Thursday, January 7, 2010

Boats Are Burning

So I’m killing time yesterday browsing through my usual online newspapers when the headline “Japanese whalers accused of sinking protest boat” caught my eye. Plus video. Like the freak show thrill of driving past a car wreck with lots of carnage, I immediately click on the video.

Before I go further just let me say I have no sides in this. Animals will die awful, grotesque deaths so that I can enjoy prime rib, foie gras, and raw tuna. Conversely, if you are anti-whaling and wish to confront men with harpoons on big whaling vessels, you might expect a little danger. Maybe even some casualties. (And if you’re trying to film a documentary or reality show about it, casualties are ratings gold.)

Anyway, the anti-whalers are coming up in some sort of stealth speedboat as the whalers hose them down. Seems like everyone is having a rollicking good time except that it’s bitterly cold. (Another side note to the anti-whalers: a boat straight off the set of Batman will not elicit much sympathy to the cause.) Eventually the boats collide, there’s some damage, and it’s pretty anti-climatic. This certainly wasn’t The Poseidon Adventure.

But then the video switches to an interview with some sort of Australian minister. I shriek like a schoolgirl catching a glimpse of Bobby Sherman or Taylor Swift depending on your demographics. Is that Peter Garrett? It is! It is! (He’s about 7 feet tall, bald and has a skeleton face.) The Australian Environment Minister is none other than Peter Garrett, former lead singer of Midnight Oil (that rose to American fame in the 80s with their Diesel and Dust album and hit song “Beds are Burning”).

I knew back in the day that he had graduated law school and even ran for office. But so what, Mike Leach also graduated law school and Kinky Friedman ran for governor of Texas. But twenty years later, this is unprecedented in my mind. This is the equivalent of Cyndi Lauper becoming Secretary of State, or better yet, Huey Lewis running for congress and then becoming head of the EPA. (For you youngsters, that would be like David Guetta getting elected President with Akon as his Vice-president. Yes, I just googled Billboard Top 100 because I’m so out of touch and for some reason he caught my eye with his hit song “Sexy Chick” off his Sexy Bitch album. I can’t make that up.)

So my only point in all this is what a fine role model Peter Garrett is. Lawyer, rock star, government official. What do they have in common? Mega babes and tons of money! (Assuming you’re taking bribes as a government official). It doesn’t matter if you agree with his politics or even liked Midnight Oil; the man’s had quite a career and he did it his way. Sure, we’ve had similar successes in America: Ronald Reagan, Al Franken, Jesse Ventura and Fred Gandy (Gopher from Love Boat, then congressman), but they came into politics later in life. Peter Garrett went to law school, got into politics and formed a successful rock band on the side. At the very least, he is a symbol to never give up on your dreams.

And so-- what did he have to say about the whaling incident? “The point I would make is that the risk of accident is high and the capacity for rescue in these areas is low and it is absolutely critical that restraint be prudently exercised by all parties.”

What a marvelous politician.



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