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Anzac Day

Today is Anzac Day, the Aussie equivalent of Memorial Day, but they take it a whole lot more seriously than do most “Americans.” (I put Americans in quotes, because folks in Canada, and all the countries due south of the US live in America too, and they sometimes make a stink over the fact that the only Americans who count as such live in the southern part of the North American continent, but what alternate noun could we use to identify citizens of the USA? USAites? United Stateseans?) A month ago, Australians were marching in the streets in opposition to the war in Iraq. Today, they’re packed into the streets to cheer the aged WWII soldiers on their annual march. Every TV station has special Anzac day programming, and I’ve heard many a reference to the Anzac spirit on the radio. Schools are out. Parents are off work. They really seem to get into it.

Yesterday, I went to the dentist. It was my first visit to a dentist’s office in a few years, and technology has made the experience a bit richer in a multi-media sort of way, but the process still involved someone poking my gums with a pointy metal object. The days of utopian dentistry still reside in the future, but for the first time, rather than just telling me about the state of my teeth or showing me an x-ray, the dentist had a detailed digital photograph of each of my teeth on her groovy flat panel display to show me just where and to what extent my teeth are rotting.

Rottnest Island

I was planning a trip up north to Ningaloo reef to swim with the whale sharks, but now that I’ve learned that I’ve got $700 (Australian) worth of dental rot to have fixed, I’ve decided to cancel that trip and put that money where my mouth is. Having made that concession to budgetary concerns, I’ve consoled myself by signing up for a SCUBA refresher course here in Fremantle. I’ll spend tomorrow in the pool getting re-acquainted with the gear, buoyancy control, and breathing compressed air, and then a week and a day later I’ll take a supervised dive out on Rottnest Island.

The Dutch named Rottnest for the quokkas, basically the toy poodle version of a wallaby, that live there. The Dutch mistook the quokkas for rats, and Rottnest means “rat’s nest.” Yesterday, three teenagers convicted of beating quokkas to death out on Rottnest were sentenced to 60 hours unpaid labor at a wildlife conservatory. The nightly news passed up no opportunity to show the boys, jackets pulled up over their heads, being lead from the courthouse to waiting police cruisers.

In a culture where people compete for the dubious honor of debasing themselves on programs like the Jerry Springer show because the payoff of actually “being on TV” more than compensates for the humiliation of allowing brain dead couch potatoes feel superior in comparison to you, these boys passed up their one big shot. When the cameras were trained on them, they could have mugged for the camera and given a shout out to their hommies, but given the “green” sentiment of the Australia populace, those boys wisely traded their fifteen minutes of Andy Warhol for the opportunity to collect a pension in their golden years. Were their identities to enter the public domain, only the most incompetent or quixotic of Australian life insurance agents would issue a policy to one of these repugnant punks.

Reminds me of a bit by Burroughs:

At Los Alamos Ranch School, where they later made the atom bomb and couldn't wait to drop it on the Yellow Peril, the boys are sitting on the logs and rocks, eating some sort of food. There is a stream at the end of a slope. The counselor was a Southerner with a politician's look about him. He told us stories by the campfire, culled from the racist garbage of the insidious Sax Rohmer - East is evil, West is good.

Suddenly a badger erupts among the boys - don't know why he did it, just playful, friendly and inexperienced like the Aztec Indians who brought fruit down to the Spanish and got their hands cut off.

So the counselor rushes for his saddlebag and gets out his 1911 Colt .45 auto and starts blasting at the badger, missing it with every shot at six feet. Finally he puts his gun three inches from the badger's side and shoots. This time the badger rolls down the slope into the stream. I can see the stricken animal, the sad shrinking face, rolling down the slope, bleeding, dying.

"You see an animal you kill it, don't you? It might have bitten one of the boys."

The badger just wanted to romp and play, and he gets shot with a .45 government issue. Contact that. Identify with that. Feel that. And ask yourself, whose life is worth more? The badger, or this evil piece of white shit?

As Brion Gysin says: "Man is a bad animal!"

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