Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Bogan-People

I often sit back, relax, sip my caramel latte and wonder if Bogans own mirrors. Is it just me or do you often wonder if they are aware that they are exactly the same as every other Bogan? They are all so unmistakable, it’s uncanny. They have that leathery, brown skin that looks as though it was just draped over a doctor’s office skeleton that had a can of bourbon and coke propped in its hand and then sent on its way at ten in the morning; and when they aren’t under-weight, they’re over-weight. Then there’s the poor-speech and lack of pronunciation; the forward head posture; the ‘it’s never my fault’ mentality; those white ten dollar hoodies that are noticeably pilled with that dirt-yellow tinge you get in your whites when they don’t get washed; the trash Aussie pride that puts me off being proud myself (see blog) and, how could I not mention, that…[slow exhale]…classic mullet. But, even though they are the succubus scum of our country and we essentially fund their habits with our taxes, I kind of love Bogans. They actually perform a bit of service to the country. Somehow, they have inadvertently established themselves as a minority here; almost like a new race of people, and yet because they aren’t actually a different race of people, we can still tease the shit out of them and laugh at their frequent public-shenanigans without looking prejudice.

I don’t know about other Australian cities, but here in Sydney, a lot of the Middle-Eastern youth seem to feel that their ethnic-roots obligate them to act like morons and turn our roads into racetracks. The problem here is that it’s hard to have a laugh about any of that without looking like you’re launching into a racially-motivated attack on every Middle-Eastern person in the world, and there are people that I’ve met who genuinely believe that all of them are trouble-makers…all of them. I may make jokes, but I’ve never shared this belief. But despite all of that, at heart, we are all a little prejudice, no matter how open-minded you think you are. The general belief that Asians can’t drive is probably the best example of this that I can think of.

Like I was saying before, you’ve seen one Bogan and you’ve seen them all, and I know that, but do they? Because the young Arabs that I speak of seem to live on a ‘my brother/sister/friend does it so I’ll do it’ attitude, and that’s how it has become this widespread trend, but I get a feeling that Bogans don’t share that same level of self-awareness, like they all stumbled into it by accident or something…y’know, because they’re stupid. A Lebanese kid trying to assimilate himself into a friend group will stand in front of a mirror for hours, making the conscious decision to look and act like his friends in a bid for acceptance, but I don’t see Bogans doing this, especially considering that being Bogan is probably the last route you’d want to take when seeking acceptance.

This is the beautiful service that Bogans offer us Australians. They give us a group of people who aren’t different enough to be officially established as a minority group, but just different enough to be generally-recognised as a deviated group regardless, a group whom we can distract and unload our own racism on without actually being racist at all. The delicate art of loopholes.

And there you have it, a prejudicial post without actually being prejudice – a distraction for anybody who has something negative to say about Middle-Easterns, Europeans, Asians, Blacks, Whites, the disabled and the homosexual.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gay Purgatory

I'm as straight as they come, so the whole gay marriage dispute doesn't really affect my life at all, but that doesn’t seem to stand in the way of it getting me as frustrated as Lewis Black on a rainy day. In the past, I figured it would be something that would never actually happen so I've generally been pretty blaze about the whole thing, but recently, something changed - I had a bit of an epiphany. I started putting myself in a homosexual's shoes (but not their pants) and I've realised how fucking irate I would be if I had to put my life on hold because of something I was born with to fight a battle that will inevitably be won anyway.

It usually starts with the hypothetical question 'what if heterosexuality was the weird thing and being gay was seen as ‘normal’?' And as I ponder for an answer, I realise that my life would be as follows: birth in a time slightly more discriminatory than it is now, confusion for a little bit, then discovery of the vagina, meeting one I want to be with for the rest of my life and then, while all my gay friends are pairing up and getting married, some bunch of fuckwits tell me that my girlfriend and I can't live as man and wife because it makes them and their god uncomfortable. So then for the next decade, I have to sit in the government’s version of a doctor's waiting room, living in some sort of pseudo-marriage waiting for actual marriage to be approved, all the while taking time out of my day to attend protests, lobbies and rallies. If I were gay and I found out that my love comes with a homework assignment, that vein above my right-temple would explode, with my chairs, my moisturiser bottles and my Sex and the City box set being hulked across my house.

My biggest gripe, I guess, is realising the fact that it can either happen now or later, but either way it's going to happen. Everybody knows that right? It's becoming more abundantly clear every week of fighting that the gays are nearing the pinnacle of this same-sex marriage mountain they've been climbing for decades. Since 2001, there have been a number of national and state legislation passed allowing same-sex marriage, with more adding to that list every year. Federal recognition in the United States is also currently under review and here in Australia we are seeing more and more politicians warming to it (wish I could say the same for our party leaders though), with the possibility of a conscience-vote. So, if it's going to happen anyway, why not just do it? It’s so simple, so why do governments insist on wasting people's time, that's my question? If not for the people, how about for their own image? I'd hate to say it but if I were a public-figure, I would rather forfeit my principles than appear as a dismissive and prejudicial person.

Ah! How silly of me; it’s religion!

Religion is the petroleum that keeps getting thrown on this fire. It's my personal opinion that religion is really becoming irrelevant in relation to this issue. I don’t even see the whole notion of marriage as a spiritual act anymore – it’s not about God, it’s about the chick I want to bang for the next eighty years. People may not agree with me here but I feel that somewhere along the line, marriage got severed from religion and became secular in people’s eyes. That's the way I see it anyway, I mean, I'm quite anti-religious, but I'd still get married, in a church even; the ceremonies are beautiful. So, if it’s not just me and that is the general-consensus on marriage, can we really keep playing the religion card? A card that, of course, doesn't come without its holes. Murder me for repeating what has already been said, but an article I read recently brought up some good points that if the whole gay marriage issue boils down to the fact that a woman plus another woman won’t equal offspring, then what's the word on people suffering with infertility? How about elderly women? Or elderly men, for that matter? Our politicians don't seem to be drawing any attention to the men who shoot blanks who get married, but when two people of the same-sex who will probably end up taking a kid who was abandoned by his 'normal' parents out of foster homes and into healthy ones, that's no good. Unfortunately, I say this, not to tease or force my views on religion, but to illustrate that not only are people's time being wasted here, but it's being wasted on the basis of broken-logic amplified by broken people.

I guess it's a little silly to be complaining about this now. Homosexuals have definitely seen worse days, but what it is that I have a problem with is that, even in today’s western culture’s unfastened acceptance of race and sexual orientation, people are still saying no to same-sex marriage when we have clearly reached the point at which a winning verdict is foreseeable. There is no doubt that the means are no longer justifying the end. The troubling thing here is that the only thing we have to blame for the delay, and the whole thing for that matter, are the world’s sacred texts. It would seem that they have managed to breed a generation of bigots akin to those that still support genocide and slavery, bigots who can hopefully be superseded in conscience voting. Guys, it's time. It's time to identify with the fact that there are still Hitlers in the world that need ignoring and it's time to realise that now we are simply just biding time 'til gay men and women anywhere can marry without the need for plane tickets, so just do it already and let us get on with...ah, I don't know, withdrawing the troops, fixing the economy, running the country? Those are just some suggestions, just as long as it’s not unnecessarily preventing people from living their lives.

‘Civil-unions are basically the same as marriage.’ Fuck you.

12/12/11: Added photo, because, let’s face it, I had to.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

St Pauls Catholic College

If my high school ever had a reunion in twenty years’ time, the rsvp on my invite, in addition to the traditional two, would need one more option: 'attending', 'not attention' and -the one I would tick – ‘I'd rather be dead!’ People often ask me why I hated going to St Pauls Catholic College, Greystanes so much, and sure, I always mention conflicts with other students and the relatively minor bouts with bullying, and that all goes without saying, but that's only the half of it. The biggest stone in my shoe I always had to deal with being a St Pauls student was that the school itself wasn't so much an educational facility as a business masquerading as one. From an outsider’s perspective, this may seem like a petty administrative issue in relation to a student, but in actual fact, a money-obsessed undertone was always at such a constant that it had some influence over every ridiculous decision that was made, be it regarding the students or not, and I was done with it.

Businesses have mottos, and like a business, St Pauls’ motto is: preserve self-image at any cost. This meant that, while other students were getting crucified for minor things done while off the premises in the public-eye, the universal approach to any incident that happens within school grounds, no matter how severe, would involve little punishment for those responsible and a cover up operation akin to a gangster-hit in a Scorsese film. Essentially, to the principals at St Pauls, students were just meat-bags with family bank accounts, so if things aren’t looking picture perfect to the prospective public, fewer parents will enrol their meat-bags for the following school year and, thus, fewer parents can be billed.

And let’s not pretend that St Pauls doesn’t have a history of cover ups. In fact, get this, the name ‘St Pauls Catholic College’ itself is the result of a cover up operation, orchestrated five years before I was enrolled. The story is: back in the days when the school was known as Newman High School, its parish priest was a man named John Gerard Patrick Sweeney. To say the least, Father Sweeney liked little boys…and he’d been liking them for eleven years before he and his pseudo-catholic ring of paedophiles were publicly exposed around 1994. Sweeney was later convicted in 1998. That same year became Newman High School’s final one. That’s right, as opposed to bearing the responsibility of foolishly turning a blind-eye on sexual assault for over a decade, operation St Pauls Catholic College came into effect that following year.

That’s basically the school I attended for six years - Newman High School. Don’t get distracted by the new name, the warming tagline, the pretty emblem, the welcoming school song or the amended school history found in every standard-issue diary, because that same business-mentality that existed in Newman lives on in St Pauls - a mentality where school fees become more important than the life-long trauma that is inflicted upon a student when the very people they trust molests them.

This constant fear of public-perception is the number one reason why all of the issues the school had with me were never regarding things that had gone on inside of school. For example, I used to have a load of trouble regarding my uniform when getting to and from school. Anybody who lived close-by or were picked up from school would’ve had little to no trouble here, as they’d be home within ten minutes, but for me, it often took me well over an hour to get home due to bus connections and other bullshit I’ll get to later. Not only did it take that long, but I would sometimes stop off at the library on my way home to do some homework, which meant that sometimes I wouldn’t end up getting home ‘til dark that night. But St Pauls being St Pauls had this no excuse policy that you either wear the uniform fully and properly or get your fingernails ritualistically removed, regardless of circumstance; it was a full stop, ‘I don’t give a shit about your life policy. So, this library was only fifteen minutes from my school and some teachers, for whatever reason, would sometimes be in the vicinity to see us walking around. So what this meant for me was that I basically couldn’t even loosen my necktie until I got home late that night unless I wanted to risk an eye-piercing pink detention slip, which happened time and time again. I mean, how ridiculous. And it wasn’t just me, others did the same and were punished all the same. Meanwhile, in my last year there, there was this boy who had been having some sort of escalating playground back-and-forth with another boy, both in my grade. One day in class, one taunted the other so badly that he grabbed a pair of scissors and stabbed the other in the arm. I’m not sure how severe it was or the specifics of what happened next, but what’s important here is that neither of the students were expelled and there was, what I like to call, a really big hush-meeting, which was basically a strategic move in operation cover up. They basically pulled my entire grade out of class, gathered us around and told us not to tell anyone, like all one hundred and fifty of us had to keep this dirty little secret for the rest of our lives…but I digress. The hypocrisy is gleaming, where at six at night, I can’t walk from the library to a bus stop with my blazer in my bag without earning a detention but somebody stabs somebody else in one of our classrooms and they got…a stern talking to? Questioned by the police? MY point is if I was getting detentions, they should’ve gotten expelled. So, were St Pauls really meaning to say that missing an item of clothing outside of school is a bigger offence than a potentially dangerous assault inside? In a word, yes, because it was never about what happened, it was about where it happened.

That brings me to my final point: the transport to and from school. My primary school was a lot closer to home than St Pauls and when I was in my final year there, St Pauls was the school that visited us to try and sell the school to us (a.k.a. the prospective market). Because they did this every year, and St Pauls was, I’m ashamed to admit, one of the better schools in the area, a considerable amount of the male students would go on to become St Pauls students; to my misfortune, I was one of them. One of their selling hooks that day, and at a parent information night months later, was that the wheels were in motion for a direct school bus route between my primary school’s suburb, where I reside, and the St Pauls grounds. In fact, they actually talked like it would come to fruition sometime in my first year. That was 2002. When I left school in 2007, they were still using that same business hook. I’m not sure if it was all talk on St Pauls' part, if they just kept having issues with the bus company or just the fact that coming up with a direct route from home to St Pauls isn’t something that can be done in under a decade, but it just never happened and nobody ever explained why. Nevertheless though, having to catch two buses to get to school wasn't the problem, as for me there were an ample amount of services, it’s what happened after this where it all just got a little too ridiculous for words. Six months into my first school year, either because the bus company got sick of the misbehaving group of St Pauls students who caught the buses or because the school did it as punishment to those students, the two buses we had each in the morning and the afternoon got cut down to one. This meant that, in the morning, there was now a forty minute gap between my connecting bus arriving and the overcrowded school bus departing, but that's still not the problem. Mind you, I was still on tenterhooks waiting for this direct bus from my area, merely treating this connection as a meantime alternative. So the following year rolled around and some kids from Greystanes High School waiting for other buses at the same stop began giving me some trouble. These kids were just arseholes and to prevent things coming to blows, I began to catch the public route to school, which was similar to our school route only that it meant a five minute wait, as opposed to a forty minute one. Long story short, this was an ideal resolution to all of my AM transport problems. The bus drivers never asked questions, they accepted my bus pass, it got me to school early, drama-free and I did this for years. The following year I made friends with a boy in a younger grade from up the road, which would catch this bus with me for the same reasons. Who knows what prompted them, but then a year later some St Pauls morons came along and fucked everything up. They started doing what we were doing, the only difference was that they were doing it noisily and disruptively, and within months, the school held one of their 'you can’t eat' lunch meetings telling us that we were no longer allowed to catch the public routes from that particular stop. I didn’t feel like it was there place to police how I got to school, so I continued, but because our principal was now on the case, St Pauls stonewalled us. Whenever I would try to get on one of the buses that wasn’t that one designated bus for my school, the drivers, who knew my face from years of no trouble, would mention my dick principal, Chris Dutfield, by name and tell me that he had told them that we couldn’t catch that bus anymore. I’d argue and argue but there was never any use. So when I tried politely explaining to Dutfield the full story about the trouble I was having and my elaborate journey between school and home, I basically got the same responses I got from the bus drivers, an ‘I don’t care’ response. I pretty much felt like he was saying ‘if you don’t like it, don't catch the bus to school, and he had the audacity to make me feel that way after dangling the direct route infront of me for years. The way I see it is they can do what they want inside there grounds, hell, they could've expelled me, toward the end I was encouraging that, but as long as they still had me down in the roll book, they had no right to tell me what forms of transport I could take to get to school and which ones i couldn't, as long as I got to school on time.

The situation itself was just ridiculous, and it ties in with everything else I’ve mentioned – St Pauls wanting to police us anywhere, anytime. I mean, they had some guts telling us what we could and couldn't do outside of school. I mean, where does it end then? Will they start telling us that we can’t catch taxis to school? What about what shops to eat at and what footpaths we can and can’t walk? And what’s the cut-off time there? Is it really ethical for somebody to be getting punished for wearing a uniform incorrectly after the sun has set? It was just such a silly set of ambiguous rules. This is no joke, but once when I was jigging school, I caught a public route to Parramatta wearing my uniform and no body batted an eyelid, but catching that same bus going the opposite way to get to school, that wasn’t allowed!

Unfortunately, that was the tip of the iceberg when it came to transport, because then there was the whole I have a penis and you’re a Muslim problem. If I could count for you how many lunchtimes this whole thing stole from me, you’d wonder how nobody ever put a bullet in their brain, what I can tell you was that for a while there, it seemed like we – and when I say we, I mean any student who caught this particular school bus - were having meetings once a week. The catalyst to these meetings was that the afternoon bus had recently been merged with Holroyd High School’s bus, which meant that the bus would first pick us up and then we would stop off there on the way. For anybody who doesn’t know, Holroyd High welcomes a lot of refugees and migrants and is specialised in teaching their foreign students how to speak English and, for what I’m assuming is a precipitating factor of this, this meant that the school had an abundance of Islamic students, male and female. St Pauls, however, was an all-boys Catholic school. The problem St Pauls had with us was – get this – that we weren’t getting out of our seats when we arrived at Holroyd. According to our teachers, according to Islam, 'practicing Muslim females' cannot sit next to males. Firstly, I did Islam for my HSC and I never found any hard facts to support this, is that even a thing? Secondly, regardless of how fabricated the facts of their case, let’s get this straight: they decide to mix an already crowded bus that an all-boys catholic school has been comfortably and privately catching for years with a school which consists of a large number of Islamic girls, who, allegedly, are not allowed to be next to males. So, after we’ve settled into our seats, because they’re Muslim, we’re in trouble because we won't cater for them. Let's call it the entrapment of St Pauls - a conspiracy contrived so that we don't eat lunch. Not only was I losing lunchtimes because of this shit, but we were once parked on the side of the road for forty minutes being lectured by an inspector and getting our bus passes collected, causing all types of trouble when catching my connecting buses and any buses the following day. I mean, talk about being bowled over by the weight of your own balls. And what does it all come down to, how we look in the eyes of everybody else. God forbid, can’t be the school who won’t forfeit their seat for Muslims!

And those are just a few things that I hand-picked from the batch. I could write a separate blog on my five years at St Pauls.

You see, St Pauls want to make themselves look like a great school, but the irony here is that their methods in trying to achieve that prevent them from being so. St Pauls’ attention was just always too busy to concentrate on education, for example, too busy creating mind-pretzeling verbal policies, too busy keeping count of how many students are attending and making sure everybody knows about it, and too busy smuggling Mr Dutfield and his mail-order wife out of the country after he makes a mess of a student’s HSC exams. And, I know, the teachers won't admit it, but some of them were around when those boys were molested in the ‘90s, including the aforementioned principal. So, don't be fooled; when it comes to a student-count mantra, cosmetic-trickery and educational slight-of-hand, St Pauls are the experts. Sure, private schools need money, but it shouldn’t be the focus and that’s what creates a significant disparity between a well-run school and St Pauls Catholic College, Greystanes. Don’t send your kid there.

“All it takes for evil to succeed is for people to say 'It's a business'.

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