It’s Sunday night and I’m watching a terrific show on ABC-TV about the song Strange Fruit, made famous by Billie Holuday. I, of course, stupidly hadn’t known it was a song about black lynchings, but now that I do the lyrics means so much more.
Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.
Clearly I’m stupid for never having previously recognised the meaning of the lyrics which are incredibly moving.
Anyway, on that note, the question begs what else has been happening?
Well I’ve had a visitor for the last 24 hours. Last night, Pat and I wandered down the street to watch the Mardi Gras parade. As a measure of how the parade is, perhaps, past its prime, we managed to get an excellent standing position on Flinders Street, just minutes before the parade began. Although a few people around us had milk-crates, as was previously the norm, they weren’t necessary for us in our position just outside the Anglican Church.
Although there was a lot of politics in the theme of the floats this year, including several Howard effigies, I was disappointed that so few showed a sense of humour, thus confirming a theme I discussed last year and previously on this blog. There were floats about the war in Iraq, about recognition of same-sex relationships. There were also lots of “Brokeback Mountain” themed floats, and it was good to see a lot of regional/rural issues being highlighted. But aside from the Kate Moss drug float, there were few that I thought were genuinely funny.
Mind you, there was the float that was unintentionally funny: the Gay Raelians. In case you’re unaware, Raelians believe that scientifically advanced extraterrestrials known as the Elohim (taken from the Hebrew texts of the Christian Bible and the Torah and usually translated as “God” in English but translated as “those who came from the sky” in the Raëlian message) created life on Earth through genetic engineering, and that a combination of human cloning and “mind transfer” can ultimately provide immortality. The Raelians were actually rejected from last year’s parade on the basis they were unable to demonstrate a commitment to the GLBTQ community, leading to a subsequent protest in Taylor Square. However, they were in last night’s parade as “Gay Raelians”, providing a lot of amusement for those standing around us. Despite my cynicism, Pat told me he found it pretty exciting. So I guess I should get this into perspective and stop being such a cynical old thing.
Aside from that, my life’s been a reasonably uneventful and quiet. Mind you, I did meet the members of Irish pop band, Westlife, who were in at work the other night. I helped bring them glasses of water. They were all very short.