Offbeat stories with headlines like “Best Man left bleeding after being hit in head by flying dildo” and “topless heroine puts out hotel fire”.
My personal favourite is “man bashed by prawn” which conjures up an image of some mighty boxing crustacean putting up his fists and hitting a grown man. And this doesn’t strike me as unlikely, knowing of the mantis shrimp which can spear, stun or dismember its prey with a single punch (they’ve even broken through glass in the aquarium tanks while kept in captivity).
Instead, this story is about an intruder being hit with a bag of frozen prawns. The title still evokes a the old man who’s shot through and his sheila who looked like a stunned mullet. The story is ridge didge so we can’t help but take a squizz and you’d be spewin if you didn’t. Give it a burl. What a rip-snorter!
The covers and their headlines remind me of the Australia we migrated to back in 1988. There’s a nostalgic romanticism I hold towards the fading memories I have of this time. It’s the raw nature of the subjects and the simplicity which I find so romantic. A crudeness but poetic.
Back a few years I visited the National Gallery of Victoria and a photographic exhibition of Rennie Ellis’s work.
Ellis captures an Australia that had not yet seen anti-binge drinking or skin cancer awareness campaigns. I have a collection of postcards from the exhibition and they include some of the more conservative subjects like a couple at a barbecue at Albert Park.
Reviewing more of the photography that Ellis took in 20th century Australia, the images capture beach life, pub culture, various sporting events as well as seedier and grittier Melbourne and Sydney nightlife at clubs and strip joints.
“It could easily be argued that we have retreated into a more modest, conservative Australia since these pictures were made,” says fellow photographer Robert McFarlane.
For me, Ellis definitely captures the image of Australia that I had as a new migrant, the laconic coastal surfer culture of the 80s.