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July 15th, 2005

Tearing Down the Scaffolding

"Love isn't a feeling; it's an ability.'
Derek Luke



Hi folks,

There's something I just want to get off my chest that has been bothering me for about fifteen years. The stupid custom of wearing baseball caps with the visor facing backwards. I played a lot of baseball in my youth and the ONLY players who wore their caps backwards, were the catcher and the umpire behind home plate. And that was only in order to be able to fit the protective face mask. (Ok - there was also Jerry Lewis, who used to wear his cap to the side, but somebody obviously hit him with the goofy stick.) The visor was invented to keep the sun out of your eyes, not off your neck. Every time I see one of these mixed-up fashionistas wearing their hats about-face, all I can think about are catchers, umpires and Jerry.



Dear Joe,
RE: Avocado, from the Aztec word for: Testicle
If this is true then why are avocados womb shaped?

(Note: Judith, Dunno. Next time I see an Aztec, I'll ask her. If you had a problem grasping that, you are really going to put your baseball cap on sideways over Deep Sea Angler Fish Love down below.)

Dear Joe,
Thanks for being concerned, and for your kind thoughts regarding the bombings in London today.  Unfortunately I now anticipate a vile anti Muslim/Arab backlash - people can be so appalling.  It's going to be a bit tricky for a while, but the best thing to do is ignore it and carry on life absolutely totally as normal, otherwise the perpetrators really have won. Warm regards, as always,
Agnes in London

Hey there Joe,
Re: Omm el Hazina
Terrific closing poem; simple, evocative, and particularly relevant in light of recent counter-terrorism activities . . . I've begun a little Wiki for Randomocracy, if you would like to have a gander . . . Cheers,
GT. (Randomocracy)

Dear Joe,
The other night my husband and I were talking about songs that really made us happy to our little girl now aged twelve and she wanted to know the words, anyway we found them on your site ..we just wanted to say that no matter when we think of that song it always brings a smile to our faces. I had a flip round your other songs and its great to see the compassion that you show through them for the plight of people worldwide (maybe its an out generation thing ..dunno but it sure makesa me feel old!) If you are ever travelling through our teensy town Bundarra drop in and say whassamadayu etc. Thanks again for lots of smiles

Dear Joe,
I have received this email as a legacy of a friend l worked with and l am now receiving his emails. As much as l think music is for everyone, and for everyone there is music, my memory serves me very well and after the first time hearing "Shudaupa Your Face", l thought ok catchy, but that's enough for me, l don't need to hear that again. Unfortunately l did hear it again and just like if l hear anything on the radio to do with cricket, l would quickly turn the radio off or onto another channel because it irritated me and bored me so much. I am glad so many people bought your song and enjoyed it and l think that being able to create, perform music and make people happy is a gift. But the reality for me is that l would have to put that particular song down as one of the worst songs l have ever heard and certainly up there with "God Save the Queen", Noosha Foxes, "Single Bed" and the Proclaimers, "I would walk 500m". I would rather have molten lava poured down my jocks, or have sex with Amanda Vanstone than hear any of those songs again. Please delete me from your email list. Take care of the world,

(Note: Friends, the last two letters illustrate the emotive hate-love relationships that 'Shaddap You Face' still evokes, even after 25 years! This 'emotional' controversy is one of the prime reasons it broke through in the first place and continues to insure its longevity.)

Dear Joe,
 I am not going to be at this email address after 7/15, and don't want to miss your letters.  I have been dispursing your letters to all my friends with brains. Please send then to [my new address] so I can keep the intelligence going as well as the laughs.


(Note: Dear AK, the use of all capital letters in emails is referred to, by cyber-geeks, as 'shouting'. A tiny little lower-case, 'delete,' achieves the EXACT result with economy of phrase. Well, maybe not the exact result - I wouldn't be reprinting it here, now would I?)

"I thought I might offend the odd Scientologist out there . . ." you write. A tautology perhaps? -
An avid reader

(Note: Dear Avid, As Tweetybird once put it, 'That's what I taut'.)



A couple of weeks ago, I got stuck into Tom Cruise a little. Probably more than necessary. After reflection, I don't have a problem with him arguing against certain habit forming drugs in favour of alternative approaches such as vitamins and exercise. It's a good thing that someone with his reputation has the courage to say the same stuff that alternative health practitioners have been saying for decades! (Hello?)
What I have a problem with is Cruise's holier-than-thou evangelical bullying,
(OT 6, my arse - more like ET 6 - TC, phone home!) the bad-mouthing of Brooke Shield's career (as though Scientologists don't have career problems?) and also the writing off the entire Profession of Psychoanalysis as a pseudo-science - since Dianetics wouldn't even exist if not for Freud! As Jon Atack writes in 'A Piece of Blue Sky:'
" . . Dianetics is basically a reworking of ideas abandoned by Freud in favor of the interpretation of dreams. (Ed. Note: Important!!) Dianetics extended Freud's earlier techniques slightly, and allied them to a different theory. It was a form of abreaction in which the patient remembered and then acted out, or supposedly re-experienced, the memory of a traumatic incident. Freud had speculated that traumas with similar content join together in "chains," embedded in the "unconscious" mind, causing irrational responses in the individual. According to Freud a "chain" would be relieved by inducing the patient to remember the earliest trauma, "with an accompanying expression of emotion." Earlier traumas would only become available as later traumas were remembered and abreacted. Forty years before Dianetics, in the Clark Lectures at Worcester, Massachusetts, Freud had explained this theory and methodology. "

More Cruiscial articles:

The Great Tom Cruise Backlash - Will this annoying phase pass, or will Tom become the next super-rich, Mel Gibson-like nutball? by Mark Morford


And the latest -


(Thomas is just gonna love the next article!)

Lobotomy Debate Resurfaces Among Doctors


The lobotomy, once a widely used method for treating mental illness, epilepsy and even chronic headaches, is generating fresh controversy 30 years after doctors stopped performing the procedure now viewed as barbaric. A new book and a medical historian contend the crude brain surgery actually helped roughly 10 percent of the estimated 50,000 Americans who underwent the procedure between the mid-1930s and the 1970s. But relatives of lobotomy patients want the Nobel Prize given to its inventor revoked. (article)


War of Words

I was hoping it wouldn't come to this, but after Tom Cruise's interview with Matt Lauer on the NBC show "Today" last week, I feel compelled to speak not just for myself but also for the hundreds of thousands of women who have suffered from postpartum depression. While Mr. Cruise says that Mr. Lauer and I do not "understand the history of psychiatry," I'm going to take a wild guess and say that Mr. Cruise has never suffered from postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression is caused by the hormonal shifts that occur after childbirth. During pregnancy, a woman's level of estrogen and progesterone greatly increases; then, in the first 24 hours after childbirth, the amount of these hormones rapidly drops to normal, nonpregnant levels. This change in hormone levels can lead to reactions that range from restlessness and irritability to feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
I never thought I would have postpartum depression. After two years of trying to conceive and several attempts at in vitro fertilization, I thought I would be overjoyed when my daughter, Rowan Francis, was born in the spring of 2003. But instead I felt completely overwhelmed. This baby was a stranger to me. I didn't know what to do with her. I didn't feel at all joyful. I attributed feelings of doom to simple fatigue and figured that they would eventually go away. But they didn't; in fact, they got worse.
I couldn't bear the sound of Rowan crying, and I dreaded the moments my husband would bring her to me. I wanted her to disappear. I wanted to disappear. At my lowest points, I thought of swallowing a bottle of pills or jumping out the window of my apartment.
I couldn't believe it when my doctor told me that I was suffering from postpartum depression and gave me a prescription for the antidepressant Paxil. I wasn't thrilled to be taking drugs. In fact, I prematurely stopped taking them and had a relapse that almost led me to drive my car into a wall with Rowan in the backseat. But the drugs, along with weekly therapy sessions, are what saved me - and my family.
Since writing about my experiences with the disease, I have been approached by many women who have told me their stories and thanked me for opening up about a topic that is often not discussed because of fear, shame or lack of support and information. Experts estimate that one in 10 women suffer, usually in silence, with this treatable disease. We are living in an era of so-called family values, yet because almost all of the postnatal focus is on the baby, mothers are overlooked and left behind to endure what can be very dark times.
And comments like those made by Tom Cruise are a disservice to mothers everywhere. To suggest that I was wrong to take drugs to deal with my depression, and that instead I should have taken vitamins and exercised shows an utter lack of understanding about postpartum depression and childbirth in general.
If any good can come of Mr. Cruise's ridiculous rant, let's hope that it gives much-needed attention to a serious disease. Perhaps now is the time to call on doctors, particularly obstetricians and pediatricians, to screen for postpartum depression. After all, during the first three months after childbirth, you see a pediatrician at least three times. While pediatricians are trained to take care of children, it would make sense for them to talk with new mothers, ask questions and inform them of the symptoms and treatment should they show signs of postpartum depression.
In a strange way, it was comforting to me when my obstetrician told me that my feelings of extreme despair and my suicidal thoughts were directly tied to a biochemical shift in my body. Once we admit that postpartum is a serious medical condition, then the treatment becomes more available and socially acceptable. With a doctor's care, I have since tapered off the medication, but without it, I wouldn't have become the loving parent I am today.
So, there you have it. It's not the history of psychiatry, but it is my history, personal and real.
(Brooke Shields, the author of "Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression," is starring in the musical "Chicago" in London.

Bad Analogies

Oooo, he smells bad, she thought, as bad as Calvin Klein's Obsession would smell if it were called Enema and was made from spoiled Spamburgers instead of natural floral fragrances.

The baseball player stepped out of the box and spit like a fountain statue of a Greek god that scratches itself a lot and spits brown, rusty tobacco water and refuses to sign autographs for all the little Greek kids unless they pay him lots of drachmas.

I felt a nameless dread. Well, there probably is a long German name for it, like Geschpooklichkeit or something, but I don't speak German. Anyway, it's a dread that nobody knows the name for, like those little square plastic gizmos that close your bread bags. I don't know the name for those either.

Bob was as perplexed as a hacker who means to access T:flw.quid>55328.com\aaakk/ch@ung but gets T:\flw.quid>aaakk/ch@ung by mistake.
(thanks to Justine Stewart)



(thanks to Stephen Ross)



'The duende is not in the throat: the duende surges up, inside, from the soles of the feet.'


One of my friends, who is a flamenco dancer, asked me to locate Lorca's brilliant essay, 'Play and Theory of the Duende,' (which can be found in the book, Deep Song, by Federico Grarcia Lorca, trans. Christopher Maurer, Marion Boyars, New York, 1991.) The Maurer translation is my favourite - unfortunately not available online - but I have found another equally good translation if anyone wants to read it. (Prose is easier to translate from one language to another, for the most part, than poetry.) Here is an excerpt:

" Seeking the duende, there is neither map nor discipline. We only know it burns the blood like powdered glass, that it exhausts, rejects all the sweet geometry we understand, that it shatters styles and makes Goya, master of the greys, silvers and pinks of the finest English art, paint with his knees and fists in terrible bitumen blacks, or strips Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer stark naked in the cold of the Pyrenees, or sends Jorge Manrique to wait for death in the wastes of Ocaña, or clothes Rimbaud's delicate body in a saltimbanque's costume, or gives the Comte de Lautréamont the eyes of a dead fish, at dawn, on the boulevard. The great artists of Southern Spain, Gypsy or flamenco, singers dancers, musicians, know that emotion is impossible without the arrival of the duende. They might deceive people into thinking they can communicate the sense of duende without possessing it, as authors, painters, and literary fashion-makers deceive us every day, without possessing duende: but we only have to attend a little, and not be full of indifference, to discover the fraud, and chase off that clumsy artifice.
Once, the Andalusian 'Flamenco singer' Pastora Pavon, La Niña de Los Peines, sombre Spanish genius, equal in power of fancy to Goya or Rafael el Gallo, was singing in a little tavern in Cadiz. She played with her voice of shadows, with her voice of beaten tin, with her mossy voice, she tangled it in her hair, or soaked it in manzanilla or abandoned it to dark distant briars. But, there was nothing there: it was useless. The audience remained silent. . . In the room was Elvira, fiery aristocrat, whore from Seville, descended in line from Soledad Vargos, who in '30 didn't wish to marry with a Rothschild, because he wasn't her equal in blood. In the room were the Floridas, whom people think are butchers, but who in reality are millennial priests who still sacrifice bulls to Geryon, and in the corner was that formidable breeder of bulls, Don Pablo Murube, with the look of a Cretan mask. Pastora Pavon finished her song in silence. Only, a little man, one of those dancing midgets who leap up suddenly from behind brandy bottles, sarcastically, in a very soft voice, said: 'Viva, Paris!' as if to say: 'Here ability is not important, nor technique, nor skill. What matters here is something other.'
Then La Niña de Los Peines got up like a madwoman, trembling like a medieval mourner, and drank, in one gulp, a huge glass of fiery spirits, and began to sing with a scorched throat, without voice, breath, colour, butwith duende. She managed to tear down the scaffolding of the song, but allow through a furious, burning duende, friend to those winds heavy with sand, that make listeners tear at their clothes with the same rhythm as the Negroes of the Antilles in their rite, huddled before the statue of Santa Bárbara. La Niña de Los Peines had to tear apart her voice, because she knew experts were listening, who demanded not form but the marrow of form, pure music with a body lean enough to float on air. She had to rob herself of skill and safety: that is to say, banish her Muse, and be helpless, so her duende might come, and deign to struggle with her at close quarters. And how she sang! Her voice no longer at play, her voice a jet of blood, worthy of her pain and her sincerity, opened like a ten-fingered hand as in the feet, nailed there but storm-filled, of a Christ by Juan de Juni."
Translated by A. S. Kline


Deep Sea Angler Fish Love


The Deep Sea Angler fish lives thousands of feet below the surface of the ocean where there is little food or light. Life is hard and lonely for the young male angler fish as it slowly sinks from the surface where it grew up. At about a thousand metres down, it metamorphoses. It gets big teeth, big eyes, and loses its digestive tract. In this state, it has only one chance of survival: having sex. In the distance, he spies a dim light. He is in luck, it is a single "unattached" female! The male, who is only a fraction of her size, grabs hold of her with his teeth. Over time, his skin and blood vessels start to fuse with hers. His skin gets tougher, his eyes start shrinking, and any unnecessary organ wastes away. He is now totally reliant on her and in fact, is part of her. The male has become simply a source of sperm. (article)
(thanks to popbitch)

(Note: Sigh . . . .reminds me of my twenties.)



Steak Modena
(Eye fillet in balsamic vinegar)

I learned this recipe off the cooking channel. It comes from Modena, Italy. It's so simple to remember I didn't even have to write it down. An innovative, quick and delicious way to prepare steak.

2 eye fillets (fat removed)
best quality balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Sear the steak on all sides on a hot plate or in a cast iron fry pan (a grill is good too). In another small pan, melt some butter and gently cook the steak for about a minute. Add about a half cup of balsamic vinegar and continue to cook until the meat is the way you like it. Remove the steaks to a warmed plate. Melt some more butter and balsamic and reduce to a syrupy glaze. Pour over steak, season with salt and pepper and serve.



"Don't pity. And don't pry,"
said my mother. "Her brother
was crazy and her sisters sick before they died,
but they were all proud, and Lil still is.
Take this" ­ a loaf of bread, still warm ­
"and come right home." I crossed the lawn
and ducked under the dark and scabby firs
and knocked on the door, which opened

upon a face so creased and wild
I thought the brother's madness had spun back
to get her too. She thanked me, in a voice
sweet as a bell, while behind her
oh! the clutter, the dirt! the smell of her lonely meditations!
It sailed out like old fat, the smokes and chars
of ancient fires. I saw

everywhere boxes split and spilling; bundles
of papers, piles of clothes; ropes, tools;
a roomful of hats, a hallway of shoes. Smiling,
she turned with the warm loaf back into her kingdom
and shut the door. I said to my mother,
"She belongs in a cage . . ." And felt

nicked by terror because she did not anger,
which would have blown it away,
but only touched me on the lips, to hush me,
and stared at the ragged trees between our houses
till I felt those rough boughs fattening toward our future:
inside my mother's grace, inside my own ­
losses, fears; the pack rat called old age.

~ Mary Oliver ~