Men's Lifestyle
Smith Journal

Smith Journal Winter 2018

Smith Journal is a quarterly publication for discerning gents (and ladies who like reading about discerning gents). It’s heads-up and hands-on. A friendly guide to all things creative, intriguing, genuine and funny – full of stories, people, adventures, interesting conversations and gentlemanly style. The people behind Smith wanted to create something they’d be happy to read themselves. That smart, creative guys could peruse without shame, slap down on the coffee table, whack in their favourite old satchel or display proudly on the toilet reading rack. Something that looked good, but had substance, wit and inspiration. At a time when everything seems like it’s speeding up, Smith is a call to slow down. It’s about remembering, reviving and revamping forgotten traditions, skills and technologies. And backpedalling just enough to appreciate the good stuff in life. Like our readers, we’re not particularly obsessed with being the coolest, the biggest or the first in line. But we are interested in making things that last.

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in this issue

1 min.
if you were to subject this volume of smith journal to psychoanalysis (hear me out), there’s a good chance it would be diagnosed with something nasty.

It’s not hard to see why. Within these pages you will find extinct animals whose bones remind us that all things – even massive beasts – must pass. You’ll meet a forensic cleaner whose livelihood depends on folk meeting a grisly end, an artist inspired by ’80s horror books, and a filmmaker whose penchant for fake blood would make Quentin Tarantino queasy. There are dictators and gangsters, cyclones and scammers, poorly treated dogs and severed philosophers’ heads. So, why the long face? You could chalk it up to living through these ‘uncertain times’ – the political turmoil, the 24-hour news cycle, the unseasonable weather harbinging certain environmental collapse. But flicking through the ink-smudged proofs as we corral this thing into something approximating a magazine, I don’t think that’s quite it. Death,…

17 min.
smith stuff

FLIGHT OF FANCY Imagine if flying were as easy as floating on water. No giant engines churning fossil fuels to get off the ground, just giant sculptures floating gracefully through the sky, buoyed by the sun’s heat. It would be truly emission-free flying, and it already exists (kind of), thanks to the global Aerocene project. To fulfil this dream, Aerocene started by creating the world’s coolest backpack: a wearable nylon kit containing everything you need to dabble in zero-emissions flying. Folks can borrow a backpack (or download instructions on building one themselves), then launch the huge Explorer within. Once in the air, it functions as a weather balloon, gathering data about our atmosphere through a small camera and other gadgets. First, though, you’ll have to convince a bunch of mates to run headlong…

5 min.
the mammoth hunters

ONCE UP ON A TIME, THE WOOLLY MAMMOTH WAS THE KING OF THE ARCTIC. THREE METRES TALL AND WEIGHING UP TO SIX TONNES, WITH TUSKS THAT CURLED ALMOST FOUR METRES, THEY STRODE THE STEPPES AND TUNDRA OF THESE FORBIDDING LANDS IN THEIR HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS. But then, around 10,000 B.C.E., a combination of warming weather and human hunting led to an extinction-level event. Within the space of few millennia, these giants were gone, their bodies sinking deep into the frosted landscapes of the Arctic. But now a new wave of climate change is exhuming them from the earth, and for the Yukagir tribesmen in Siberia’s farthest north, it has created an unexpected business opportunity. “These guys used to be reindeer hunters and fishermen,” explains Evgenia Arbugaeva, a photographer who spent months travelling…

7 min.
things i believe

NEGLECT CAN BE A POWERFUL MOTIVATOR I grew up with a single parent who suffered from mental and physical problems. As a result, I often felt overlooked as a child. I received positive reinforcement when I did something well, and I remember forming this idea that, if I became the best in the world at something, my mother might love me. It sounds crazy now, but in a way it wasn’t actually that far-fetched. For years I didn’t even know what it was I wanted to be the best at – I just knew that I wanted it. When diving came along I grasped it with both hands. INVISIBLE OBSTACLES MAKE FOR HARD NAVIGATING I was 11 when I started training with the Australian Institute of Sport, an age much too young to…

3 min.
listen up: evan dando

THE FIRST TIME I HEARD BRITNEY SPEARS’ ‘TOXIC’ WAS WHILE WE WERE MAKING THE SELF-TITLED THE LEMONHEADS RECORD, IN 2006. I think it was Bill Stevenson from the Descendents and Black Flag who said how much he liked that song, so I gave it a listen. I remember loving the Stevie Wonder-ishness of it. It has that really good melody: “Dah dah ah ra da ra rah.” It was pretty immediate, and while it’s definitely more surface than substance, there’s just something to the song that I can really appreciate. I’ve never seen Britney perform, and to be honest I’ve never even really thought about her as a musician. It sounds funny, but she actually seems more like a political figure to me. She seems like a smart woman; she’s survived this long…

3 min.
how democracies die

BEFORE THE END OF THE COLD WAR, MOST DEMOCRACIES DIED BY THE GUN. FROM PINOCHET’S CHILE TO FRANCO’S SPAIN, AROUND THREE OF EVERY FOUR DEMOCRATIC BREAKDOWNS TRANSPIRED WITH THE MILITARY SEIZING POWER. It was pretty black and white, and what happened next was foreseeable: the constitution would be dissolved, the elected government dispensed with, and the democratically installed leader jailed, exiled or killed. But since the end of the Cold War, democracies have tended to be killed from within rather than without – and their executioners have usually been the leaders elected by these very democratic processes. It’s more effective to dismantle a democracy than overthrow it, because working within democracy’s architecture lets you customise your power. Done subtly, the populace won’t even notice what’s happening until it’s too late. For instance,…