e-nigma of Sydney, by Jacqui Taffel - 29th March 2003
Sydney Morning Herald)
man ... and the motion picture that simply do not
conform" went the tagline of Cool Hand Luke.
The classic 1967 film stars Paul Newman as Lucas "Cool
Hand" Jackson, a charismatic and recalcitrant
prisoner on chain gang duty. "You're gonna get
used to them chains after a while, Luke," drawls
a sadistic guard before beating him to the ground.
Despite physical and mental cruelty, Luke refuses
to be broken.
years later, the film is an inspiration to a young
Sydney man who calls himself Lucas Jackson and has
created the Broken
the names come from the film, the purpose of the low-tech,
two-page site is more obscure. The home page features
a few photos, a button, an email contact and some
optimistic text: "Can you picture a terrorist-free
world? A drug-free environment? People valuing freedom
of speech? Peace in a war-free earth? Then 'SOMETHING
UNBELIEVABLE' is exactly what you need. COMING SOON."
Broken Man went live last December, Jackson began
using some interesting publicity techniques. Fake
crime scenes appeared around the CBD, with a chalked
body outline and the web address "brokenman.net"
marked off with US police tape. These crime scenes
also contained "clues".
then, Jackson has left more clues by various means
including distributing 1000 wallets around the city
and creating a secret phone line. He has also kept
up a vigorous chalking campaign, scrawling his website
address from Bondi to Sydney's inner west.
person, Jackson looks like an ordinary guy in his
early 20s (at a guess - he refuses to be more specific
about his age than twentysomething). Wearing jeans,
T-shirt and wraparound reflector sunnies, he's friendly,
with no obvious nervous tics or oddities. And young
men obsessed with cult movies are hardly unusual.
The difference is Jackson has decided to make a statement
in the public domain, though it's not yet clear what
his message is.
questioned about his motives, Jackson is vague. "A
whole bunch of situations" led him to take action,
he says. A previous Herald news story implied he was
an anti-war protester, but he denies it, and didn't
join the crowds at Hyde Park on February 16. "I
kept away from the peace march. I've got my own opinion
of the war against terrorism."
fake crime scenes, he says, were "symbolic of
everyday things we don't see ... that are kind of
hidden agendas by governments and different bodies."
doesn't deny being a conspiracy theorist. "I
believe everyone's got hidden agendas; they're everywhere."
not marketing a product or hawking religion, though
he feels "people are reaching out for something
to believe in. I'm not telling anyone to believe in
anything but themselves."
for where the clues are leading, Jackson says the
final piece in the puzzle is not far away and that
"it will outcome in quite a large way and in
a positive way".
is the sole instigator of this enigmatic project.
The only help he's had is from a friend who dealt
with "the technicalities" of building the
website. Jackson is no computer genius or high-tech
hacker, claiming he only uses the web "to play
a bit of pool now and then".
Broken Man website is simply the means to find a large
and diverse audience. "I'm reaching out to rich
people, poor people, students, the homeless."
Jackson claims to have registered up to 30,000 hits
on one day, though he says the average is closer to
7000. He also says he's received countless emails
and phone messages and expects about 100,000 people
to participate in the final puzzle "which will
be quite testing".
has a day job, though predictably he won't reveal
what it is. The web is an affordable way to broadcast
his message to the world. "It's very cost effective,
doing it by myself," he says. "It's really
just energy I'm burning and not money."
towards a terrorist-free, drug-free, war-free world
must burn a lot of energy. Realistically, can one
person with a low-tech website, some chalk and an
active imagination deliver "something unbelievable"?
Jackson says he's "totally confident". When
pressed about what he hopes to achieve with Broken
Man, he responds: "Hopefully it changes some
opinions and opens some minds. Hopefully it changes
but in what way? There's a long pause before he answers
with a smile.
a positive way."
a famous scene in Cool Hand Luke, the lead character
takes on a bet to eat 50 hard-boiled eggs in an hour.
The plausibility of this feat has since been scientifically
analysed - see BBC's
Sydney Morning Herald Online
Man Australia: Entertainment
puzzle's 'broken man' speaks, but message still a
mystery - 8th February 2003
In The Ranks
Rozelle & Leichhardt