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Mediating the mediators | Jul 30, 2003 13:08

The level of debate and discussion over media matters here in Australia is several steps up from that back home. It is also very robust, with ABC's MediaWatch taking the lead, closely followed by Crikey. The Australian has a weekly Media section but it's often forgettable.

Mediawatch over here is fronted by David Marr, who was described by Crikey recently as "forensically accurate". He did make one minor error, though, in this week's show which he duly corrected. That involved his war of words with Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt. Despite that Marr has easily had the best of the row.

Bolt attacked author Alison Broinowski as a grant fed artist and intimated her loyalty to Australia was suspect. It was a fairly typical rightist attack, lacking a lot of substance and relying much on hyperbole. While Broinowski did receive some minor grants in the 1980s, that was hardly enough to earn the epithet "grant fed". She would have starved to death long ago if relying on this government largesse.

Crikey chimed in on the debate to reveal Bolt himself has fed deep of the government trough. He has apparently received more dosh from the ABC for appearances on its Insiders show than any other pundit. And this while he attacks the ABC for lefty bias! Very rich.

Now nobody would describe Crikey as "forensically accurate" - even just plain "accurate" is a stretch. But the site is great fun and produced on a shoestring. It's an odd mix of shareholder activism, media commentary and scurrilous gossip. Wanna fly a kite, this is the place to do it.

I really should subscribe…

Crikey chimed in on the Bolt-Marr debate on several occasions, including a very amusing recycling of an old Bolt column to help establish his credibility. Check this out:

So keen to find evil-doers

By Andrew Bolt

THE strange thing about the "debate" over our treatment of asylum seekers is that so many "good" people are so keen to think we're monsters.

Earlier this week, Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said Iraqi boatpeople had thrown their children overboard when HMAS Adelaide tried to turn their boat back to Indonesia.

He said our sailors had to jump into the sea to rescue some 14 children and adults.

Only a fool could think Ruddock would make this up, given the incident was witnessed by dozens of sailors and officers.

Yet by this morning the Greens and the Australian Democrats were muttering doubts about the truth of story. Refugee advocate Marion Le told Jon Faine on ABC radio 774 she'd had "doubts from the beginning" and called for a "full inquiry into what exactly did go on and whether or not these claims were true".

Then Faine demanded Ruddock provide "independent corroboration" for his claim, stating: "We can't any longer simply say, well, someone told me that might be what happened."

Elsewhere in this paper you can see the photographs of the incident which I got from the Defence Department simply by asking for them. Proof positive."

Thank you Andrew. Message received: we should never question our political masters, at least not our Liberal ones.

What I find interesting about these debates is that I'm sitting there watching MediaWatch, feeling pretty sophisticated and so forth, but the Girlie loves to watch it too. Marr really knows how to dish out a serve.

This week he slayed a couple of Channel 7 morning presenters who totally lost it when a guest used an expletive. Over several days they revisited the debacle, digging themselves an ever deeper hole. Marr displayed the dictionary definition of the offending word, "fuckwit", and then suggested some illustrations to go with it: pictures of 7's morning presenters.

Oh how the Girlie laughed.

In my experience, journalists and media types are far more sensitive to appearances in the media than most of their victims - it's something they share with PRs who also hate to become the subject of a story. Back in NZ Warwick Roger, former editor of Metro, had a bit of a rep for issuing writs and threatening fellow journos when he felt slighted.

This always seemed bad form to me, but maybe that's because I don't have a reputation to uphold - except for drinking too much.

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Rokocoko! | Jul 28, 2003 12:37

What a lovely name: "Rokocoko!"

I just love hearing it. Over and over, as we did on Saturday night.

50 to 21. Report card: great effort, can still do better.

Okay it was a seriously good display of backplay, and apart from the line-outs a pretty damn good forward game too. But at some point it looks like we'll have to play England and that will be a different kind of game altogether. One where a few missed line-outs will count big. One where the backs could, depending on the referee, be much more constrained.

On the rugby show over here on Sunday morning Chris Laidlaw was very gracious. Mind, he didn't need to go in hard. The Aussies don't need too much prompting. Right now they are beating themselves up just nicely.

And among the suggestions, growing, is a call to dump Captain Gregan.

By Sunday evening, however, the game had been relegated to about third item on the news behind the Bangladesh test match and AFL.

I went for a coffee this morning at my usual haunt, Jet in QVB. I thought all the staff were Italian, but there must be a kiwi there somewhere as the headline from the Sunday paper was stuck over the front of the counter: "The end of the world", it read. "New Zealand 50, Australia 21."

Hardly the end of the world, but it is going to be a long haul for the Aussies. I'm pretty sure they won't be nearly this brittle when the World Cup comes around.

The Girlie is very pleased too, though a little frustrated by our continuing line-out woes and unnecessary turnovers.

Meanwhile, we're sending in the Crusaders. Anne Coulter will be pleased. Not only are we sending them in, we're sending them to the holy city of Najaf. I wonder if we can get a few Vatican guards on the job as well? And catch the name of that opposition spokesman!

Cover it up boys.

A week or so ago in my Canberra blog I waxed on about Aussie insecurity, but I must say when you manage to get comment from both the PM and the alleged leader of the opposition on an episode of the Simpsons, well, a bit desperate guys. Luckily this story is mirrored over here today too.

"Suddenly, the whole world wants to be in Sydney - and it's nothing to do with sport. Everyone's fallen for a tiny fish named Nemo, whose Australian adventures have made this city one of the biggest stars of the US box office smash Finding Nemo."

Terrific. Anyway, some of us have work to do.

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The wages of spin... | Jul 25, 2003 01:04

... are a damn sight better than the wages of journalism.

The Murdoch press has dropped the Gilligan story in favour of the last stand of the brothers Hussein. Not surprising, really. It's easier than admitting you were wrong. It's easier than admitting your agenda. It's easier than admitting you are the junkyard dogs of media, an arrant bunch of establishment toadies and the shameless tools of Rupe's global growth strategy.

The Guardian picks being right and ethical may not be enough to save the BBC. Blair and Campbell want revenge. They want the Beeb de-fanged.

Reportedly journos at News were going about their business preparing their usual "balanced" reports on the row, but word came down from on high: tear the BBC apart. It was enough to make even hardened News Corp hacks uncomfortable.

Now regular readers may wonder what's happened to the Girlie. Well, she's being, like, totally a real Girlie-swot. It's exam time over here and she's upstairs studying - at least that's what she tells me.

While Girlie's being boring I've been doing a bit of research on Rendon, the covert PR company I mentioned in Wednesday's post that conducts information operations for the US government and military. PRwatch.org gives a good backgrounder.

Apart from running a network of stringers such as Paul Moran, these are the guys that deliver little US flags by the thousands for the spontaneous shows of support the US likes to receive in foreign lands:

"If any of you either participated in the liberation of Kuwait City ... or if you watched it on television, you would have seen hundreds of Kuwaitis waving small American flags," John Rendon said in his speech to the NSC. "Did you ever stop to wonder how the people of Kuwait City, after being held hostage for seven long and painful months, were able to get hand-held American flags? And for that matter, the flags of other coalition countries? Well, you now know the answer. That was one of my jobs."

I'm not sure if they choreographed the "spontaneous" celebrations in Iraq at the end of Gulf War II, but I'll keep you posted. There's a documentary on that here next week.

They are also the geniuses that came up with the name for Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress and channeled millions to it in covert funding, according to the ABC.

While at tompaine.com we hear "a well-informed source who has worked with Rendon said it went beyond wooing foreign journalists to setting up disguised-source, pro-U.S. Web sites in several foreign languages and blast-faxing foreign media and search engines with pro-U.S. information."

Rendon was supposed to be the company behind a media disinformation campaign earlier this year until even the seemingly shameless Bush administration was embarrassed by the plan breaking in the NY Times. According to that February report: "The Pentagon is developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations as part of a new effort to influence public sentiment and policy makers in both friendly and unfriendly countries."

The office was closed as a result of the leak, but we may never know what happened to the campaign. Hold on, there could be one way to find out: editorial budgets in the Murdoch press would have blown out totally if it was cancelled.

There's good info here too, and links at the end.

Meanwhile, here's a dose of Middle East reality, the kinds of attitudes the US is trying to reverse with its highly ethical information programmes:

"The United States lost the public relations war in the Muslim world a long time ago," says Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab American News. "They could have the prophet Muhammad doing public relations and it wouldn't help."

Fools like MacPundit lap up spin from Rendon and their ilk as if it is gospel. And then they are affronted when others don't. They gripe and whine when real reporters like Gilligan get out there, meet sources, ask hard questions, put their arses on the line, and bring us the truth.

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Bias schmias; Uday schmoosay | Jul 23, 2003 22:09

A review of the ABC has exonerated it of bias over Iraq after attacks from Federal communications minister Senator Richard Alston. Of Alston's 68 complaints, 2 were found to have substance. The SMH has followed up with a poll to gauge public opinion on the allegations, with 70% saying Aunty was rarely or never biased in its war coverage.

However, if reports on SBS about the activities of ABC stringer Paul Moran (the cameraman blown up by a car bomb early in the war) are correct, the ABC could well find it has unwittingly been broadcasting US propaganda. Moran , according to SBS here last night, was the favourite footsoldier of international covert PR company Rendon Group. These guys, whose motto is "Information as an element of power", do little jobs for the CIA, you know.

Moran brought us exclusives with at least one of those dodgy defectors associated with Chalabi's crew.

It's not the CIA connection that worries me, of course. It's moonlighting as a PR. Tacky.

Meanwhile Uday and Qusay are no more. While some may celebrate I can't help but wonder what a bit of rehabilitation and counseling may have achieved. Let's not forget they were born into a dysfunctional family. They were victims too. If only they had been allowed to get in touch with their feelings, who knows?

Yeah, right. Good riddance.

Russell Brown's recent post is a revelation to me and should be to anyone who hits that link and reads what journo Gilligan actually said: no mention of Campbell, his source accurately described, and also complete clarity that on the "sexed up" claim Kelly was describing the views of others in intelligence.

What a great idea! Let's read what he actually said!

The blame for this whole regrettable affair lies with Campbell and Blair who, having been protected by one of the most powerful spin machines ever created, have suddenly had to face real journalists asking real questions. They couldn't take it. They cracked.

Now some might think Gilligan implied Campbell in his mention of "Downing St", but of course this is rubbish. Since when did PR-guys get to write intelligence dossiers? Nobody in their right mind would assume he was allowed to do that.

Would they?

MacPundit after gloating for days over the BBC's discomfiture is now readying its about-face. Generous as always they offer: "It may turn out Gilligan was not a lying filthy scumbag who sexed up his conversation with Dr. Kelly."

That's a relief. So what sort of lying filthy scumbag is he?

Kelly may have lied rather than being misquoted, they say. But hey, right-e-ous dudes, it looks to me as if what he said was damn-on accurate and what Gilligan reported was too. I repeat: no mention of Campbell, correctly attributed, with Kelly clearly a man reporting the views of others - as he is entitled to do.

Deal with it. It ain't bias, it's good journalism.

Everything that has happened since Gilligan's report is the product of government pressure to have the source disclosed. The BBC deserves praise for steadfastly refusing to do so. If the Beeb and Gilligan have made a mistake it was in saying too much under pressure from the pollies. Its response should have been "We stand by the story." No more than that. But of course that was all but impossible given the heat brought to bear.

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A Niger in the woodpile | Jul 17, 2003 11:30

While the accusations and denials over the dodgy dossier and Niger forgeries fly, it is hard to believe US apologists all over are still trying to shore up this shoddy deception. NZ Pundit blames the French. It was some sort of Gallic setup, they imply.

The British say they have an independent source on Niger but can't say who it is, ergo it must be French intelligence.

Wanton disregard for the facts watch: it doesn't matter whether there was another source or whether it was a setup. Here's a reminder of the quality of the documents US intelligence had in its possession:

"It took Baute's [International Atomic Energy Agency] team only a few hours to determine that the documents were fake. The agency had been given about a half-dozen letters and other communications between officials in Niger and Iraq, many of them written on letterheads of the Niger government. The problems were glaring. One letter, dated October 10, 2000, was signed with the name of Allele Habibou, a Niger Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, who had been out of office since 1989. Another letter, allegedly from Tandja Mamadou, the President of Niger, had a signature that had obviously been faked and a text with inaccuracies so egregious, the senior I.A.E.A. official said, that 'they could be spotted by someone using Google on the Internet.' "

But why would anyone want to check the facts? Since when was propaganda supposed to be accurate?

Seymour Hersh goes on:

"One senior I.A.E.A. official went further. He told me, 'These documents are so bad that I cannot imagine that they came from a serious intelligence agency. It depresses me, given the low quality of the documents, that it was not stopped. At the level it reached, I would have expected more checking.' "

Maybe it was all some sort of Gallic practical joke. They have a funny sense of humour, the French. It wouldn't surprise if the letters were dated April 1.

Clutching at straws watch: NZ Pundit argues that just because the dodgy dossier was plagiarized doesn't mean the information was incorrect. Agreed, but it does mean the information was 12 YEARS OLD!

Never mind, it's all history now.

Meanwhile, the disgrace of John Howard continues. Here is a Prime Minister that accepts that Australian citizens do not have equal rights with Americans. Not only that, he accepts that a trial process with no right of appeal, no right of disclosure and no attorney-client confidentiality among other failures is "fair".

He fails in perhaps the most fundamental duty of any elected leader: to protect the rights of his citizens.

From the US perspective the entire Guantanamo Bay setup is a travesty of the country's own founding principles.

NZ Pundit recently quoted Thomas Jefferson's immortal words from the Declaration of Independence (apparently the document also owes a bit to Ben Franklin): "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Tell that to David Hicks.

Republican ideology holds that the greatest threat to liberty is the corruption of the "virtuous republic". In the 18th and early 19th centuries the term "corruption" was broadly defined. It included any form of dependency by citizens on government, for instance. It included any form of party system. It included keeping standing armies without the consent of citizens. It included any dependence of elected leaders on special interests. It included all sorts of things that are today accepted in the US as normal.

Let us just remind ourselves of some of the causes for which the US claimed its own independence:

"He [the King] has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance." (Office of Homeland Security, Patriot Act)

"He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power." (Guantanamo)

"For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:" (Iraq)

"For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:" (Guantanamo)

"For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences" (Guantanamo)

"He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries." (Guantanamo)

Everywhere you look you see this creeping corruption. Whether it is the oil money donations that Bush is repaying with political favours, the fact a court recently upheld the writing of a cheque to a politician as a form of free speech or the way special interest provisions are buried deep within totally unrelated legislation.

Much of what the Founding Fathers feared most has come to pass. The US is even becoming a colonial power.

The United States is a corrupt republic. It desperately needs to reconnect with the founding principles that made it great in terms far more important than mere military power.

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Culture vulture | Jul 15, 2003 16:36

The National Museum of Australia was, frankly, underwhelming. I've never been to Te Papa but sure as hell hope it's better than this. Call me old-fashioned, but there just wasn't enough "stuff". I like lots of "things" in my museums. This one offered instead lots of very tasteful space and a very defined story, reinforced in a revolving theatre multimedia presentation at the start of your tour.

While many museums allow you to go left, right or straight ahead on a whim, the National Museum in Canberra is a bit like an airline terminal. Your way through is predefined to a significant degree.

Contrast that with the museum here in Sydney, an example of the worst of 19th century museumship, which is hard to navigate with crusty old cabinets full of stuff that's not really all that interesting, and you might come away with a favourable impression. But contrast it again with the Auckland War Memorial Museum and you won't.

The more I visit galleries and museums overseas, the more I appreciate our War Memorial on the hill. The latest revamp up there really is a treat, opting as it did to stick with traditional museum metaphors (lots of stuff, sorry, taonga. Yay!), and yet still offering huge, light, elegant, gracious galleries.

We simply don't appreciate how good it is. In comparison Australia's National Museum is about as authentic as Lake Burley Griffin outside.

On that note there is one wonderful carving there that last time I looked was hidden away in an obscure cabinet but really should be the first thing you see when you enter the museum. Go through the Polynesian gallery on your right as you enter. Turn left and go straight ahead to the Kaitaia Carving. To your immediate left is a cabinet and in it is (or was) a carving of the Madonna and Child.

This wonderful piece was carved in high Maori style by an early convert to Christianity and given as a gift to a missionary. The missionary, so the story goes, thought it sacrilegious. Mary and baby Jesus are covered in swirling tattoos. It really is a poignant masterpiece that says so much about the early meeting of Maori and Pakeha. It is, in my view, just as important as the Kaitaia carving and should be in its own cabinet in the middle of the main entrance hall.

Anyway, on to the National Gallery of Australia. The building is a huge concrete thing, but very well done. It's as if in trying for really something special the museum across the water has failed while the art gallery works through being simply functional.

It is definitely a step up. I saw for sure my first Mark Rothko (Latvia 1903) and maybe my first Jackson Pollock (Blue Poles No 11, click on American Art link and then thumbnails). Both stop you in your tracks.

The Australian collection is equally good. The best I've seen, and considering the quality of the collections at the Art Gallery of NSW and the National Gallery of Victoria that's quite a compliment. Some powerful old Arthur Streetons, who I've probably appreciated too little, Nolan's soldier, Dobells, Boyds - all the usual suspects were out in force with a wide range of challengers and pretenders.

It would have been nice to have seen a McCahon, preferably the controversial 1979 gift to the gallery Victory over Death II ("I AM"), but hey, you can't have everything.

I probably spent a bit too long at the National Gallery and cut myself short at the War Memorial, which was a shame because it has LOTS OF STUFF! Even better, stuff that goes BANG and BOOM! This place will bring out the kid in you.

In particular they have kept all the original early 20th century dioramas of WWI battles by official historian Charles Bean. They go from Gallipoli, through the deserts of Palestine and on to France. Some of these are huge, twenty of thirty feet wide and ten feet deep and fantastically detailed.

All around there are relics of the battles and reminders of the enormous toll taken. Also a good collection of warplanes of WWII vintage and Korea as well. The place doesn't look big enough for all this from the outside. There's some sort of Tardis effect going on here, I'm sure.

While I might quibble that the NZ connection was underdone and Chunuk Bair barely mentioned, this isn't our memorial, right? And I for one never realized until last weekend that the bloody Aussie battle at Lone Pine was a diversion to help us get up that hill in the first place.

I guess we all fail to give credit where it's due. Twice as many Brits died at Gallipoli as Anzacs, for instance. More French died than Anzacs. As for the Turks ….

With considerable trepidation, I headed off home to survey the war-zone that I used to call home.

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Das Capital | Jul 14, 2003 15:50

Girlie's had her fun and I've been to, well, Canberra.

Hung over Girlie called on Sunday to report "not too much" damage had been done and she was off to Manly with the survivors: "Can you not come home too early so I can clean up later?"

Sure.

No problem.

I got out of the house early on Saturday and would have made it to the capital of this great lucky country by 1 at the latest had I not decided on a scenic detour through the Southern Highlands. Pretty damn good it was too. I saw my first ever wombat roadkill for starters. One gets so bored of putrifying kangaroo.

Beautiful countryside, rough as guts road up to the Wombeyan caves. Coming out the end I stopped for coffee and lunch at Taralga. It's odd how you can be reasonably close to civilization over here and still wander into a small town and be treated like an alien. Hey, it's not a flying saucer, guys, it's a Ford Fairmont!

In Taralga time goes slow. Real slow. But that gives me enough time to read most of the jumbo weekend Herald before anyone comes to take my order. I ask if there's a service station in town and they look at me as if I'm retarded.

Maybe it's me, the city boy who takes far longer than a day to chill out.

I finally make my way into Canberra at 4ish and head straight for Parliament, lucking in on the last hour of an open day. Interesting place the Federal Parliament. While it's imposing enough, set on a rise to the south of the city, it also looks a bit like a bunker, covered in grass as if it wants to hide. It's kind of defensive. You could draw all sorts of analogies with the Australian psyche there.

So I will.

It's was obviously supposed to be a confident statement, but it's ended up being only "semi-confident", as it were. You find that all over; the brash go-getting exterior betrayed by all sorts of insecurities about identity, recognition and security: "Australia will claim it's place in the world! (If that's okay with you.)"

Security is understandably high, with x-ray gear at the entrance and armed police everywhere (sidearms only). Apart from that dose of 21st century reality the rest was a bit like a school fete. It was a family do and there were lots of activities for the kids, but I think only in Australia (or New Zealand) would the gardeners have cleaned up their machines (ride on mowers and the like) and parked them prominently for inspection in one of the interior courtyards.

The building itself works in the shape of a cross, intentionally I'm sure, so as you enter you pass through a great hall and then the building is intersected left/right with the senate chamber on the right and the house on the left. At the head of the cross are the various committee rooms.

Portraits of past prime ministers, governors general and luminaries cover the walls in the upstairs mezzanines. Highlights here include a wonderful portrait of Gough Whitlam.

Gough is still active and remembered for many things, but most memorably to me for a rejoinder he made in Parliament one time. A member from the bush was waxing on about services to his constituency before finishing grandly, addressing himself to the speaker: "Because in the end, sir, I'm a country member."

"We remember," Gough responded urbanely.

Another more subtle but equally impressive portrait of Paul Keating is nearby.

A portrait of Her Majesty is stuck in amongst a bunch of governors general and miscellaneous others, as if they are not quite sure what to do with her - which of course they aren't.

By the time I got out it was getting pretty damn cold so I went off to find a hotel and some dinner. The city is a bit of an overgrown country town full of memorials and museums, and despite the fact that it is a "designed" capital, the center is still a bit hodgepodge. But I did find a good, warm South American restaurant, Rincon Latino, which knocked up a more than respectable coriander chicken. Being in the center of some great Australian wine country, I selected a nice Chilean cabernet as accompaniment.

My Comfort Inn wasn't particularly comfortable, or particularly cheap. Not a good combination. But Sunday was a big day with the National Museum, Art Gallery and War Memorial to cover and still get home in time for tea.

More on that next time.

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Exile | Jul 06, 2003 19:36

Girlie wants me out of the house. She's desperate to have some friends round. I told her I'd love to spend an evening with her and her girlie friends. There's so much we could all talk about. You know, hang out in our PJs and stuff, eat junk food, giggle a lot.

Anyway, she wants me out so I think I'll spend next weekend in Canberra. I hear the place is amazingly dull, but I'm the kind of loser that likes museums and art galleries, so it should be okay, for one night anyway.

We've just been out to Leichardt to get a dose of Italy and see a movie, Igby Goes Down. A warning beeper went off in the car on the way there. Girlie's concerned. She's concerned because she thinks it might keep me in town.

"There's a train to Canberra," she offers. "And you owe me $175."

And: "Can you buy me some alcohol?"

Bloody cheek.

Igby was terrific, but when I write about films I'm conscious the folk in NZ get to see most films before they arrive here. Nevertheless, Igby is great. The cast is unbelievable. Bill Pullman as the schizophrenic father stands out amongst a whole set of amazing performances. Claire Danes is soft and gorgeous and beautifully conflicted. Both Culkins stood up. The younger, Rory, as young Igby is right up there.

This is one movie where the bit players are as impressive as the names - and since those names are Sarandon and Goldblum, that's saying something. It's nicely shot and has a great soundtrack.

But the real star, as with most goodies, is the writer - Burr Steers, who also directed.

As regular readers know I'm having whiteware woes. We finally managed to get the electrician in. He looked at the stove and pronounced it irreparable and then passed the same judgment on the clothes dryer. Now the two appliances just sit there sulking, sighing occasionally in the manner of old electrical goods, knowing the time is nigh for them to go to the big Harvey Norman in the sky. I'm tempted to move the dryer into the kitchen so they can spend their last days together.

Note to self: anthropomorphism can only take you so far.

Yesterday I went to see Wim Wenders' photographs at the MCA. Very impressive, huge and sharp landscapes mostly, with some of ground zero, some of Cuba, quite a few of the Aussie desert. These wall-sized panoramas are noted as "C" type photographs, I presume that means Cibachrome, but who knows? Whatever the technicalities, they are stunningly huge and sharp and well seen.

However, I couldn't help feel the exhibit was a populist move by the MCA. There is nothing particularly challenging here. Wenders' pictures are great, but in a very traditional way, or rather very traditional ways for he has several styles. Apart from their scale, much of the ground has been covered before by the likes of Ansell Adams and Ernst Haas
among others.

The gallery has been having a tough time. It was 10 weeks away from closing before our "high art" premier Bob Carr relented with a five-year state rescue package. The gallery insists on measuring its success by counting numbers through the door. More people means you must be presenting better art, right? And when you do that you need headliners like Wenders.

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