Thursday, 25 April 2013

Roland S. Howard Lane, St Kilda, Vic, 3182

In what could be a forming trend, Port Philip City Council have approved the naming of a lane way in St Kilda "Roland S. Howard Lane" in memory of one of the greatest Australian songwriters of all time.  Last night the council voted unanimously for a name change, off Eildon Rd, in a move which, along-side "Paul Hester Walk" and "ACDC Lane" could be the start of a postman's worst nightmare.  Amphlett St, Paul Kelly Rd, Hutchence Cres, or even Molly Gve could be next but I think that honoring Roland S. Howard is a nice touch.

The first time I had heard of Roland S. Howard was in about 1993 or '94 when the Screaming Jets covered 'Shivers'.  Possibly one of his best known songs, it has been covered by a whole host of rubbish bands since (Jets not included!).  While I'm not a huge fan of Howard's music, or any of his myriad of musical collaborations it's impossible not to respect his uncompromising approach and although I never saw him play live I've never heard a gig reviewer who wasn't astonished by his stage presence.

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I'm unable to find any confirmation of this but years ago I heard that Howard had stayed on a fellow musician's couch for a period of time and when he left, as a thank you for the host, he wrote and then performed a song on their answering machine and gave them the rights for it.  It turned out to be a big song for the band but I don't remember which song it was.  I have a feeling it was Tex Perkins or someone from the Cruel Sea but I love that story...

The petition lodged to the council to have a lane renamed was apparently signed by over 3000 people including Henry Rollins, Nick Cave, Lee Ranaldo and Shane MacGowan.

RSH Youtube

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Are You Worth Your Wages?

It's easy to whinge.  In fact, this whole blog is just a big outlet for my whinging.  I complained (a lot) when I got back from London that my wages in Australia are rubbish.  I justify that by considering the financial contribution I bring to the firm I work for and although I'm sick of arguing the point, I'm in favour of a CEO being paid millions if they were good for the company.  It's even easier to argue in favour of a huge bonus for a trader who makes millions for the company.  If a small percentage of their profits equate to $30m then a bonus of $30m is fine by me. 

Curtis Compton/The Associated Press
What about at the other end?  What if it's not so easy to equate your positive impact on a company to your personal income?  Prize money in sport is a difficult debate because it's not always obvious how much the athletes contribute to the sport's income.  Maybe Lakers ticket sales are lower when Kobe Bryant is injured (I dunno why, it's not entertaining to watch a guy take the tough shot when there are 4 others who could take the easy shot if he'd just pass it...) but for other sports/ players it's not that clear cut.

A few years ago the Australian Netballers cracked it over low wages.  This made me understand the whole vicious circle that is the spectator/ media/ sponsorship merry-go-round.  Lift each of them and the cash will flow but none of them will lift without the others.  One Netballer at the time said something like 'we work as hard as AFL players so we should be paid the same'.  Poor girl.  I'm sure she works harder than most AFL players but that's not what gets the cash in.  Having 8,000 people at your game vs 60,000 is the difference between being paid $15k a year and $200k a year.

So all of this was raised again in my little Triathlon world, this week, when the richest prize purse in Triathlon halved it's payout for the 2013 race.  The Hy-Vee in Iowa has dished out between $150k and $200k to the winner over the last few years and when they said we'll only give the winner $100k this year a lot of athletes had a hissy fit.  ONE HUNDRED GRAND!  Shut. Up.  Triathlon is not Golf or Tennis.  It never will be; but when the Ironman World Championships only pays the winner $120k I'd be stoked with the possibility of an extra hundred grand pay day.  In addition to this, Hy-Vee pays all the way down to 30th place.  I don't know too much about Pro prize purses but I'm pretty sure you couldn't rock up to many races around the world expecting any more than $20,000 for the win, nor to be paid past 10th place (if you're lucky). 

Photograph: David Cannon/Getty Images
Triathlon is a stupid sport (even if I do say so myself).  People don't get it.  As a result there is limited mainstream media coverage and not much non-sporting sponsorship.  I could go off on tangents about the marketing of the sport and the need for a reprisal of the Tooheys Blue series of the mid-90's, which would certainly help, but if any Pros got into Triathlon for the money they were kidding themselves.  I think there are about 7 triathletes world wide who make a killing.  The rest get by on what they can and I hope the vast majority remember that they are doing what they love, day in, day out.

People should thank the Hy-Vee Triathlon for putting up the big bucks for as long as they could, and continuing to support "professional" triathletes.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

World Title Runner-Up Pick

I went down to Bells Beach for the finals of the surfing.  I haven't seen the comp there for years so I was pretty excited.  Bells is rarely as good throughout the year as it is at Easter so it's good to see the world's best on great waves.

At the start of each year I take a slightly less than random guess about who will win the world title.  I had about 4 years in a row where my pick came 2nd.  So I've changed my annual guess to the runner-up for the world title.

Taj Burrow will be the best surfer ever to have never won a world championship.  I said that about 6 years ago and I still stand by it.  For years he was content to just 'get stoked' and surf with the kids but he missed his window- not through being too old, just through a change in judging criteria.  If they judged aerial manouvers in 2001 the way they do now he would have already won a title or two.  But surfing being surfing, they lacked progression.  They're starting to catch up now but the kids learned from Taj and now they're leading the way.  Taj is also the lucky recipient of my annual runner-up pick.

Unfortunately for him, the only recent photo I have is one of him in a state of anger after losing the semi-final yesterday (he was unlucky).

I'd love to see him win but he needs to be so focussed for the whole year and I've never seen him do that before.  He's travelling with his trainer, Johnny Gannon, who I think is great and will get the most out of Taj but I don;t know if it's enough.

I've been a big fan of Jordy Smith's surfing for years and I think he's not far off taking the win, but a kid I had never seen surf until last week, Filippe Toledo, blew me away.  He's only 19 so give it time but he's already so progressive it will be fun to watch him develop over the years.
Jordy Smith and Filippe Toledo.
My ideal top 3 for 2013 would include Jordy Smith, Taj Burrow and Mick Fanning but it's a long year...