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Bondi Woodstock – From Richard Neville

  • On August 24, 2009

On Sunday, as the dull reports on the Woodstock anniversary fell heavily from corporate media – mud, gridlock, smelly lavs – a Woodstock of another kind sprung up at Bondi Beach. Unseasonally hot sun sucked half of Sydney to the golden sands and honeycombed headlands of this ever evolving sacred site. Cheerfulness was rampant. Toddlers delirious with buckets & spades, jocks tossing balls, board riders slicing the foam, Japanese tourists flinging off shoes. How could you not be enchanted by this one day summer of love?

Turn your back on the turquoise water and you glimpse the land based infrastructure feeding off Neptune’s pleasure dome. Cars bumper to bumper, eateries packed to the rafters, heavy machinery, throbbing boutiques. On such a day it certainly seems that the corporate worldview has triumphed, that all is well in the land down under and non aboriginal Australians are the luckiest people on Earth.

And then comes Monday. Farewell Bondi, hello Matrix. Here is the news. Our Aussie boys keep killing Afghanis, with the best of intentions, like the neo colonial Brits. Americans continue to hurl lead at Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis and anyone else in their sights. Drones circle the skies bombing at will. Britain is up to its neck in torture allegations. Murdoch media is in the gutter hacking cellphones. Barrack Obama appears to be a dangerous illusion – George Bush with high IQ and a honeyed tongue. Torturers will not be prosecuted. Hillary Clinton spurns a request from the UN for a meeting on waterboarding at secret CIA prisons. The Rudd Government refuses to investigate claims of torture by Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib, thrice rendered to hellholes with the nod, apparently, of Aussie officials. Meanwhile, no politician has the guts to call the CIA what it is: a terrorist cell.

Oh, you think our invasions, occupations and dark alliances are ameliorated by the giving of aid? Less than 5 cents in the US dollar reaches “ordinary Afghanis” says Marco Vicenzino, founder of a non-partisan, non-profit foreign policy think-tank.

Yes, I loved the little Woodstock at Bondi Beach, the Woodstock lite, drained of politics and agitation. It’s what we’re good at – switching off. Sport our opium, sunshine our XTC, gambling our distraction.

Corporate media seeks to reduce the original Woodstock to a dopey mud bath with stinky soundtrack, while it was also a catalyst of wild ideas and life enhancing philosophies that still shape the future. The day will come when the harder nosed Woodstock aspirations re-enter consciousness, when the nagging shadow of a dying planet turns youth into trouble makers again, when the full horror of our greed, pillage and war crimes are stripped of camouflage and obfuscation, when the emptiness of our search for luxury and self indulgence make us vomit, and feel ashamed that all the time we were raking it in, much of the world and its marginalized citizens were fading away before our unseeing eyes – eyes that were blinded by the sun.

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