Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Age knows Melbourne from A to B

Fairfax investors should make a point to read alleged humourist Danny Katz's latest attempt to be funny in this morning's Age. It will explain an awful lot about where their money has gone and why.

Katz tells us that he was off to Hobart with the little woman for a dose of culture at MONA, an acronym from which he attempts to squeeze a gag as might a victim of terminal constipation strain to extrude a poo. Well that's just Katz being Katz, but his further observations on (a) Age readers and (b) his fellow  aeroplane passengers do tell us rather a lot.

"What's wrong with you Age readers?" he asks of those he imagines to be tittering at his bid to make 'MONA' the punchline of a joke about a romantic weekend. "You're supposed to be a mature higher-managerial AB demographic but you're behaving like low-brow junior-clerical BCs! Come on!)"

Age readers are "high-managerial AB demographic"? Who knew -- certainly not the high-end merchants who no longer advertise in The Age, no doubt because the papers' remaining readers, having taken its advice to eschew consumerism and re-cycle, now do their shopping at Vinnie's and the Salvo shops. Once upon a time well-heeled people did read the Age, but that was before the celebrated Fairfax charter of independence was amended to include the provision that they be reviled for (mostly) not voting Greens.

Having courted a section of the population that no longer reads his tosh, Katz next makes sure to alienate potential Age buyers. Just imagine yourself to be one of those "junior clerical" types and wonder how you might feel to find yourself described as "low brow", purely by definition of your occupation. Insulting your audience works for Don Rickles, but not so well for a paper that has deluded itself into believing it speaks for the real Melbourne (which extends only from St. Kilda to Northcote to Yarraville -- the famous Fairfax Triangle, where profits and reputation vanish without trace).

It could be that Katz is sleeping with the Saturday edition's editor, which might explain why his columns continue to appear. But a more likely explanation is that both are suckers for any orgy of elitist disdain, and today's column delivers that toxin in spades. People who wear tracky dax -- at this very moment their number includes a certain Bunyip -- are to be objects of derision. So, too, families with unfashionable luggage, those who might take an interest in sport, and young women with big bags and unruly hair.

So, students of the stock ticker, look no further for an explanation of your Fairfax-induced poverty. With Danny Katz on the job your portfolio, like the Age itself, is going to shrink even further.

Katz finishes his column thus: "I don't know who you readers are any more, I really don't."

He said it.

UPDATE: Hear Katz promo his latest book -- you'll have to wait for the audio to begin -- amid panting and a background soundtrack of things being rattled and shaken. It will take little imagination to assume, and assume correctly, what Katz was playing with at the time. 


  1. I still remember an Age article from 15 or so years ago. It was an interview with the Mayor of the then Shire of Melton. The journalist expressed surprise that the Mayor was proud of her community and even more surprise that people voluntarily chose to live there!! I mean - who would live in Melton when you can live in North Fitzroy and who could be proud of a place where you can't get a good free trade latte ...

  2. I was dropping off a patient at the Alfred, just before morning tea time on Friday, so took coffee in the ground floor cafeteria. The free copy of the Age - or abandoned paper at the tables - afforded the opportunity to flick through what I seldom do.

    I was shocked in not small measure by what little advertising there was. I thought the Melbourne Show probably had felt compelled to advertise in it. There were a few self promotion adverts and a smattering of others. It looked for all the world like a subscriber magazine rather than a public newspaper.

    But then its not a public newspaper is it?

    Barnaby Joyce, I think it was, who once quipped that for all the thousands of pages of Hansard related to climate change there wasn't a hand full of them with any solid science of it [paraphrasing him].

    Its all about Bible Prof. Every rant I'll raise a breath to here. They built their world on sifting sands of fashionable causes every bit as good the thinking as any Nazi's national socialism. Its an obituary I'm looking forward to reading. The Age, with two set dates; 1854-?2014

  3. I wouldn't be surprised if the whole idea of that article was stolen from somewhere else ...

    but really, what is it with Allen & Unwin publishing such crap? They are a quasi-monopolist in some areas of publishing - why bother with the crowded market for children's books etc? Would be interesting to know how much income they get via government programs, and/or school and library purchases. Something is going on that is not entirely market focused methinks ...

  4. Professor: I stopped (not that I really started) reading Katz a long time ago however, upon your "recommendation", I have just read the article to which you linked... I shall be sending you an invoice for my time.

    1. I grew up with the Age and the Herald/Sun, and got them both sent interstate when I left. I felt embarrassed- and a bit guilty- the day I got hold of my Victorian papers, read them......and realized Danny Katz was just a stupid dickhead.

      He managed to get his "column" printed in the "West Australian" TV magazine for a while too. I stopped buying that paper a good 4-5 years ago. Not just because of Katz, but he didn't help.

  5. We go to Tassie a lot, Prof, to see friends and enjoy the cool Irish-like countryside and vistas. The food is good, the wine is great and the whiskey is fine. The fares are peanuts, and carry-on is the way to go for the weekend, mainly because it is just easier. My philosophy is take on board whatever you can get away with. Jetstar has been rather strong on monitoring carry-on lately, resulting in much redistributive repacking at the check-in counter between groups travelling together. An irritant if the line is long, so do online check-in and no bags - you're in fast, and a trip to Tassie from Melbourne is like a bus trip. Hope to go myself again in a few week's time for the weekend. Book a Qantas flight and you get Jetstar anyway, but Qantas includes hold baggage if you need it. We're going up to Sydney this coming weekend too, Prof, for da broight loights, and a party, so will just do hand baggage for that too.

    Da Hairy Ape booked us into MONA Pavilions for my birthday. They are very nice, with Derwent views, and very upmarket for food and vino too (c. $500 for lunch for two), so Danny Boy is doing nicely financially it would appear (or his wife is particularly in need of rewarding).

    Less strength financially and demographically though for Fairfax, eh? Hobnobbing at Mona, Danny knows his own preferred demographic, and if he thinks Fairfax is still AB then he is even less perspicacious than the evidence of his written work suggests.

  6. I love North Fitzroy! Full of partially restored slum cottages and modern architectural "gems" latte shops and bicycle riders in Lycra.The inhabitants are "highly educated" public servants on the socialist gravy train! You can walk around and only hear English spoken,cultimulturism is alive and well there,! Is IT ?

  7. That "dose of culture" didn't happen to come from a petri dish, did it?

  8. Reading Danny Katz is about as funny as SITTING ON A MENORAH at a bar mitzvah.

  9. Against her better wishes I took my spouse to MONA.

    The blatant "because we can art" like the "wall of c*nts", real-life mould of a successful suicide bomber, viscera to the left and right, "Burke and Wills being buggered by a Kangaroo" and the several painting of ladies p*ssing (my fav) and kiddie porn left my spouse so shaken that I had to take her to Melbourne to see some real art by way of compensation.

    Don't worry though the Hobart council and State government regularly give the nutjob $250,000 and $300,00 grants for his efforts.

    (To be fair David did originally say it was an x-rated adult version of Disneyworld, that little bit was quickly lost when the spruikers got busy though, more recently the "shock-value" has been toned down)