow situations to develop where predators can act without consequence as a result of power or position, nor can we allow the destruction of peoples reputations, careers and lives on unproven hearsay.
Greg Ross

“The half Nigger …” A German Judge and AfD member of the German Parliament 2018

IMG_20180103_183959“The little half nigger simply seems to have been given too little attention, you can’t explain his behaviour any other way.”  Jens Maier MdB (German MP) 2 January 2018.

As we watch our democratic countries retreat into right wing white facism, under leaders –  well, they’re not leaders in the true meaning of the word, rather elected facists, offering nothing but fear and hate, people such as Trump, Turnbull, Netanyahu and we haven’t even touched on the Saudis and African Dictators – the one beacon of decency and democracy, has been Germany, under the ultra conservative Anglea Merkel. Yet even her conservatism has not been enough to to stop the election of extreme right parties and their members.

The most virulent of Germany’s ultra – right parties, is AfD, with its power base in the old Eastern Germany. The region has become a boiling point for old time East Germans and their progeny, who to their annoyance, discovered after the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was no free meal ticket, they were expected, by the rest of Germany, to work hard and diligently, with no guarantees of wealth and riches.

East Germany had, before the fall of the Wall, become a two – tier society – the Haves – members of the elite, wanting for nothing, very powerful (and dangerous) within the communist regime and the Have Nots – apartments provided and do-nothing jobs where it was rare for people to put in a hard day’s night. Western culture and work ethic was a shock to them..

When your work ethic is minimal and your expectation is one of the State looking after you from the cradle to the grave, a modern democracy such as Germany is not satisfactory, and naturally, somebody must be held to blame, but who?

Ah, migrants, refugees, Muslims – preferably one and the same. Even better if the interlopers don’t have German as their Mother Tongue. The situation has become truly terrible, in that outrageous claims are being made against migrant people and refugees, in the expectation that white Germans doing it tough, will understand where exactly the problem stems from.

On Tuesday 2nd of January 2018,, things reached a new low. Jens Maier is not only a sitting AfD member of the German parliament, he is also a judge! He reacted,via Twitter, to a TV interview with Boris Becker’s son. I’ve posted his Tweet at the start of this article, but for non German speakers, here is the translation of what he wrote:

“The little half nigger simply seems to have been given too little attention, you can’t explain his behaviour any other way.”  May I just print that again!

“The little half nigger simply seems to have been given too little attention, you can’t explain his behaviour any other way.”  

This is not Memphis USA in 1955, it is Germany in 2018! It is an elected German member of Parliament, talking about the son of one of Germany’s most famous sportsman, tennis great, Boris Becker.

The Tweet has since been deleted and the Judge is now saying it wasn’t him, it was a staff member. Oh, dear, sorry about that Judge,  but mate, Australian’s are notorious for calling bullshit when we hear it, see it, or in this case, read it. Unfortunately inn Australia, we are seeing the on-going demonisation of Muslims and anybody not white, we are very. very close to this sort of hideous behaviour.

In the 1930s, Germans sat mute whilst the Nazi Party demonised Jews, Gypsies and anybody not Ayrian looking, thinking they were at least safe. It wasn’t so, anybody not agreeing with Nazi agenda was an enemy of the state. Post war Germany thought it had destroyed these people. The country now reels in shock that their kind is on the rise, worse, increasingly popular.

At the same time, the hideous President  of the United States openly chastises black people and stands virtually mute on the white supremacists who whole heartedly support him, all the time, seeking to appoint white supremacists to the courts and his inner sanctum. In Australia, the current government daily demonises Africans, Muslims, Kiwis and so on. Oh? It won’t happen in Australia? How many times have you seen posts screaming about Kiwis or the Irish taking all the FIFO jobs in Australia? The Australian public no longer understands that being a migrant is not cause for suspicion and being a refugee is not illegal, such has been the success of the LNP’s propaganda machine.

We are just a step away from Australian politicians feeling comfortable enough to say “The little half nigger simply seems to have been given too little attention …” 

Ask Germans about their history, if you think you’re safe, you’re not, a government set on a cleansing agenda of white supremacy will come for you and your family before too long. The rot is in, the Jens Maier’s of our world are crawling out of the sewers with their poison and hate. They are in their way, no different to the evil Isis and al qaedas, in fact their racist  and intolerant statements provide food for the agendas of radical Muslim groups.

We are all human, our cultures are often different, but we are one, we cannot let this filth and ignorant hatred divide and ruin what can still be a beautiful world.

Greg Ross