Words by Zoe Efron, Kevin Hawkins, Michelle See-Tho, and Sean Watson
It’s easy to feel selfish when you’re a Farrago editor. Without meaning to boast, the four of us are lucky enough to be getting paid to do stuff we love—putting together a beautiful magazine, making up April Fools’ Day scams, and exchanging our favourite Sandy Cohen quotes. But sometimes it’s pertinent to stop and ask ourselves, “Is this job just a bit of a wank or are we actually doing something meaningful?”
We like to think that the third edition of Farrago for 2014 is a very meaningful publication. It draws attention to a range of important social issues, namely the harsh living conditions of asylum seekers and the struggles they face seeking refuge in Australia. The phenomenally talented (and ever-reliable) Cameron Baker has highlighted this issue with a thought-provoking front cover. We’re also proud to feature Gajan Thiyagarajah’s profile piece on Fawad Ahmed and Mohammad Ali Baqiri, two former refugees who are making significant contributions to their communities in Melbourne.
Our intention in publishing these pieces is not to push a political agenda, but to bring attention to the human side of this issue and add an important voice to the conversation. The same can be said about Christine Li’s feature on the university’s investment in fossil fuels, where she goes beyond the moral arguments to assess the financial feasibility of the university’s current approach.
But, in true Farrago style, edition three doesn’t just cover the serious topics; we like to think it’s a lot of fun, too. Over the following 60 pages, Simon Farley attempts to play muggle quidditch, Jeremy Nadel joins the secret Cave Clan, and Will Whiten takes us through Myanmar. Oh, and Mia Abrahams helps us fulfil our number one goal for the year: publishing a Sandy Cohen quote.
Here are five things the four of us have argued about while making edition three:
- The fine line between humour and racism: In celebration of the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act, our original plan was to publish a piece arguing for and against being Asian. Kevin and Michelle, who between them are 150 per cent Chinese, thought the piece was hilarious. But Zoe and Sean (both white) vetoed that decision, fearing that some readers might find the piece racist.
- Being partisan: The four of us each have strong political views. The question is, is it appropriate for us to yell them at our readers? Half of us shouted ‘YES’. The other half whispered ‘no’.
- Letter of the month: Zoe wanted Z; Kevin wanted K; Michelle wanted M; and Sean wanted S. We settled with a happy medium: ö
- Advertorial: We weren’t sure whether it would be a conflict of interest for Kevin to commission a piece about Live Below the Line, the charity campaign that invites Australians to live on $2 a day for five days from 5-9 May. Kevin worked for the campaign last year. (Ed: and you can donate to his fundraising page at lbl.com.au/me/hihathawkins)
- Who should write the editorial? As writers with big egos, we each wanted to be the author of this page. We even toyed with the idea of writing an editorial each and printing all four of them. For those of you playing at home, Kevin won this round. But the sentiments are shared by all four of us. Guess that’s one thing we could actually agree on.
Zoe, Kevin, Michelle, and Sean
You might notice the smell of books missing from your walk down Swanston Street now—and not because it’s masked by the smell of Subway. Sainsbury Books has closed down. The former second-hand bookshop lived a happy life just outside the Parkville campus. We commemorate it with a cover, by the very talented Lynley Eavis, dedicated to pre-loved books, and a nice little news piece detailing its closure (by Rebecca Carroll and Steph Bishop-Hall). We’re sorry to see it go; there is no adequate replacement for it on campus.
This edition is filled with a substantial amount of heavy content: drugs, sexual assault, and religion all form part of our second creation of the year. But to balance it out, we’ve also got a nice picture of a fluffy animal on page 27, as well as bits and pieces on music festivals, comic books, and pubic hair. They’re all topped off with our entertaining columns: sex, stationery, and historical conspiracies, to name a few.
The semester is now well underway, and so are we. Farrago has traditionally been a print magazine, but we’re getting into this ‘new media’ thing now too. Our dedicated multimedia team has been hard at work making us as accessible on the interwebs as we are on campus. We’ll be starting a podcast series, which will tie into the magazine as well as feature some completely self-contained content. We’ve got a new video ad coming out soon as well—just like on TV! Check us out on Facebook to find it, and while you’re there, hit the ‘Like’ button too.
We were incredibly excited to see how quickly edition one disappeared off the stands. It only took two weeks for every single copy to be completely snapped up. Sorry if you’ve been suffering from Farrago withdrawal for the past two weeks, but fear not: edition two is here! As always, we hope you enjoy reading and looking at it as much as we enjoyed putting it all together. And if you don’t, please write us an angry letter. We love hate mail.
Last but not least, we encourage you to get involved! The aforementioned teams of creative genii are always looking for fresh faces and keen minds. Whether you’re into writing, drawing, talking into a microphone, or anything else, we can find some way for you to bring those talents to the Farrago field.
Please send expressions of interest, pitches, artworks, declarations of undying love, and/or death threats to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zoe, Kevin, Michelle, and Sean.
Words by Mia Abrahams
Illustrations by Zoe Efron
We come from a country of enthusiastic cursers. I think swearing might actually be one of our nation’s most impressive talents—other than creating Cate Blanchett and completely disregarding our human rights obligations. There is something cathartic about letting a bad four-letter word rip. In fact, swearing has been scientifically proven to help us deal with physical pain. In a study, researchers found subjects were able to keep their hands immersed in very cold water longer when they said shit rather than shoot. While today we use swear words in a myriad of creative and inventive ways, their origins are far older (and stranger) than we might realise.
Has there ever been a word so versatile? Anger, surprise, pain, lust, pleasure and awe can all be described with a little help from our old friend the F-word. I mean fuck, what would we do without it?! Fuck has Germanic origins, and can be traced back to similar words meaning striking, rubbing, or having sex. There are various claims about what was the first use of fuck in the English language. My favourite was recently discovered in a book from 1528, proscribing moral conduct. In anger at the monastery management, an anonymous monk with incredible foresight scrawled the now ubiquitous phrase “fuckin Abbot” in the margins. Etymologists are uncertain whether the “fuckin” was a reference to having sex, or to extreme dismay as to the tightness of a pair of medieval Speedos. In the 1500s, fuck was commonly used as a direct, but not particularly rude, term for sexual intercourse. It wasn’t until the early- to mid-nineteenth century that it began to resemble the fuck we know and love today.
Since its origins, fuck has infiltrated popular culture. Its literary debut was made in James Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses, which drew the ire of censors and was banned in Australia until 1937. Seventy-two years later, Britney Spears, another creative visionary, pissed off many uptight parents with her song ‘If U Seek Amy’, which sounds a lot like F-U-C-K me. Now, in 2014, Martin Scorsese’s three-hour advertisement for cocaine—sorry, ‘film’—The Wolf of Wall Street boasts a fuck count of 569, averaging 3.18 uses per minute.
There is some serious Real Housewives style drama surrounding the etymological origins of the word shit. I’m not naming names, but someone started a rumour about shit that is just, like, totally not true. The story goes: back in the 1800s, certain types of manure were used on ships as fuel for long voyages. Stored below deck, the manure would become wet and ferment, methane would build up, and when eventually someone came downstairs with a lamp, BOOM! The shit hit the proverbial fan. So, the manure had to be stored higher up on the ship’s deck, and thus was stamped “Ship High In Transit” (SHIT). This is a great story, but as one angry etymologist complains, “These fabrications, when anything but clear jokes, are deliberate and audacious lies … they are the equivalent of a computer virus.” (I told you etymological drama was serious shit).
Shit’s real origins, unsurprisingly, are in Old English words like scite (dung) and scitte (diarrhoea). However, shit is also used as a noun to vaguely describe almost anything (e.g. “this shit is BANANAS”). Wikipedia has an amazingly perceptive explanation of my favourite iteration of the word: “he doesn’t have his shit together,” suggesting, “he is failing rather broadly, with the onus laid to multiple personal shortcomings”.
In the running to be the most popular word for drunk guys to yell at each other at a train station, the C-word is really the only four letter word left that you wouldn’t use in a text to your mum. Germaine Greer, Melbourne Uni’s latest acquisition (we bought her right?), once said, “it is one of the few remaining words in the English language with a genuine power to shock.” I think we can all agree that if Germaine Greer says something is controversial, she’s probably right.
The origins of cunt are thought to be Germanic, however, there is some argument that it evolved from the Latin word cunnus. Archaeologists made the discovery of an amazing piece of four-letter word history in the ancient and famously preserved city of Pompeii. “Coras licks cunt” (Coras cunnum lingit) was found scrawled on a wall by an obviously bright young Pompeian mind. Evidently, we haven’t evolved too far as this same declaration also appears on the back of 80 per cent of the public bathrooms stalls I’ve ever been in.
Gropecunt Lane, an appropriately named street in the thirteenth century London red light district, is the first appearance of cunt in the English language. Cunt was historically just the most direct and basic word for what it represented. It wasn’t until about the fifteenth century that cunt became an offensive word in English. By the early twentieth century, cunt began to be used as an insult. Some linguists think the reason that cunt has remained more taboo then other words like pussy or snatch, is because it just sounds more blunt—and therefore offensive. It’s just like how cock and piss sound more offensive than willy and pee.
Words by Robert Eisen
Illustration by Zoe Efron
On 1 January 2014, 37 newly licenced marijuana shops opened their doors throughout the state of Colorado. Thousands of delighted Americans queued up in almost freezing temperatures to buy newly packaged, state approved marijuana. That day, Colorado made history as the only state in the world to allow marijuana to be sold to anyone over the age of 21. This model of legalisation is likely to serve as a blueprint for legislation around the world, and will not go unnoticed by the many advocates of marijuana in our own country. In Australia, however, the question remains as to whether marijuana should be legalised for medical purposes, let alone for the general public, so don’t prepare for a trip to the Smith Street Pot Shop just yet. Legal marijuana is still light years away from hitting our shoreline, as politicians are only slowly coming to terms with the issue.
Although medical marijuana is the most viable option for Australia, it is unlikely to be introduced anytime soon. Unlike Australia, Colorado has a history of medical marijuana, with legislation dating back to 2000. These proved to be the foundations for the current laws. In Colorado, licenses to supply the drug were first granted to those already supplying medical marijuana and were later extended to others. Australia has only just begun to consider legislation to legalise medical marijuana, but even still, there have been some encouraging signs of a change. In May 2013, the NSW Government Legislative Council began an inquiry into the use of cannabis for medical purposes with its findings due to be released in February 2015.
Washington State’s system of legalisation, however, presents an alternate path for Australia. Although in Washington medical marijuana has been in various stages of legality since 1998, their 2014 policy created a new system under which growing, processing and selling the drug all require different licences. The government determines how much marijuana is needed by the producer and caps their output accordingly. Such a system has a number of difficulties that include a complex system of licensing according to supply and demand and issues surrounding federal law, which still deems marijuana illegal. The Washington State model seems less likely for Australia, as state governments are likely to favour further decriminalisation over legalisation.
This has already been achieved to some degree in most states and territories. In Victoria for example, possession of up to 50 grams of marijuana carries no criminal conviction. Decriminalisation is less of a political minefield than legalisation, the latter of which would be a tough sell to both Liberal and Labor voters. The Greens remain the only major political party open to discussion on the legalisation of medical marijuana. They have lavished praise on the NSW decision to open the inquiry into medical marijuana with Greens spokesperson for health Senator Richard Di Natale stating that, “Medical cannabis can help relieve the pain and nausea experienced by cancer patients but they are unable to access it because of Australia’s drug laws.”
So far the Colorado experiment has been largely viewed as a success, though a couple of issues have been pointed out, with reports of tourists crossing state lines with marijuana, and minors getting hold of the drug. Major banks have also shunned retailers, as selling marijuana still violates federal law forcing business to operate mainly with cash, which poses safety risks. These issues and others such as the increased consumption and the negative effects of the drug mean it is better for Australia to introduce the drug as a ‘medical experiment’ first, before outright legalisation.
I’d like to start by saying that I am honoured to be a part of Farrago’s nearly 100 year history. This magazine has been sharing the thoughts and opinions of students for generations. Even my own father graced our pages in the early ‘70s campaigning for better common areas for optometry students.
A few months ago I was scrolling through the Farrago archives trying to find my dad’s articles. In one of the 1974 editions I found a two page spread about smoking restrictions on campus, an issue that is still potent today. Even in one of the first ever editions of Farrago, students were complaining about not having enough space to park their horses and carriages, mirroring modern students’ attitudes towards parking their cars.
Unfortunately, Farrago’s history is also marred by political partisanship and impartiality. The same 1974 Farrago that featured an article on smoking also featured an ad for Gough Whitlam on the cover. Even in 2013, the edition seven cover featured an illustration of Tony Abbott featuring the caption ‘WE’RE FUCKED’.
My aim with Farrago 2014 is to move away from this type of editorial bias and focus on presenting the voices of students. While obviously many students agree with these Labor-centric ideas, it is the place of individual writers to express those beliefs, and not the editorial team. I hope that this magazine will appeal to all students of this university, regardless of their political beliefs.
Like many of you flicking through this magazine, I first stumbled upon Farrago in O-week. The year was 2010; I was little more than a friendless first year, who thought it was impossible to have their name published in Farrago, let alone one day become an editor. In the subsequent months, the Farrago dictators rejected six of my articles and didn’t even have the courtesy to tell me I was a lousy writer.
At the end of 2010, however, my luck changed. Incoming editors Tim, Erin, Geir, and Elizabeth decided to take a chance on me, something for which I will forever be grateful. Since then, Farrago has played a fundamental role in my life, making me the writer I am today and introducing me to a community of like-minded students.
As one of the 2014 editors, I look forward to being the person that gives you your chance. Sure, you may be brand new to this Uni, or may have never had your work published. But who knows, you could be editing this thing one day…
I’d also like to use this opportunity to acknowledge my predecessors. To Max, Ella, Vicky, Scott, Emma, Sarah, Meg, and Sally – thanks for being such supportive editors and good-quality humans. Here’s hoping I don’t ruin your magazine.
Follow Kevin at @Hawkins_Kevin and kevman.wordpress.com
I was told many things when I became a Farrago editor: I’d be stressed beyond anything I’d ever felt before and have no time, but I’d have the best year ever. So far, only the last one is holding up to be true. The job is stressful, I can’t lie, but I love and enjoy it so much I barely notice it.
Farrago, true to its Latin name, is a mixed bag of things. This thing you hold in your hot little hands is the product of collaboration between a brilliant team of writers, subeditors, and illustrators. We can’t be grateful enough for their efforts in doing their respective thangs to pull Edition One together. It’s been so much fun working together, and I hope you enjoy reading the magazine as much as we enjoyed making it.
For those of you coming to the magazine anew, I hope you find something in it that inspires, teaches or even angers you. For anyone who has picked up a copy before, I hope we can match—if not beat—the expectations you’ve gained from the years preceding us. From the new uni smoking ban, to why you should eat insects, there’s something to suit everyone’s taste (so to speak).
Read Farrago, think about it, love it. And if you don’t, get in touch and tell us why—we want to hear your thoughts!
Follow Michelle at @stmischa and michelleseetho.com
My friends still have no idea what I’m talking about when I tell them what I’m doing for work. “What, so you just choose what goes in the magazine?” goes a common reply. “So it’s mainly fixing grammar and punctuation?” goes another. And much of the time I struggle to answer them, because even I’m still figuring out what being a Farrago editor actually means. All I know is that on a daily basis I’m privileged to work with the most enthusiastic and outrageously talented students you could find. I get to publish writers and illustrators who may have never considered the possibility of their work appearing in print. There are too many get to’s and an unnerving absence of have to’s. In what other job would I be able to sit at a desk all morning and read stories ranging from an Australia Day spent in Indonesia to Hitler’s secret obsession with the abominable snowman?
Self-involved rhapsodising aside, there are some great pages ahead, and if you’re not featured in any of them I hope that in future you’ll take the time to get involved and contribute. You get to write about whatever you like, and get fame and devastating sexual magnetism in the process. What could be better?
Follow Sean at @sean_mw and seanmwatson.tumblr.com
Words by Zoe Efron
Students for Christ, an UMSU-affiliated student society, has inherited $23,744 from a recently deceased community volunteer, Alan Cock. He had been a long time member of the University of Melbourne’s Christian community and advocate for prayer spaces on campus. The society is yet to decide what to do with its newfound wealth.
Students for Christ Vice-President Jonathan Vuong described the news as “such a shock,” saying he felt, “overwhelmed, very surprised, and shocked.” When asked about the society’s plans to spend the money, he stated, “I don’t really know yet, but I’ll discuss it with the rest of the committee.” He described the society’s financial position before this as “relatively stable.”
Cock was an active member of the Christian student community on campus in the 1990s, but his involvement has waned in recent years. Vuong stated that before this incident he “had never heard of this person.”
However other members of his committee have described Cock as a man who, “did a lot of stuff on campus supporting clubs like us Christian Union.”
Vuong expressed his thanks to the family for supporting Christian clubs on campus.