RIP Anthony Bourdain

by Robert Hamilton

When I was asked to write something about the recent passing of celebrity chef and raconteur, Anthony Bourdain, I realised that he had been a part of my own culinary journey. His death by suicide, whilst shocking, does fit with the narrative contained within his first book. I received, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, his breakout bestselling memoir as a birthday present from my mother. It was a surprising choice and an equally surprising success. The book lifted the lid on the squalid and steamy underworld of commercial kitchens in the United States. Personally, I had been rattling the pans in restaurant kitchens for nearly 20 years, prior to the publication of Kitchen Confidential in 2000. Commercial kitchens, I suspect, are, and were, similar around the globe, especially in western cities like New York, Sydney and London.

Anthony Bourdain’s First Book an Expose

If you have not spent any serious time behind the closed doors of a commercial kitchen, particularly in the decades before the close of the 20C, then, the content of Bourdain’s first book may be an expose for you. The line cooks who banged out the food under pressure in busy hotels and restaurants were, often, a mix of desperadoes and unsavoury characters. People, usually men, who, perhaps, did not fit in with much of the modern world but found a niche at the range. The conditions inside these kitchens were, often, hot, sweaty, and on a knife’s edge. It takes a special kind of person to be able to bear up under this kind of pressure and in this sort of environment.  There was a camaraderie among the denizens of these culinary stews. There was a macho element, back then, of ribald humour in the face of the daily demands of hungry diners en masse. Surviving a service and successfully manning your station had some of the hallmarks of warriors in battle. Bourdain captured that rich and grimy world and conveyed its essence to a much larger audience.

The Kitchen Realm Studiously Ignored by the Literati

Prior to this, not much had been written about the real workings of commercial kitchens. George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London was one of the few that recorded the reality of the dungeon kitchens in places like The Savoy. There had been little interest shown in the topic by those who decide what gets published, those at the top end of town. I wondered about this myself, as a working cook, why for decades and centuries the kitchen realm had been studiously ignored by the literati? Was it the fact that in ancient Rome most kitchens were manned by slaves? As a western culture, we have derived many of our traditions from the Romans. The Romans enjoyed their food, especially their garum (fish sauce), but if cooking was the pursuit of slaves, it would not be acknowledged as a worthy topic of exploration by those who wrote things down.

Bourdain Shone a Light on the Inner Workings of Kitchens

The New Yorker Bourdain shone a light on the inner workings of the kitchens he was employed to run. He wrote a follow-up to the first book, called Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the people Who Cook. His mother had been a staff editor on The New York Times, so, he, most likely knew his way around the written word. He attended Vassar College for a couple of years before dropping out. In 1978, Bourdain graduated from The Culinary Institute of America, and went on to run a number of restaurant kitchens, including becoming executive chef at the Brasserie Les Halles in Manhattan.

The best-selling books launched Bourdain into the realm of celebrity TV chef, where he starred in A Cook’s Tour; No Reservations; The Layover; Parts Unknown; and The Mind of a Chef. More books, including cook books followed; and he was regarded in the same vein as a rock star in the culinary world of TV and publishing. He was, I suppose, a culinary journalist at heart, combining his two loves and creating a new form from their merging within him. My own brief experience in the media, creating recipe features and cooking magazine supplements jarred with what I intuitively understood hospitality to be about. I felt like a fake during the studio photoshoots, when my dishes were tricked up to look more real than real. I wonder if the glitz and glam of TV land, eventually got to Anthony Bourdain and he lost his way. Of course, one can never know why a person decides to take their own life, we can only speculate. Bourdain was a writer, a chef, a TV show presenter, a father and well-remembered friend to many in the hospitality industry. RIP Anthony Bourdain.

A Brand is Not a Product it is So Much More

We live in a consumer society. Many of us are crowded into urban coastal cities; where what we wear, drive, and consume defines who we are. A brand is not a product, it is so much more in the twenty first century. Things must have souls, because we live lives devoted to amassing things. Materialism is rife across the globe, especially in the wealthy developed nations. Science has killed off religion and we are left worshipping the homes we live in and the stuff we furnish our lives with. Our houses are temples of materialism. Our cars are are chariots, which encase us in gleaming metal. Our mobile phones and devices entrance us like talismans from a forgotten spiritual age.

Brands are Much More than a Name & Packaging

A brand is so much more than a name and packaging. Apple products hum with an intangible energy signature. BMW and Mercedes Benz vehicles enchant their owners with, almost, holographic intensity. Similarly, dozens of other brands wink and nod to millions of aspiring consumers, as these folks make their way through life. The young are, often, entrapped more easily into brand devotion, but their dedication can be fickle in the longer term. Lives are, seemingly, adjudged on the basis of material achievement. The type of home you live in. The kind of car that you drive. The brands you buy and wear. Consumer decisions replace creativity for the bulk of human beings living in these big cities.

Ethical & Sustainable Branding

INTRODUCTION

“A brand is not a product. It is the product’s essence…” (Kapferer in de Chematony, 2010, p 420)

“Marketing, I suspect, was first employed by those in the business of religion, as proponents set about selling belief in an invisible entity to those around them. That twenty first century ‘materialism’ should endower products with such intangibles as soul (Randazzo in Urde, 2009, p 621), through conceptual references to branding, is no surprise on this basis. In this critical review of ethical and sustainable branding in theory and practice, I will seek to identify some of the core issues. Human beings are inclined to imbue material objects with anthropomorphic characteristics, we have been doing it for millennia via our religious and cultural beliefs. Brands, accordingly, have intangibles such as, health, soul, and personality (de Chematony, 2010, p 431). In addition to their tangible inventory of trade-mark, logo and product (de Chematony, 2010, pp 418-419).”

Excerpt from full report into Ethical & Sustainable Branding. Click Here for more

Medecins Sans Frontieres Australia: Donate Now

I have always admired Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Doctors Without Borders, for the work that they do around the world, helping people in desperate need, no matter where they are and whatever their beliefs. Health professionals and aid workers risking their lives to reach those in real need across the globe. MSF is, now, a large organisation operating out of hundreds of countries. They lobby governments and international bodies to assist them in reaching those who require medical assistance and aid. MSF does not balk at war and disaster zones, they charge right in and do their best to help those in perilous need. Donating money to MSF, wherever you are located around the world, is a smart compassionate move. Donate now!

MSF: Actions Speak Louder than Words

We sit in our comfortable environments, within our wealthy western cities, worrying about this and that, whilst human beings are dying, sickening and starving in droves in scores of places around the globe. We complain about our own problems, but have no comprehension of what life is like in a war or disaster zone. Organisations like MSF are vital to keep us in touch with our humanity, before we stray so far from our compassionate hearts, as to lose the ability to ever find our way back there. The actions of this group of brave people, reminds us that there is more to life than our own concerns.

Nobel Peace Prize Winning

“It is a Nobel Peace Prize winning brand; rolled gold in NFP terms. MSFA’s passionate and outspoken profile, continually raises awareness of the organisation’s relief work; offsetting the need for costly advertising. As a NFP brand in this sector, MSFA are less than 25 YO, which is relatively young in comparison to the Australian Red Cross and Save the Children brands. Their image is one of doctorly dedication, despite the dangers and political heat within these war and disaster zones. Their appeal, to both volunteers and donors, will only increase in this materialistic world; as they polarise this position. Donor surveying may provide useful brand perception information to hone further effective marketing strategies. The conquest of the airwaves and media by the digital world, ideally places NFPs in the phones and living rooms of Australian consumers, especially during times of heightened action. Social media platforms are an important part of this, and an expansion of this activity would prove fruitful. Fundraising revenue growth remains the branding strategy’s main target.”

Read Full Report

 

Sex: The Wolf & Red Riding Hood

Sex, in the twenty first century, sits as an uncomfortable bedfellow with political correctness. One can almost see grandma in her bed, with her long snout tied beneath sleeping cap, and Little Red Riding Hood gazing into her great big eyes. The wolf lies beneath the sheets, pretending to be dear old granny, just like our sexuality temporarily at bay. The grey wolf is the ancestor of every loyal dog on the planet. Humanity has tamed the wolf and bred man’s best friend. Sexuality is the primeval pathway to procreation and though tamed today, still has fangs to bare. The sexual urge is primal and directly linked to our beastly nature. Stories of werewolves and full moon madness are remnants of our strange relationship to our own sexuality.

The Company of Wolves

“One Beast and only one howls in the woods by night.

The wolf is carnivore incarnate and he’s as cunning as he is ferocious, once he’s had a taste of flesh then nothing else will do.

At night, the eyes of wolves shine like candle flames, yellowish, reddish, but that is because the pupils of their eyes fatten on darkness and catch the light from your lantern to flash it back to you – red for danger; if a wolf’s eyes reflect only moonlight, then they gleam a cold and unnatural green, a mineral, a piercing colour.”

Angela Carter, The Company of Wolves

The Wolf & Female Sexuality

The she-wolf in art has an added sexual dimension; and the wolf and female sexuality have been linked ever since. Think of the psychological themes underpinning the story of Little Red Riding Hood, with their allegorical allusions to emerging sexuality communicated via the carnality of the tale. Perrault’s original seventeenth century title was Red Cap, and that name has allusions to the clitoris and the deflowering of virginity.[20] It is in many ways, a traditional folk story about the coming of age, which has been turned into a more prudish warning of the dangers men pose to young girls. The wolf is a carnal beast and much blood is spilt, echoing the breaking of the hymen during first penetration.

“He stood in a clearing, reading his verse out loud

in his wolfy drawl, a paperback in his hairy paw,

red wine staining his bearded jaw. What big ears he had! What big eyes he had! What teeth!

In the interval, I made quite sure he spotted me,

sweet sixteen, never been, babe, waif, and brought me a drink, my first.”

Carol Ann Duffy, “Little Red- Cap”

She-Wolves in Rome

Cristina Mazzoni makes an interesting word correlation when she points out in her book, She-Wolf: The Story of a Roman Icon, the word ‘troia’ in Italian can describe a female animal, a sow, but that it is also a derogatory slang term for a female prostitute. Which is fairly run of the mill male misogynistic language; but interestingly if that word is capitalised as “Troia’, it becomes the Homeric ancient city of Troy.[29] Thus linking to the tale of the twins and the founding of Rome.

©Robert Hamilton

CONTINUED HERE

 

Beware Those Who Dress Up: Like George Pell

By Robert Hamilton

We live in an age, where those who seek to define themselves as different from the rest of us, often do so by their dress. The particular ‘they’ I am talking about, do so by dressing in robes, when the rest of us are content to dress in a fairly nondescript fashion. Clothing has, for the general population in the last century, like language itself, become more and more functional, and so those few groups who still abide by stylized uniforms really stand out. None more than those who profess to be religious, men and women of the cloth, so to speak. Beware those who dress up: like George Pell; because they putting their own organisation’s values over the individual and the communities.

Scientifically speaking, we are monkeys who have evolved to make sounds, which now form recognizable languages. We now also wear clothes to hide our nakedness, but we all still have bottoms, and penises and vaginas, depending upon our sex. We still, if truth be told, like nothing more than to use these genitals to enjoy ourselves, and far less often these days, to procreate. Nothing too radical so far that anyone can honestly disagree with, but those of us who like to dress up and pretend that they are not of this ‘monkey brethren’, see it differently. Whether they be dressed like a Catholic cardinal, for instance like our own Cardinal, George Pell, or perhaps emblazoned in the orange robes of a Tibetan Rimpoche, these folk tell us that they have put aside their humanity or base monkeyness to focus on the idea of God inside their heads. We are assured that their idea is more powerful than their own humanity.

Of late (and really it has not been only of late, it is indeed a rich tradition, it is simply that their abuse and lies are no longer secrets), we have seen these religious fakirs , who have professed the transcendence of their genitals, being caught out in the worst kind of sexual exploitation of our most innocent community members – children. Christian ministers of all persuasions, and clergy from a wide array of religions, have been exposed as pedophiles to such an extent, that we in the community are entitled to an explanation. An explanation beyond the band-aid compensation and business as usual excuses, currently being offered. I mean, imagine if a corporation, or an entire industry, was exposed as home to purveyors of criminal sexual behaviour to the level that we see these religious people being exposed as, we would demand an Inquiry. We should be asking, what are the factors that cause their members to be so prone to be multiple, repeat, child sex offenders? Why do we blindly let these heinous crimes mount up and up, without any Inquiry or indeed action that could lead to a solution? Is compensation justified for these victims of sexual abuse?

It seems, a robe or cassock, is a means to be judged at an entirely different level to the rest of us, and that religion has become a blind spot for a civilization that professes to be an enlightened one, or at least a post modernist, post, post, (where has that last post sign gone) civilization. When are we going to wake-up as a society, and banish the possibility of clergy polluting the deepest private recesses of our most vulnerable? Religion, being a fog of unscientific beliefs, whose existence is predicated on the constantly PR boosted idea that we are dependent upon a God – who, in my humble opinion, consistently fails to live up to his or her factuality. I mean if God was the CEO of a particular corporation or industry body, he could not have been more let down by his representatives, according to their own industry standards. What is the ratio of good deeds versus the evil of pedophilia, I wonder?

Beware those who dress up: like George Pell…

Continued in Disciple: Rajneesh Rover – A Collection of My Writing on Spirit and Life

Readers may also be interested in reading:

God Is In The Way: Monotheism a Dysfunctional Deity

 

Online Content by Aussie Writers More Effective

Having your online content written for your Australian website by Australian writers imbues your website with a different level of readability. It is becoming more widely known, now, that Google ranks pages with an awareness of the quality of the digital copy inherent within it. Content written in the third world for peanuts by writers with English as a second language will not ultimately deliver the SEO you desire. As digital content becomes more and more important for online marketing the bar will continue to be set higher by Google. There is an old saying, “you get what you pay for in this life.”

Serious businesses in the Western sphere utilise local talent to bolster their digital presence. Every web page and post represents your company or business. Digital marketers see websites as virtual sales people with the landing page as their first pitch. If your online copy has all the sparkle of an English lesson in a migrant centre, then you are probably deterring customers away from your business. Good sales people know that if you employ a technique, where you mirror the language used by your ‘mark’ in your pitch, you increase the chances of making a sale by some 200%. Only a local can effectively capture the nuance and inflection in the Australian idiom.

Think about how you smile to yourself when you come across an obvious spelling mistake on the menu in your favourite Thai or Japanese restaurant. They get away with it because you get to eat their delicious food, but in the virtual world you are left with only the poorly constructed sentences and awkward expressions. Language and narrative is what much of our lives are made up of, and if your website is not telling a brilliant story, well readers will go elsewhere. There are now more than a billion websites worldwide and that figure is growing exponentially.

Australian writers are not expensive and they are more productive in terms of time taken to research a topic and then producing effective copy. Well written content attracts the attention of search engines and then delivers sales enquiries. Make your website a star sales performer by enabling it with gifted content. Good copy equals more sales. Effective communication created by a local will outperform wooden words laid down by a stranger to our lands. Let the skilled writers who have grown up with the mother tongue invoke magic on your behalf. It behooves me to make this entreaty on their behalf and on yours. Get the gist of the argument?

Adam Goodes Victim of Tall Poppy Syndrome

Indigenous AFL star, Adam Goodes, finds himself the victim of Australia’s very own Tall Poppy Syndrome (TPS). Aussie PM Tony Abbott guaranteed Goodes would fall victim to this curse by making Adam Austalian of the Year in 2014. Australians, generally, don’t like being told who to admire or appreciate, and when a currently playing footballer from a historically denigrated racial minority is elevated to numero uno, well we are witnessing the result.

I liken the situation to Australia’s first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, and just look at the mysogynistic back lash she copped. Similarly, when global climate change was trendy in Australia and PM Rudd made his undeliverable commitment to a solution to that, well again, the back lash from the conservative forces was profound. Women and green policies can have their fifteen minutes of fame in Australia, and maybe an Aboriginal sportsman as well, but the shadow side of this nation will have its revenge post-haste.

There is a nasty core of rascist, mysogynistic and conservative people inhabiting Australia, and they find their voice at times such as these. When they have a white, male, budgie smuggler wearing, hero in the lodge, the not so poor white trash of Australia has the courage to stand up for its beliefs. Minorities not keeping to their place beware, uppity women and indigenous sporting stars you will be heckled and booed.

Politically correct behaviour is only skin deep in this country. Tribal affiliations, like which footy team you barrack for, run much deeper, and stir the passions to let these folk vent their bile on those who dare to speak above their station in life. Aboriginal football players should not have any opinions apart from those which are footy related, in the view of these dinky di Aussies. The TPS curse seeks to cut down greatness in this country and direct our attention toward equitable mediocrity.

Now, we are hearing that Adam Goodes is a sook because he complains about being booed for a whole year at every AFL ground he plays on. Overweight white kids at the footy should be able to boo this dual Brownlow medalist freely, because that is the nature of the spectator at our indigenous game. Angry men and women should be able to boo this champion of the game because that is what we go to the footy for, to release our pent up frustrations. Well, maybe things have changed, maybe times have changed, and maybe that is not what footy is all about anymore.

What does Tony Abbott have to say about the treatment of his Australian of the Year now?

Goolwafind New Directory S Site

Goolwafind is the latest directory site to make use of the DirectoryS WordPress theme. This classy theme is an ideal directory skin for creating image galleries for site listings. Residents of, and visitors to, the South Australian town of Goolwa will benefit from this new information source. Only in its infancy but already a good looking and information rich site, Goolwafind, will easily fill a valuable niche.

Tourists will appreciate being able to find featured locations for recreation and entertainment in this south coast holiday destination. Accommodation options are listed, along with art galleries, museums, parks and local businesses. With so many holiday makers now accessing information on their smart phones and devices the Goolwafind site will serve both visitors and providers.

Goolwa has a number of well attended major events on its calendar, including the wooden boat festival and Goolwa regatta. The Goolwa Wharf is a feature of the town, offering a paddle steamer service, boutique brewery, historical steam train station, restaurants, winery and art gallery. The Goolwa Wharf markets are held every first and third Sundays of the month. The markets offer arts and crafts, plants and flowers, antiques, gourmet foods, fashions, and much more.

Goolwa is a favourite long weekend and school holiday destination for residents of Adelaide; South Australia’s capital city. The Murray River, Australia’s major river, never quite meets the coast here at Goolwa; finishing in Lake Alexandrina. The town has the river on one side and the Southern Ocean on the other, making it a favourite with those who enjoy water sports. Fishing is big in Goolwa, and the Hindmarsh Island Bridge takes anglers over to the island and its marina and many fishing spots.

Surfing is popular in Goolwa and Middleton, with major breaks creating consistent swells throughout the year. The area is home to a number of surf shops and surfing schools. Sailing is big on the lake and river, with a number of sailing clubs featuring regular competitions. Surf skis and power boats recreate on the river, making this a wonderful family attraction.

The natural birdlife in Goolwa is stunning with giant pelicans and graceful Ibis wheeling across the skies. Flocks of birds fly in patterns over the river, as they scan the waters for schools of fish. A cycleway along side the Murray River allow walkers, skaters and cyclists to enjoy the visual feast as they make their way into and outer of town. Numerous parks with public facilities line the foreshore attracting picnicers, kid’s birthday parties and canoodling couples.

Goolwafind can point you in the right direction to find your heart’s desire.

US Open Golf 2015

Boy, what a surprise when I turned on the first round of the 2015 US open golf championship to see a revolutionary new vista. Where were the boring old, up and down, tree lined fairways? Where were the chemically induced ultra green coloured greens? What I was seeing did not look like golf US style. This looked like a mix of staged motor cross and Open links golf brought together in a new kind of golfing space. I immediately thought to myself – new fans are going to love this. The USGA are to be applauded for their ground breaking vision.

Golf has a pronounced tendency to look back for signs of its way forward and as much as I love tradition, you can only eat so many of your children. Chambers Bay seems to offer golf in the twenty first century something new, beyond what the uninitiated fan, always fails to see. The big problem for TV is that golf looks so bloody easy. The ball doesn’t move, it just sits there, waiting, like some sort of victim. Nobody passes the ball to another player. You just need to move the ball from one sector of the course to another; no pressure, it looks easy. The experienced hacker would ask the question, “but have you tried to do just that?” It is, as we golfers know, much harder than you think.

This, however, is not an article about the difficulties of golf, deserved as that may be. Golf is very difficult to play well and that is why its extremely talented exponents are paid exceedingly well.  Television viewers need to see how challenging golf really is and three dimensional digital viewing is in its infancy. Whether it be golf skins games played in minefields? Or something akin to this, golf needs to man up, and perhaps Chambers Bay is the start of this. Golf, in my opinion, could do with shedding some of its more banal past.

Golfers, if they are earning seven figure salaries, could do with some more obvious challenges. Chambers Bay, as I mentioned, looks a bit like a motor cross track. Jason Day getting vertigo playing this unique course says something about its challenges. Carved out of an old quarry, this links course is something else, and obviously a real test for pro golfers. The pressure of this experience was the undoing of many top golfers, it was too hot in the kitchen for some.  Bring on more such interesting courses to the USGA roster, I say. Go new golf!