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March 11th, 2005

Sisterhood of Man

"If you doubt every new idea in science you will be right 90 percent of the time, but you will be wrong the only time it matters."
unknown scientist

Dear Folks,

La Joe Dolce Vita - the 25th Anniversary of Shaddap You Face, at the Enmore Theatre, in Sydney, last weekend, was a transcendental experience. Each of my great special guest artists dedicated their respective sets to the theme of how the song that dare not mention its name again affected them as they were growing up in Australia. A humbling experience and an honour. I also learned the brilliant Italian phrase for 'break a leg,' traditionally said to wish a performer good luck before a show. In Rome, they say: 'En culo alla balena . . ' to which you are supposed to respond: '. . . sperando che non scoreggi . .' (which roughly translated means: 'Get yourself up in that whale's ass . . . . and hope that it doesn't fart!") I've been using it all week. It would make a great song lyric. (Syndey Morning Herald article)


I'll be performing at the first annual Burke and Wills Folk Festival this weekend. This week also marks International Women's Day, and a series of DIFFICULTWOMEN shows, with LIN VAN HEK, and JUDY SMALL at the BRUNSWICK MUSIC FESTIVAL, and, in April, in Somers, and two shows at fortyfivedownstairs, in Melbourne. It's about time, by the looks of what's happening in the US. (See the website for more details.

Favourite Reader Comments of the Week

Regarding True Fact #7: Most dust particles in your house are made from dead skin.

I was reminded of an experience I had in 1982 while shooting a training video for Kirby vacuum cleaners. We were on location in a home we'd rented for the shoot and were about to tape a segment on the mattress cleaning capabilities of the Kirby. The head of sales training, a good ol' boy from Texas, was running through with the homeowner what an actual pitch would be, so the actors could get a feel for it. As he pulled back the bed linens and began vacuuming the mattress, he told the woman, "You know, the human body sheds all of its skin over a period of seven years..." He then, disconnected the small dust bag and emptied it onto a black velvet cloth, revealing a pile of powdery, gray, dead skin.
"How long have you had this mattress?" he asked the homeowner.
"About fifteen years," she replied.
Pointing to the disgusting pile and the mattress he said, "You know, you got about 2 people living inside there."
She wrote a check for the vacuum cleaner there and then, plus we ended up getting the location for free. Have a great show, Joe. Your "skinny" friend,

Dear Joe,
I have some very exciting news. I entered the Ms. Florida Senior America Pageant and I won the crown. I am now Ms. Florida Senior America and I will go to Las Vegas for the Nationals in November. Their were twelve contestants and we were judged on talent, inner beauty, philosophy of life, evening gown and poise. I sang O MIO BABBINO CARO from the opera GIANNI SCHICCHI. I am floating on air. It is quite an honor. My life will be quite different now that I will be traveling all over the state singing for different organizations and functions. I will keep in touch. Regards,
Jo Dolce

(Note: As I mentioned last week, Jo Dolce is a classically trained soprano, also married to a Joseph Dolce, in the States! I don't think we are related in any way except love of music and the name. I am fascinated by people that have the same name as myself. Kind of feels like parallel dimensions. Several years ago, I had lunch, in New York, with Joe Dolce, the internationally known gay editor of Interviews Magazine, and, for a short while, Playboy Magazine! He remarked, when I first started corresponding with him, that Shaddap You Face was the first thing in a decade that had made his elderly mother laugh, and that if he and I got married, our towels would have the same monogram.)

Favourite Review of the Week

"Hill Of Death" written and composed by the prolific Joe Dolce (VIC) won Best Folk Gospel Song 2004. Joe put the music to the words of Louisa Lawson (mother of Henry) in a rare but wonderful arrangement crossing the generations with a timeless message. Sheer brilliance." hardrushmusic.com


Cell Phones Hurt Children Even Worse Than Adults
by William Thomas

Last April, while corporate "news managers" were guiding the attention of Americans elsewhere, a London newspaper reported on "What Cell Phones Can Do To Youngster's Brain In 2 Minutes". It turns out that a call lasting just two minutes can open the "blood-brain barrier" in kids as well as adults, allowing toxins in the bloodstream to cross this blood vessel gateway into the skull and attack brain cells. The same two-minutes cell phone exposure also disrupts the natural electrical activity of a child's brain for up to an hour afterwards. "Leading medical experts now question whether it is safe for children to use mobile phones at all," reported the Mirror. "Doctors fear that disturbed brain activity in children could lead to psychiatric and behavioral problems or impair learning ability." (article)

Cell Phone Health Effects - Busy Signals Think Twice Before You Place That Call

Though intended for renovations, Chris Anderson would like all visitors to deposit their cellular phones in the cement mixer by his front door. This sounds excessive - until you step into Anderson's orchard, where the pegged needle of a shrieking electromagnetic radiation (EMR) meter placed beside a connected cellphone still shows significant exposure 100 feet away. Much to the chagrin of this certified EMR-mitigation specialist, every day some 300 million cell phone users are "reaching out and touching someone you love. Yourself, and anyone else within range of the microwaves emitted by your cell phone." Mesmerized by magical gadgets, we have yet to count the costs of miniature radio transmitters that are transforming Marconi's invention into new possibilities for portable personal pollution. As entire nations reach for pocket communicators, the explosively emergent $40 billion a year cell phone industry is poised to deliver a "Wireless Revolution" that over the next five years is expected to double the one-billion people connected by telephone lines over the past century. Silicon sensors are already calling to each other. Soon, countless communicating microchips embedded in everything from bumpers to brooms will be sending streams of encoded electrical energy through glass, steel, concrete, bone and flesh. Exquisitely sensitive to subtle electromagnetic harmonies, human brains and bodies as intricate as galaxies depend on tiny electrical impulses to conduct complex life-processes - including the ability to read, recall and respond to these words. Acting as antennas, our anatomies just as easily tune into spurious signals from radio and microwave transmissions. Blake Levitt, author of Electromagnetic Fields, says that when it comes to cellphones, "a worse frequency could not have been chosen for the human anatomy." (article)

The Prophecy of Oil
By William Rivers Pitt

On August 27, 1859, Edwin Drake's oil well in Titusville, Pennsylvania struck a gusher, making him the man credited with drilling the first commercially successful oil well in America. In the time between then and now, the world has burned through about 900 billion barrels of Drake's discovery. Global daily oil consumption today stands at around 82 million barrels, and many experts believe the emerging mega-industrialization of nations like China and India will cause that daily consumption to reach at least 120 million barrels a day by the year 2030. (article)

Pope Idol

Cast your vote for the new Pontiff. It's time for us all to nominate the next head of the Catholic Church. Here are some suggestions:
1. Bono - He clearly believes he has a hot-line to God. Let's just hope those Andrea Corr stories aren't true.
2. Madonna - It would be good to see her rocking a crucifix again. She's also shown her charitable side by marrying Guy Ritchie.
3. Joe Dolce - It's the 25th anniversary of "Shaddup You Face", and devout Catholic Joe is still going strong.
4. David Beckham - His body art suggests a religious bent, but the continuing rumours surrounding his private life might put off those who believe in chastity.
5. Geri Halliwell - Geri was brought up as a Catholic. Her Kensington house has a picture of the Virgin Mary in the lounge and reproduction of the Last Supper in the dining room.

Made your decision? Now email the Vatican's Cardinal-Secretary of State with your nomination:
(thanks to Chris B - ww.popbitch.com)

(Note: Every pope has a chief of staff, called the Camerlengo. When a pope dies, the Camerlengo must certify that he is indeed dead. The ritual tradition is to strike him on the forehead with a silver hammer, call his baptismal name three times and place a cloth over his mouth. If the pope does not respond, the Camerlengo declares him dead, authorizes a death certificate and then seals the papal living apartments. Later, the silver hammer is used to scratch and break the papal ring and seal, so no documents can be forged in his name.)

The Zen of Advertising

In a Septic Tank Truck in Oregon: "Yesterday's Meals on Wheels"
On a Septic Tank Truck sign: "We're #1 in the #2 business."
Sign over a Gynecologist's Office: "Dr. Jones, at your cervix."
At a Proctologist's door: "To expedite your visit please back in."
On a Plumber's truck: "We repair what your husband fixed."
On a Plumber's truck: "Don't sleep with a drip. Call your plumber.."
At a Tire Shop in Milwaukee: "Invite us to your next blowout."
On a Plastic Surgeon's Office door: "Hello. Can we pick your nose?"
At a Towing company: "We don't charge an arm and a leg. We want tows."
On an Electrician's truck: "Let us remove your shorts."
In a Nonsmoking Area: "If we see smoke, we will assume you are on fire and
take appropriate action."
On a Maternity Room door: "Push. Push. Push."
At an Optometrist's Office: "If you don't see what you're looking for, you've
come to the right place."
On a Taxidermist's window: "We really know our stuff."
In a Podiatrist's office: "Time wounds all heels."
On a Fence: "Salesmen welcome! Dog food is expensive."
At a Car Dealership: "The best way to get back on your feet --miss a car
Outside a Muffler Shop: "No appointment necessary. We hear you coming."
In a Veterinarian's waiting room: "Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!"
At the Electric Company: "We would be delighted if you send in your payment.
However, if you don't, you will be."
In a Restaurant window: "Don't stand there and be hungry, Come on in and get
fed up."
In the front yard of a Funeral Home: "Drive carefully. We'll wait."
At a Propane Filling Station: "Thank heaven for little grills."
And don't forget the sign at a Chicago Radiator Shop: "Best place in town to
take a leak."
(thanks to Stephen Ross)

Work: Ever More Painful
By Frédéric Lemaître
Le Monde

A book's success, we know, often says more about the times in which it appears than about the work's intrinsic quality. The fact that those charged with bestowing the Senate's prize for a book covering the economy should have recently decided to award that prize to Philippe Askenazy's essay on the painfulness of work (Les Désordres du travail: enquête sur le nouveau productivisme [Work Disorders: Inquiry into the new productivity] (Seuil), deserves attention. This work of modest scale purports neither to shake up economic thinking nor to bring a new perspective on globalization. In less than one hundred pages, it settles for demonstrating, with supporting figures, that work in France continues to make people suffer even though solutions exist. The statement may seem banal. Everyone is aware of the aggressions to which public transportation employees, as well as hospital personnel, are victim, the fear experienced by funds couriers or teachers in certain establishments, the pressure to which many executives or assembly line workers are subject. What makes Philippe Askenazy's book interesting is that it does not settle for studying these different stress situations alone, but it puts the accent on physical pain that is too often passed over in silence. To remain for a long time in a painful posture, to bear heavy loads, to risk a serious fall, to suffer very loud or very high-pitched noise ... European studies, the author reminds us, demonstrate that "practically all professions are experiencing a rapid rise in physical constraints." Moreover, the associated simultaneous psychological burdens must also be added in. (article)



" Even in the music there has to be poetry, just as there must be in the lyrics, in the cadences, in the composition, in the orchestration, in the intensity of interpretation. It's the harmonic togetherness of these elements that has to be poetic." Paolo Conti


Over dinner tonight, I was watching 'Nel Cuore Di Amsterdam . . . Paolo Conte' - a live performance recording of Italy's 'swonderful Paolo Conti, on dvd. If you haven't discovered him yet, you're in for a treat! How do you describe someone who's music is so unique? I'll make a feeble attempt: Add 1 part Charles Aznevour, blended with 1 part Tom Waits ( both in Italian), 1 part orchestration of Louie Armstrong (except replace trumpet with kazoo), 2 parts keyboard of Jacque Loussier (except Paolo sings great, too), a tablespoon of John Lennon's songwriting (sometimes I swear Conti's channeling the Beatles), and one teaspoon humour of Inspector Clouseau. Dress the whole thing up in a tuxedo, with a mug that would give Willie Nelson a run for the money, add a creative jazz orchestra (except they all come out and sing the final song a capella with him), and you will have some idea of what you have in store. And he's soooooo . . . . tuneful. "Listening to his lyrics," says the Wall Street Journal, "is like having a Fellini film poured into your ear," for they are a poetic mix of Old World nostalgia and surreal imagery spiced up with nonsense. (website)



Bunny's Too Tight to Mention - Mick Hucknall gets downy.



David Schmader attended the Starbucks Licensed Store Awards, a sort of pep rally for the brave men and women who risk steam burns day in and day out to keep your latte-addicted heart pumping. While there, he taped an awful cover version of Jefferson Starship's anthemic "We Built this City" with groan-inducing Starbucks-centric lyrics.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 24 - Today brings what the ages will hail as the most mind-boggling Hot Tip in Last Days' history, courtesy of worship-worthy Hot Tipper, Cilantro. The scene: The Starbucks Licensed Stores Awards ceremony, a celebratory/motivational leadership conference, held this evening in the fourth-floor ballroom of the Washington State Convention Center. "Boring stuff, as usual corporate things go," writes our man Cilantro. But things took a turn for the surreal when the emcee announced "something special for you all--Jefferson Starbucks!" after which the hydraulic stage rotated to reveal a pretend band comprised of the upper-management folk the audience had heard speak earlier in the evening. "They were standing in front of a huge American Bandstand-esque 45 single dangling in the air," writes Cilantro. "And they all had on rock 'n' roll Halloween costumes: pink glitter wigs, white fishnet shirts, fake leather pants, as well as big fake instruments --a huge, oversized piñata guitar and keyboards. It was like a living cake decoration." From this most promising of plateaus, Jefferson Starbucks quickly ascended to the heavens, lip-synching their way through a company-specific rewrite of Jefferson Starship's "We Built This City," the 1985 anthem that made fresh headlines last year by topping an international critics' poll of the worst songs ever. But tonight, Starship's crap was Starbucks' gold, as "We Built This City On Rock 'n' Roll" was reborn as "We Built This Starbucks on Heart and Soul!" with lyrics rewritten to celebrate the Starbucks way:

Knee-deep in the mocha/making coffee right
So many partners/working late at night
We just want to build here -- IMDS, does it pass?
We call on development to complete the task!
Living the way of being,
In the Green Apron Book!
Don't you remember?
We built this Starbucks on heart and soul!

The rewrite even replicated the weird helicopter news report that appears in the middle of the original: "I'm looking out over hundreds of partners on another fantastic leadership conference and I'm seeing a bunch of everyday heroes!" "I couldn't f@cking believe it," writes Cilantro. "The rest of the crowd was stunned, too. Eventually, the emcee berated them--'Come on you guys! Dance! This is your band! This is for you!'--and the crowd half-heartedly got up and just stood there." (A moment of silence for the million silent deaths experienced by the audience during the song's merciless four minute and 48 second running time.) Best of all, before his departure, Cilantro was given his very own copy of the inexhaustibly mind-blowing song, pressed onto souvenir CDs and distributed with pride by Starbucks stars. Dear Cilantro: Thank you for surviving and sharing. Humanity is forever in your debt. We warn you, this isn't pretty: AUDIO .mp3
(thanks to John Jacobs)


'...the 'sisterhood of man'... I would not use the pseudo-generic "man" in any other kind of
context than this contradictory and problematic
Mary Daly


Note to Iraq's Women
By Peg Morgan

In the recent Iraqi election, a quota system forced political parties to place a woman in every third slot of their candidate rosters. This guaranteed women a 30 percent representation in the new Iraqi Assembly - regardless of which party or parties gained political power. How does the United States stack up against this percentage of women in elected national government? Very poorly, I discovered. In a world where women, on average, represent 15.2 percent of elected officials; in a world where women in a sub-Saharan African country rate a 48 percent share of elected seats and women in a European Union country hold 45 percent. In this same world, American women hold only 14.7 percent of the 536 seats in the 109th United States Congress. Such a percentage places the United States on a par with Malawi and Sierra Leone. (article)

It Will Take All Our Energy To Stand Still
Bush's America is Waging a Global Battle Against Women's Rights

by Mary-Ann Stephenson
For all George Bush's courting of Europe, when it comes to women's reproductive rights he is closer to Iran and Syria than the EU. In 1995, representatives from 189 countries met in Beijing and agreed a major program on women's equality and human rights - the Beijing platform for action. This statement was ambitious, and the UN commission on the status of women is currently meeting in New York to review its progress over the past decade.The meeting was to publish a statement reaffirming international support for the platform for action. But the US has refused to support it unless it is amended to say that the platform does not create any new human rights or the right to abortion.

The Personal Is Still Political This International Women's Day
By Riane Eisler

Remember the slogan, "the personal is political"? International Women's Day, March 8, is a great time to revive it. Today, it's regressive fundamentalists, not progressives, who are more comfortable talking about the personal as political. They, not progressives, dominate the debate over "private" life and "family values." Yet family relations directly influence what people consider normal and moral in all relations - public as well as private. We must challenge the reactionary, increasingly fundamentalist "traditional family values" agenda. We cannot build a healthy democracy on a foundation of authoritarianism and intolerance - in the home and outside it. Family relations affect how people think and act. They affect how people vote and govern, and whether the policies they support are just and genuinely democratic or violent and oppressive. Slogans like "traditional values" often mask a family "morality" suited to undemocratic, rigidly male-dominated, chronically violent cultures. They market a "traditional family" where women are subordinate and economically dependent, where fathers make the rules and severely punish disobedience - the kind of family that prepares people to defer to "strong" leaders who brook no dissent and use force to impose their will.

On-line Orgasmic Simulation

How does the other sex experience pleasure? Do you want to see the difference? Then try this Orgasmic Simulation


For My Vegetarian Readers (and a Word of Caution . . . )

" . . I don't season a dinner the way the other cooks do. They serve up a whole meadow in their dishes - they treat the guests like grazing cattle, shoving greens at them, then seasoning the greens with more greens. In go fresh coriander, fennel, garlic and alexanders, and on the side there's sorrel, cabbage, beet and blite: they pour a pound of silphium into it, and smash mustard seed in on top: stuff so fierce it makes their own eyes water before they've finished grinding it. When they cook a dinner they aren't flavouring it with seasonings, but with night-owls that are going to eat out your living intestines! No wonder people around here die young when they pack up all this green stuff inside them, vegetables that are frightening even to talk about, let alone eat. If the cows won't eat it, you can be sure that people will!" Plautus (c. 250-184 BC) from The Classical Cookbook (thanks to maggie morgan)


Pappardelle Guiseppe

(pasta with young beet greens, beet oil and breaded field mushrooms)

500 gr pappardelle
fresh young beet greens
2 large field mushrooms
1 egg
dry breadcrumbs
1 medium beetroot
Ligurian olives, pitted
freshly grated parmesean cheese
freshly ground black pepper
cold pressed virgin olive oil

Beet oil: Trim beetroot and scrub thoroughly. Cook the beetroot in water until tender. (Save the beet water for another day to make risotto!) Cool and remove skin with your fingers. Discard skin. Mash beet in mortar and pestle. Add 1/2 cup olive oil and continue to pound until smoothly blended. Let infuse for about half hour then strain through cheesecloth or cloth and discard solids. Set beet oil aside.

Young beet greens: Trim the stalks away. Take each leaf and cut out the tough centre vein, if neccessary, and discard it. Place a little olive oil in pan and toss the greens for a few minutes until they start to wilt. Remove from heat, add chopped garlic, mix well. Cover and keep warm.

Field mushrooms: Cut away tough parts of stalks. Turn mushrooms round side up and slice across the top into 3/4 inch steaks. Dip each slice of mushroom in egg and then in breadcrumbs and fry in oil until golden. Drain. Keep warm. (Note: Breaded mushroom can subsitute for most breaded meat dishes such as schnitzel and even for eggplant in eggplant parmesana.)

To assemble: Place pappardelle on plate with some beet greens, mushrooms, and Ligurian olives. Drizzle some beet oil over the top and around the plate for colour. Add black pepper and parmesean cheese. Toss gently to combine and serve. Serves 2.

For What Binds Us
There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they've been set down --
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.
And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
more strong
than the simple, untested surface before.
There's a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,
as all flesh
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest --

And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.
 ~ Jane Hirschfield ~
 (Of Gravity & Angels)


p.s.s.s.s.s.s.s. THE LAST PAGE
(thanks to Maireid Sullivan!)