Monday, February 27, 2006

b l ic m ort co

The facelift of the western end of Flinders St is hastening, and it's like the flyover was never there. I saw a billboard advertising a fairly ghastly looking (in my opinion) building on the south-west corner but I think there should be something there. I believe that this was once the site of the fish market. A view of the rail bridge is not particularly necessary.

I very much like the Baltic Imports building though, I suppose a last vestige of the Flinders St - Fish connection. I wonder if it is saveable. It's not a building, it's three, and they look Georgian.

Oh, I'm tired. I think I will have a drop of Rawson's Retreat.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

good for ducks




It pissed down this afternoon - quite disturbing in a way particularly when I saw the state of our gutters and realised that in fact we'd need a fire truck ladder to get up and clean out the ones at the front. You never think about these kinds of things when you buy a house. I imagine. Or maybe it's just that I didn't think about this kind of thing when we bought a house.

Anyway so Millie and Charlie and I went down to the reserve and the creek to see how it was going, and it was pretty full. See picture of the litter trap and the creek in a part that you can usually walk across as the creek just trickles through between the rocks.

While we were there an a-grade dufus in a flatbed truck came rocketing down the hill and over towards the ring-road, decided s/he couldn't get out that way, came tearing back and tried to go up the hill again - like a caged animal - and didn't have the muscle and just tore up the ground (see pic of the torn-up ground) then went off towards the footy ground and out of sight for a while then came back and backed up mightily and flew at the hill and this time went up and over it. I was really maliciously hoping the truck would flip. The dogs echoed my feelings as they behaved aggressively towards the truck, though it was across the creek from us luckily.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

shock! dog uses dog toy as toy

We got Jane a subscription to Dogs Life for Christmas and part of the deal was a free bone 'shaped' object made of some kind of textile. Well, Judy wasn't into it (she's still pretty keen on oblutions, and strangely late in life has become very interested in eating, but otherwise it's mainly just sleeping) and so it made its way to us. As you can see it has a paw print design (dogs love that) and what you can't see are the words 'bite me'. Anyway, the truly amazing thing - and testament to Charlie's contrary nature - is that Charlie loves it, and bites it, and as you can see (although I actually woke her up taking this picture, so she is rising irritatedly from sleep here) she sleeps with her head on it. Dogs often seem to have this strange love-hate relationship with chewable/biteable things. I suppose it's just love really. Silver (mother to three litters) used to have a very odd attitude towards small soft toys - fascinated yet destructive. Millie incidentally (mother to no-one) couldn't give a loose root about such trivialities.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

ripping good fun

So a few weeks ago I invested, probably unwisely as I have yet to get that credit card statement in full, in an MP3 player. I have already berated myself utterly on the important subject of conspicuous consumption. I know full well the only advantage of the MP3 player is one it’s light and small and two it’s got a capacity to store a lot of music. I mean big deal. The problems are already manifest in the one I bought. One is while I like to put it on random, it incessantly goes to the same thirty (? Haven’t counted) songs and ignores pretty thoroughly whole album’s worths of tracks. It is, basically, petty. I have to physically take things off there to stop them coming up again and again. I’m not going to mention which things I’ve yanked off there after they came up often enough for me to realise I have never liked them in the first place. Here are some of the things however that I have really enjoyed on the MP3 player since I started with it:

Cam-Pact: I purchased this CD a few weeks before Christmas and have found it an endless joy. I guess my understanding of ‘blue-eyed soul’ was always a bit vague and this sounds more to me like the classic Australian pop-rock of the 60s a la Easybeats but I don’t really care about the category, it’s just great Melbourne sixties guitar pop. Even the really silly songs (I mean, ‘Monkey Time’?!) are rad – my favourites probably ‘Drawing Room’ which is a group composition and was a b-side. Like a lot of groups from their time basically the group just sound tremendously inspired, happy to be doing stuff, commercially ambitious but also artistic.

Alastair Galbraith: always a pleasure, I have most of Talisman on there. I thought it would be good in gothic New Zealand but actually enjoy it more in New Holland.

royalchord: practically all of Nights on the Town still on there, I have recently had cause to snip a few tracks out because the MP3 player favoured them relentlessly and they were so pop they were grating. I still love the overall genre romp of rc, one of my favourite groups of all time – Tammy and Eliza are dedicated, craftswomanlike songwriters.

New Estate: Rock Shop is all over my MP3 player, although I have lately chopped a couple of the more thundering live tracks as they distort in my plugs. I particularly love ‘Fool for Fashion’, ‘Palm’, ‘King Rump’ (that still makes me laugh, not bad for an instrumental track, and I laughed even before I knew it had that rude name), and of course ‘HergĂ©’.

Sunnyboys: I had the Sunnyboys compilation last year and listened to it to death so wasn’t sure if I should rip it (alright, as Mia says, even when I use this stupid term intending to be mildly funny, I can’t do it with any commitment and come across not as a middle-aged person making fun of a middle-aged person trying to use hip technological terms but just as a middle-aged person. Something I guess I should avoid drawing attention to). Anyway I did and I have greatly enjoyed it since, testament to the skills of Jeremy Oxley’s writing – he’s a jewel. ‘My Only Friend’ playing as I write.

Clare Moore: Liquor. Listened to the Graney/Moore Hashish and Liquor when it came out and liked it a lot but it is only after ripping it that I have more of a feel for the contrasts and qualities of both. It’s not a competition but I feel at the moment that while Hashish has terrific hits – ‘My Schtick Weighs a Ton’ for instance is as great as anything DG has ever done – it’s Liquor which gets the award for overall quality. I loved Clare’s first album but over repeated listenings it started to seem too synthesised in a midi way (I have to confess the smell of midi turns my stomach a bit). This one however has the perfect balance.

Panel of Judges – this album has been a long-awaited godsend and I still enjoy practically all of it (there is a bit of repetition lyrically which makes me occasionally impatiently press the ‘forward’ button). I still constantly enjoy it.

If I may indulge another memory from the distant past: when Walkmans first came in I was excited; we’re talking here about someone who used to make a mix tape a week based on whatever he really loved that week, and would carry it around regardless of the fact he had nothing to play it on, and would then graduate to the same kind of concept only four times as long with his first show on public radio in ’83. I thought Walkmans would be great for people like me to indulge in my private music peccadilloes. I was shocked to hear someone on the radio parodying the people who were probably not then called yuppies. In this person’s sarcastic world view Walkmans had made the snowfields an eerie experience because they were now filled with yuppie skiers all listening to Buck’s Fizz on their Walkmans and singing along unaware that all anyone else could hear was their voices. Yeah, one of those things that has stayed with me needlessly.

Monday, February 20, 2006

relax everyone 2006 is gonna be alright

As long as we have this

solid weekend



Pics are of Olivia's flat - soon to be no more - and a live shot of Batrider at the Pop shop in the style of Anton Corbijn except that Anton Corbijn only takes live shots of Depeche Mode and when he does it you can see people in them.

Saturday afternoon began with a small pre-soiree at Olivia's aforementioned stubbie out of the six pack, which is about to be reconditioned into I think a car park for larger, probably uglier flats in boutique Fitzroy. She is moving out on Friday and moving in with a stud. Mia suggested to me that we go to 'Olivia's farewell' and all kinds of horror images flashed through my mind, including (1) my niece (2) the Olivia pictured above (3) the singer out of the Love Moods. Turns out it was (2) but she was not being farewelled but in fact... OK, you understand. After this event we all piled onto a tram heading towards the Popshop to see Batrider. I greatly enjoyed their show. There is no substitute for a fabulous drummer who can handle both very simple and complex rhythms but deliver them with great sophistication and in a unique style. The rest of the band are really great too. One highlight was when they danced to themselves.

Afterwards Mia and I went to the Oriental cafe and I had singapore noodle. Then we walked to north Fitzroy, where we'd parked the car, and drove home. The next day (Sunday) we went into town to two exhibitions (three actually but one was closed) and saw Brokeback Mountain. While I was in Wellington I had noted with amusement that various New Zealanders had been asked to summarise/review this movie for one of the newspapers (forget which) and they had all identified portions of it which went too long, or perhaps 'went on a bit' or something similar. I found this funny but then when I saw the film I kind of knew what it was all about. I liked the period element and there was some grand acting but I did have enough 'space' in the film to figure out anagrams of the main characters' names

Ennis Del Mar = Lamed Sinner
Jack Twist = Jaw tit sack

Sorry about those but I have to say the truth.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

calvin tour february 06

Shortly after I returned from NZ Mia and I went to Sydney for a night to see Calvin Johnson at the Glebe Town Hall. Mia had to go back the next morning but I stayed and walked around town with Calvin for the afternoon. He particularly liked Newtown cemetery and Napoleon's harpist's grave. These pics are from the show, which was marvellous, inc. one of the street outside just as it is starting to rain.


gbh

This morning I went to Broady Plaza (which is what I have always called it, with no particular ironic or humourous intent, appropriately as to do so is neither ironic or humourous, but in fact its real name is Broadmeadows Town Centre) to get the ingredients for bagels. On the way I saw a car parked in the median strip in Johnstone st with two big holes in the back windscreen, about the size of lawn bowls bowling balls. All sorts of thoughts went through my head. Two passengers in back seat shot with bazooka, went one headline. Even though I am not really sure of what a bazooka is. On the way back from Broady Town Centre I saw a middle aged man of mediterranean appearance gingerly driving the car away. So I don't know.

Monday, February 13, 2006

up and down a mountain

Sunday was my day off pretty much and I was determined to see not only museumy stuff (inc. Te Papa, the national museum which had some grouse exhibitions on the Italians in New Zealand, things from the collection of a mid-20th century commercial artist called Bernard Roundhill, and a more permanent one on the Treaty of Waitangi, and other stuff and the Wellington Museum of City and Sea which was amazingly good particularly the I think temporary exhibition of key developments in Wellington). Then I went to Kelburn in the cable car, which has been going since 1902 (well, in fact there seems to have been a time when it wasn’t running, but the promo guff surrounding it tends to gloss over this) and which is more or less straight up the side of a mountain, then although I had a return ticket I meandered down again, walking through Kelburn a bit and through the botanic gardens and the awful desecration of a cemetery by the Wellington Urban Motorway. In the evening I met with Pete, a friend of James’, and his wife Deb. They live in a beautiful 1958 house in Highbury which is I guess half way down (or up) a mountainside. Oddly enough we got pizza from a place in Kelburn which I had already walked past that afternoon. It was the Health and Fitness pizza which, although that title doesn’t sound promising was actually delicious. I walked back down some stairs which P&D called the ‘scary stairs’ but the only scary thing was the busted-up house or hut about half way down them – otherwise I wasn’t a bit scared. The walk back took me down Willis Street, a street I had, like Kelburn’s Upland Road, never imagined I would see again after yesterday, and everyone was out and about – well not everyone, the ‘young people’.

I fell asleep during, ironically, the awful film Valentine (ironic only because I believe Wayne mentioned this in the blog comments a few weeks ago) which nevertheless was the most engaging thing I’ve seen on NZ tv since I got here, but unfortunately woke up totally at around half past one in the morning and two hours later (as I write this) have been completely unable to go back to sleep. Since I intended to get up early and go for another walk, in one sense this isn’t the worst thing that could happen, but in another I know that I will ‘pay’ for it later on today, and probably fall asleep somewhere and miss my plane. That kind of nightmare.

A very strange yet dull thing happened after I woke at 1:38, and I promise I was not asleep, and also that I was not so excited by this I could not sleep thereafter. I was watching a dreadful, truly, truly dreadful film on tv called Wanted. And for a short time I was thinking, 'is that guy Richard Grieco?' - an actor I had not thought about as far as I can recall for about ten years. And then I decided it wasn't, though I was wondering if one of the boys in the film (made in '98) was the actor who plays George Michael in Arrested Development. But that bit's not important. What's important is that I then turned over to another channel (Sky movies 1) to find another apparently pretty awful (though I wasn't following it so closely) film starring... do I need to even go on? ... Richard Grieco. Richard Grieco!!!





Richard Grieco!

Anyway, after that I still couldn't sleep so when 5 am rolled around, I went for a walk. I had decided to walk around to Oriental Bay and it was of course still a bit dark when I started and I just went for it man, for about half an hour. If I may back pedal a bit a few people who had been to Wellington previously told me that they had climbed Mount Victoria but it had not occurred to me at all that this was a thing to do in fact I had quite forgotten about it. But anyway after a while I got sick of walking around the harbour shore and I decided to go up the hill, and I just went up and up, it was of course pretty bleedin' steep, and I pressed on, and it's amazing those suburbs that are crammed onto hills, and the houses genuinely don't have any street frontage - I think that's illegal in Melbourne or maybe it's just that no-one could imagine doing it (and there's no need) - anyway up and up and then I saw a sign saying Mount Victoria lookout and damn it, I was climbing Mount Victoria - the hunter had been captured by the game, eh? And so I gave in to its charms such as they were/are and kept going and got to what I thought was the lookout and felt pretty flash and it started to rain, and then (like some dumbarse cartoon about climbing Mt Everest) I looked over and there was the real lookout - even higher. So against my better judgement I went up there too, accompanied along the way by a horrible skinny middle-aged runner woman and a fool on a bicycle (not only did he ride his mountain bike up the hill, he rode it down. I wouldn't trust my own leg muscles/co-ordination/shoe rubber on that wet grass, so god knows why he trusted his brakes). At the top also was some zen anoraked man who was just moving around the lookout at a 90 degree rate to check the view from every angle. It is a pretty impressive view. You can see the airport and so on and so forth. Well I guess if that's all you wanted to do you'd just go to the airport. Which incidentally is something I intend to do soon. My flight is in 3 hours. (By the way if Mt. Victoria is a mountain and other mountains are a mile high, we need a new word that means 'tiny mountain'.)

I spent the last couple of hours wandering through town and doing things that started to become a bit ridiculous. Then I got a bus to the airport which was pleasingly only $5 and had a few thrills eg a nutty tunnel ride in an oval-shaped tunnel (that surely must once have been a cable car tunnel?) through a mountain. The bus driver probably does it 10 times a day but I know if I tried it once or 50 times I still wouldn’t be able to avoid scraping the sides. The housing styles out by the airport were really fascinating too, some of the houses had art nouveau stained glass in them but appeared to have had all kinds of stuff added to them so you couldn’t see their original shape (or maybe they were kind of, for want of a better word, jerry built from scrap from actual Edwardian houses?). It was a nice day for it anyway as it was sunny and mild.

So on the whole (I’m writing this on the plane I think about 25 mins out of Melbourne) a successful trip, quite pricey, always interesting. In terms of culture the NZers aren’t massively different from Australians (and I suppose they see Sydney and to a lesser extent Melbourne as the local big cities, and they have the ability like most Australians to juggle pride/involvement in their own place along that ‘greatest in the world’ rubric while completely realising their low-key status in the scheme of things) although there are many little touches I really like. As mentioned above, the architecture is great; in Wellington, the way the city’s laid out is fascinating; the food’s pretty good. I might have been unlucky but I think the New Zealanders are a little more standoffish than Australians generally speaking; as I get older I find no shame and in fact even some pleasure in catching the eye of fellow pedestrians and nodding or saying good morning (obviously not to everyone in a busy street, but if it’s the only person I’ve seen for ten minutes – that makes sense, doesn’t it?). This doesn’t seem to be the done thing in Wellington, starting with the lack of eye contact. I don’t have a problem with this, just find it interesting. <>

The draggy part is I have more work ahead of me in the next few months than I’ve ever had before, and it’s going to be very gruelling. And I hate gruel.

Friday, February 10, 2006

laundry with a view

I am in the laundry with a view in Wellington YHA. Tomorrow I am moving to the Wellington Ibis because I figured after some thinking that hell, I have a full on year ahead of me and i need a couple of days in the Wellington Ibis. But tonight I am drunkenly washing clothes in the Wellington YHA which overlooks the Wellington firestation. Some woman in a tracksuit just came in looking everywhere but at me at this computer to establish that she could not use the computer at 1 am in the morning or whatever in christ's name the time is. I bought a Popeye collected - I have about three of the volumes but nowhere enough of the (christ, I cannot type properly and keep making errors every time I try to write a word I have to go at least three times and I'm still not doing it right plus I think some of these keys are stuck) full sweep of classic Popeye - it is one of the most amazing comic art works I can imagine - I love original E C Segar Popeye. Anyway I bought one in this comic shop in Cuba St it was a remaindered volume I guess and quite cheap I can't believe the rubbish comics that people buy that are full of big -breasted superhero women rabbits and there is this complete freaking gem here just sitting there but that is my worldl. Anyway I was reading that to get to sleep but no dice so I thought fuck it I'll just wash clsothes to get to sleep even though I won't get to sleep at all I am sure. So that's what I'm doing, in the laundry with a view which sits two floors above my room.

Other news, Wellington is a rulilng city which I really like a LOT, with crazy streets and insane views and it's great for me to ride my skateboard in, not to mention my freakin HORSE.

wellington two

Hot, rained, hot,muggy, damp, warm, hot,rained, hot
I could have stayed at home for this.
However I did (as suggested by Marc) visit Slow Boat records (I keep thinking 'Slow Poke' but I guess that is more like a porn place) and got a few interesting looking things (Mia might have a different descriptor). I also bought some strong mints. All the chips are made by the BlueBird brand and have a penguin on them. Cool, or even, kule (let's stay with cool). Conference dinner tonight.

wellington

There is nothing I despise more than people who go somewhere for a day and then start talking about it like they know it. I have spent most of my time in Wellington so far either in lecture theatres or asleep. So I can only say it's one of the most remarkable places I have ever visited. I will stay here a couple of years and then report further.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I'm at the airport!

I can't believe it - New Zealand at last! Every Australian's dream. More soonish.

i broke down...

and bought an MP3 player. It's an iriver with 1 gig of meg and the booty of a ram. As I write this (I am reminded of that Private Eye joke about John Lennon, 'I've made piles just stitting here') I am downloading old David McComb/Triffids songs from the appropriate official quarter.

This evening we went and called on James and Miranda and collected our t-shirts thank you. I am most impressed with my red one and Mia's is red too but a different red. Oh, she says mine is rust and hers is siren red. Painters! Anyway they look amazing and may I suggest if you buy only one Flywheel t-shirt this year this ought to be the one.

I probably had too much coffee (three) today as I became freaking paranoid this evening that I was meant to fly to Wellington tonight or perhaps tomorrow morning. I've checked it up though and it seems all present and correct. If I missed my flight to Wellington I could see Calvin Johnson in Melbourne, which is something I'd also like to do, so... I win either way.

The car is still being dodgy but it seems like it was dirty fuel.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

t-shirt raunch

Miranda sent me a pic of the Flywheel t-shirts which I designed (that sounds too fancy - OK - I drew the picture) so I have elected to put the photo here. I suppose James and Miranda wear nothing but this t-shirt now and this is washing day. The shirt depicts a horned stud riding a more passive but yet still mildly aroused beast of burden. I see it as a political sex banditry shirt, of a type not seen since the halcyon days of Bow Wow Wow, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, and other three-word-name bands in which two of the words are the same. I imagine if you want one you can enquire via www.spill-label.org/flywheel

Monday, February 06, 2006

hi jinx

The Brisbane Courier (I recently discovered that the Brisbane Courier became the Brisbane Courier Mail in the early 1960s, but it's a hard habit to stop calling it the Courier Mail, as was clear from an interview I heard on Radio National yesterday in which an interviewee talking about the paper in the 1920s said 'The Brisbane Courier Mail as it was then called') ran a terribly unfunny (but rather beautifully drawn - look at that bentwood chair) comic strip in the early 1930s about the Caper College Boys, a small group of private schoolboys led by one called Freckles and always potentially in conflict with a headmaster called Canemall. Canemall's name would have to be one of the least appropriate you could imagine, as he never seems to cane anyone, just look on indulgently. I would say this strip is a good example of the Britishness of Australia in the pre-WW2 years, and it intersects nicely with David Malouf's musings in his recent Made in England, though Malouf is talking about a slightly later period. What I don't know is whether this strip was English and sold to the Courier, or Australian. It certainly doesn't have overt britishisms in it, so perhaps it might even be meant to be taking place in Australia, although it doesn't have any overt Australianisms either of course.

Most of the other comic strips I've come across during my research have been similar, nicely drawn but not particularly funny and very clearly oriented towards young children. The Argus ran a very nice series about a dog, whose name escapes me, most sequences of which ended in someone being splattered with mud or cake or horseshit.

b-b-breakdown

Yes, in times of stress of course Buzzcocks songs come to be as titles for postings. I just had a white-knuckle ride when the Honda broke down about three times after leaving Randall and Carla's house. It stalled once last night (I was obviously so traumatised by that I didn't even mention it in the previous posting) and we even called the RACV but the guy could find nothing wrong. This time I called the RACV and they said they'd be there in an hour and a half which wasn't much fun but in fact they were there in about 15 minutes which was. The problem is the carburettor was flooding. So funnily enough whereas I thought I could just about handle a slow drive through the backstreets home, in fact I had to get on the accelerator full-on and drive on a fast road. That's stressful. Remember (or regardez) I did not get my license till I was 35. My attitude to driving is a cross between a very old person's, and a very stupid person's.

I finished my presentation for the conference on Thursday today and I am impressed with myself that I seem likely to not be working on the damn thing the night before, like I usually do. The paper itself isn't bad I suppose either. It's so different from the published version it's, well, almost completely different. I'm looking forward to the conference and I've never been to Wellington and everything I've heard about it makes it sound really cool.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

pop shop

New Estate's latest record is called Rock Shop but last night they played at the Pop Shop, a speedily- arranged show with Plus Minus playing support. The Pop Shop is a pretty classy venue, with incredibly loud dance music downstairs and bands playing upstairs with the distractingly entrancing bonus of a huge video screen behind them. We saw Bewitched (you really appreciate Dick York as a comedy actor with the sound turned down), the first twenty minutes or so of Return of the Pink Panther (the scene with Clouseau and Kato fighting in the apartment before it is blown up was magic behind a very tempestuous song of Brad's) and a lot of Monsters Inc which I've seen but was surprised to discover I have absolutely no memory of. But the monsters look great. Plus Minus were excellent particularly for a first show (they're playing again next weekend but I won't get to see them). NE were their usual splendid selves, though it wasn't till I went up the back (I was trying to take photos nearer the front but the compositions were all wrong) that I realised just how tremendous they sounded last night. The picture is of Mia playing drums for one apparently quite improvised song with Plus Minus, to a backdrop of Darren in bed with Mr. Tate.

Friday, February 03, 2006

ghastly


Last night as I was trying to sleep (having fallen asleep already during The Family Guy, but it's OK, I got it on tape) I felt like I was tripping, a little, because I kept seeing all these crazy cartoon images before my eyes which were closed. Mia and I discussed what I had eaten during the day (not that much) but could settle on nothing in particular that might have been responsible for my hallucination. Anyway I am surprised that this thing, located in the Brisbane Courier yesterday, didn't give me nightmares. I captured it like one might a toxic demon in a bottle so I control it and it doesn't control me. I have tried to get Picasa to work so I could put it on the profile as a picture of me, tee hee, but it's one of those many hundreds of programs I quite frankly can't get to work.

his newest yell

It's not surprising that in 1930 everyone was crazy about Mickey Mouse, but it is odd to see some of the inter- pretations of the character that were presumably drawn from memory in advertising by the advertiser's unartistic brother-in-law, etc. This Mickey has a cane a la Charlie Chaplin, those tiny ears etc, and is not at all recognisable as the execrable monstrosity we know and love and never think about today. I like the description of the cartoon as a 'yell', I suppose that means you enjoy it so much you yell with excitement or pleasure. This is from the Brisbane Courier of December 1930. I also read in the Courier from the same year of a court case in Britain in which the company who had the license to manufacture Mickey Mouse products was sueing another company which had made a Mickey Mouse doll but which the manufacturer was claiming had original attributes that stopped it being an outright copy i.e. it had teeth and whiskers. I'd love to see that.