Midnight Oil

Subject: Re:: Re: [powderworks] PG at Powerhouse Theatre audio
From: tr_espen@yahoo.com.au
Date: 7/11/2015, 11:22 am

Hi Geoff

Maybe PG felt he had a unique view on the political side whereas other band members can give a more detailed account of the band's experience.  He doesn't really go on about his biological family either but instead respects the privacy of his musical family too.  Mentioning their visit to Glyn John's studio and hearing the Beatles and Stones out-takes is great!  I wouldn't want too much autobiography - gets a bit cringe-worthy.  PG has avoided that completely thank goodness.

He really does stick it to Kevin Rudd doesn't he?  Perhaps he's just doing his bit to make sure that a megalomaniac doesn't have the chance to do the same kind of damage on the international stage.  But to describe KR as a "national security risk" on the basis that KR cocked his "trigger finger" publicly at George Bush and called the Chinese "ratf.ckers" seems a bit extreme.  Offensive and really stupid acts by KR, but a national security risk?  Although, soon after Italian leader Sylvio Berlusconi made some similarly outrageous and chauvinistic comments, Angela Merkel apparently contacted some senior Italian official and asserted that the Italians should have some succession plan because he was impossible to work with.  So maybe KR really was that bad.

The other very minor flaw I noticed (as an Australian who happens to live in Brisbane) is that, probably because of the very full list of people and topics covered in the book (448 pages!), PG neglects the protest culture and its artifacts produced in Qld in response to the police state of Joh Bjelke-Petersen.  Brisbane band The Saints get a (brief) mention as leading punk music worldwide but there's no mention of the radical musical and political culture which fostered that.  Instead it tends to be "Beautiful place Queensland but gee their culture is completely nuts".  No explanation of that, such as how 50% of the population lives outside the capital in the numerous cities along the coast and inland, and so is less influenced by universities (including those at Townsville, Toowoomba, and Rockhampton).

Brisbane radio station 4ZZZ in particular is famous for cultivating dissent yet that doesn't get mentioned in the book.  Hilariously, security guards from the University of Queensland once took over the station on its campus, before karate fighters who supported ZZZ squeezed in a back door at 4am and drove them out.  But the station soon left the campus and went to the nearby suburb of Toowong, before settling in its current digs in Fortitude Valley.  It's not the first time that people from Sydney have neglected Brisbane.  It is little known that radio station JJJ nicked the "Hottest 100" concept (now a staple of Australia/Invasion Day) from 4ZZZ who later sued JJJ unsuccessfully.  Although PG mentions individuals in Brisbane/Qld who stood up against Joh Bjelke-Petersen, the great scope of his book (448 pages!) and the fact that it's an autobiography rather than a political history seems to preclude descriptions or even mention of Brisbane's protest culture.

To fill in a few blanks Powderworkers might look up Mark Bahnisch's "Queensland: Everything you ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask":

Queensland: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know, but Were Afraid to Ask by Mark Bahnisch


Otherwise the greatness of PG's book can be seen in its sheer scope and also the way that it offers and makes definitive judgments about a whole host of Australian and international issues.  And the brightness of its opening stretches throughout the whole tome, with Bob Hawke and other notables coming out relatively shiny - no bitterness (except against K Rudd who after all probably deprived us of another Gough as PM).  And it really makes me want to go and visit Sydney and then the Outback again.



---In powderworks@yahoogroups.com.au, <go1845@...> wrote :

I'm on the final stretch reading Big Blue Sky and, although I'm enjoying it, I find that there are aspects of it that are diminishing my enjoyment - one of which Nathan pointed out below.

(There may be some minor spoilers in this so don't read further if you would like to avoid that sort of thing)

Nathan heard PG say that the book was aimed at all readers and that should give you an idea of how PG has approached his tale. In the earlier stages of the book when the primary activities for PG are his studies and his music then the Oils activities get some fairly decent coverage. As he expands his political and environmental activism, the Oils become just one of a great many items that PG is documenting - hence the complete absence of some albums.
The book really is, in my opinion, primarily a political memoir and an autobiography second. I suppose this is not really surprising but the result is that details of Oils recording sessions, tours and personal interactions are covered at a high level or are only briefly touched on. Conversely, many of PG's environmental and political campaigns are well detailed and comprehensive (and I've only just gotten to the part about his Labor political life).
Understanding the book to be an account of PG the politician, my impression is that he is coming across as too reserved and, dare I say it, too diplomatic at times (except for when he talks about Kevin Rudd - his antipathy for the man comes across loud and clear and he doesn't miss any opportunity to recount KRudd's shortcomings). In some ways it's almost as if PG is still a political animal and wary of providing ammunition for potential attackers although, as far as I know, he's retired from politics and could therefore afford to loosen the reins a little (maybe he's got a political comeback planned!)
To be clear - I'm not reading this book in anticipation of a lot of salacious gossip or mud-slinging in the tradition of trashy Murdoch tabloids or women's magazines. I really dislike that kind of cheap, underhanded 'journalism'. But I was sort of expecting a more open account of what life was like in what some musicians describe as another kind of 'marriage' - being in a band. PG mentions a number of times that he considers the Oils to be brothers to him and not just colleagues or band-mates, but he doesn't really explore this relationship to any extent and is cautious and tentative in describing inter-band issues. For example, Giffo's departure is covered in a very short paragraph that hints at political differences and personal problems. I don't need an account of the latter but the former would seem to be worthy of a more detailed discussion given the Oils' and PG's political stance.

Just my two cents


From: "Nathan Arrowsmith nathan@... [powderworks]" <powderworks@yahoogroups.com.au>
To: powderworks@yahoogroups.com.au
Cc: Simon Kierse <skierse@...>
Sent: Thursday, 5 November 2015, 7:37
Subject: Re: [powderworks] PG at Powerhouse Theatre audio

Pete said he wanted the book to be interesting to all readers, not just the Oils fans, so he didn't include the EPs and some of the albums.