Monday, August 4, 2008

Even those homicidal reality show contestants had heard it

This is what I wore today on our scheduled appointment with the high priestesses of skin (dermatologists) at the Royal Brisbane Hospital. This isn't a post about Mele's Medical Mayhem. This is about ... well ... The Juxtapositional Nature of Elitist Humour in an Australian Regional Setting (see Adam? The Flowfield Unity affects all!). And snobbery.

The difference between The Island and the Royal Brisbane Hospital is that on Bribie, everyone just reads the shirt and continues staring
blankly ahead. At the Royal Brisbane, people stare, frown, double-take, even smile. The lady at the newsagent who sold me our copies of New Weekly and Australian Top Gear drew the ire of her boss for cackling so loudly.
"No happiness at work," grunted her superior, in semi-seriousness.
"But it's! You see! The llama! And the little picture!"
hooted the young lady before releasing a satisfied sigh. "Ahh ... it's just funny to me on so many levels ... that these people ... they just ... they just don't appreciate ..."

I know that there have already been a couple of posts that point towards two increasingly obvious facts:
1) Bribie Island is a cultural wasteland, populated by gentle, white folk whose whole lives are shaped by bland food and commercial television.
2) Mele and I are massive toff-nosed, chin-in-the-air, holier-than-though, elitist snobs and living on the island has thrown this endearing little foible into sharp relief.
Everything is groan-worthy, if not sneertastic in its drollery.

The two-screen, tin-shed cinema, the adorable Bribie Twin, is little more than a creche for the elderly with its infuriating policy of "Nothing Over M 15, Nothing Later Than 7pm".
The pub food is all prepared from the same recipe book: "Deep Frying on a Budget".
There are no decent book stores within cycling distance (the one book store deals mostly in gardening, new age and war).
There are no ethnic restaurants anywhere. Indian Brothers doesn't count because the proprietors appear to be neither Indian, nor brothers. The Chinese restaurants definitely do not count because the Chinese food here is so bad it peels little splinters from your very soul. I had it once. The lemon chicken was like a deep-fried thong covered in fluorescent yellow treacle. Never again.
The fish is all off.
The monthly markets all sell detective novels and carefully-archived lever-arch files of thirty-year-old Grass Roots magazines (sorry, Mum, I would have bought it and mailed it to you, but I was already too deeply into the role of Bad Husband - refusing Mele a house plant by citing the pre-eminence of edible versus decorative household greenery on our weekly budget).
Everybody smokes all over their kids. Even the unborn ones. No one bats an eye-lid at the dozens of heavily pregnant women buying cigarettes, smoking cigarettes, giving cigarettes and lighters to their surprisingly-dexterous-for-sufferers-of-foetal-nicotine-poisoning offspring to hold while they waddle into the supermarket to buy more cigarettes.
The local IGA doesn't stock mustard. They will sell a pregnant woman three packs of Holiday 50s, but I can't get anything spicy to put on my luncheon meat.
As my boss at The Club declared on a recent slow Saturday night: "This is a bloody hick-town, isn't it?"
I bitterly agreed.

That said, bear in mind that these are the ginned-up musings of a middle-class humanities post-grad student who has never lived outside a capital city or experienced anything other than privilege, love and luck for his entire life. All hardships have been overcome, all heartbreaks have been educational, all worst moments are slowly being converted into cash. I even order lattes with nary shudder nor shame.
I know the snobbishness and colonial sniggering will undoubtedly continue ("I say, Mele! Look! That one's using a fork!"), but I was a little surprised recently when one of my work-mates hadn't heard of post-punk rockers, Joy Division. No, don't nip off to Wikipedia just yet, bear with me.
Before I go on, I have an important question to ask of you, the reader. You. Reading this sentence right now. I'm asking you:
Have YOU heard of Joy Division? Think carefully. Yes or no.
Got your answer?
Now click on these blue words and journey to the very bottom of this page where I keep all the links and histories that you've probably never even seen before because I like this blog to read like a wide book, rather than an easy-to-scan blog. Silly me. I'll change it soon enough.
Now VOTE. I'll wait for you.

Back? Great.
I want to see how well-known they really are. I assumed that everybody had at least heard of them or were familiar with their most popular song 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'. It's even included on The CC's blandtacular musak CD. But no one, in a staff of at least ten people ranging in age from 16 to 46, had heard of the band or could identify my off-key, Kermit-The-Frog-on-cream-chargers warble version of Love Will Tear Us Apart.

Be honest now. If you've never heard of Joy Division, but are familiar with Love Will Tear Us Apart, I will count that as a "yes". If you have no idea what the fuck I am banging on about, even after clicking on the sample, then you are a "no".


And, speaking of culture, here is a little ditty for you along the lines of 'Bananaphone'. If you have heard 'Sorta Dunno Nuthin' before, but haven't heard 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' you are a very confused personality with many questionable priorities. Call your mother. She is worried. Either that, or stop calling her so much, she needs her personal space.


  1. Yes, I've heard of 'em. Dreary dirge of a song, but not surprising seeing as poor old (young, painfully young!) Ian Curtis killed himself at the age of 24....then morphed into New Order....

    I'd like to say that I was into both bands but I was only about 12-15 then and only had access to Murray Bridge's radio 5MU so it was Top 40 fare such as Madness, Foreigner, Racey, BoneyM, KISS and Joe Dulce.

    GTH - Bribie Island's one and only bookshop? Part of their 'August - expand your culture' window display?

  2. I've heard of 'em too. Like Kath, a country upbringing and extreme childhood precluded by point-in-time appreciation of them. To be honest, I prefer New Order, but only because I am a hideous commercial sellout.

    It's really only through moving to a country town that one can truly appreciate the left-leaning, cosmopolitan bubble one has lived in previously.

    As some one who moved from thriving metropolis (Melbourne) to much smaller town (yet to be disclosed) where until recently their idea of ethnic migration is my half-Chinese father moving here twenty eight years ago, may I recommend:

    1. online bookstores
    2. a close relationship with the local music store order guy (basically the only way to get anything more interesting than 'James Reyne's greatest hits'
    3. seeking out the local embittered leftie haven. There will be one, but you may have to learn some kind of secret handshake

    Whatever you do, don't get creative and join [insert service organisation] to "shake things up". Those guys are tough old buggers and they will defend livin' like it's 1953 TO THE DEATH.

  3. Kath - Bless you. Thank god I'm not (so much of) a music snob that I could star in my own private version of High Fidelity right here on the island.

    GTH - Cold. The Bribie bookstore wouldn't survive if they used the word 'culture' anywhere on the premises without prefixing it with 'horti-', 'aqua-' or 'perma-'.

    Giggle - Actually, I like New Order better than Joy Division. 'Blue Monday' is in my top five songs of all time. True.
    We do live in a cosmopolitan bubble in ours cities and it's been an incredibly educational experience moving here - I wouldn't change a thing.
    1. Online bookstores aren't as deliciously impulsive as real ones, which I tend to treat as pay-per-hour libraries: the more time I spend reading all the books, the more things I feel impelled to buy before leaving.
    2. What local music store? Actually - music isn't so much of a problem because I am the king of hoarding mp3s.
    3. Still searching for leftie haven. The problem with the island is that once embitterment sets in, it is extraordinarily easy to simply get pro-active and leave.

    Mele thought about volunteering at one of the local op-shops until I (boringly) pointed out that part of the proceeds from just about every op-shop around would go towards funding the kind of get-help lines which tell pregnant teenagers NOT TO GET ABORTIONS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES BECAUSE THERE ARE ALWAYS OTHER OPTIONS.
    So now she write truthy blogs about seafood.

  4. Culture shock getting to you?

    Nope, never heard of Joy Division. I listen to country music. (yeah, yeah, I know...)

    Anyone out there who knows Franzy's address, please send mustard.

  5. Nice texture, sir.

    Heard of Joy Division? They're a religion here.

    They helped us northerners find beuty in our own cultural wasteland of disused industrial revolution relics (hence Factory Records, alongside a real hero of mine, Tony Wilson)and working class angst.

    Bribie can't be so bad, since you're there, I suppose is the message.

    Have you seen 'Control' yet? If not, do...

  6. mele says:

    here's an argument pro bribie, and its a pretty big one: forecast this week, 22,21, 21, 22 etc. Adelaide 13...13 max. hail so loud i could barely hear mum on the phone the other day. bribie: quiet sunshine.

  7. Oh thank god both Franzy and Gigglewick like 'Blue Monday'. I was sixteen when it came out and I honestly, truly did *love* it (sick of it now though because it's still on fairly constant FM rotation).

    And High Fidelity? One of my favourite books and flicks of all time.

    Finally, the 'yep' song? For once, this nearly forty year old can say that she had seen it, loved etc MONTHS before funkier, younger Franzy!

  8. Even I've heard of Joy Division - it was the answer to one of the questions on Spicks and Specks the other night. Can't remember the question but.

  9. gth - Mavis the rubber neck next door incognito!

  10. River - Someone actually came into work yesterday looking for me on the strength of this blog ... they didn't have mustard though. Seriously considering altering all references to CC on this website as the google hits are creeping. And creepy.

    Adam - I knew YOU would have heard of them. I think 'Control' is actually to blame for my blanket assumption that everybody knows who Joy Division is. One of my favourites for 2007.

    Mele - Too right, luv.

    Kath - Sorry mate - I heard it months ago now too. And sorry to burst your bubble of cool but I first heard about it from mum. (although she's a pretty fucking cool lady)

    Neil - Maybe minus one for you for watching Spicks 'n' Specks but definitely plus two for nailing it on the head about Mavis.

  11. Franzy,

    I challenge your contention that online bookstores aren't COMPLETELY BLOODY AWESOME.

    I have gone crazy ape bonkers with my credit card on more than one occasion in the (admittedly less tactile) bargains section of Readings online.

    Plus double bonus: you get exciting mail to wait for.

  12. Giggle - I'm with you there, actually. It turns out that pretty much any popular book you could pay $25 in Oz will be $14 on Amazon, with 95% of the price being the cost of postage. The juiciest it ever got was when I was able to buy extremely large comic book collections for about 40% of the store price here and they arrive in A RAILWAY MAIL BAG!!!!

  13. I wonder if the 'kids' celebrate the irony of the Wombats Let's Dance to Joy Division?

    Tough call.

    I'm trying to remember the name of the web comic where I read (relating to a Kerry voter in the previous US election) 'if being the smartest mofo in the room makes me a snob then I'm a mofoing snob' - or words to that effect.

    thanks for the nod on Audrey. Though I hang my head in shame for making lame Cosi jokes.

  14. Well this blog just annoyed the heck out of me tbqh, and I am a 20-something, Bribie-dwelling, Joy Division fan.

    But really, if you didn't know what Bribie was like before you moved here then you are a bit of a silly bugger I must say.

    It is mainly for retired pensioners who can actually afford the rent/buying prices around here as well as their offspring, which occasionally includes Caboolture bogans who have lost their jobs (if they had one at all) and have nuzzled up to the olds for free accommodation.

    As for the no mustard thing, my partner has previously worked in all IGA here on the island and he is an avid mustard lover *shudders* and he has told me he got his fix from his workplace so maybe you just weren't looking hard enough?!

    As for Indian Brothers, it has multiple stores. The people that started it ARE Indian and ARE brothers, sheesh.

  15. Disappointed (or "Angry"? What's there to be disappointed about?) - I'm not sure if it comes across in my previous blogs about moving to (and subsequently from) Bribie, but I was quite well aware of what the island was like when I moved there and I resent the title "silly bugger". If you'll pay closer attention to the blog, I prefer the term "massive toff-nosed, chin-in-the-air, holier-than-though, elitist snob".
    This doesn't mean I can't complain about the place, point things out that I don't like and go so far as to say that there was no mustard in the IGA.
    So there.

    And are you a pensioner, a retiree, a retiree's offspring or an unemployed Caboolture bogan? Or are you, like me, also a "massive toff-nosed, chin-in-the-air, holier-than-though, elitist snob"? This is pretty much my assessment of 20-something, Bribie-dwelling Joy Division fans (it does take one to recognise another).

  16. VaporFi is the #1 electronic cigarettes provider out there.


An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32