Paulie Stewart: paying it back with punk nuns

Paulie Stewart was 48 years old and had been on the waiting list for a liver transplant for more than 500 days when, at death’s door, he was visited in Melbourne’s Austin hospital by Sister Helena, a young nun from Timor-Leste sent to comfort him on his journey to the other side. A priest had already read him his last rites.

Stewart, singer of Melbourne punk band Painters and Dockers and Australian-East Timorese reggae ensemble the Dili Allstars, thought Helena’s appearance must have been an omen. His association with Timor-Leste spanned decades, sparked by the murder of his brother Tony in 1975 by Indonesian forces in Balibo.

Sister Helena, familiar with both the Allstars and the story of the Balibo Five, was just as gobsmacked to see Stewart on his deathbed. She vowed she would get him a new liver. In his new memoir All The Rage, Stewart writes that he thought Helena must have got into the altar wine a bit early that day.

The next morning, a nurse rushed into the ward. A compatible liver had arrived. Sister Helena and the nuns of East Timor had been praying all night.

A former altar boy, Stewart lost his faith in 1975 when a nun told his shattered family they should be happy that his brother was with Jesus.… Read more..

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(I want my) music on TV back

For two hours on Sunday night, it felt like a good proportion of Australia was gathered around a gigantic campfire. That campfire was burning on the steps of the Sydney Opera House, where Paul Kelly and his band were holding court – not just for the tens of thousands of people lucky enough to be there, but for hundreds of thousands more tuning in around the country, watching the ABC livestream and tweeting simultaneously.

Some say it’s rude to talk at gigs, but for me, watching from home, the excited chatter about what we were seeing added to the communal feel as #PaulKellyLive became the top-trending hashtag in the country. There was a collective awareness that we were witnessing a celebrated songwriter at the top of his game, and at a peak of popularity – at the age of 62, Kelly’s most recent album Life Is Fine was his first No. 1, a richly deserved success for a recording that’s up there with his best work.

Then someone said on Twitter: “We should have live music on the ABC every Sunday night.” Funny he should mention it: only two hours earlier, the ABC had screened its latest instalment of Classic Countdown, a restored best-of the vintage program which has also been a big hit for the national broadcaster.… Read more..

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Jimmy Stynes

Jimmy Stynes was an amazing footballer. More impressive than the fact that he won a Brownlow medal in 1991 – Australian Rules’ highest individual honour – was the fact that, in a senior career with the Melbourne Football Club lasting 11 years, from 1987 to 1998, he played 244 of his total 264 games in succession. It’s a benchmark for durability that’s yet to be beaten, and probably won’t be.

It’s also a benchmark for bravery, at times reckless bravery. In 1993, Stynes – a ruckman, the most physically demanding position in the game – had the cartilage of his breastbone severed in an on-field collision with a teammate, leaving his chest looking like a tent. Amazingly, and quite possibly stupidly, he fronted up the next week to play after passing a fitness test in which his coach, Neil Balme, pitted him against a few of the Demons’ hard men, one of whom was Rod Grinter.

Grinter was a known sniper, suspended so often for acts of on-field malice that satirical Melbourne band TISM (This Is Serious Mum) once namechecked him in the following lyric: “I’ve mixed heroin, cocaine and angel dust / I’ve played on Rodney Grinter, and been concussed”.… Read more..

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