Tim Blair

Penny Arcade

Larvatus Prodeo

January 15, 2014 at 1:53 PM

The Trouble With Whiny Bitch Musicians

It must be hard being the national 'yoof' radio network, triple j.

A few years ago (holy shit- it was 10 years ago) I wrote an article about the national broadcaster called "The Trouble With triple j" in which I whined and bitched (although I am certainly no musician) about how triple j had lost its way, it wasn't spending its tax payer dollars the right way blahdey blah blah blah. 

Of course I was a bit pleased with myself at the time because my article was quite widely read but it turns out bashing triple j is a perennial favorite on the blogosphere and a low hanging fruit when journalists and bloggers are looking to kick up a bit of controvesy because the blogosphere it is currently all lit up with talk of triple j having lost its way after a report from The Age newspaper claimed that their study showed that young up and coming musicians were tailoring their music to what they term "the triple j sound" to improve their chance of being played on the network and that this was leading to the homogenisation of Australian music. Presumably if triple j is the villain of the story, it must follow naturally that Channel 10, 9, 7 and Austereo must be the heros of the story the way they so vigorously promote a diverse Australian music scene (wait, what?).

The fact that my commentary 10 years ago seems as relevant today as it was 10 years ago leads me to suspect that, unknown to me at the time and somewhat paradoxically, perhaps triple j has ALWAYS been this way and my commentary was as trite and predictable as the criticisms being bandied about now. triple j has always held out the tantalising prospect to young artists that perhaps all that matters is their art, but that has never quite worked out. triple j is paid for with other peoples money and mass appeal does matter to triple j. It always has done unfortunately. 

Stakes were raised when Melbourne based singer/song writer Whitley got involved via a series of status updates from his Facebook page. You can read about it on this post at music blog, Tone deaf. Whitley, who I had never heard of before, was apparently an unearthed artist from a few years back. His full back catalog of songs seems to be available on Spotify if you want to go listen.

Or you can watch the best song from his latest album on Youtube.

Whitley, known to his friends as Lawrence Greenwood, wrote:


Because JJJ didn't play any of Even The Stars Are a Mess. JJJ has an excruciatingly narrow-minded playlist that caters for the lowest common denominator. In my opinion they've failed as a tax-payer funded radio station that is supposed to challenge and present new ideas for the youth of Australia. I find them barely distinguishable from a commercial radio station, which is why I listen to, and support, community radio such as RRR, FBi, PBS and university radio stations.

While I appreciate the airplay JJJ gave me, and recognise their role getting me started, as a tax-paying Australian, I reserve the right to criticise the changes in JJJ over the last decade, which I see as detrimental to the expansion and nourishment of young minds of limitless potential.

Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so. This was sent to me by my friend this week:


I have had a listen and it is not really my thing and I can see why Triple J would be in no rush to add his new album to general rotation. It is not very good. I mean it is fairly good. It is better than I could do. It is quite nice to listen to. But it is not so amazingly awesome that it is some kind of crime against radio for triple j to not want to play it.

However Whitley does make some good compelling points in amongst the exageration and hyperbole.


Maybe the final post on this before I dedide to live back in the jungle.

Let's say that somehow, I don't know myself well enough to know that this isn't sour grapes. Also, let's say that somehow we can categorically prove that it is, in fact, the most sour grapes that have ever been eaten by a man in the history of the world.

So, even though I feel this to be untrue, in this hypothetical situation, we establish that I am one seriously ticked off dude and I'm on a rant to change JJJ.

Why would that even matter?

If a man was walking down the street and he was mugged, and he felt that he'd been let down by the safety of his community, then surely it is okay for him to say that he expected more from his local government when he considers himself to be a victim of it. Isn't it?

Well, if you applied your logic, just because an individual has been involved on the wrong side of the issue in discussion, any victim of anything should be at the very least treated with suspicion and concern of 'sour grapes', including our friend who got mugged.

It's not the point. It's a fantastically dull way of dissecting and processing the argument and I expect more from people so we can at least change the world a little bit for the better.

Also, on the side, It's been many years since I've held this view.

In 2010, backstage at Foals (I think) at Splendour In The Grass, I had a conversation with Zan Rowe about my concerns with the JJJ play list after I found out she was a fan of Seagull, a friend's band. Seagull is far too obtuse for the average JJJ listener, but it kind of made me think...'Hold up...if Zan Rowe is so into Seagull...why can't she spin it?' To which she replied something along the lines of 'I think that the kids need something a little less challenging.' Now, she could have been being facetious, but even so, isn't this a case of truth spoken in jest? I think it indicates the problem with JJJ.

Now, I really like Zan Rowe a lot, but I disagree with that...I think someone aged 16-24 is capable of liking just about anything, and that her view at that time was a direct result of the internal culture of a form of unimaginative and conservative programming that JJJ are unintentionally holding themselves back with. The minds of young people are primed to learn and shape the world ahead, they're shaping my world too, so I'm concerned that they are listening to the same music played over and over and over and over and over and over and over. I'm also concerned that they are involved with festivals that then profit from, and cater to, that market by only playing those bands live on stage.

Also, in 2010, - ON JJJ WHILE MY MUSIC WAS BEING PLAYED IN HIGH ROTATION - I expressed - not clearly enough - that I was concerned about the commercial nature of my environment during an interview by Richard Kingsmill. Now, I think Richard Kingsmill is a bloody asset to the ABC and a great music journalist. What I don't think is that he should be in this job and I disagree with the repeat play lists that JJJ employ. I think there is a lot more room for a variety of interesting music that reflects a balance between the current play list and one that is brave and shows people new ideas.

Now, I'm not saying I haven't been played a lot on JJJ, I'm not saying I haven't played the festivals in question. If anything, that would give me more experience to make a more informed opinion rather than guessing.

For the record, I think JJJ need more funding from the government that is currently running this country, not less. I think that this discussion is a great avenue by all people, no matter what view you hold on the JJJ 'sound' to pressure the Abbott government into funding the ABC more, not less.

I would hate to see Richard leave the ABC. He's a worthwhile music journalist who is very well read, and very well spoken. I disagree with him, but that doesn't matter, it's not the effing point. The point is the way that the radio station is run. This is our station as young Australians, and it's important that we are able to express opinions without being shot down, it's all too typical of an older, conservative Australian culture and I think we are moving past that shit to encourage a new Australia that values the arts. So don't say 'start your own radio station' because it is OUR radio station. We've already got one. We've all paid for it. I'm allowed to comment on it all day long because I'm happy that it's there and I'm saying something because I think it's underselling and misrepresenting some people.

Where are the shows that introduce us to new ideas? With the exception of Hack, which is the golden jewel in an otherwise uninteresting crown, there are no shows that really introduce people to radically new things. Young people can handle it! Why not have an unearthed show every day? That would be fantastically interesting and give young bands support.

Why don't DJ's have power to play from their own tastes? Isn't the point of having a DJ to be shown new things that they know? Aren't they chosen for their job because of their unique and enlightening opinions? I'd bloody hope so if I was a DJ. Where's the spontaneity?

Why is the play list restricted to just a handful of bands? Isn't this just slamming the same old crap, of which I include my music of past, over and over and over again? What impact do JJJ think that will have on the even distribution of power and attention amongst Australian musicians? For a left-leaning, progressive radio station, that structure is suspiciously conservative and lacks a sense of progressive individuality.

Are ratings more important than variety of music? Sure, JJJ would lose ratings if they started playing a greater variety, but it's all about finding a balance. At the moment, I feel it's too much gluttony and not enough gourmet. We need to protect JJJ from the claws of the Liberal government by putting pressure on them whenever they even hint about doing anything other than increasing the ABC's budget.

Why are older people calling the shots on what the youth should have? Why isn't there a rotating roster of young Australians in charge of choosing the music? I think they should come from different socio-economic backgrounds that give a true representation to Australian youth culture. I think I'm a tiny minority of that culture.

What do you think is going to happen if JJJ keep allowing themselves to cater to the same audience over and over again? They're already caught in a feedback loop of having to serve the boring culture they're creating. It will take an unpopular set of ideas to stop that from happening.

I dread the day when Australian youth are all huddled under one giant festival tent in the desert, drinking cans of phenomenally expensive beer, yelling 'YOLO!' over the few bands that are played 24 hours a day, while the world outside goes to shit.

This is not growing a culture of difference, it's growing a culture of homogenised thinking and narrow-mindedness through a narrow selection of music, and historically speaking, that doesn't tend to work out too well for people.

YOLO, Lawrence.

Maybe Triple J has always been the way it is right now and we are all getting a little too carried away. JJJ has always been better than the commercial stations, yet as a commercial station of sorts it has never, will never, live up the hopes held for it by the successive generations of young people that love it dearly and then grow up and out of the target demographic.

September 4, 2013 at 12:25 PM

What Good Does It Do?

What good is it to survive a treacherous journey from Java to Christmas Island in a rickety old wooden boat on high seas if when you get there you are only going to be sent to a crowded rape gulag in Papua New Guinea?

Continue reading What Good Does It Do?.

September 3, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Anything But Labor, Anything But Liberal

I started writing this article and it was all about who you should vote for at the election in a weeks time on the 7th of September. I even created a how to vote card that showed how you should number your candidates if you wanted to vote like me. Not really as arrogant as it sounds considering that every political party in the country is presumptuous enough to do the very same thing. But I have completely rewritten this article because I realized that there was a more pressing matter to discuss than simply how you should number your ballot.

Now this article is about the parlous state of the media and our political system.

Continue reading Anything But Labor, Anything But Liberal.

June 28, 2013 at 10:27 PM

Like Other Hardcore Labor Voters I Will Vote For Kevin... But I Won't Be Happy About It

gillardvrudd.jpg You would be hard pressed to find a better demonstration than this graphic on the left (courtesy of Guardian Australia) of why, if you posses Labor values and want to see a Labor agenda implemented, you should prefer Julia Gillard to Kevin Rudd. They share the same policies and believe in the same things, only Gillard made things happen and Rudd was a hopeless ditherer. I will still vote for Rudd because he is better than Abbott and Labor voters who believe the propaganda that Julia Gillard was a backstabber or believe, subconsciously or openly, that women don't belong in positions of leadership will also vote for Rudd.

But that's in the Labor heartland. In the marginal seats where elections are won and lost the overwhelming feeling will be one of "we can't trust this Labor Party that can't work together, can't put forward their best team and can't put the country before their own personal interests".

Continue reading Like Other Hardcore Labor Voters I Will Vote For Kevin... But I Won't Be Happy About It.

May 30, 2013 at 12:35 PM

All Football Players Look Primitive and Everyone is Descended from Primates

What should people be able to say and what should be prohibited? How does Australia progress as a nation? Do we have to be careful about what we say about sensitive topics or should we talk about it endlessly until we work it out and it is no longer sensitive? A story currently in the news cause me to reflect on this questions. 

From what I can gather, the current row over racism in the AFL started when a 13 year old girl, a Collingwood fan I believe, shouted out to Adam Goodes "Hey Ape!". Goodes stoped the game to point out the offending girl to security staff and demand that she be removed from the ground.

Continue reading All Football Players Look Primitive and Everyone is Descended from Primates.

May 3, 2013 at 4:22 PM

General Election 13

Here we are on the cusp of the 13th General Election in Malaysia since independence. Only 2 days to go before we find out what kind of future Malaysia will choose for itself. I would love to see Anwar Ibrahim become the 7th Prime Minister of Malaysia on the 5th of May, 2013. I would love to see a new Malaysia. One where your race and your religion is not as important as what you can contribute to your country. Sadly I don't think it will happen.

Continue reading General Election 13.

February 21, 2013 at 7:30 PM

Kepada yang terhormat, para pemuda Melayu

kalimahAllah.jpgDengan penuh kehormatan,

Saya nak berbual sedikit dengan awak semua, golongan pemuda Islam di Malaysia. Saudara dan saudari, Perkasa, persatuan itu yang dipimpin oleh katak katak itu, Ibrahim Ali dan Zulkifli Noordin, ada sangat marah sebab terwujud sedikit sebanyak alkitab Nasrani yang diterjemahkan ke Bahasa Malaysia, yang guna kalimah Allah di dalamnya untuk merujuk kepada yang maha esa dalam kepercayaan Nasrani. Jom kita bincang hal itu.

Continue reading Kepada yang terhormat, para pemuda Melayu.

February 13, 2013 at 10:12 AM


Well this is Unreal Adventure at the crossroads. We literally parked the bikes at the crossroads between China, Chita, Vladivostok and Yakutsk to have a chat about our future (well our past now. This was first published in 2011 on our travel blog).

Kirill Ivoutin and John Dunn at the crossroads

Continue reading Crossroads.

February 6, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Malaysia sama Indonesia. Patut jodoh lah!

Sudah selesai satu lagi tahun bergelora untuk hubungan Malaysia sama Indonesia. Oleh itu saya maksudkan sebenarnya mereka yang mempunyai pengaruh yang paling kuat atas hubungannya telah terus bertindak seperti mereka gila.

Continue reading Malaysia sama Indonesia. Patut jodoh lah!.

January 28, 2013 at 6:13 PM

Malaysia and Indonesia. You could be so good together

It's been another tumultuous year for the Malaysian Indonesian bilateral relationship by which I mean that those with the most influence over the relationship have continued to act like they are batshit crazy.

Continue reading Malaysia and Indonesia. You could be so good together.

January 16, 2013 at 9:53 AM

Taking Photos In Russia

"Morshna ya vas snimoo". Kirill and I got that one sorted out before we even left Perth. By the time we arrived at Sheremetevo airport in Moscow (June or July 2011) I had already committed it to memory. It is polite Russian for "May I film you?"

Continue reading Taking Photos In Russia.

September 21, 2012 at 6:16 PM

Some limited progress for Democracy in Indonesia

fokeSmaller.jpgA good thing happened in Jakarta yesterday.

The guy on the left is Fauzi Bowo. Or more colloquially known as "Foke". The guy with the fat head giving him an awkward sideways hug is Nachowi Ramli, the Deputy Governor.

Fauzi Bowo has been the Governor of Jakarta since 2007, but yesterday he lost an election to another man who will be the new Governor of Jakarta. This is a good thing..

Indonesian politics is disappointingly bereft of substantial issues. There is very little big picture stuff. All candidates make acknowledgement of the most obvious problems and promise that they will be fixed yet a grand vision for the city is never presented to voters. Most voters don't hope for too much more than a city without problems. Yes but HOW will you create a city without floods, gridlocked traffic, a thick haze of pollution and increasing income inequality?

Such fundamental questions never get asked or answered.

Continue reading Some limited progress for Democracy in Indonesia.

September 5, 2012 at 1:26 PM

Like father like daughter

Trolling isn't just for pimply teenagers hiding behind their computer screen. Its also for billionaire mining magnates hiding in their ivory towers.

Trolllololollooollll. Lang Hancock was a nasty old bigot but probably not serious about poisoning Aboriginies as he suggests in the video to the right. Probably just trying to get a rise out of people. So lets see what his daughter is like.....

"The millionaires and billionaires who choose to invest in Australia are actually those who most help the poor and our young. This secret needs to be spread widely" - Gina Rinehart
Continue reading Like father like daughter.

June 23, 2012 at 12:57 AM

First few days bumping along in a Ural Sidecar

As I type I am bumping up and down in a Ural sidecar somewhere between Irkutsk and Ulan Ude. (This was written in August of 2011 and first posted in unrealadventure.com) The roads here are rubbish so each pot hole is a typo. Luckily the auto correct on my iPhone captures most of them.

We have some bad news about the bikes. Turns out they are stuffed. We are already 4 days out of Irkutsk and we still haven't made it as far as Ulan Ude. We are averaging about 100km a day and it's not for any lack of effort on our part. The bikes break down on a daily basis. More even. If not for Kirills expertise with these bikes and the kindness of locals we wouldn't be as far as we are.

Continue reading First few days bumping along in a Ural Sidecar.

June 21, 2012 at 1:52 AM

Somewhere between Irkutsk and Olkhon

This week (this article was first published on July 14, 2011 at unrealadventure.com) we are based in Irkutsk. Or Иркутск as it would be written in the local Cyrillic alphabet. As I write, John, Kirill and I are on a bus from Irkutsk to Olkhon island where we will stay a few days.


Continue reading Somewhere between Irkutsk and Olkhon.

June 9, 2012 at 2:41 AM

Have a little patience with the Muslim Brotherhood

Elections have been held recently in post Mubarak Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood seem to have done rather well. Islamophobes in the west and apparently even some in the Islamic world, greet this news with great trepidation.

Continue reading Have a little patience with the Muslim Brotherhood.

June 8, 2012 at 1:41 PM

The Vietnamese are complicated people

Well tomorrow morning we leave Vietnam for Russia (this blog post was first posted on our now defunct Unreal Adventure website on the 5th of July 2011). Will we ever return to this amazing country? I would like to think so.

Continue reading The Vietnamese are complicated people.

March 31, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Lynas Corporation For Dummies (and Australians)

Anti lynas activist jakarta

I certainly do not need to write a 'for dummies' guide for Malaysians. They have already made up their minds about Lynas and are now quite knowledgeable about the issues. They have learned more about rare earths and radioactive thorium than most of the rest of us will learn in a life time and they want Lynas out of their country.

Continue reading Lynas Corporation For Dummies (and Australians).

November 15, 2011 at 3:39 PM

Shall we abuse Human Rights (and abolish the Carbon and Mining taxes) to better compete with Africa for Mining Investment?

The CEO of a South African mining company has claimed that Australia is one of the riskiest places in the world to do business despite the fact that his company have business operations in war torn Sub-Saharan Africa and had active gold operations 8 years ago in The Democratic Republic of Congo in the midst of some the worst human rights abuses seen on that continent. The Carbon Tax and the Mineral Resources Rent Tax were cited by AngloGold Ashanti CEO Mark Cutifani as reasons why it is comparatively riskier to do business in Australia.

Continue reading Shall we abuse Human Rights (and abolish the Carbon and Mining taxes) to better compete with Africa for Mining Investment?.