Monday, June 15, 2009

Peter Costello retires himself

Getting Peter Costello to leave politics has been like trying to deflate a blow-up mattress - there's always that little bit of air left in there that you can't quite squeeze out of him.

But today, the Treasurer that so courageously guided Australia through a ten year period of unequalled economic stability and growth (that happened to coincide with a similar period of unequalled global economic stability and growth) announced his retirement. See his parting comments to the Australian Parliament in the following article in The Australian.

Mr Costello thanked both Mr Turnbull and Mr Rudd for their thoughts, saying he didn't think he would see the day when both sides of the parliament would say nice things about him.

“It is just possible both sides of the dispatch box are happy with the announcement I've made,” he said.

“It is a very nice thing to actually come here and not be quite departed and hear the kind of speeches one hears as eulogies.

“In fact, I might come back tomorrow, I'm enjoying it so much.”


I found this exchange to be rather sad. Here is a man leaving politics after 20 years of public service. And yet his words are so petty, so...crass almost, so utterly forgettable. Maybe that's why Paul Keating once described Costello as being "All tip and no iceberg." There's simply nothing there. No feeling of integrity. No final rhetorical flurry. No gravitas.

Instead Costello uses the occasion to launch a few rather futile passive-agressive quips at his adversaries. His heart's not in it though. His apathy, barely concealed. He's functioning on instinct. Here we witness a tired boxer in the thirteenth round. He's been punching blind for the last two rounds already. Already half-unconscious and knowing he is on his way to the mat, his arms flailing clumsily at anything that moves, he staggers ungracefully around the ring, a final drunken dance before his eyes finally roll back into his head. Out. Cold. You can hear the final capitulation and the bitterness of those final gasps of air as they slowly wheeze out of him.

Time to fold him over and lie on him, then fold him over and lie on him again, then fold him over again until the last bits of air are squeezed out, and then pop him in the cupboard. Thanks Pete. Maybe next winter.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Cousin James

So, you will remember that my little cousin James has been in Paris as part of a six month exchange program. I have written about him before on this blog.

Well, throughout his stay here, James would often come over to my house, either to use our phone to make free calls to Australia, or just to hang out. These visits started a very strange tradition. Everytime James came over, he would secretly get my camera whilst I wasn't looking and take the most ugly photo of himself possible. He wouldn't tell me he had taken a photo. Often I would only discover that he had done so a month or so later.

Strangely enough, once I worked out what he was doing, I used to look forward to checking his latest deposit, just to see if he had outdone himself.

Here is a mere selection of his work:






Côte d'Azur: Route des Crêtes - The Ridge Road

About a month ago I spent a weekend in Marseille with my flatmate Jerome Piana (oh mino!). It was a perfect weekend. Jerome's band kindly let me play with them in their studio. We managed to get in some beach action and sampled the Marseille "mauvaises". We even managed to sneak in a cheeky football match between Olympic Marseille and Toulouse at which I saw 60,000 French people go off their collective faces. It was special. I went to a school where we were taught to show appreciation for good play by the opposition. At this football match, doing so would probably have put my life in danger.

However, I have to say that if you live in Europe and you have not take a car along la Route des Crêtes then you really ought to build it into your summer holidays somehow. La Route des Crêtes winds its way long the coast from the town of La Ciotat to Marseille. The views are spectacular. Mammoth mountains fall down sheer cliffs into a sea that seems to expand for ever, even past the horizon and into the sky itself. The scale of the views makes you feel very unimportant. Its definitely the most breathtaking place I have been to in Europe.



And time took back over...





Tuesday, June 09, 2009

San Fran Selection

Below are some photos from my recent trip to California. They include shots from Yosemite National Park - the giant Sequioa trees in Mariposa Grove, the Half-Dome walk, Waterfalls on the Mist trail, San Fran - some shots of the golden gate bridge, jetty near Fisherman's wharf near the Bay Bridge, girls selling lemonade (the American dream starts young), and a single shot from Lake Tahoe.











Monday, June 08, 2009

The Streets of San Francisco

Each year, on the third Sunday in May, a race takes place in San Francisco called the Bay to Breakers. It's a 12km footrace which starts downtown and goes west across the city, finishing at Ocean Beach (Got to love America's use of imagination in creating place names - Big Tree Hill. Red Rock. Green Mountain). While some people do run the race seriously (the winner did it in 33 minutes), it's also an opportunity for San Franciscanites to let their hair down. Many take all day to walk the race. Some do it in costume (there are prizes for best costumes). Some even do the race naked. There's music pumping from themed moving floats, people dancing, and folk drinking and throwing tortillas at each other. The end result is a wildly debaucherous 80,000 person street party that winds its way through the city. A local SF friend of mine told me that the first year she did the race, she saw an old man walking the race naked, despite being equipped with, wait for it - a catheter. Yes sir! I thank Megan for that mental image. Anyway, I managed to get a snap of these spacemen and women who were running the race as a team. It gives you a good idea of the amount of effort people put into their costumes. Don't they look great!

One of the funniest things I saw was a lone christian man standing in the middle of the road as a sea of naked or half dressed drunk people flowed past him. He was holding up a solitary sign to the oncoming throng saying "You are all going to hell". If you look up "hopeless cause" in the dictionary, there is a photo of him. You have got to give him points for trying.