The Straight Dope: Chip Le Grand.
The Essendon supplements scandal had (has) it all. Mystery, intrigue, big money and elite sport. Sadly, it continues on. Le Grand has written a great account that will not answer all questions but does go a long way to framing the conditions and context and the people involved. The book left me with a sense that despite the desire to succeed and the vainglory that too many at Essendon had fed off for too long that this was a folly of epic proportions. The book is not just about the failings of Essendon and the AFL solely but more a comment on today’s society. The book is a great forensic insight into the human condition and the failures of people who sought glory at any price.
The Rise and Fall of Gunns Ltd: Quentin Beresford.
Just as le Grand unpacks the layers of football Beresford does something similar with Gunns, only with a great deal of political backstory specific to Tasmania. Years of close research give the reader an insight into the saddening and brutal world of state politics in Tasmania and the natural resources that were destroyed by political bullying and cronyism on a massive scale. Big characters, big money, bullshit, spin this book has it all.
The Bush: Travels in the heart of Australia: Don Watson.
The companion piece to Beresford’s book is Watson’s meandering and inspiring doorstop. It is a big bastard of a book for a big bastard of a country. But it is clear to see why the bush and the people who come from it is vast, alluring and ultimately a myth that Australians like to keep telling themselves. Great personal anecdotes and memories filter in and help flesh out big topics and challenges that have faced Australia and continue to do so. Swaggies, swollen rivers, bushrangers, native fauna and flora, Aboriginal Australians, bush women, gum trees, fires, sheep and dust are but some of the many topics and issues that are dealt with.
Day on the Green
Marlon Williams, Casey Chambers, Lucinda Williams, Dan Sultan, Linda and Vika Bull, Clairey Brown, Paul Kelly. 13 December Kings Park.
I had never heard of Marlon Williams prior to this gig, apparently he is on the rise. Excellent set. Great to hear some fantastic bluegrass, country rock and standard Paul Kelly classics. The venue was great, the vibe chilled out and the audience was into it. Great gig.
An old friend contacted me at the start of the year to see if I wanted to go to the Cold Chisel Last Stand gig. As a very serious Cold Chisel fan I was somewhat bemused but I said yes. I assumed it would be like a rock n roll retirement show replete with Zimmer frames, washed out tats and oxygen bottles. How wrong I was. This was an outstanding gig and not just for nostalgic reasons. It was a remarkable rock show put on by some of this country’s best. Gone was the angry vodka swim-through of days gone by but a tight and electric set of great tunes. My highlight: Letter to Alan. I’d forgotten how much I loved this song and despite not being able to remember the last time I had heard it I remembered every word. So glad I went.
More scepticism from me about the American pre-hype around season 2 and its impending commencement filled my thoughts. How on earth could it be better than season 1? No way! Well there you go. What do I know? The cast is simply great, the sound track is hot, the plots and script superb. You must see it.
Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario is great American action thriller starring Emily Brunt, Benico del Toro and Josh Brolin. The film trawls though the Mexican drug cartel modus operandi and the morals and ethics of bringing those guilty to justice (or maybe not). Blunt plays a principled FBI agent who is enlisted by a government task force to bring down the leader of a powerful and brutal Mexican drug cartel. Twist and turns, great acting and a car chase that reaches its dramatic zenith when the traffic jam starts.
Rioli had a great season. Consistent and lethal he seems to have lost nothing of his speed or his skill despite being spoiled with premiership success and some injury. His cat like ability in the 2015 grand final was complemented by his shark like hunger for the ball. It was brilliant.
He walks to the beat of a different drum Nat Fyfe. Thank god. His acceptance speech and banter with Bruce McAvaney was TV gold. Whatta champ.
Round 17 Freo vs Tigers.
What a nailbiter! Having gone down to the Tenacious Tigers in round 10 for the first loss of the season I was very anxious about this game. It was a tight, mistake-riddled match epitomised by Houli whose errant kick landed with Ibbotson then back to Mundy. Great game.