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September 2006   

Interview: Australia’s Most Wanted
The ACCC is the latest state agency to turn its guns on the construction union. National official, Dave Noonan, discusses the implications.

Industrial: The Fox and the Contractor
With new laws looming for “independent contractors”, Foxtel subbies have had the carpet pulled from under their feet, writes Nathan Brown.

Unions: Industrial Wasteland
A group of inner-Sydney veterans appear to be working to strip their families of retirement incomes. Jim Marr records their desperation.

International: Two Bob's Worth
German and British workers are participating in business decisions while WorkChoices locks Australians out of the conversation, writes Anthony Forsyth.

Economics: National Interest
John Howard claimed that interest rates would always be lower under a Coalition government than under Labor, Neale Towart crunchess the numbers.

Environment: The Real Dinosaur
Economic ignorance remains at the top and the critics are oblivious says Sol Power

History: Only In Spain?
The experiences of self management during the Civil War have been the one positive factor to come from that tragic event, and the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation thrives today.

Review: Clerk Off
Nathan Brown draws solace from some fellow social misfits.


Westie Wing
MLC Ian West ventures beyond Macquarie St and into the desert of the eco rats.

The Soapbox
Testing Times
Former RLPA secretary and Newcastle Knights prop, Tony Butterfield, fires up over dawn raids.

Dare to Win
The union movement has lost an inspirational leader of working men and women, writes Jeana Vithoulkas

Tommy's Apprentice
Chapter Two - Tommy’s Tale.


Justice, Applied Liberally
To think, Phillip Ruddock used to be a liberal.


 Boss Gives Dad the Finger

 Amber's Law Pulps WorkChoices

 Westfield Flogs Good Deal

 Building Workers Spooked

 Bankers to Train Assassins

 Astroboy Blasts Off

 First Global Deal Docks in Germany

 Bans Stop the Press

 Deportation for Pay-To-Work Tradesman

 Telstra in Bush Bloodbath

 Boss Punts Assaulted Teen

 Ballots Stuffed By WorkChoices

 Howard in a Spin

 Extras – The Waterfront.

 Activist's What's On!

 Please Don’t Go
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Clerk Off

Nathan Brown draws solace from some fellow social misfits.


In my early teenage years I was a little slow on the uptake. While my friends were listening to Nirvana, I was listening to Elvis. They were wearing open flanos over t-shirts, I had mine buttoned up and tucked in.

Then, at some point, I don't remember when, it changed.

I think the catalyst was when I got a job at McDonalds. Suddenly there were things I was interested in. Being from an all-boys school, girls were suddenly on my radar. I also learnt quite quickly that work wasn't fair - unpaid overtime and burns from dodgy equipment were common events.

But CDs became more accessible with a little bit of money I did make. Gradually I was able to get myself into music more aligned with the zeitgeist.

A film my friends had been raving about, probably years earlier than I caught on, was Clerks. It was a low-budget, grainy, black and white film that captured the life of someone stuck in a meaningless job.

Except, it wasn't as dour as that. The characters and wild humour made it stand out.

It had special meaning for the armies of young people in western civilisation in the same situation. The tagline "Just because they serve you doesn't mean they like you" neatly summed it up.

But the glory days of the 90s are over. And over a decade since Clerks, director Kevin Smith has come out with a sequel.

Clerks II revisits the original characters 12 years on. Nice guy Dante and his wise-cracking offsider Randal have been forced to move on from their jobs and are now working at a fast food chain called Mooby's.

Dante is on the verge of moving to Florida with his fiancée, leaving his best friend Randal and serial loiterers Jay and Silent Bob. This drives a plot that explores relationships between lovers and friends.

It's quite serious for a film that features an act that would make Piers Akerman proud (see this week's toolshed). It also gives an insight into the reason you should treat pimply fast food workers with respect.

But if you put the crass humour, awkward acting and over-scripted dialog to one side, it's an important film for those who saw the original. This is a film about life-choices.

It's clever. Having the same characters in largely the same situation as they were decade ago, allows the viewer (assuming they watched Clerks) compare their life to Dante and Randal.

The movie ultimately asks why should we be concerned about other people's expectations of what it is to have a successful career and successful life. The question has added potency when two loafers, who summed up the apathetic mood of a decade ago, are forced to deal with it.

Because of this it goes much deeper than the original did, and in the process loses some of the original charm, but, fortunately, none of the humour.


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