Clean Swabbing Days All Past
Follow Your Men Of Substance
by PHILIP WHITE
It’s hardly surprising that people have stopped buying newspapers. Think of the sport sections. What, a quarter of every edition devoted to the adoration of, dissection of, photographing of, whingeing about, and general breathless nonsensicalising of sport, its practitioners, and its vast armies of adherents? Think of the effort, the budgets, the time spent creating this extravagant cornucopia of utter bullshit. More importantly, think of the number of great brains the proprietors employ to produce these hectares of breathless copy. And then consider why not one of these friggin literary geniuses ever discovered, or cared to report, that at least half of the heroes and villains under discussion were on illegal drugs, like 25/8.
I mean if Mullette Wonderballs was found shagging one of the many wives of one of his team-mates in a spa, they’d write about it, and get photographs of her at the Magarey Medal piss-up with her breasts oozing out from behind a little bit of string or wire or something while she tried to remember how to teeter down the red stripe drunk on stilts, but they never bothered to report that the reason poor old Mullette found her fascinating in the first place was he’d taken a packet of the blue pills, four eight-paper doobies, five or six lines of the best Peruvian and half a cup of ibogaine.
Not that such a dose is particularly newsworthy. It’s what these top-ups do in contraindication of the entire supermarket of big and dodgy pharma the poor bastard had already ingested through the special baby food formula his friggin coach and team doctors and club whitecoats had been forcing down him every friggin day for all his adult life and at least half his teenage years: that’s what made the difference.
Not one of that huge army of arrogant thespian berks aka sports reporters ever got the scoop. Not one snapper ever photographed ’em with the smoke coming out of their mouths, the powder running out of their noses, the brains dribbling outa their ears or the needles going in; not one great gumshoe or ambo-chaser ever got the whiff; and not one lofty editor or proprietor ever asked why the omission. Countless billions spent on this abject nonsense every year for whole lifetimes and in the end it took some sly government spooks to work it out and bust the game. Shock, horror.
So there goes the last forty pages of every newspaper in the country. Not worth wrapping a friggin Kimbie.
Your correspondent can speak with some dignity here. His form went before him. Having started in the rock’n’roll writing game, there was never any secret about performance enhancement, neither in the folks under investigation or the critic himself. Even in those dim days before the fax or the electric typewriter it was pretty obvious that if anybody ever got a snap of Keith Richards alive or maybe just moving it was obvious he was pretty much full of illegal shit, and, in order to have gotten through the security and close enough to push the button, the snapper must have been full of it, too. Truth be known, the snapper was the supplier, or they’da never let ’em through. Bugger the performance; it was the level of ingestion that wrote and made the headline. Emulsional, sure, but misleading? Never.
The sideways slide into the booze-writing racket came very easily after a decade of highly intellectual analysis of the rock music business. Like the old extended paragraph reviews of some drug addict’s latest recording of squeaks and thumps and bleats about how hard it is getting a girlfriend was a refined literary form which extended ever so naturally to cover the analysis and discussion of the contents of a bottle of grape juice so rotten some of it had turned to raw ethanol.
The idea of the sober wine critic is a very recent event: it seemed to evolve with the advent of sports hacks who remained virginally oblivious to the obvious increase in the amount of illegal muck their subjects were forced to ingest in order to play the game under discussion.
|The author sensibly checking his pulse whilst levitating in a peaceful coma induced by a healthy cornucopia of the ingestments his profession demands he administers ... Houghton Winery, Perth, Western Australia, summer 1984 ... photo James Halliday|
I wonder if it’s too late to save the back section of every newspaper by honouring the surviving wine critics who actually admit to partaking of the products they recommend. These people, after all, are the truth experts. Devote the sports pages entirely to drug reviews, analysis and promotion. Everything from ethanol to acid. Wheel out some of the old bottle-scarred warriors Rupert and Fairfax have sent to perdition in recent years, give them the back sections and healthy budgets, and whole gangs of perky little cub sports writers to train up in the paths of righteousness for the game’s sake. You know, encourage them to enjoy the wondrous fruits of our scientific advancement; promote the pharmacological and biochemical genius of our species, and the vast industries and huge employers that feed it the burgeoning mountain of recreational and corrective compounds it needs to continue its essential growth.
You’d have people pulling their buds out on the tram, reading their newspapers backwards, and talking to each other about what mixture they’d be trying on next. Watch them ads come marching in!