Filed under death

Valentine’s Day Massacre

Two of our baby chickens were taken by a fox last night. Darn fox.

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Oh well, they had a good life.

Previously:

Pinochet is dead. Ding fuckin’ dong.

Pinochet

Former Chilean dictator, torturer, human rights abuser and friend of Margaret Thatcher (all of which are crimes against humanity) Augusto Pinochet is dead. And not a moment too soon. The old bastard was 91.

As they say, the only good fascist is a very very very very very dead fascist.

“Pinochet has died, and I don’t think he’s going to heaven,” human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson told BBC television. — IHT

Margaret Thatcher was “greatly saddened” by the news of Pinochet’s death, says the BBC. One can’t help but hope she’s the only one. I suppose when Thatcher dies, she, Pinochet and Ronald Reagan will be reunited at last, in Hell where they belong.

This Wikipedia article gives the facts of Pinochet’s life in a much more measured and objective fashion than I can. I’m too busy dancing on his grave.

Eric Rofes is dead

Pioneering gay activist, academic and author Eric Rofes has died unexpectedly in Provincetown, Massechusetts where he was on holiday.

Over a 30-year period, Rofes had an indelible impact on queer thought, was a respected AIDS activist and an iconoclastic thinker whose loss will be significant.

I met Eric a number of times, mostly in connection with the International Gay Men’s Health Think Tank, which he, Brent and Will Nutland co-organised. Eric was a colossus of a man — physically as well as metaphorically, often exasperating, prickly and sometimes surprisingly vulnerable. His written work, especially Dry Bones Breathe, had a significant impact on me.

Here’s a photo of Eric, taken in Berkelouw’s Bookshop, Oxford St, Sydney, on 27 February 2002 on a field trip associated with the Sydney leg of the Think Tank. (We were in the bookshop to talk about gay spaces, particularly libraries and sex clubs — if you know the history of the building which houses Berkelouw’s you’ll probably be able to guess the connection.)

Dcp 1433

Eric’s death has come as a great shock to a number of our friends. As prickly and exasperating as he was, he will be missed.

‘This is so gay I’d rather be dead’

The inquest into the death of Pvt Jacob Kovco, the only Australian soldier killed on duty in Iraq, has been hearing some rather weird allegations.

First we heard that Kovco had had a dream in which he had a premonition of shooting himself in the head “to see what it would feel like”. Kovco wrote about the dream, which he had exactly one month before his death, in his diary.

Colonel Michael Griffin, said the details were “almost precisely the same” as known events of the private’s death. Family members sobbed as the diary entry was read.

A day later, more details of the accident have been revealed by “Soldier 17″, who was in the room with Kovco when he shot himself. Apparently the two were listening to a Cranberries song and singing along “in a female, homosexual way” when Kovco shot himself in the head.

Private Jake Kovco was skylarking with his two room-mates, singing along to the Cranberries song Dreams just moments before he died.

In a satellite link from Baghdad, the witness, known as Soldier 17, said his iPod was hooked up to speakers and as the three soldiers sang to the loud music, Private Kovco pulled his shorts up high in a joking way. Soldier 17 said: “We were just making fun of the song and singing in the best girl’s voice we could.”

His statement added: “…(singing) in a high voice – female homosexual way.”

Soldier 17 said, “If you’re asking me, ‘Did I see him going for his pistol?’ “No, I didn’t.” But he spoke of the numerous occasions he had seen Australian soldiers in Iraq pointing empty guns at each other and pulling the trigger for a joke.

He said: “The only way he may have (shot himself) was in a joking fashion because of the way we were singing, as if to say ‘this is so gay, I’d rather be dead’”.

We’ve come a long way from the official “died while cleaning his gun” excuse peddled by the military authorities at the time of Kovco’s death. It looks like we have some distance further to go before the truth comes out, if it ever will.

The incompetnce of the military in handling this tragedy has been astounding from the start. First they lied about the circumstances of his death, then they lost his body and flew a stranger’s corpse home with full military honours, then some clown left a disk containing the secret report into the accident in an airport computer terminal.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department of our ally across the Pacific has been criticised for listing homosexuality as a “mental disorder”.

The real mental disorder is the delusion that war is just, that young men’s lives are expendable and that Iraq is any better off today than it was under Saddam.

Richard Carleton is dead

Journalist Richard Carleton has died of a heart attack during a press conference at the Beaconsfield mine in Tasmania. In recognition of his passing, here’s an audio clip of what was, I think, one of his finer moments:

Carleton was a fearless and feared journo in his day. This interview, conducted on the day that Bob Hawke became Labor leader in February 1983, was typical of his unrelenting and vigorous style and came at perhaps the high point of his career.

The goanna is dead

The two certainties in life, so they say, are death and taxes. But Kerry Packer escaped only one.

Kerry Francis Bullmore Packer, Australia’s richest man, is dead, proving that even if you’ve got $7 billion in your savings account you can’t go on buying replacement organs forever.

Much will be said about this giant of a man in the coming days and, as the dead cannot be libelled, I dare say not all of it will be complimentary. He leaves behind a massive media empire, memories of the World Series Cricket palava, a reputation as a bully, questions about the legality of his activities (inter alia, the “Goanna” allegations from the Costigan Royal Commission), and a helicopter pilot one kidney short.

Packer is survived by his wife Ros, son-Tel James and daughter Gretel, who I once sat next to at a dinner party. She seemed nice enough, considering what she came from. She never corrected me when I called her “Rachel” throughout the evening.

Apropos of nothing in particular, here’s a photo of a dead goanna:

a dead goanna

A Singaporean Victorian Hangman Tells His Love

Dear one, forgive my appearing before you like this,

in a two-piece track-suit, welder’s goggles

and a green cloth cap like some gross bee—this is the State’s idea…

I would have come

arrayed like a bridegroom for these nuptials

knowing how often you have dreamed about this

moment of consummation in your cell.

If I must bind your arms now to your sides

with a leather strap and ask if you have anything to say

—these too are formalities I would dispense with:

I know your heart is too full at this moment

to say much and that the tranquilizer which I trust

you did not reject out of a stubborn pride

should by this time have eased your ache for speech, breath

and the other incidentals which distract us from our end.

Let us now walk a step. This noose

with which we’re wed is something of an heirloom, the last three

members of our holy family were wed with it, the softwood beam

it hangs from like a lover’s tree notched with their weight.

See now I slip it over your neck, the knot

under the left jaw, with a slip ring

to hold the knot in place . . . There. Perfect.

Allow me to adjust the canvas hood

which will enable you to anticipate the officially prescribed darkness

by some seconds.

The journalists are ready with the flash-bulbs of their eyes

raised to the simple altar, the doctor twitches like a stethoscope

—you have been given a clean bill of health, like any

modern bride.

     With this spring of mine

from the trap, hitting the door lever, you will go forth

into a new life which I, alas, am not yet fit to share.

Be assured, you will sink into the generous pool of public feeling

as gently as a leaf—accept your role, feel chosen.

You are this evening’s headlines. Come, my love.

‘A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love,’ Bruce Dawe, 1967. Written in response to the execution of Ronald Ryan, the last man to be hanged in Australia.

The worst kind of news

I was watching The Sound of Music on TV last night when the news flash crawled across the bottom of my screen. Several bombs have been detonated in tourist areas of Bali; this morning there are 24 confirmed dead, many dozens injured. The toll is likely to be dominated with Australians, just like the first Bali bombings three years ago.

It’s just heart-rending to think of the suffering this will cause. To the victims, to the people of Bali, to those of us at home for whom this will be used to justify god-knows-what new government powers in the name of beating terrorists.

As you’d expect, the Indonesian terror group Jemaah Islamiah has been blamed. Makes Gareth Evans look a bit of a dill.

Weapons of mass destruction

Sixty years ago today:

Hiroshima

This was the work of good guys, done in the name of peace. We can only hope it never becomes “necessary” again.

Today is also an anniversary of mine. Fourteen years since diagnosis, and at least twenty living with HIV. Happy birthday, Iris.

The King is dead

Australia’s “King of Television”, Graham Kennedy, is dead.

Blankety Blanks

A working-class boy with a sharp wit and no hesitation in making himself the butt of his own (often tasteless but hilarious) jokes, Kennedy rose to become the most well-known person on Australian television in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The picture above is from the game show “Blankety Blanks” which he hosted. Just looking at it makes me remember “Cyril said…” (if you were there’ you’ll know).

Rumours about Kennedy’s sexuality have been doing the rounds forever and I suppose it will all be revealed today that, yes, he was queer. But he never acknowledged this in life, although he often gave pause to wonder, such as when he sang this song:

Being a chum is fun,

That is why I’m one;

Always smiling, always gay,

Chummy at work,

Chummy at play -

Laugh away your worries,

Don’t be sad or glum;

And everyone will know

That you’re a chum, chum, chum!

Kennedy was described by his biographer as “icon for aloneness, an icon for the nature of the solitary life”. In recent years he had become a virtual recluse, refusing to grant interviews and hiding from the public he’d once played up to. He died in a nursing home in Bowral early this morning.

The closet is a lonely place.