Jonathan Seidler is an Australian author, father and nu-metal apologist. You may have read his memoir, caught his compelling live performance at this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival, or noticed his distinct eyebrows on the street. He has some interesting things to say about music, fatherhood, Aussie culture, mental health and the social gymnastics of group chats.
Here, you can find all of this columns for Esquire.
MUCH LIKE modern motherhood, early stage fatherhood is a complete clusterfuck of inherited wisdom, frantic 2AM Googling and unhelpful advice from people on Instagram sporting whiter teeth than you. I feel like I’ve weathered this onslaught relatively well, all things considered, but recently I’ve encountered a new challenge that has knocked me for six, no matter how many times I read up on or try to rationalise it. Some days, my daughter just doesn’t want a bar of me.
WHEN FORMER Mr Hollywood, aka Harvey Weinstein, became the first major scalp claimed by the #MeToo movement some five years ago, the general understanding was that men discovered to have been using their power to subjugate others—especially sexually—were immediately considered persona non grata. Certainly that was the case for Weinstein, who’ll likely spend the rest of his natural life in jail. But curiously, more recent transgressors, such as Russell Brand, seem to think they can bounce back in record time.
DEALING WITH pregnancy loss of any variety feels a bit like being on the rotor ride at Luna Park; you think you couldn’t feel any worse and somehow the machine keeps spinning. It continues rendering you emotionally nauseous after the embryo or foetus leaves the body, and it’s this mental long tail which can too often wrap itself around men.
BELOVED ICON John Farnham returned to the news cycle recently, lending not only his most famous recording, but also his likeness, to the Yes campaign for the Voice referendum. As someone who came extremely close to securing another of the great man’s tracks for a crucial cause, I’ve been watching the reactions to his involvement unfold with interest.
I DON’T THINK it’s a reach to say that I’m a generally impatient person. I rush across the street before the little green man tells me I’m allowed to. When people are conversing with me and searching for the right word, I often provide it to them without them asking. I file columns like this two days early. If I see a free parking spot on the other side of the street, I’m known to pull Fast & Furious-style manoeuvres in order to secure it. But nothing has tested my patience quite like becoming a dad.
When I was a teenager, I used to think being a parking officer was the worst job in the world. Then, during a stint working in advertising, I discovered middle management. It’s such an unenviable career position that it combines two lacklustre titles into one, which may help explain why most of my mates are currently running in the opposite direction.
A peculiar thing has been happening to me lately, and it’s something none of the shit books on fatherhood people gifted me when they found out I was expecting ever explicitly mentioned. It’s an unnerving and unpredictable development, and for the first time since I realised that nappies don’t always hold everything in, I’ve found myself feeling almost entirely out of my depth. You heard it here first: I’ve started to accrue legitimate New Dad Friends.
If you were to ask me why I continue to go to the gym, I’d say it’s for my physical and mental fitness. It’s also out of obligation to myself and the direct debit that’s sucked from my bank account every fortnight. But I do not go to the gym to socialise, which is why I’m taken aback every time a guy in sweat-wicking fabric approaches me for a chat.
Recently, I had a phenomenal customer service interaction at my local butcher. The butcher has stood there at the bottom of my street for a million years; it’s run by two charming blokes, one of whom is definitely past retirement age. This man of the better vintage — let’s call him Dan — has yet to fully get his head around Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale machines, which are designed for elder millennials like me who no longer have time for things like tactile buttons…
We need to normalise intervening when mates abuse Class As at lunchtime on a Wednesday; when friends are stuck in dead-end jobs and can’t pull themselves out of their own misery; when blokes drive like idiots with their kids in the back seat and guys crack racist jokes at the bar when they think nobody is listening.
In my experience, when this behaviour is flagged, oftentimes it’s by others in a friendship or family group who realise something’s a bit off. But in these circumstances, with no pressing need to get involved beyond a decent set of ethics and every possible chance for it to blow up into a nuclear argument, the stakes tend to remain low. I’ve found these issues are usually addressed with the classic ‘somebody should talk to him’, or ‘we should sit him down and have a chat’ — open-ended suggestions that lead to precisely nothing being done…
Unless you’ve spent the past week on a silent meditation retreat (it happens to the best of us), you’ve probably heard about this thing called Threads. Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that Meta had rushed forward the launch of its newest social media platform, a microblogging service that looks a lot like Twitter. You could say it’s the moral and digital equivalent of me writing a book called No Sea For Old Men while claiming I’d never heard of Hemmingway or McCarthy. And it’s already being embraced by celebs and plebs alike with the rapture of discount hounds on Boxing Day morning. Threads surpassed 30 million sign ups in less than 24 hours, and 100 million sign ups within a week of its launch.
My fourteen month-old daughter recently discovered my record collection. As with most things she encounters at floor level, she made the resolute decision to chew her way through it. It was a truly terrifying thing to behold for someone that owns as much vinyl as I do. While I delicately but firmly attempted to wrangle a rare Japanese pressing of The Supremes away from her sticky, dirt-encrusted mitts, I wondered when it had become this bad. Why did I continue to buy records in this day and age?
Canadian music monolith Drake recently announced the launch of his newest project with a full-page wraparound in The New York Times. He’s a low-key guy. It’s called ‘Titles Ruin Everything’, a book of poetry to be released through highbrow art book publisher Phaidon, which is also well known for publishing the design bible Wallpaper*.
Naturally there’s an album to accompany it, but that’s besides the point, as is Drake’s preeminent role as the guy who performs rhyming couplets over sick beats to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
If I had to take a conservative guess, I’d say I’m a card-carrying member of at least 23 separate group chats. Some of these are with various family members, others are for work projects and then there’s the niche groups comprising two or three geeky friends I share new music or Black Mirror analyses with. There are also a handful I didn’t even want to join, but now feel too invested in to leave.