2016: a year of consolidation and dissolution by Nick Gye


Cocktail of the year

Hasn’t changed for many years:

A single plum floating in perfume, served in a man’s hat


casasamllRafaela Silva who won the host country’s first gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games. The judoka grew up in the notorious favela Cidade de Deus. Rafaela beat Mongolia’s Sumiya Dorjsuren in the final of the women’s 57kg judo event. After she was disqualified at the 2012 games in London she was attacked on social media with racist taunts. (Surprising, what? One is used to measured, informed comments on social media.) Rafaela responded by hitting back at the aggressors but, left depressed by the nasty episode, took months away from the sport.




My brief appearance on ABC 720 with Brats by Liars as the dance track of the day. The passionate audience response is here:

Failed dance track

You can hear the song here:

Brats by Liars


Grant and I by Robert Forster.

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (2014). Michael Manley and Edward Seaga and the singer. Listening to most of this on an audio book was of immense benefit.

The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien (1939). First read this in the late 70s, recently listened to it on an audio book. My book of the last two centuries.

Our Man In Havana (1958) by Graham Green. I saw the film earlier this year at the Windsor as part of a British film festival. And later read the book. Both most fab.

High Mountains Of Portugal by Yann Martel. The Iberian Hippopotamus. Walking backwards in Lisbon, a gruesome autopsy, a tale of man and ape… Martel saves the best until last in this collection of strange and farcical stories

Exposure by Helen Dunmore. England is gripped by cold war paranoia and a family is torn apart, in a thrilling novel with uncanny echoes of The Railway Children.



Seun Kuti & Africa 80 at the Chevron Gardens, Festival of Perth. Polished and I would say not as chaotic as a Fela concert (not having Ginger Baker on drums assaulting people helps).

Sleater-Kinney at the Chevron Gardens, Festival of Perth. Three girls in a modern day version of Cream, can’t say though that the drummer did a good impersonation of Ginger.


David Bowie’s last album. New Ed Kuepper (Dec 2015), new Monkees (top 20 in the USA), Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, who are from Perth, debut album (double LP) , New Emitt Rhodes (first since 1973), Iggy Pop.

I discovered, belatedly, Portishead. In particular the album Third, 19 years after its release. I somehow missed this one at the time. Not, as I had imagined, another Britpop act in the time of Tony Blair, dank air and faux angst and the like. 1997: where was I then?  As it happens in the middle of a 13 year stretch at Equatorial Guinea’s notorious Black Beach prison, where access to new album releases was simply appalling.


And, yes, Crispy Ambulance. 34 years after. The album Plateau Phase. Pat (a tall person of my acquaintance), I think, had this album. See the Wikipedia entry below: stick it up your arse Mat Snow (one of the star NME writers of the day who soon became tiresome, as did many of his colleagues).


Reissue: Fragments of a Rainy Season on triple LP. John Cale, 1992. It’s easy to forget that – years before Jeff Buckley and The X-Factor – he was the first artist to recognise the hymnal majesty of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, or that it was his original 1991 reading of the song that popped up on the soundtrack of Shrek.


Amongst the many musician deaths that of Tony Conrad almost passed me by.


Most tedious newspaper columnist

A lot of competition, but for me the standout winner is David Leyonhjelm in the AFR. For how much longer can he keep banging on about shotguns, 18c and the ‘nanny state’?


I will not mention the disappointment that is Malcolm Turnbull, for it is not he who is disappointing but those who are disappointed in him, for they projected their hopes onto him. That he’s not the other guy is at least a positive of a tiny sort.

‘Wash your face’ had a brief period of popularity before even the shameless Scott Morrison was seemingly too ashamed to continue using the phrase.

However, “these measures have to wash their face. (Tourism operators) were the ones particularly arguing that this had to be addressed, because this was not good for tourism, so we’ve done that but at the same time….”

Of course there was the Australian election – the triumph of Malcolm – with its return from the grave of Pauline Hanson and her gang of climate change denying key thieves. The Rod Culleton press conferences.  As well as the return of Bob Day who displayed good Christian and family values by leaving a lot of people in debt. The Brexit, then the Columbia peace vote that wasn’t, followed by Mr T.  The High Court may well produce some more surprises for us.

One Nation is calling for expressions of interest as candidates for the WA Upper House next year.  Gotta say that’s an attractive eight year sinecure.

Injustice of the year



Our Man in Havana (1959)

Truman. Nice Spanish – Argentinian  movie

High Rise. Too glossy and in the end unsatisfying

The Big Short. I still don’t quite get the ins and outs of short selling.

Elvis & Nixon

I Saw The Light.  About Hank Williams.

All The Way.  About the period between the death of JFK and the election of LBJ

Hail Caesar

Miles Away.  About Miles Davis

Childhood Of a Leader (soundtrack by Scott Walker)

Hologram for the King.  This is bloody awful. Amazingly it got some good reviews.

Er.Ist.Wider.Da (Look Who’s Back, 2015)  In the year 2014, Adolf Hitler wakes up in a vacant lot in Berlin

Café Society. Jesse Eisenberg is Woody Allen


Disappointment of the year has to be the ABC.  I have lost some faith in it, it’s lost its way a bit.  Still produces good programs (eg Streets Of Our Town) but….is it trying too hard, stretching itself too thin ?

     We have as evidence for the prosecution:

• The continuing mess that is Q&A.  The program almost got interesting in May when they only had one politician on the panel. All that did was expose how uninformative and uninteresting politicians are. And the puerile twitter comments; spare me the pain.

The Checkout, Planet America, The Chasers Election Desk.  The Chaser team has surely jumped the shark. The Chaser’s Media Circus from last year was awful, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the ABC commissioned another series.

The Gruen Transfer. Please…this is getting very smelly like a tub of yoghurt four weeks past its use by date. Terrible, contrived, annoying. It should not have survived past season one.

The Code. Confusing and a bit incoherent. Tried too hard to be like a BBC or an HBO production.

Cleverman. The ABC and critics and much of social media wanted very badly for this to be a success. ‘It will change TV forever,’ said one ABC promo. Confusing – more so than The Code, a mess.

Silvia’s Italian Table. Well, for me this is an example of what ails the ABC. Can we get past the cooking food shows that portray cooking as if it was the single most important thing to happiness and fulfilment? This show is cringingly bad. Look at the parade of guests as they attempt to look amused and interested. Even Sarah Ferguson made an appearance – perhaps a little known clause in her contract.

   TV highlights for me:

Rake (a plus for the ABC)

Wolf Hall. Finally got to the ABC, first broadcast on BBC in Jan 2015, been for sale in ABC shops for many months on DVD. ABC weren’t sure what to do with it and put it on at 9.30pm Sundays.

The Night Manager

Versailles.  The sun king.

War & Peace. Russian

Maigret Sets a Trap. Even the guy from The Australian disliked this…couldn’t get past the casting of Rowan Atkinson. I thought it was good, and it was.

The Casual Vacancy

The Detecorists (best of the year for me)

The Rack Pack*

Vinyl. But didn’t make it to a season 2. Was enjoyable for what it was.


3%    http://motherboard.vice.com/read/netflix-3-percent-review.   A little bit soapy, a touch of novela.

Secret City

Actor of the year. Tom Hiddleston. He was in High Rise, Hollow Crown (from 2012 but showing on SBS this year) and The Night Manager, and recently in Brisbane for the filming of the latest Thor movie.

Actress of the year. Olivia Colman. She pops up in all sorts of shows, from the Peep Show to The Night Manager to Broadchurch. Last year she was in The Lobster

ratpacksmallRecognise this guy?   See The Rack Pack TV movie.

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