Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Happenings both home and abroad

Looking back at this week I think there has been some big developments going on. The most obvious is that you are reaching out to grab things now. You look like you have cerebal palsy still, arms don’t go exactly where you want them to, but its getting there. This means that you are now aware that you have arms. You are also tending to smile only to the people you really know instead of anyone. This means that you recognise individuals by sight and you are understanding those who you see most often.

Another big thing has been your attempts to roll on to your front. You are getting so close to success; your arms go over and then your leg; your head is facing the floor and its just that last little roll that isnt quite happening.

We got some great nursery rhymes from the library as well as a great DVD with music and different shapes to stimulate your brain. You love both of them. Mum was saying that your memory is getting better at this stage so when she puts the CD back on you get excited as you recognise the songs. I went and bought a Ukulele yesterday so I didn’t have to lug a big guitar to you, it just wasn’t happening. This is much much better. I played you a little song I made up on the walk home from the station (I must have looked like a wandering minstral) and you really enjoyed it. I cant wait to learn lots of songs for you. The aim is to create consistency for you at nights. Massage, Bach, quiet and a bedtime song (which I want to be See You In My Dreams).

Yesterday morning because it was so hot, Mum left you in the living room. Problem with that is I get up in the morning for work and have nowhere to get ready without waking you up. So we tried to creep in and pick up the bassinet and take it into your room. You were already stirring so by the time we were carrying you to the room you opened your eyes, saw me and started smiling away - "Hello Daddy, I see you". It is impossible to ignore your smiles, they are so cute. Mum and I just grinned at each other. But I kept quiet and we closed the door so Mum could express some milk and I could keep getting ready for work.

I was listening to a Podcast on an event I completely forgot about. I cant even remember where I heard it but as soon as I heard the first few bars I remembered. It was Marvin Gaye singing Stars and Stripes at the 1983 NBA All Star Game (it was also his last televised performance before his death). It really connected with people and became one of those happenings. Happenings are in my mind events that can have a profound impact on people and become part of cultural identity or even the global identity. Its an event that people talk about and remember for the rest of their life. Here are some I thought of quite quickly -

Marvin Gaye performance - nothing like this had ever been done before at a more conservative event. An interpretation of the national anthem. Its shook the country. Apparently the rehearsal went really badly.

This wasn’t a happening for me but I cant leave it out because it was even bigger than Gayes version. It spoke to a generation of Americans, most of them were hippies!

Australia 2 wins Americas Cup. This one I remember very well. I was screaming along with everyone else. I was watching it live at about 6am in the morning in the living room and it was a historic win (America had won it since 1851). It was a collective celebration. Its sort of the moment that Australia grew up and was recognised. It was the single biggest sporting moment in our history. It didn’t matter that most people knew nothing about it before this. I went crazy. To me it is these kind of happenings that prove there is a collective unconscious. The special winged keel which was kept a secret added to the mystique. Also read

Muhammad Ali lights Olympic torch 1996. This has never left me. I was in tears watching this great man light the cauldron. There is so many levels going on here. He was the greatest most recognised sportsman ever and a great man to boot. Then there is his parkinsons which showed the world that nobody is infallible. It was such a shock to see him there for both these reasons. Nobody could have guessed he would be there as he really never appeared in the media. I suggest you watch Rumble in the jungle to understand what the fuss is about. It was a worldwide event, a great moment in history.

Kathy Freemans at the Sydney Olympics was also up there. The most shocking was the 92Barcelone Cauldron lighting. This guy had to practice and practise to ensure he got it right.

MASH - goodbye, farewell and amen. Ok so it’s a TV show, but it was the longest running show at that time and when it finally ended it was a really big deal. It helped that the final episode was amazing. The end of something like this is almost heart breaking. Its like a death. Something like 85 million people watched this final show. That is incredible. Think about it. The most personally emotional final show for me was The Wonder Years. I watched it with Martin and then on the drive home I had to stop the car because I was sobbing. It represented the end of my innocence as well. Time to become an adult, it was the death of my youth. A watershed moment. A great final episode can be almost unbearable to watch because it hurts so much.

Michael Jackson Moonwalks - Motown 25 years- 1983. This was worldwide news which is a little weird in some ways. But I think the combination of an amazing dance step never seen before with such and incredible song was enough to cause ripples and herald a new mega stars arrival. People saw this few seconds and just went WHAT WAS THAT! Thriller came along soon after this. He was totally unique and the world had not seen anything like this since the days of the musical in the 20s and 30's. I only saw it on the news, not the whole performance. In fact it was years before I finally saw it all. This was before the likes of youtube!

Princess Diana dies - well this was a big shock as well. Again im not a royalty fan or anything but I felt this collective shock at her death and I guess the media coverage which was exhausting makes it hard for you not to be involved. She was a good woman who got screwed over. The world was a lesser place without her.

Kurt Cobain dies - John Lennons death was bigger but I just have no memories of it. Not sure why really. But this one really rocked me. I was so upset by his feeling like he had to take his own life. It was sad but also the worst possible thing for our generation. He spoke to a lot of disillusioned people and whether he liked it or not he was someone we looked to for inspiration. I grew up in a generation of no heros and very few people you could look up to. I don’t really think there were any great people for the youth to gravitate towards. The 80's were all about making money and personal gain. Our movies and music really show this. I just had a hard time with what Kurt did and still think that a few years and he would have been relatively left alone. There are also the obligatory conspiracy theories that he was murdered.

9/11 - not much I can say about this one that isnt really obvious. It’s the biggest thing to happen in my life because America is so similar in many ways to us. It is certainly not the worst thing that has happened in my time; bombs go off killing hundreds far too often in the Middle East. But again this was about the footage, images that burnt into your brain. It was always going to be a spectacle, a macabre blockbuster. Compare this to the killing fields in Cambodia which happened when I was a child and you see that it pales in comparison .(The executed were buried in mass graves. In order to save ammunition, the executions were often carried out using hammers, axe handles, spades or sharpened bamboo sticks. Some victims were required to dig their own graves; their weakness often meant that they were unable to dig very deep. The soldiers who carried out the executions were mostly young men or women from peasant families. Estimates of the number of dead range from 1.7 to 2.3 million out of a population of around 7 million.) But because we actually got to witness the gigantic buildings crashing down it was always going to be given more impact than it deserved. I don’t pretend not to be a media voyeur so I was glued to the TV for days.

Watching Breakfast Club for the first time - this was the film of my generation. It spoke to me so completely. Martin and I would watch this all the time, must have seen it well over 100 times. We knew pretty much all the lines and would turn the volume down and do the lines ourself. Im not sure if it will mean anything to you or not. I wanted to be Judd Nelson and I did start dressing like him and growing my hair. I think we were the pissed off generation. We had issue with authority, sub cultures were popping up everywhere from goth to sporto's to geeks. All of a sudden it became really important for you to fit into a category and define yourself by that. Music, film and fashion started to break into sub categories and it was really the end of the super groups that everyone listened to. There was no Beatles or the like. U2 were the closest thing. Nobody wanted to be ordinary any more and the influence of media really started to have an impact on peoples perceptions. At the time I thought it all very dull. But then as a group we all made a point of looking pissed off. It was our shtick.

The Young Ones Episode 1. This was my cult TV show. It was rude, silly, crazy and spoke to our generation of dissefected youth. I mentioned before how things started to get broken down into sub groups. Genres of music became much more obvious and having these four very different characters living together was the perfect expression of this. It is hard to explain how entrenched this show got in our lives. We could literally go for hours just saying quotes from the show. It became part of our language, much like the Simpsons did later. It was a huge part of my youth and that first time I sat down and watched what all the fuss was about, I was in teenage heavan.

Ash Wednesday. This was a really scary time. Major fires were occuring all around the Yarra Valley. I remember walking out on the patio, it was pitch dark and in the distance I could see a red glow and all around me white ash was falling like snow. It was apocalyptic and may have fueled my obsession with that genre.

Protest march against the war in Iraq - 2006. I had never been involved in a march before. I am not community minded enough which is a failing. But this war was so obviously wrong and motivated by greed that I was compelled to join along with the many many thousands in voicing my outrage. I went with Charles and we really felt like we were part of something very special. A collective voice and mind marching down Swanston Street to the City Square. It was very emotional and very spiritual in a way. When a collective of people all have their attention on one thing it can be very powerful. It didn’t help much really because these people just do what they want anyway, however it did end up contributing to the downfall of both John Howard and UK PM Blair who agreed to send troops to aid America in this illegal invasion. It is a fascinating psychological phenomena to realise that it is the US that has committed acts of evil on a scale never seen before using chemical weapons of mass destruction (Hiroshima) and yet we ignore that and fear the middle eastern guy who in the end didn’t even have any built! There is no videos from Melbourne but watch this one.