Wednesday, February 28, 2007

there are too many people in melbourne

About thirty or forty too many and they were all on my tram. It wasn't really their fault, poor things, it was just a dearth of trams for ten minutes or so.

Monday, February 26, 2007

hey there, hoopla!

Two things happened within 24 hours: Broadmeadows is revealed by the Age to be the most disadvantaged area of urban Melbourne (featuring a picture of a woman walking past a rundown shopping strip - with a beagle no less) and the circus comes to town.

You know how it is when you're walking home and you see circus vans go past on the road and you think 'oh circus, if only you'd come to my town'. And then when the vehicles turn into the drive ahead of you and you suddenly realise - it's all happening three minutes' walk from your house! Camels and shetland ponies! (and cows, which is a bit confusing). It's a genuine circus!!! More pics as things unfold.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

news flash: jacana station is a hole

I am not sure if there's anything nice one can say about Jacana station. As an unstaffed station, the last before the end of the line (though of course this will all change in a matter of HOURS when the Craigieburn extension opens in a matter of HOURS) it performs its function adequately though it is badly co-ordinated, or not co-ordinated at all, with the 541 bus which passes by but does not have a stop near it for some reason. It is certainly a hotspot for people going other places - either by train, or by Pascoe Vale Road which passes just by it, or the Western Ring Road which more or less passes under it (incidentally, it's not in Jacana at all, but just outside the south-east corner of it - in Glenroy).

When I was a teen I came to Jacana station a couple of times to visit a girl I knew called Margaret, who lived in Glenroy somewhere. I have a vague memory of her house backing on to a large open grassy reserve, some of which is still there but most of which is now the western ring road. By the way just to add to the feeling that life is going on somewhere else, the vast electricity pylons pass overhead, and the goods train line is to the immediate west.

What do you do with a place like Jacana station? The station building itself is a crappy concrete box. It's never cleaned, as far as I can tell. It's noisy and harsh. There's almost never anyone there (though I will say that people do use it, Glenroy people mainly no doubt).

One thing I think should be done is bung in a bit of greenery, well, actually a lot. Redfern station, where I used to spend too much time, was an oasis - and as I recall won a few beautiful station awards - for its wooden fake wheelbarrows full of flowers, etc. Now admittedly that was a very staffed station, and I suppose there's always a danger that some hoodlums out for kicks could undo a lot of good work in a short space of time. But ivy, for instance, could lick hoodlums anyday. It's not exactly indigenous but it can be quite attractive. I'm assuming that anyone who thinks for a second about greening up a station like Jacana almost immediately imagines a headline, 'attacker waited in bushes', as if there weren't already 20 places for attackers to wait at a fairly lonely, unmonitered station like this. I would also put some trees against the fence on the east side of the line... it would be really nice to Ted Trainerise it all, with fruit-bearing trees etc, and there is room on the station platform for what must surely have been a tree-accommodating purpose, where the platform splits into two like an old clothes peg at the south end. The space thus created is currently used by those wasteful, spiteful, ignorant Glenroyites as a repository for old Macdonalds fries boxes. Fools! When they could be eating plums from the Jacana Station orchard.

I suppose a plumstone on the tracks could cause a derailment. We wouldn't want a repeat of the Jacana rail disaster of 1970something, that closed Pascoe Vale Road off for two months, true. AND wrecked the footbridge.

Anyway, someone should do something. I'll be part of a discussion group and a working bee if and when. Cuz I'm a stakeholder.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

the final bega post

All through the Bega workshop I was sitting facing a window through which I saw this. It seemed interesto-boring but finally I went out and checked out wtf. It is a car on a trailer. Yeah.

Favourite songs meme

The Favourite Songs Meme as nabbed from rocksnob who can't be that much of a rocksnob considering the appreciation of U2 expressed therein. Hey! Snobbed ya good!

1. Favorite Beatles song: Yeah, this should come first. It's the most important musical decision in the world. For me it's between 'Not guilty' and 'Teddy Boy', though anything off Wings at the speed of sound would be preferable.

2. Favorite Rolling Stones song: Ooh, I'm a kid in a candy store. 'Undercover'.

3. Favorite Doors song: 'You're just too hip baby'

4. Favorite Bob Dylan song: 'All the tired horses'

5. Favorite Led Zeppelin song: 'My zippo'

6. TV Theme Song: New Avengers

7. Favorite Prince Song: 'Cream'

8. Favorite Madonna Song: 'Lucky Star'

9. Favorite Michael Jackson Song: 'Don't stop till you get enough'

10. Favorite Queen Song: Anything by End of Fashion

11. Favorite Motorhead Song: 'Motorhead' would be my favourite song by the tenth most important rock/ pop artist on earth

12. Favorite Ozzy Song: 'Come on Ozzy come on'

13. Favorite Public Enemy Song: 'One of a kind' by Bruce Samazan

14. Favorite Song from a cartoon: Nutty squirrels

15. Favorite Bruce Springsteen song: 'Fever' as covered by Ed Kuepper

16. Favorite Depeche Mode song: 'See you'

17. Favorite Cure song: 'Three'

18. Favorite song that most of your friends haven't heard: Not my real friends anyway

19. Favorite Smiths song: 'No Xmas for John Quays'

20. Favorite Beastie Boys song: 'I'm 18'

21. Favorite Clash song: 'Vertical Integration'

22. Favorite Police song: 'Canary in a Coalmine'

23. Favorite Eurythmics song: 'I only want to be with you'

24. Favorite Beach Boys song: 'Would it be so strange?'

25. Favorite Cyndi Lauper song: 'I've got a hole in my heart that goes all the way to China'

26. Favorite song from a movie: 'Golf Course' from Dogs in Space

27. Favorite Duran Duran song: 'Girls on film'

28. Favorite Peter Tosh song: 'Don't Look Back'

29. Favorite Johnny Cash song: that one Mia liked so much she bought two albums to get it

30. Favorite song from an 80's one hit wonder: 'You're so groovy'

31. Favorite song from a video game: 'What will we be singing in the 80s'

32. Favorite Kinks song: every song on Village Green Preservation Society and Arthur. And 'Night of the long grass', of course

33. Favorite Genesis song: Toss up between 'Something came over me' and 'Adreneline'

34. Favorite Thin Lizzy song: '48 Crash'

35. Favorite INXS song: 'Simple Simon'

36. Favorite Weird Al song: 'Elected'

37. Favorite Peter Gabriel song: 'Blueberry Hill'

38. Favorite John Lennon song: 'Ya ya' or the Wedding Album side 1

39. Favorite Pink Floyd song: 'Effervescent Elephant'

40. Favorite cover song: The Reels doing 'Lazy River' (never happened).

41. Favorite White Stripes song: That song that sounds like Spiderbait

42. Favorite dance song: 'Swimming in the mirror'

43. Favorite U2 song: 'The Fly'

44. Favorite song from an actor turned musician: 'Shake your rump', Ashley Paske

45. Favorite disco song: 'The Deep' Donna Summer

46. Favorite Power Ballad: 'Horses' by Pere Ubu

47. Favorite Guns N' Roses song: 'Black-Eyed Bruiser'

48. Favorite The Who song: 'Odorono'

49. Favorite Elton John song: anything by Guy Blackman

50. Favorite song, period: 'Horses', and the 1920s.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

happy snaps

You are possessed with the most amazing entertainment unit in the world - YOUR IMAGINATION. Use your imagination to figure out what from the previous two posts these pictures refer to. Clue: yes, the horses are the horses I could not find between Cooma and Bombala to give carrots to. Other clue: some of these pictures don't refer to nothin'.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


(two days ago)

It wasn’t exactly a marathon drive, or even really a marathon day, but it seems to have been action packed. Hung around Bega until 2ish, first with morning meeting concluding workshop, then various fieldwork in Bega, then drive to Cooma to pick up hire car, after which I was on my own, then drive to Bombala then drive on to Orbost, which is where I am right now.

Bombala has a wonderful cinema, called the Olympia, which seems to be in fairly original condition (and is also for sale!) It looks like someone lives there. They also have a great looking pub which is also for sale, and the front part’s covered in birdshit. Why don’t we all buy the pub and the cinema, and go and live in Bombala? I would so like to do that. We could show French cinema in the cinema, and make the hotel into a macrobiotic commune. I wish I was joking but I’d love that. Plus I wouldn’t have to blog anymore because you’d all be there.

A few choice moments from the day, with the names (of towns) removed to protect the guilty:

One of the places I visited today had a break in recently. What did they take, I asked. ‘Grog,’ was the reply, ‘so you can tell what colour’. (i.e. you can tell what colour the burglars were).

Went in to a CWA. It was decked out not exactly as if it as still 1921, but certainly it was oldened up, right to the piano on a little stage at the end of the room. Called out hello a few times, no-one there. I bought a teddy by leaving $5 in the place it had formerly occupied. Later on seeing the teddy some of my colleagues also went to the same CWA. The lady who ran it had retrieved the money and explained her absence by saying she was either asleep or had been watching her serial out the back.

Went in to an art gallery, council-operated apparently but all the art was for sale. I was actually there because I was told the man who ran it had a photograph I wanted a copy of, but he wasn’t there. The lady who was looking after it said, do you want a list of the prices as you look around. I said no it’s OK. She was really insistent though, and said ‘I think you’ll be quite surprised’, etc. I looked around most of the art was pretty awful though there were a couple I really liked – so, like a lot of exhibitions really. The prices were from the high hundreds to the couple of thousand, and the prices didn’t really correspond to the quality, in my opinion, but that’s OK. Anyway I was done in about five minutes and took the list back and she said, ‘were you surprised?’ and I said, well, my wife’s an artist etc. And she said something like, ‘I can’t believe what they’re asking some of them – it’s ridiculous. My daughter’s a ceramicist, I’m amazed by her prices too.’

So, folks are funny in the country, I guess.

On the way between Bombala and Cann River I saw a dingo (unless it was a Tasmanian tiger) and a wallaby. The dingo/tt was running across the road, and the wallaby was standing by the road just being street. Also I saw a lot of unidentifiable roadkill. The carrots I bought in Bega went brown after two hours in the car (!!) so I wanted to give them to a horse, but do you think I could find a horse between Cooma and Orbost? No, I could not. No horses between Cooma and Orbost. Tell your friends.

Now I am going to watch Diamonds are forever. I don’t feel I’ve seen enough James Bond films in my life. And I am going to drink the last of the red wine.


(three days ago)

Greetings from Tathra Beach House at Tathra NSW. It is a delectable beach resort/ fishing/ caravan park/ retirement town not massively far from the Victorian border. It is absolutely delightful in 101 ways, the town and the accommodation, which by the way I would unreservedly recommend to anyone who wanted to go anywhere, including those who wished to simply lock their doors and dismiss the world entirely, as the lodgings themselves – the beach ‘house’ houses are probably about five years old – are marvellous, though I suppose the setting is the thing.

I have no gripe, but it’s worth noting that anyone above #6 in the beach houses has a view, whereas all I see from this lovely front verandah is some rocks and a driveway, but as I said, I have no gripe.

Why here? Been at a workshop into rural and regional research held by University of Wollongong/ ARC at Bega. Discussion of how to appropriately conduct research in rural communities, discussion with local community figures/ workers/ leaders, and good times. The co-attendees (13 of them) are terrific people, very interesting (sorry, that’s an in-joke concocted in a car driving back Bega-Tathra, ‘interesting’ being the worst thing you can say about someone or something). But seriously it’s been marvellous and I’m very grateful for the opportunity. I do function in isolation somewhat.

I used to be utterly terrified of the country (of the boredom). I am still very scared of boredom, and I imagine that I will probably always be a suburbanite (why? dunno) but I am way into places like this, and Bega, and Cooma, which we also went through and will be back in this afternoon. I am going to drive from Cooma to probably Orbost tonight, then on through Latrobe Valley tomorrow. Should be ace. Field trip, work, I love my work, so that’s cool too!!!

There is a gourmet pizza place here in Tathra, it seems to be about the only restaurant on beach level (Tathra comes in two parts, an upper and a lower, though I think this is merely an unofficial reality). It is (a) expensive (b) brilliantly inefficiently run by city standards i.e. you can place an order but you might have to wait an hour or two (on Wednesday night, I waited two hours for takeaway – in their defence they told me that’s how long it was going to take) (c) not bad, not bad at all. Last night I had a camembert and spinach pizza with a greek salad. Actually, by the end of that I felt so absolutely stuffed with stuff that I could barely lie down, though I managed it. I mixed my drinks, too, which didn’t help (three different kinds of red wine).

I have been reading the biography of Angry Anderson, published early 90s, written by a Ray Martin producer. Though she’s obviously not that au fait with music (she says, for instance, Australia didn’t have any punk bands so Rose Tattoo was the only group to fit the bill – funnily enough a claim also made in various books for Dragon by Johnny Dick, and by a host of unbelievably ignorant Europeans on behalf of AC/DC) it’s pretty interesting, I guess because reading between the lines it seems like her role was as a skilled arranger of Anderson’s ramblings. I like him a lot more now (of course!) than I did before. I am interested to note that he came from North Coburg, went to N Coburg primary, etc, where if I’m not mistaken Rupert Bruce-Lee can expect to be in attendance in the not-so-distant future. Rupert, Angry found shaving his head incredibly liberating, and he now does it every morning in the shower. His mother is now used to it.

No newspapers, internet or Mia (the staples of life) for three days now, but I will be back in the fold tomorrow. Also missing pets and dear old Lorraine. But on the whole I reckon if I have more travelling highlights of this calibre this year, it’ll be a pretty grand year.

view from my balcony tathra beach house last thurs

Monday, February 12, 2007

mia's exhibition

No-one who visits Lorraine Crescent even occasionally could be in any doubt about my high regard for the talents of my wife Mia. Her exhibition is on now at Kozminsky's in Bourke St. I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes to see radically brilliant art by an exceptionally able and insightful person.

I think the example here speaks for itself. She is my favourite artist ever.

See more here

Thursday, February 08, 2007

hartington street, glenroy

Hartington Street, Glenroy is a textbook example of a street undergoing what I would call the worst kind of renewal (I can't really call it gentrification though that might kind of be the word) – the same kind of thing I’ve seen a fair bit of in the inner-western suburbs. That is, a formerly modest but attractive street asset-stripped for its largish blocks as the site of either units, new houses to the same old-new template (beige pre-cast concrete ad nauseam, pebble mexicana front yards etc), and the kind of dual occupancy that means placement of ginormous homes in former back gardens.

I can’t really be sure why Hartington St has received this treatment. It would appear that a large part of it was early Housing Commission – back in the days when the HCV was worrying at the fringes of Broadmeadows but too nervous, well, too poor, really, to go in hard. Few people seem to value those early (1940s-early 50s) brick HCV homes, which is stupid, considering they are usually (depending on how big your family is, of course) of a workable size, reasonably comfortable and have big yards and effective storage space, etc. I assume it is these kinds of houses, in the main, which have been demolished for new things, though there are some quite sumptuous and unusual weatherboard places too. I hope that the rather lovely brick home currently being sold by Barry Plant is appreciated by its owner-to-be.

I also assume that, being right at the fringes of Moreland CC, the integrity of the streetscape of this area is not exactly high on Moreland’s showcase street list, though there are of course also limits to what Moreland could do even if it wanted to. I also also assume that the chief perceived advantage of Hartington St is its proximity to the Glenroy shopping strip (two supermarkets, some greengrocers, a NQR, two chemists at least, etc) and of course (?) the Glenroy railway station, which is at the end/ beginning of zone 1, depending where you're coming from. (The power station, which is depicted here, appeared in the TM Burke promotional film of 1923, Eight Pence a Day, as indisputible proof that electrification, and therefore modern technology, had been invested in the area).

As I age, or as the world gets stupider, I am becoming increasingly intolerant of inner city lifestyle choices. But it's true that when I lived in a flat in King St Newtown in the late 1980s there was no back yard and I didn’t give two hoots. I think almost everywhere else I’ve lived, though, there’s been a yard and I have tended to have pets, or lived with people who had pets. I accept, and I suppose I embraced it when I lived on King, that there is a payoff for proximity to the city or shops, etc that you have to live more compactly. But I cannot understand why anyone would want to live in Glenroy – a comfortable enough lower-middle class suburb, usually fairly quiet, agreeably diverse and relatively cheap to buy in – but live in a tiny bubble with no yard or space. If you are buying a box on a railway line to allow yourself a cheapish dormitory, then go further out; it gets a hell of a lot cheaper.

Like the residents of Glenroy, Mia and I don’t live in suburban sprawl; we live walking distance from a railway line constructed and operated consistently since the 1880s, and a town founded in the 1840s. So though I’ll put my hand up to being a suburbanite now by choice, and having been brought up in the suburbs too, I probably don’t know the worst aspects of the worst suburbia. But I genuinely believe that suburbia is where it’s at, and that all it needs (though it may never get it, particularly as people are so scared of their neighbours these days) is a kind of community culture based in geography/ local requirements. Cramming everyone together is fine at Docklands or those ghastly CBD apartments, particularly if you want to hear your neighbours' new Jet album for free or like the sound of them having sex (god, I'll never forget living next door to that opera singer in Egan St Newtown!). But there's no need to do it in a suburb. That's why we all want to live in Australia... I thought.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sunday, February 04, 2007

coburg trash and treasure

The following overheard at Coburg trash and treasure, but wait! I have to set it up for you somewhat, and this will take more space than the actual recollected conversation, so be warned.

One stall was selling many pictures of racehorses, some of them crossing the finish lines some just having recently been awarded stuff at races, etc. I didn't hear the actual question asked of him, but I'm guessing it was about Phar Lap, because Phar Lap is the only stuffed horse I know of. What follows is honest to god the gist of what I heard:

Woman: Do you have any pictures of Phar Lap?
Stallster: Yes, not here but I can bring them next week
Woman: Is he alive [in the pictures]?
Stallster: Of course he's alive, what do you mean, he's not lying on his side with saliva coming out of his mouth. If you go and see him now he's stuffed and he's standing up but he's still dead.

I'm seriously telling you the honest truth, that as the woman and her companion examined the pictures of horses, the stall guy said 'They're all dog food now.'