Monthly Archives: February 2012

And the winner is…

AUSTRALIAN woman Deanne Scanlan is the winner if our exclusive Bent Banana Books T-Shirt.

Deanne won the t-shirt as one of the first 15 Likers of the BBB Facebook Page. HERE 
Only two of these exclusive shirts are in circulation. The other one is in Sweden.
Second prizewinner isTony Koch who receives a copy of my book, 7 Shouts. BUY eBook here 

We are hoping the next t-shirt goes to the Americas and the trio will be across the globe. If you know anyone in the Americas, ask them to like BBB Facebook Page. HERE 
These T-shirts are not for sale. They can only be won by supporters of Bent Banana Books. There are two designs, the fetching minimalist one and one for the extroverts among us.

When we have 25 Likers, BBB will send out three prizes. All 25 Likers will be eligible and those odds are pretty good.
One of the prizes will be a t-shirt and the other 2 will be something different.
Like BBB Facebook Page. HERE 



17 Group: 7th of March Meeting

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The March 2012 Meeting of the 17 Group will take place on Wednesday the 7th of March at 7pm in unit 6 at 20 Drury St in West End on the topic of energy policy in relation to the Queensland … Continue reading


Arab Spring in Syria — dilemma for the Left?

“Why would you allow criminals to be present here? They are responsible for our situation now… It is they who turned our country into the centre of national and international wars” — Malalai Joya, former member of Afghan Parliament Recently, … Continue reading


WikiLeaks can help us interpret and change the world

By Humphrey McQueen More than 400 people crowded into a lecture theatre at the University of Technology Sydney on February 17 (2012) a public forum, “Don’t shoot the messenger: WikiLeaks, Assange and Democracy”. The forum was organised by the Support … Continue reading

9 ways art tells the story

THREE years ago, the not-so-magnificent seven of us were sitting around, drinking coffee and eating crackers laden with chili-cheese dip.
We were gathered in the comfortable recreation room – actually a detached building – at the home of Arts Alliance president Ken Armstrong.
It was one of monthly committee meetings of the alliance we had formed two years earlier as an umbrella organisation to represent the artists of our local area.
President Ken did not have to travel to meetings at his place and, in exchange for that comfort, he supplied the excellent coffee, tasty dips and the occasional small glasses of red wine.
Representing the arts community,  those of us who enjoyed a quiet drink felt it was fitting to indulge in the traditional arty red rather than a white cousin.
Theatrical representative Ray Swenson suggested the Alliance put together  an anthology of short stories from local writers.
Artists Ken Armstrong and Daniel Wagner said we should illustrate each story. The annual arts alliance anthology was born. Ken and Dan produced the covers for the first anthologies.
Ken took on the role of Illustrations  Editor at our usual rate of pay  –  priceless appreciation for a love job well done.
An  anthology of short stories, each with original illustration, is a rare beast.   I am yet to see one from the Big Six mainstream publishers. Such a creation fulfils for the vow of Bent Banana Books to produce books that are different.
I present a selection of the  art from  our 2010 and 2011 anthologies
Elena Ventura creates a technologically enhanced citizen for Brenda Simcox-Hunt’s sardonic tale  2060 Woman. Elena was a finalist in the prestigious Australian award (since 1949) Blake Prize for Religious Art named after the poet/ artist William Blake who some believe was a Druid priest. It is from the anthology Can you believe it…
Multi award winning artist Michelle Caitens renders an impressionistic urban landscape for the story The Other Side of Life, written by the artist’s daughter, Jenna Caitens for The Writing on the Wall, the anthology coming soon as an eBook through Bent Banana Books. The story and artwork are now available in 5 Strong Bricks in the Wall.
This Ken Armstrong illustration is for Audrey Sanderson’s The Anniversary (available in The Writing on the Wall and 5 Strong Bricks in the Wall.) I like the sense of joy Ken has captured as the young woman tries on a new pair of shoes.
Another one from Elena illustrates Best Mates by Anne Olsson from Can you believe it.
Elena’s skill has rendered a vivid portrait from the back. Can’t you just see the sunset or the lagoon the contented couple are looking at. 
Michelle’s sketch of a young woman has such fine detail in the eyes, the mouth and the clutched note. You just have to love how Michelle has captured the state of the young woman’s mind in the hair. It is for Too Late for Heroes, written by 18-year-old Maddi Mitchell and found in Can you believe it.
Another from Ken for Peter Bowler’s Tempting the Devil  (available in The Writing on the Wall and 5 Strong Bricks in the Wall.
 Yet another from Ken, this one illustrating my story Codpiece and Chips from Can you believe it. My anti-hero Steele Hill has three loves – horse-racing, rock music and girlfriend,Natalie, unfortunately, in that order. A meal of fish and chips is prominent in the yarn.
 You have probably gathered Ken is very much hands-on as an illustrations editor. This is is his artwork for L. G. Dalton’s A Once Upon a Time Tale in Can you believe it.
But Can you believe it HERE and 5 Strong Bricks in the Wall HERE

PUBLIC FORUM: Being smuggled to freedom: behind the anti-people smuggling rhetoric

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Dear refugee supporters, This is to inform you of our public forum which will review and analyse the rhetoric surrounding “people smuggling”. We are all influenced by what the media and politicians say about this, and RAC wants to provide … Continue reading


Five peace activists say “Join us in court” — an end to the War of Terror

On 5 March 2012 5 peace activists – Andy, Christel , Jim, Cully and Sean – will appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court to answer charges of causing a public nuisance and disobeying a police direction without reasonable cause. These … Continue reading



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Wed Feb 29, 6.30pm, Schonell Cinema, UQ


Foco Nuevo Turns Four In March

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Come and join in the celebrations for our fourth anniversary! After our wonderful start to the year we’re looking forward to a great night with our friends from Pirate Brides and the spectacular playing of Innes Campbell. PIRATE BRIDES INNES … Continue reading


Public Forum — Being smuggled to freedom: Behind the anti-people smuggling rhetoric

On this night like any other night Maybe raining maybe clear In a world exploding is any heart open? Can you hear us, Can you hear? — from article 14 by tony mockeridge Speakers include: Mark Plunkett, Qld barrister representing … Continue reading


Phil Monsour – ‘Ghosts of Deir Yassin’: CD Launch April 21, 2012

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Hi We are all set to release the new 12 song CD, Ghosts of Deir Yassin in early 2012. The launch in Brisbane will be held at Souths Leagues Club on the 21st of April 7.30pm and the CD will … Continue reading


Amnesty report back on Refugee Detention

SEE BELOW AMNESTY LIVE Q &A on Detention plus ASRC Facts on Bridging Visas Have you seen our explosive new report on Australia’s detention centres in ABC News, and Sky News? Tell Minister Bowen to immediately release asylum … Continue reading


Kindling & LiLi Kite at the Joynt March 1

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hello Folk, I’m letting you know about a great coming together of two groups, Kindling and Li Li Kite next Thurs March 1 at the Joynt, 42 Montague rd South Brisbane. Kindling is a trio of members from Kooii including … Continue reading

7 Celebrities cultivated in 7 Shouts

YOU know actor George Clooney personally and regard him as the nastiest person on earth.
You are invited to a dinner party with the traditional girl-boy/girl-boy seating. You are placed next to George Clooneywhom you cannot stand the sight of. You cut your eyes out with the fish knife and the soup spoon rather than look at Clooney.
The paramedics arrive and ask why. You reply: ‘if you knew George Clooney, you would do it too.’
This dinner-party anecdote drills to the weird core of the phenomenon we know as the cult of celebrity.
I have at least seven celebrities embedded in my book of anecdotes, musings and stuff-made-up, 7 Shouts. I may have put the celebs in for a nobler reason than wanting to sell more books. I probably did.
The cult of celebrity does not upset me as much as it does other, particularly male, critics. Still, I find it a worthy topic of discussion at dinner parties or elsewhere.
The critics mundane gambit against the thrust of celebrity is to rail against the idolised who are famous for being famous. I do not have to mention names such as Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton but I will. It would be a shame to waste a column on celebrity without frequent name dropping.
I find fame for fame’s sake to be the most elegant expression of the cult of celebrity. To me, the most troubling part of the fame of Ms Kardashian and Ms Hilton – Kimi and Paree, as I like to call them – is they do stuff. To be and not to do; that is the answer for the ultimate celebrity challenge.
What does annoy me most about the cult followers is when they express undying love or eternal hatred of someone they have never met. I doubt Mr Clooney is a nasty person at all and he would certainly be far from the nastiest on the planet but part of me wishes it were true. I could use it as evidence against anyone who says he is so gorgeous. Ooh, and a really nice guy, too.
I am in the room when you are saying this. Am I not gorgeous and a really nice guy? Well, no! I am just your average citizen of the world with good points and bad – just like George Clooney, I suspect.
At the other end of the celebrity spectrum are the cultists who say, ‘I can’t stand him/ her’ when a celebrity face appears in the media or on a television screen. You know the critic is a cultist as they use the exact same words every time, ‘I can’t stand him/ her.’ Again,  I’m here in the room. Why can’t you can’t stand me?
I will explain the context of some of celebrity drop-ins throughout 7 Shouts.
Russell Crowe is there to illustrate the Aussie habit of claiming a famous New Zealander as their own.
Celebrities can lose their Australian nationality if they behave badly. Russell Crowe might lose his place in the sequel to 7 Shouts. He has fewer than 400,000 Twitter followers, compared to Kevin Spacey’s 2.2 million. What’s going on there, Rusty (as I like to call Crowe)? I do not wish to threaten a character in my book, but Rusty, I am expecting a better performance. No, Russell, talk to the hand about that Academy Award; we are on about celebrity in the real Nirvana of fame, Tweetyland, not Hollywood.  For the record, I have 21 followers on Twitter and I would like to thank every one of them for their support and all that sort of guff.
Pop duo the Veronicas I used in 7 Shouts to illustrate how media based in State capitals appropriate celebrities from outside their borders. Twins Lisa and Jess Origliasso grew up in Pine Rivers shire, north of the Queeensland capital but Brisbane media claims them as their own. Lisa has 204, 000 Twitter followers and Jess 195, 000. If we can spark some sibling rivalry, those numbers might increase before the release of the sequel to 7 Shouts.
Performer Delta Goodrem – 173,000 Twitter followers; come on Del (as I like to call her) lift your game   is in a fun piece about buying a Christmas present for an impoverished teenage boy by trying to line him up for a date with Delta.
I needed sports celebrities in 7 Shoutsand two of them are Australian Olympic swimmer Jessicah – I really do call her Jess – Schipper and Ethiopian middle distance runner Hicham El Guerrouj. It was a privilege to see Schipper rise from a humble hard-working schoolgirl to an Olympic Gold Medal winner. For the El Guerrouj story, I was able to work in Rastafarian hero Haile Selassie and I was pleased about that.
Two children’s authors were literary celebs: Aussie Colin Thiele and Brit J. K. Rowling.
I am pleased Australian political celebrity Kevin Rudd is making the news everyday with his challenge to become Prime Minister again. All I need him to say is ‘I’m not challenging; if I were, it would be in 7 Shouts’. US president Barrack Obama visited Australia so that he would appear in the book.
The cult of celebrity may appear to be based on delusional connections with fantasy figures. But at heart, it bonds real people around the water cooler, on a corner of Twitter, in the collective readership of a book. It also sells almost every commodity on earth, including 7 Shouts.
Buy 7 Shouts HERE.

REFUGEE ACTION COLLECTIVE, QLD: RAC organising meeting, State Library

Organising meeting When: Wednesday, 22nd February. 6.30pm. Where: State Library of Qld, Grey St, South Brisbane. 2nd level, meeting room 2A. Getting there: Street parking. Near Cultural Centre bus station, South Brisbane railway station, South Bank City Cat. Agenda for … Continue reading

Justice for Palestine_Brisbane Film Screening – Budrus

There will be an information stall this Saturday to spread the word about this film screening – from 10am-noon at the West End Markets (the Montague Street entrance – under the big fig tree). If you can’t make it to the stall, but would like to get some flyers/posters to distribute, please drop me a line (kathynew1).


e-Books by Bernie Dowling — a Review

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Some new release eBooks are worth having a look at. Thanks to the author, these reviews preserve the rich content that readers obtain when they use eReaders [hyperlinks, YouTube] I have turned off embedded ‘text enhance’ messages which I do … Continue reading


It’s clear enough that the Sunni alliance led by Saudia Arabia and Qatar has ensured that the insurgency inside Syria will countenance no ceasefire offers; and that the propaganda machine so well described by Aisling Byrne on this site will continue a non-stop flow of mendacious bulletins eagely seized upon by the western press.

What we are seeing in Syria is a deliberate and calculated campaign to bring down the Assad government so as to replace it with a regime “more compatible” with US interests in the region.

The blueprint for this project is essentially a report produced by the neo-conservative Brookings Institute for regime change in Iran in 2009. The report — “Which Path to Persia?”  – continues to be the generic strategic approach for US-led regime change in the region.

A rereading of it, together with the more recent “Towards a Post-Assad Syria” (which adopts the same language and perspective, but focuses on Syria, and was recently produced by two US neo-conservative think-tanks) illustrates how developments in Syria have been shaped according to the
step-by-step approach detailed in the “Paths to Persia” report with the same key objective: regime change.

The authors of these reports include, among others, John Hannah and Martin Indyk, both former senior neo-conservative officials from the George W Bush/Dick Cheney administration, and both advocates for regime change in Syria. Not for the first time are we seeing a close alliance
between US/British neo-cons with Islamists (including, reports show,



8 YEARS OF COVER-UP AND LIES DEMAND JUSTICE NOW! TJ died in Sydney in February 2004. His bike was rammed by a police vehicle driven by a Redfern police officer There has been a Coronial Inquest, Redfern police and a … Continue reading


4ZZZ’s Opening Statement in 1975

And something is happening here But you don’t know what it is Do you, Mister Jones ? — ‘ballard of a thin man’ by bob dylan Editor’s Note: Thanks to the efforts of Peter Gray we now have the transcript … Continue reading


The People Speak – Australian Palestinian Partnerships

Upcoming events: Film screening: The People Speak 4-7pm Saturday 4th February Loophole Community Centre 670 High Street, Thornbury Inspired by Howard Zinn’s books, The People Speak celebrates the extraordinary possibilities for creating social change that ordinary people have realized throughout … Continue reading


The Tall Man

[Editor’s Note: Ray Jackson continues his good work here analysing the ‘The Tall Man’ that was shown on SBS this week. Ray looks at the questions that ‘The Tall Man’ throws up to any independent minded person about the events … Continue reading

Pet Peeve # 1

THE most abused word in the literary world is audience.
And this, dear readership, introduces an occasional Save the Book series, Pet Peeves.
You are welcome to comment or send in a guest peeve.
Now back to Pet Peeve # 1

  • From Oxford University Press
THE most abused word in the literary world is audience.
Writers misuse it, along with editors and publishers.
Readers do not listen to a book; they read it, unless it is from the relatively small emerging class of audio-books.
The word is appropriated from the theatre. To the pedant, the word is wrong there, too. Theatrical consumers are audio-visualisers, though that makes them sound like producers rather than users.
What makes audience an acceptable descriptor in theatre is the passage of time.
I do not want time to make audience an acceptable synonym for the perfectly serviceable readership. I believe that boat is yet to sail. We do need strategies to prevent it leaving port.
Strategy #1
You are pitching your novel to a publisher and she asks, ‘what is your target audience.’
Usually, my favoured response to this question is: `people who can read.’
Now I suggest a more specific reply. You feign obtuseness to ask: ‘You mean when my novel is turned into a play?’
It will probably cost you any chance of a contract but who wants to ‘nurtured’ by a publisher who does not know the meaning of words.
Strategy #2
A friend asks how your self-published history of artichokes is going. Reply: ‘not well, the audience walked out before chapter 4.’
Most people know writers are crazy and your friend will nod as if what you just said made sense. And he will pass on your appraisal to other friends, some of whom will realise you made a sophisticated jest.
As a reward for your bon mots, a few will buy copies of your history of artichokes, which, BTW, I found fascinating.
Strategy #3
 Your editor says you are losing your audience with too much back-story in the early chapters. You reply: ‘I only wrote it for deaf people.’ The editor will process the reply and soon realise you are making fun of her where it really hurts: her trade of words. She will hate you forever after but she will be scrupulous in further editing of your book so you do not catch her out again.
Strategy #4
 You are ecstatic the literary editor of your local newspaper chooses to review your book himself.  It is a glowing review with the central theme of your great connect with your audience.
You write a letter to the literary editor, pointing out his continual misuse of the word, audience.
You never receive another review. You lament the loss of a few thousand readers, but are proud of doing your bit to save the literary canon.
Strategy #5
You re-send this blog through social media. Your friends who read it think: ‘That Bernie Dowling is a nit-picker. Shouldn’t he be finishing his play instead of writing stuff such as that?’
And you are right. I should get back to my play. My readership awaits. I mean my audience calls.

IF you have a pet literary peeve, become a member of this blog or email me at

Ballad of a Thin Man

by Bob Dylan You walk into the room With your pencil in your hand You see somebody naked And you say, “Who is that man ?” You try so hard But you don’t understand Just what you’ll say When you … Continue reading


Assange – Don’t Shoot the Messenger

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WikiLeaks, a free press publishing and media organisation, has revealed human rights abuses, war crimes and corruption in governments across the world. Yet the US Administration wants to close WikiLeaks down and prosecute its founder Julian Assange. International financial services … Continue reading


Navvies rocked this city

By Humphrey McQueen Canberra 1911-16 Canberra Historical Journal, New Series, 67, December 2011, pp. 17-24. For the Federal Area to become a Federal Capital on the ground as well as in law, hundreds of navvies had to construct before tradesmen … Continue reading


Workers Vocabulary

by Humphrey McQueen “I cannot understand this language. I cannot make it out. This language, which is half slang, I cannot understand at all.” Justice Higgins, 1913, ABLF Award Transcript. “banjo” – a navvy wrapped his pick and shovel in … Continue reading

What the Dickens: birthday wishes

I FOUND them dull, most of the thousands of words written to mark the 200th birthday of English author Charles Dickens.
It was almost as if he had been re-categorised in history’s library as a somewhat  tedious celebrity rather than an author who used humour, pathos, social observation  and clever word-play to agitate for social reform, especially the reduction of  poverty.

The Christian Science Monitor ran with an Occupy tag-line on the link to its story: Charles Dickens birthday: a 19th century voice for the 99 percent’  Curiously, CSM did not feature the Occupy analogy prominently in the story layout.

No doubt more than one Open Letter was addressed to Dickens, but this from biographer, Claire Tomalin, asks what he would think of our times.She thinks he would be ‘daunted’ by the increasing prison population in an age of decreasing crime

(Personally I think he would give the Occupy Movement a better run than most of his fellow journalists.) LETTER

The Washington Post ran with a defence of Dickensian verbosity. Whatever! WORDSMITH

The National Post had the obligatory ‘Ten things you might not know about Charles Dickens’, proving numbers are more sacrosanct in popular culture today than 200 years ago. TEN

The Los Angeles Times tried to embarrass us by asking how many Dickens novels we have read. (From my experience, the answer for the average newspaper reader would be more than the average newspaper journalist.) BOOKS


Confirming my theory of new media, the most interesting analysis came as a comment to an article in the Times of India.

Here is the comment in its entirety,

Enjoy the Dickensian humanity.


Sid Harth (navanavonmilita) wrote:
I was a born poor, tenth baby. Poverty is not such a big deal in India. More people are poor in India that any other country of the world.

However, I as a poor boy and Charles Dickens, as a celebrity writer, got along just fine. Frankly, Charles tells, according to his writing and subsequent adaptations of his stories, less than what it does to the human spirit.

It must be a fashion in England. Not in India. Poverty existed then, as well as today, side by side with filthy riches.

For instance, the richest man in India, Mukesh Ambani, built a mansion atop a hill. Spent one billion dollars, furniture, decorating and other do-dads, not included, for four members of his family.

I called it, “the most ugly house on the hill.” It is not the modern architecture, I was talking about. It is OK by me. It was his most arrogant placement of that house, practically darkening the houses near his. Moreover, what view he has looking outside of his giant house is no beautiful at all. Slums here. Slums there and slums everywhere.

What Charles Dickens did was to show the miserable conditions of the poor. It shocked the society. If I write a book on poverty, nobody would buy my book.

Sorry Charles.

…and I am Sid




Refugee Action Collective: Organising Meeting

The Bridging Visa BV policy WAS ANNOUNCED ON 25th NOVEMBER Aim to release 100 people per month from long term detention – those most vulnerable and over two years in detention as a priority. Status so far – TEN WEEKS … Continue reading

Our back pages: Black Friday / General Strike

This picture is from a collection held by the John Oxley Library / State Library of Queensland (W. Davies collection).

The 1912 Brisbane General Strike began when members of the Australian Tramway Employees Association were dismissed when they wore union badges to work on 18 January 1912.

Photo shows special constables on the corner of Melbourne and Stanley Streets, South Brisbane.

43 unions came out in sympathy with the tramway workers on 28 January, creating the first general strike in Australian history.

Friday, 2 Feb 1912, a day of infamy, became known as Black Friday.

The general strike lasted five weeks, then was miserably called off.

To find out more about this came about read Ernie Lane’s Dawn to Dusk – reminiscences of a rebel.

However, it turned the tide, and three years later, Queensland elected its first full-term Labour government

Publisher: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland (W. Davies)

[Thanks to Errol, Peter
and Jim for this back page on