Everybody Knows.

“Mens sana in corpore sano [A healthy mind in a healthy body]. And, since we are to be spared no cliches in either English or Latin, get used to the idea of the government acting in loco parentis.”

– Christopher Hitchens.

I found myself last night alone in my apartment with an unplanned evening ahead.

I’d read all I cared to read.

I’d played guitar for so long that my fingers began to blister and peel and the desire to continue had long-waned.

I didn’t really care to speak to anyone. Paint. Or write.

I wasn’t hungry and I wasn’t tired.

So I turned on the TV.

To be honest, I can’t even really recall what I watched– with the exception of the smashing new anti-smoking campaign featuring Leonard Cohen’s seminal classic, ‘Everybody Knows.’

The advertisement made me so furious I switched it off, pegged the remote control at the wall and lay in bed, staring out the window, wondering who the fucks running the show.

I find it infuriating that the Australian Government continues to feign concern for the health of its citizens. It doesn’t. There is just as much money to be made in ‘assisting’ smokers in their quitting pursuits as there is in cigarettes sales.

Plus those images are fake.

They’re not real.

They don’t exist.

Photoshop much?

What I really resent is the absence of choice.

Sure, smoking is bad for you.

But so is a lot of other shit.

For example, I find this sort of campaign followed closely by say, that new pork advertisement just horrendous.

In fact, I find most Australian advertising horrendous. It plays on peoples stupidity, on the impulses of the un-educated and it’s seldom witty, clever or beautiful in nature.

I wish things were different.

Perhaps you’d care to read a lovely feature written some months ago now by Christopher Hitchens and published in The Guardian on the nature of Governments assuming the responsibility of the individual with regards to smoking…

Hitchens argues that this is no longer “about” the protection of non-smokers. It is “about” state-enforced behaviour-modification. Another and more old-fashioned name for it is prohibition.

He continues to argue that it is in fact a bit boring to have to point this out… He says, of course it is boring. It is supposed to be boring! The reason for the easy victory of people such as Hewitt (who I had pegged for a little authoritarian frump even when she ran the old National Council for Civil Liberties) is that they do not feel boredom at all. For them, attending a committee meeting that will find ways of closing the last loophole and abolishing the last exemption or anomaly is an experience akin to the sensual. Soon, soon, they moan softly to themselves, the rules will be absolutely the same for everybody. No exceptions. At long last – zero tolerance!

Just ponder the implications of those last two words for a second. They say, without any ambiguity, that tolerance is to be despised. Forget all the usual babble about “inclusiveness” and “diversity”. If you want to toddle round to the Rat and Goldfish and have a smoke and a drink while you mutter over the newspaper, you can forget it. There are people who have taken you into account, and weighed and measured your situation, and who have other plans for you. What a pity that you had better things to do than attend that committee meeting where your private pleasures came under scrutiny. Bet you wish you weren’t so easily bored.

The feature in entirety can be  found here:


Oh and the TVC I speak of, for your viewing pleasure.

“There have been moments of reverie, wreathed in smoke and alone with a book, and moments of conversation, perfumed with ashtrays and cocktails and decent company, which I would not have exchanged for a year of ordinary existence.”

– Christopher Hitchens.

Of course, in addition to all of this I am curious as to what Cohen’s thoughts on the matter might be. Surely he is aware of the campaign, or at best, the licensing of his song for some perfunctory Australian television campaign. I’m sure it’s paid his rent for the year or found him sporting some new, nice suits. But what of artistic integrity? And what of the absolute irony of what I, at least, believe this song to be about– knowledge, wisdom, free thought. Not the fucking evil propaganda spiel purported by the media and our charmed Government to make everyone feel bad, or worse.

Here, work it out for yourself:

Everybody Knows.

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died

Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful
Ah give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you’ve been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

And everybody knows that it’s now or never
Everybody knows that it’s me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah when you’ve done a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe’s still pickin’ cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows

And everybody knows that the Plague is coming
Everybody knows that it’s moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there’s gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows

And everybody knows that you’re in trouble
Everybody knows what you’ve been through
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach of Malibu
Everybody knows it’s coming apart
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Oh everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes and
Everybody knows.

4 Responses to “Everybody Knows.”
  1. Papa says:

    Great photo…might be worth getting a comment from Leonard.
    I have zero tolerance for the notion of zero tolerance. K.Coffey 2010

  2. Nova says:


    pretty soon we’ll be told how frequently we can toilet. i wonder when it will become illegal to “go” more than your allotted number of times per day? N. xx

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