Wednesday, September 07, 2005

nerdy enthusiasms then and now

When I was in my early teens my friend Saul and I used to travel the Melbourne train system giving each station a star rating. On what grounds? Aesthetic I think, from what we probably didn’t realise was a rather middle-class mindset. We would usually do these trips on a Sunday, which meant that when we got to the end of the line we would have to wait 40 minutes before the train went back. In a way we were just doing something so we could say we did something, rather than sit around in the living room with irritating siblings or whatever. We drew comics and stuff on the train, as I recall.

I wish we had kept our ratings books as they would be fascinating to look at now, although a lot of them were kind of slapdash (of course we knew what a dumb thing it was to do to 'rate' the stations! I suppose we just liked compiling lists or something). I wonder what we would have made of Glenbervie station for instance – well, we were never that keen on the little brick dogboxes of the 60s/70s. I am sure we would have had a real downer on Jacana station too. I remember Broadmeadows as a wasteland, and maps do seem to suggest that there was no real shopping centre or other facilities there until the late 80s.

However the Broadmeadows line is very scenic. The part between Strathmore and Pascoe Vale takes you through a valley of grassy spaces and weatherboard houses (with a few mansions evident at the tops of hills). The Glenbervie-Strathmore section goes over an intriguing creek and gives you a good view into all kinds of backyards. Pascoe Vale- Oak Park is suddenly 1950s and the line goes up quite high, so you can see a broad sweep of the area, which is hilly (presumably Moonee Ponds Creek is responsible). I don’t know what Saul and I would have made of Oak Park station but I quite like it now, with its pebble mix walls and demonstrable complimentarity to the single-story moderne shopping centre on a perpendicular road.

Today I had to drive down to Mt Eliza (I would have much preferred to take the train but there wasn't time and I wanted to combine the trip with some other errands). I went on the Nepean Hwy and even though I caught every red light it was still quicker than I expected. Half the way I was deciding where I would be stopping to call to say I was late, and the other half I was marvelling at how quickly I was getting there. I listened to ABC’s Look of Love on the way. It is an absolutely amazing album, I re-realised (of course I bought it when it came out, so I have always known this). Interesting to listen to this in the light of having just seen the Made in Sheffield documentary and the stuff about Vice Versa, the band that became ABC. For the first time I considered how late 70s techno-ey that ‘Valentine’s Day’ was, particularly the mechanised voice and the staccato percussion. There are other touches of that throughout.

Another thing I noticed, and appreciate, is the way that it’s quite plain that it’s a constructed studio album. Martin Fry’s vocals overlap, particularly when he moves from regular to high-pitched; there’s no mystery to it, it’s plainly an overdub. You have to love that.

And the thing that was always amazing was the lyrics. One that hit me today was ‘when your only pleasure treasure is map relief’; has there ever been a better allusion to masturbation in a pop song? Oh, possibly, but that one was dear to me today. Look of Love was very nearly the last record I ever listened to (a buffoon in a red van cut right across me just outside Frankston and nearly finished me off). It wouldn’t have been the worst last-ever album listened to. But as it was I survived and bought a copy of the first Tin Machine album on tape at the RSPCA op shop for 50c. I didn’t listen to much of it (the first song sounds like a Doors pastiche) but I’m glad I survived, or that Tin Machine album would have been my last ever, and that would have sucked.


Anonymous said...

Have you been on the Hurstbridge line recently? Very lovely north of Clifton Hill. What do you think of Keilor Plains station? Jim B

David said...

Very good questions, I'll get back to you.

Wayne said...

"I know what's good, but I know what trash is."

Anonymous said...

Is that last statement a judgement on Keilor Plains station or a quote from ABC?

David said...

Without wishing to put words into Wayne's mouth, I suspect the former. Wayne hates Keilor Plains station.