It is September 11 and an auspicious day for people with their minds on America. However this is not my focus at 5 am in the morning, when the heater is blowing its blessed little guts out and streetlights still flood the backyard.
The focus this morning is not even the Great White Fleet and its celebratory centenary that is happening in lil ol Albany today. One hundred years since the greatest assemblage of military might this outpost has ever seen. The local newspaper printed a special wrap around for the event, copied my very own sepia format with ancient photographs and completed it with an article that was stirring stuff indeed.
"Why were they named The Great White Fleet?" I asked Old Salt. "Was it because they were all white folk?"
Apparently not. Something to do with hastily painting the old hulks to tidy them up a bit. Anyway, the arrival of thousands of American sailors is present in my mind, not because of the historical or military implications, sepia photographs or marches in uniform down the main drag to sound of bagpipes and baying dogs. It’s not about the Morris dancers who will invariably show up, or even the Port Authority deeming us lucky enough to hang around our own port for the day without being arrested.
It’s about sex, the city and sailors. What is with this?
I have theories, lots of them. One of them involves men cleaning toilet bowls, another – something about doctors and nurses. My friend has a theory involving civilisations with domesticated quadrupeds being the only ones that indulged in slavery. All these theories I will go into one day. Today’s theory involves bikie gangs, American sailors, Captain Cook, rampaging Mongolians and yes, juicy young women in full oestrus flush.
Except for the women, all of the above are mobs of men on a mission, mobs with a rigid hierarchy structured much the same way as ape societies or the office beach volleyball team.
Hunter S. Thompson spells it out in Hells Angels. (Read it. I gave it to my ex, so I can’t find the quote. Thompson discusses the irresistible allure and attraction that some women have for heavily scented and chauvinistic bad asses.) They roll into town on iron steeds like raucous black cockatoos. Their hierarchy is distinctly military. They are not skippers and first mates. They are Sergeant at arms, lieutenants and privates.
A few years ago, when the sailors turned up, there was a siege in the main street of our very own Tumbleweed. The local outlaws, the 1 percenters, cordoned off the street top and bottom. The sailors were in the middle. That other structured male power base, the police bless them, were freaking out on the thin blue line, and trying to maintain some semblance of authority. The CBD was essentially shut down as the bikies and the sailors waged a fraught little war over territory and breeding rights.
A friend said to me once, "War is created simply so we can go into other countries and fuck all their women." Hmmm.
Maybe woman, in her inimitable style, drops the germ of war into man’s brain (so he really thinks it’s his idea) purely with aim of diversifying the gene pool?
As Dr Karl says in his ‘Sleek Geeks’ roadshow, of Genghis Khan. "Just look at the man’s cheekbones! Who would not want cheekbones like that? Just look at his jaw! This is an Alpha Male we are looking at here."
Never mind the fact that his Y chromosome, which started as a single ‘issue’ from the man himself in the 12th century, is now present in 16 million men in Central Asia! (How do they know these things?)
‘Dr DNA’, Brian Sykes, author of Daughters of Eve argues that "If you trace the Y chromosome's fingerprints back through human history, you see that it reports some very unpleasant behaviour." What kind of behaviour? "Well, when (Genghis Khan) conquered a territory, he killed the men and systematically inseminated the most attractive women. A thousand years later, his Y chromosome has survived and proliferated, which is sexual selection on a very grand scale."
For rampaging Mongolian Alpha Males and scientists following their exploits via the Y chromosome, I guess the outlook on sexual selection is a decidedly male one. You know, invading armies, raping and pillaging, the spoils of war etc.
Then get out into a paddock with some heifers and a randy bull. Check out who is making the rules about insemination. Sure the Alpha Male is the one who gets laid the most but he ain’t getting any juice unless there is a cow with her tail hooked up over her fanny and putting it right in his face. A tad too agricultural for you? Okay.
When Captain Cook bounded onto terra firma, he and his crew laughed behind their hands at attempts of the local Aboriginal men to offer them their wives. Thus began two centuries of tragedies and massacres resulting from this basic cultural misunderstanding.
Initially, in Aboriginal 101 classes, I would be internally frothing at these stories. How could they even own their wives, to be able to trade them? Righteous indignation would follow and my tutor (a quiet and dignified young man) pointed me towards some answers.
Ian Keen’s book Aboriginal Economy and Society: Australia at the Threshold of Colonisation, is a beauty for its studies on several different Aboriginal nations and societies. For small societies that travelled mostly in family bands, genetic diversity was paramount in the organising of kin. The kinship systems were, and still are, incredibly sophisticated to ensure maximum genetic diversity. I could go into moieties and skin groups here but I won’t because they are almost algebraic in complexity. Another day perhaps…
Imagine having to walk hundreds of kilometres laden with pearl shell or flint to find yourself a wife. Some would argue the Internet is quicker and easier on the feet. What if the answer to genetic diversity rowed to your front door and presented themselves as friendly?
As a result of this cultural misunderstanding that began with Cook other deals between Aboriginals and white men, with the intention of extending the gene pool and cementing social networks, began to go horribly wrong. The Coniston massacre in the Northern Territory in 1928 occurred because the dingo hunter simply wouldn’t give her back.
Blame Helen, she fucked it up for everyone.
So arrives the Great White Fleet to Albany after 100 years, another variation of the grand genetic moveable feast. The military and similar structures provide greedy girls with the whole gamut of Alpha Males to choose from, borne from exotic locations and bearing silk stockings, pelagic tales and alcohol.
It’s just a theory. Maybe I’ve been living in Albany too long.