Humble Pie, 2007
Several ingredients outlined below
Several ingredients outlined below
Thanks to everyone who has invited me to their APEC parties. A blanket apology for not being able to come, I was having my own APEC celebration at home. And what better way to celebrate than to make some humble pie, sit down with a cold beer and watch an Aussie flick. Before I review the film I watched, let me just give you the recipe for my APEC pie.
1 large sweet potato
2 cups shredded spinach
1/2 butternut pumpkin
3 cups ricotta cheese
shortcrust pastry base
puff pastry lid
lettering stencil (optional)
Pre-roast the vegetables and configure lovingly in a pasty lined dish. Smear the ricotta throughout the layers of vegetables. Create a pastry lid and cut out the letters APEC and that symbol (use a stencil if you must). Baste pastry with milk. Bake for 45 minutes at 200 C.
You'll have noticed that there is no meat in this pie. I'm not one for vegetarianism. (I tried this for a year or so at art school but only so I could hang out with some of the coolest kids.) The reason for a vegetable pie on APEC weekend is that there are other sources of meat one can indulge in. The meat of Australian screen culture for starters! I went to Video Ezy, paid off my $2.50 late fee for dropping back The Secret DVD late a few months ago and headed straight for the New Release wall. Hurrying myself through the latest titles (as the pie was baking at home and one must not overcook these things) I found a lovely Aussie romantic comedy - a perfect companion to a vegetable pie. "Where's the meat?" I hear you ask. And good question it is. I believe the genre can function like a nice piece of steak when it's a romantic comedy masquerading as a documentary. So that is why I recommend viewing Bra Boys this weekend if you're still looking for ways to spend your Sunday.
Bra Boys (Dir. Sunny Abberton, 2007) calls itself a documentary but it has my vote for best romantic comedy of the year. Assuming it might be about boys who wear either bras or Akubras, my expectations were indeed challenged when I sat down with this little think piece. I won't outline the whole plot as you can read about it at Wikipedia or check out its official website. In short Bra Boys features all these beefy surfer dudes from Maroubra who spend 90 minutes of screen time justifying their beach gang tribalism. These boys have had tough lives - drugs, parental neglect, shit like that. They find freedom in the waves. They find love through the fist. No, they're not into fistin' - that kinda shit is kept off screen! They're into using their fists as an expression of mateship. Or at least that is how I read it. When you live in a community that appears to exclude women (apart from their mothers, none appeared on-screen) I suspect there's a lot of pent up sexual frustration going on. So if you're not bashing each other up over the politics of beach entitlement, you may as well form into gangs and get demonstrative tattoos that read "My Brother's Keeper" with an icon representing a very tight handshake. There's nothing at all gay about this picture when you couch such a tight-fisted homosocial testosterone in familial terms.
So anyway, it must be said that Russell Crowe narrates this journey and can I just say, GOD BLESS HIM for that. Bra Boys begins with the Crib Notes story about white settlement in Australia and how it impacted Maroubra - or something like that. I know that when I am reflecting on my own community formations, it is important to go back in time and paint the scene with some sweeping context. For instance, I recently gave a PowerPoint presentation at the local community centre about the origins of blogging. I started my talk with the Big Bang and subsequent evolution of the species.
Bra Boys gets even more interesting when it responds to the Cronulla Riots of December 2005. It is here the boys affirm their multiculturalism. Prior to this event (acknowledged in the last 10 minutes of the 90 minute film) there'd been no reason to explore the multiculturalism of the beach. But what better opportunity to end it with a message to the world about how tribalism can have a social inclusion policy. One of the guys talks about how non-local visitors to the beach should always remember to acknowledge the culture and tradition that has shaped the beach. I couldn't agree more - it's at the beach that you find really rich culture. As a kid I engaged with beach culture through my metal detector. Finding 50c and some fishing tackle was a day well-spent. Until it was all spoiled when my parents warned us to be careful that you don't step on a syringe. Culture indeed.
After the Cronulla Riots segment, the boys of Bra reveal their racial and ethnic backgrounds just after a poignant scene of two children playing: a black dwarf chasing a white non-dwarf. It's a healing moment. Like all the APEC leaders wearing Akubras and Drizabone coats, this image of the children should go down in Australian history as a definitive moment of all types of difference united.